February 2, 2020


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we focus on the power of patience, the SCORRE presentation method, consensus-anchored strategy, leadership presence, and how mental categories frame market positioning. Enjoy!


1.  The Power of Patience

Life brings setbacks — times when we want to dig deeper and keep charging ahead. But career coach Michael Pietrzak says being stuck in “the waiting room of life” is a chance to cultivate our power of patience and find greater success:

Accept Where You Are:

Rob Bell, a church entrepreneur and author named one of Time’s 100 most influential people, fell out of the limelight and nobody was returning his calls.

“He knew that failing to accept his situation would make for a difficult road ahead, and that patience was the prescription,” Pietrzak reports on Success.com.

He used the low season of his life to catch up with old friends, not rush back to activity. One of those friends suggested he try podcasting and now he produces a top podcast.

As William James wrote: “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of misfortune.”

Patience Is Not Inactivity:

Auguste Rodin wrote about patience too, noting that “patience is also a form of action.” Let go and accept that you need not be dramatically active to transition to a better place (as Rob Bell did).

See Low Seasons As Gifts:

Ray Dalio used the downturn of the 1980s to revamp Bridgewater Associates’ management system to get the best out of people while managing risk better.

Frustration Opens No Doors:

The impatient person pushes success farther away. “Life has a built in ‘weeding-out’ process, and those who don’t want their goals bad enough to shrug off impatience often don’t see them realized,” Pietrzak says.

So, consider being patient in those moments when it seems least appealing.


2. Presentations Score with SCORRE

The SCORRE system was devised by Ken Davis, an entrepreneur who also dabbled as a comedian and tried to figure out how to captivate an audience.

It’s based on the idea that there are only two types of presentations: Trying to train your audience or trying to persuade them.

“There are no other types of presentations,” management educator Chad McAllister writes on the Innovation Excellence blog. “The core question is what you want your audience to do — are you training them to do something or are you persuading them to take some action?”

SCORRE is an acronym for the framework:

  • S = Subject — set out the subject of the presentation; in his example, customer research.
  • C = Central Theme — the specific aspect of the subject addressed in the presentation, such as what you need to know to conduct customer research using ethnography.
  • O = Objective — a structured sentence that is a proposition for your audience; in this case, “every product manager can effectively conduct customer research using ethnography by following 5 simple steps.”
  • R = Rationale — the points of the Objective (here, that’s the five steps).
  • R = Resources — supporting elements to explain the rationale and make them memorable.
  • E = Evaluation — reflections on the effectiveness of your presentation, such as “next time I speak on ethnography I‘ll include pictures from our last user observations.”

Often, he notes, you are given the subject and central theme but need to construct the objective. Try using the SCORRE approach for your next presentation.


3. Four Elements of Leadership Presence

Leadership “presence”, which we’re supposed to have to be effective, can seem mysterious and elusive. Patricia Sauer, a coach with the Ken Blanchard Companies, makes it more tangible on their corporate site by suggesting it involves four key elements (tagged as PRES):

  • P stands for Being Present — the ability to be completely in the moment, and flexible enough to handle the unexpected.
  • R stands for Reaching Out — the ability to build relationships with others through empathy, listening, and authentic connection.
  • E stands for Expressiveness — the ability to express feelings and emotions appropriately by using words, voice, body, and face to deliver one congruent message.
  • S stands for Self-Knowing — the ability to accept yourself, to be authentic, and to reflect your values in your decisions and actions.

“Think about a leader you admire,” she concludes.

“Observe this individual and jot down specific behaviours that you would like to develop within yourself. Perhaps it is their communication style or how others react when they enter a room. Which of their qualities could you emulate?”


4. Before Hiring Ask This Question

Too often we automatically fill positions quickly when somebody leaves or is promoted. The thinking, says HR consultant Tim Sackett on his blog, is that “we’ve always had a person in this position, so we need to replace this person.”

But he says if the role isn’t really moving you closer to meeting your objectives, maybe you should be hiring for a different position instead.

Organizational objectives evolve over time and a position that was vital five years ago might not be required today. A departure may present an opportunity to adjust to new priorities.

So before filling any position, ask yourself:  How will this hire bring us closer to reaching our business objective?


