We’ve seen it: the CEO of a Global 2000 company at the whiteboard drawing stick figures and lines. Or the well-renowned leaders of a national logistics company doodling themselves as superheroes. For most organizations, these kind of habits are completely out of the ordinary. But why?
We love technology. It enables us to connect with people all over the globe without even changing out of our pajamas, which is nice when you are on a 6 am client call! And while we can’t control how awake everyone is on the call, we can help make the calls more engaging by using something core to XPLANE: visuals.
“We need this.”
“This” is visual thinking and the “we” are professors from the top MBA programs around the world at the annual meeting for the Production and Operations Management Society earlier this month.
Slide decks can be amazing. When used right PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote, and all the other presentation tools can inspire, persuade, educate, mobilize and motivate. At XPLANE we love creating unique and compelling presentations to reach all kinds of audiences.
Wait, did you just instinctively open PowerPoint? STOP! Did you know that 80% of the time PowerPoints (or slideshows generically) fail to communicate their message? That’s not a real statistic, but we’re pretty sure we’re in the ballpark.
Using PowerPoint for every presentation is like only eating bread (or rice, if you’re gluten-free) for every meal, every day. It gets boring. Ready to detox from PowerPoint and achieve a balanced communications diet? Use this handy cheat-sheet to pick a better presentation method.
Stephanie Gioia is the Director of Consulting at XPLANE.
In an interview at Columbia University, the architect Frank Gehry was asked how he reacted to criticism about his buildings. He said he likes to “try it on” like a jacket. If the criticism “fits,” he “wears it.” If it doesn’t fit, he puts it “back on the hanger.”
I learned the value of “trying on” criticism in architecture school. I felt like I had three options when receiving what I thought was a stupid suggestion: 1) dismiss it, 2) begrudgingly follow it, or 3) try it on and see if it fits. Trying it on, I reserved the right to reject it, but I also took advantage of the opportunity to see something new and challenge my own preconceptions. My approach was always to find a fast way to try it on, while also exploring my own ideas for how to move forward. Sometimes I discovered my professor was right; sometimes l became even more convinced that I was right. The interesting thing was that it never seemed to matter much who was right.
Even when there were serious egos involved, it was easy for us both to forget about petty arguments and engage in finding the best solution. Even if it is purely by distraction, visuals are remarkably effective at clarifying an idea and making apparent what works and what does not
Mark Zuckerberg describes what I believe to be the same principle when he says, “code wins arguments.” His developers could talk back and forth forever, but, by coding something, they can quickly test their ideas.
The problem is that speech is too amorphous, and it is too easy to rationalize our own ideas. I heard a professor interrupt a presentation and say, “You can rationalize anything. We rationalized the holocaust.” He would tell us, if something is designed well, we won’t have to rationalize anything. I agree that too much talk is not conducive to good design, but I think it is also a huge waste of time. We often wind up arguing about “air” as a colleague once described it. Talk is expensive because it can exacerbate arguments when there is often an inexpensive way to test and evaluate results. When the conversation gets heated, remember that testing an idea can be as simple as drawing it — and drawing is cheap.
Rich Moore is an Associate Creative Director at XPLANE.