Summit Keynote Q&A: Communication in a distracted digital world

Communicating effectively – for a large-scale process improvement initiative, about new standard work, even just scheduling a meeting – is always a challenge, but it’s never been more of one. We’re deluged every day with information from a wide range of sources competing for our attention that can make our lives as leaders harder even as they bring unprecedented ease to our lives as consumers.

debra jasper mindset digital
Mindset Digital CEO Debra Jasper is the afternoon summit keynote on Wednesday, April 12.

The Center for Operational Excellence is focusing on this challenge at its upcoming Leading Through Excellence summit by dedicating an entire keynote session to the challenge of communication in today’s fast-paced, distraction-rich world. Taking the stage at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12, is Debra Jasper, founder and CEO of Columbus-based Mindset Digital. Jasper is an award-winning investigative journalist who’s now a leading authority in honing how we communicate in a digital world, making the complex simple.

Jasper, who’s focusing her summit keynote on communication essentials inside organizations, spoke to COE about what’s in store at her presentation.

COE: We live in a world of high-volume, high-speed demands on our attention. How has that changed the game for communicating as a business leader?

Debra Jasper: In a world of information overload, we have become a nation of skimmers and scanners. We have 147 emails coming at us each and every day, and that doesn’t count all of the text messages, posts, tweets and invites.  So at Mindset Digital, we teach business leaders how to adopt an “SOS” approach — everything must be short, organized and skimmable.

COE: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when communicating internally to colleagues?

DJ: So often we’re so busy, we think “I’ll just rush through my emails and get them off my plate.” In reality, we have to write with clarity and impact, or even our own colleagues will tune us out. Ask yourself: Are your emails too confusing, too detailed or just too tough to puzzle through? If your colleagues are taking a long time to get back to you, it may be more on you than on them.

COE: One of your big passions is getting people to change how they communicate via PowerPoint presentation decks. What common misconceptions are out there regarding best practices in this format?

DJ: One big issue with PowerPoint is that it was invented in the ’80s, but many of us are still using it as if it still is the ’80s. Today’s audiences are much more visually sophisticated, which means that to tell a great story today, you must tell a great visual story. I sat next to an executive on a plane the other day, and he had been going to Toastmasters to improve. I told him: “If you want to be a great storyteller, spend more time crafting a great story.”

COE: You’ve written before about “the curse of expertise.” What’s the downside of being extremely knowledgeable in your field? 

DJ: “The curse of expertise” is when you are speaking to impress, rather than inform. Sometimes we think that speaking in our lofty language makes us seem smart and credible. Instead, all of that jargon can simply drive away your audience.

COE: You speak to audiences in a wide variety of industries. What can our group of process excellence-minded “change agents” expect to walk away with when they hear from you at our summit next month?

DJ: In today’s world, it’s easy to get a message out. It’s tough to get a message in. We will show people how to write and present with clarity and impact.

 


 

Leading Through Excellence is sold out but a waitlist is available. For more information on Jasper and other keynotes and speakers, visit our official website.

Member news roundup: OSU fundraising tops $3B; Progressive makes hiring push

Center for Operational Excellence member companies have made headlines in the past week. Here are the highlights:

BMW Financial looking to innovate in auto-finance sector (Automotive Management Online)

Columbus-based BMW Financial has selected five startups to join an Innovation Lab, dubbed the automotive sector’s first financial technology business incubator. “The five finalists,” according to AM Online, present a range of innovations that could revolutionize how consumers own and insure cars in the future, from opening up entirely new types of leases to consumers, through to tackling the barriers young drivers face.”

FedEx Services Co-CEO to lead solo next year (Bloomberg)

FedEx Corp. this week unveiled a number of changes in its C-suite, led by news that FedEx Express chief Dave Bronczek will become president and COO of the parent company. This makes him primed to succeed CEO Fred Smith. FedEx also announced the retirement of Mike Glenn, whose roles included co-CEO of FedEx Services. The other Co-CEO, Rob Carter, will become FedEx Services CEO in 2017.

KeyCorp clears major hurdle to purchasing First Niagara (Albany Business Review)

Cleveland-based KeyCorp this week received clearance from the Office for the Comptroller of the Currency to buy Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group. It’s the last step in a nearly yearlong process to merge the banks’ assets.

Nationwide in deal to buy Jefferson National (Louisville Business First)

Columbus-based Nationwide is buying Jefferson National of Louisville, taking on the company’s portfolio of investment and fee-based advisers. Nationwide said the deal marks a major expansion of its sales reach in the financial services market. The transaction, which will make Jefferson National a Nationwide subsidiary, is set to close early next year.

Ohio State fundraising push tops $3B (Columbus Dispatch)

The “But For Ohio State” fundraising campaign launched under former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is coming to a close with a haul past the $3 billion mark. OSU President Michael Drake on Thursday told major donors that the university brought in $3,004,563,961. For scale, that’s about half of the university’s annual top line.

Progressive Insurance mounts big hiring push (Insurance Networking News)

Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance said it plans to hire about 1,300 people by the end of the year, mostly information technology positions. Jobs will be added at its headquarters and other offices around the country. That’s an increase of about 5 percent over Progressive’s headcount as of June 2016.

Wexner Medical Center chief outlines path forward in Q&A (Columbus CEO)

Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO of OSU’s Wexner Medical Center, said in a recent interview that he’s seeking to “make Ohio State a place where innovation and research are really top of the chart.” Growth areas, he said, include research in addictive medicine and health policy.

Upcoming women’s event explores communicating, connecting in digital age

The rapidly evolving digital world is changing how we communicate, how we process information, and even how we add and network with members in our organizations, raising many questions:

Is my LinkedIn profile opening or closing doors? Are my internal presentations truly selling my ideas for change? What can I look at online when hiring a candidate? How can I build a value-adding network with other women in my organization?

