If you have ever led employees, you’ve struggled at some point with their engagement. As a huge proponent of helping others learn in ways that connect with their individual learning styles, I love Jim Haudan’s ideas here about utilizing visual learning to increase engagement. This week Jim and Rich Berens are celebrating the launch of their new book, What Are Your Blind Spots. Every leader needs to read it!
(The following originally appeared on the Root Blog.)
Strategic engagement must be approached as a process. In many cases, organizations and leaders treat engagement of people in the strategy as a series of loosely connected events. Roles are not clearly defined and no one seems to truly own strategic engagement.
Some people think human resources or communications owns it; maybe the Chief Financial Officer owns financial results and the Chief Operations Officer owns operational tactics. But if no one owns where all of these critical issues come together, how can organizations expect their people to see all of the connections and co-dependencies of the elements of strategic engagement? They can’t, so the leadership team must own this process together.
How can organizations help their people quickly understand the most complex business issues? First, people learn visually. Aristotle said, “The soul never thinks without a picture.” Let’s take it one step further: “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures.”
Visualization is an accelerant tool. As people absorb new information, it forms a picture in their minds. This picture emerges only when people can create links between their existing knowledge and new information.
Employees tell us they have an “aha”—a moment when they understand, when the picture is complete. Visualizing critical business issues allows individuals, teams and organizations to think in systems, greatly speeding up the “aha” process. It also creates focused thinking, helping everyone build a shared understanding of the larger systems that determine the effectiveness of their individual actions.
If visualization is the first tenet, the second is dialogue—specifically, strategically directed Socratic dialogue. Socrates recognized that learning and change are a matter of asking the right questions, not simply giving the right answers. He developed a system of asking his students questions to get to core truths. He avoided presenting his own conclusions; instead, he sought to immerse learners in exploration and inquiry.
Understanding the Big Picture Leads to Successful Strategy Execution
Business and strategy literacy are essential to make people effective players who know how to keep score on the results. People must have an understanding of how a business operates—leaders, you must engage employees in the big picture—and what it takes to win if they are to participate successfully in improving it.
About Jim Haudan
Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc. Root Inc., the organizational change expert on helping companies create leadership alignment, execute strategies and change successful, build employee engagement, and transform businesses. He is a sought-after business presenter who has spoken at TEDx BGSU, Tampa TEDx, and The Conference Board. His latest book, What Are Your Blind Spots?: Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back is co-authored with Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc. The book equips readers with the tools needed for a personal leadership reset. You’ll discover how to increase engagement, productivity, and growth in your own organization.