5. Zingers

  • The Culture Test:  Consultant Steve Coughran recommends asking employees to describe their organizational culture in three words. Then have them anonymously rate the culture from 1 (ineffective, toxic) to 5 (highly enjoyable, productive). Now analyze the results. (Source: Outsizing)
  • Daily Habits Matter:  You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems, the collection of daily habits that will get you to your goal or prevent you from reaching it. (Source: James Clear)
  • Working Backwards:  In choosing ideas to work on, Amazon writes a mock press release as if the product were already available, focusing on the problem it solves. They might also map out a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to help managers envision how customers will react to the product, notably whether it alleviates pain points for them. (Source: Professor Michael Roberto’s Blog).
  • Hiring Question:  Small businesses need passionate people with good ideas so why not ask prospective employees, “How do you see this business growing?” (Source: Acacia HR Solutions)
  • Decisions Set Precedents:  Consultant Wally Bock says every decision you make sets a precedent your team members will use for comparison with your future decisions. You need to think about that before you decide — not after. If the decision is an exception to the norm, make sure you can explain why the exception is justified to an intelligent 15-year-old. If you can’t do that, reconsider. (Source: Three Star Leadership)


6. The Model: Mental Categories Frame Your Positioning  

When you offer something new to a prospect, the first thing they want to know is, “What is it?” In its most basic sense, the answer is your brand or market category.

“Like tabs in a mental Yellow Pages Directory, categories are the labels that prospects use to segment options into different buckets,” say the marketing consultants at Duffy Agency.

Leading brands tend to dominate their categories. Think “office supplies” and Staples comes to mind, like Starbucks for “premium coffee shops” or Red Bull for “energy drinks”.

It’s human nature to want to fit things into a category.

Framing provides a mental structure that shapes the way we see the world. If your brand can’t be easily defined as part of a category, people will often skip it — complexity is easier to ignore than to figure out.

The more innovative your product, service or program, the more it needs to be positioned within a recognized framework or category that people can make sense of, relate to and understand.

EmotiveBrand.com explains that a brand’s category also determines the standards that must be met to be considered a legitimate player and the context for presenting as different, better and special.

People hold on tightly to their established understandings of what a category is and what it offers. Choose the right category to define, or frame, what people are buying in such a way that your value shines through.

Positioning involves distinguishing your brand from your competitors in the category and in meaningful ways. It’s about what you offer, what value you deliver, and what place you hold in your target audience’s mind.

Defining a clear position in a brand category influences not only their expectations for what you have to offer, but also how your key messages are perceived and interpreted.  Leverage categories to be more convincing and attractive in your market category.


7. Around Our Water Cooler:
    Testing for Consensus 

Compared to top-down approaches, our clients often find it better to develop strategies anchored in consensus.

Real support for a priority comes from people who are personally committed to a decision or direction they have helped to shape, which in turn leads to effective action and change.

In Consensus Through Conversation, consultant Larry Dressler describes the goal:  Full consensus has been achieved when every person involved in the decision can say: “I believe this is the best decision we can arrive at for the organization at this time, and I will support its implementation.”

He explains that consensus-based decision-making depends on four basics:

  • That it is a collaborative search for common-ground solutions (not a competition to persuade others to adopt your preferred position).
  • That constructive, respectful disagreement is a positive force to be encouraged.
  • That every voice and all perspectives matter, regardless of status or authority. This means a variety of questions, concerns and ideas should be respectfully considered in the process.
  • That decisions are made in the interest of the organization — personal preferences are set aside in favour of the group’s purpose, values and goals.

Using Consensus Cards:

A quick and easy way to test for consensus uses what Dressler calls “consensus cards”. After discussion on the proposal, each participant holds up a green, yellow or red card to show their level of support:

  • Green:  I support this proposal as the best decision we can make for our organization / our stakeholders at this time.
  • Yellow:  I support this proposal but have some questions and/or concerns I need to have addressed.
  • Red:  I do not support this proposal. It does not serve our interests at this time.

Ask those holding green cards to listen while yellow card holders describe their points of caution or concern to see if they can be resolved. (Often small tweaks and clarifications can turn “yellows” into “greens”.)  Red card holders are then asked to state the reasons for their opposition and propose an alternative for consideration.

Even though some may not be “happy” once a final decision is made, the process works because all perspectives have been considered in light of what’s best for the group and the outcome will be better supported when it comes time for action.


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8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support strategic planning and change processes, marketing communications and research / stakeholder consultations. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8. Closing Thought 

“We more readily confess to errors, mistakes and shortcomings in our conduct than in our thought.”

— Goethe


Thanks for taking the time to read this e-mail. Look for the next edition of The 8020Info Water Cooler on February 24, 2020.

— Rob Wood and Harvey Schachter