We’re tackling all these questions next Friday, June 26, with a dynamic trio of speakers bringing the latest best practices in digital communication and the development of corporate women’s networks. Featured at this members-only Women’s Leadership Forum are:

debra jasperDebra Jasper, founder, Mindset Digital (10 a.m.) – Jasper in this opening session will share her insights on the biggest shifts in digital communication, highlighting new ways to showcase expertise and determine what’s most essential to convey as attention spans shrink, whether managing up or down. She’ll chart the course for helping women leaders create powerful messages and connections inside their organizations and across the broader business community, offering vital advice on managing your “digital footprint.”

kailee gooldKailee Goold, attorney, Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter (11:15 a.m.) – Goold leverages her legal expertise to walk attendees through practical considerations that arise amid the rising use of social media in the workplace. That extends to using social media during hiring decisions, managing employees’ use of social media, and workplace liability issues.

mike kaufmannMike Kaufmann, CFO, Cardinal Health Inc. (1:30 p.m.) – Following a networking lunch, Kaufmann will take the stage to share his experiences as the executive sponsor of Cardinal’s women’s network group. Using the success of Cardinal’s network as a healthy and innovative one for employees, Kaufmann will offer up key advice for other companies, including engaging men – a unique approach that is gaining popularity in corporate America.

This event, open only to employees of COE member companies, has limited seating available. Click here to register.

Webinar explores challenges, payoffs of electronic communications

Connecting far-flung employees – across an office or across the globe – is becoming an increasingly common challenge for companies of any size. A number of organizations have turned to technological solutions for town halls, top leadership updates and team meetings – but how can they ensure communication leads to results and isn’t lost along the way?

mills jamesThe Center for Operational Excellence is thrilled to partner with member Mills James to offer a hybrid case study / discussion panel webinar featuring leaders from two of the largest companies in Ohio who have successfully embedded technology into their communication efforts: Procter & Gamble and Cardinal Health.

Joining the webcast on Friday, Nov. 14, from noon to 1 p.m. EST from P&G is Kip Fanta, associate director of Employee Experience/Meetings and Collaboration, an employee of the Cincinnati-based consumer products giant for more than 20 years who has worked in a variety of roles. From Cardinal Health is Eileen Lehmann, who directs internal communications and oversees the application of technology to communications problems.

Fanta and Lehmann will be joined by Mills James VP Bruce Reid and COE Executive Director Peg Pennington.

This isn’t a webinar about what technology your organization should choose – it’s an exploration of how these can be used to drive employee engagement, align an organization with strategic goals and drive results in the short and long term. Participants will offer their insights on what worked, what didn’t, and how companies of any size can take action.

Click here to register for the webinar.

COE adds staff amid growth spurt

Life brings bad problems and good problems, and the Center for Operational Excellence is happy to be right in the middle of a very, very good one.

Tom Goldsby
Tom Goldsby

To put it quite simply, we’ve grown our membership base at such a steady clip that a group once numbering four in 1992 has hit 34. This has translated not only to more people actively working with Fisher on their pursuit of operational excellence but more attendance at our quarterly professional development meetings. A lot more. Our Sept. 30 event that featured a retired Kodak executive and Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell peaked at about 200 attendees, a record. This past Friday, when hosting executives from Cardinal Health Inc. and Starbucks Corp., we would have hit and potentially exceeded that record by opening the events to the public but invited members only because of space constraints. Once again, a very good problem.

In our member roster and the decision-makers who come to our programming, these aren’t just manufacturers with a shop floor. COE is embracing the notion of continuous improvement in the most inclusive way possible, paving the way for the entrance of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., Huntington National Bank, OSU Medical Center and others in the transactional and health-care spaces.

Not that we’re leaving our core constituency behind. We’ve come to recognize a growing contingent of members in the logistics and distribution sectors needs specialized attention. For that, we’ve brought on one of the brightest minds tackling logistics in academia today, and we didn’t have to look far. Prof. Tom Goldsby, PhD, of Fisher’s Department of Marketing and Logistics, has stepped in as an associate director for COE to work closely with several companies that will benefit greatly from his award-winning research.

Goldsby already has made his debut before our COE board. We expect you’ll see a lot more of him.

What is the Right Thing to Do?

When I moved to the United States from India nine years ago, an important early addition to my vocabulary was the word “silo.” In agriculture, it’s a structure used for the bulk storage of grains. Outside that trade, though, it’s used widely to describe the compartmentalization that forms inside organizations.

Ohio Silo
Ohio Silo by Mrinalina Gadkari

When I saw a silo for the first time upon moving to Ohio six months ago, I snapped a photo, a reminder to myself and my students of how difficult it would be for departments and units with that mentality to communicate with each other.

This happens in many organizations. Everyone follows protocol in their own department, happy they’re meeting targets set by management. The notion of how one’s job is affecting workers in another department rarely surfaces, nor does a worker’s idea of how his or her job is affecting the overall service, product or customer base. “Us” and “them” sentiments are predominant, as is the phrase, “I followed protocol. It’s not my problem.” But it is. The silo problem is a reality in most organizations in all industries.

So how do you deal with it?

Start by asking a simple question: “What is the right thing to do?” With those seven words, barriers break, people step up and take responsibility and what is “not my problem” becomes everyone’s problem.

As author John Shook writes in his book Managing to Learn, switching from a so-called authority based debate (Who is at fault?) to a responsibility focused conversation (What is the right thing to do?) has a radical impact on decision-making. Consensus forms and decisions are made by focusing on indisputable facts, not projecting blame.

How have you worked to break silos in your organization?