Archiv der Kategorie: Communication

Communication consists of perception, thought models and communication behavior.

The boiling frog – the ideal metaphor for small changes

Everyone is happy in spring, when the sun invites to go for a walk. If you live in a climate zone that had harsh winters and a late spring, then maybe you feel climate change as improvement. If you overlook the fact that this climate shift is not getting to an end, but you are also happy about the warming, you easily fall into the trap of the boiling frog – when small changes lead to dramatic upheavals in the long term.

Not the large disruptions put us in an unwanted position, but the set of small, accumulating deviations that happen unnoticed. In order to be able to take timely countermeasures, an early warning system is needed in addition to the existing key figures, which also draws attention to small shifts. The following points can help.

  • Pay attention!
    These small modulations, which cannot be measured, only reach our subconscious. For this reason, we need to develop a sensitivity that makes us aware of it. The frog only notices the slow heating when it is too late.
    We should listen to our gut feeling that will show up in meetings with recurring little teasing’s, decreasing conversations with stakeholders or with imperceptibly fewer assignments.
  • Set priorities!
    Apathetic networking for not missing any signals, is the wrong way to deal with this creeping change. Since the thresholds must be established in our subconscious, we need a few areas to which we adjust our attention. An objective assessment of the water temperature could help the frog.
    Possible focal points are relationships with customers, suppliers, partners, the management level, colleagues, employees and above all family and friends, or developments in politics, business, society, technology and law.
  • Question the results
    Mainly, the small changes in the here and now sink unnoticed in the flood of sensual stimuli. We do not add up the many small, albeit continued increases and decreases. Our intuition does not recognize the accumulating character of many small mutations. The frog lives self-satisfied in his presence, which does not frighten him as long as the temperature increases by only 0.002°C per second.
    If you become aware of certain modifications and recognize a pattern, you should consider what it means – the continuous increases of fees; long-term small increases in consumption; slowly declining numbers of visitors.
  • Foresee the further development!
    After calculating the sum of the past experiences, we need a feeling for the further course. For this purpose, we need to perpetuate the developments out of the past into the future. Since these are preliminary assumptions, it is not enough to develop a future, but you should develop several future scenarios, which show alternative consequences. Despite his modest surroundings, we cannot expect such an abstract assumptions from the frog.
    In 1972, the Club of Rome demonstrated the limits of growth by extrapolating the measurements at the time into the future – even if, despite more evidence in the meantime, many people still doubt that global warming is happening. We also can investigate the future with simple questions: What happens, if the little teasing’s continue, if the contact to stakeholders gets lost, or if the funnel continues to shrink?
  • Initiate countermeasures!
    Since the challenges are gradually growing, only small countermeasures are required at an early stage – but they are unavoidable, if you don’t want to fatalistically surrender to the development. If the changes are big enough that the frog notices them, he will get to safety in time.
    We can refresh our relationships through regular contact or investigate, evaluate and keep in check conspicuous internal and external developments.

Bottom line: If we turn away from the noticeable, big disruptions, to the innumerable small changes, which rain down on us everywhere and at any time, then we quickly realize that not only the thunderstorm, but also the long-lasting drizzle drenches us completely. In order to be able to better assess the possible consequences of the small fluctuations, it helps to develop a personal early warning system: Observing attentively, following centers of gravity, questioning results, anticipating the future, setting up countermeasures. The metaphor of the boiling frog comprehensibly conveys the long-term trap of small changes, which turns small changes into mature difficulties.

Getting to the point

After six months of intensive teamwork at locations around the world, the results are eventually available. The yield of new data is far greater than the original order requires. Many additional surprises are also worth communicating. In any case, in order to get appreciated for the over-fulfilment of the task, the additional insights should also be shared. However, clients expect effective solutions for their current troubles. Despite the additional news, it is important to get to the point that is expected.

The effective presentation of conclusions is a challenge in itself – the right wording, the expressive pictures, and the coherent spreadsheets. For getting to the point, the following aspects help.

  • Substantial compactness
    The crux of developing a presentation is deciding on how much information is needed or should be supplied. As many overviews as necessary should be presented to convey the findings. For not overloading the target group’s receptivity, however, only the necessary should be prepared – no more than seven plus minus two topics.
  • As good as it gets
    Each elaboration pursues a purpose. But only those facts should be presented, which are considered correct and which can be proven. The coherence arises from a complete chain of cause and effect. Every gap gives cause for doubt. Attentive presenters know what fits together and where the reasons weaken slightly – if you cannot prove your proposition, you should be able to explain what makes it so difficult to provide evidence.
  • PerYou
    As interesting as some results are, they are not relevant for everyone. Preference should be given to content that matters for the target group. Other important aspects can be mentioned, but not discussed in detail, because listeners switch off on issues that they do not care and thus miss out on the topics that are relevant to them. It is best to anticipate the individual stakeholders, focus on the related issues and avoid the aspects that are not likely to make a contribution – loaded keywords (e.g. costs, leadership responsibility, productivity), stigma words (e.g. fight, loss, compliance) or abbreviations and abstract terms that create a lack of understanding.
  • In the right tone
    In any case, the content should be presented as clearly as possible in the language of the target group. The individual corporate areas speak their own language, at least, a technical jargon. Ambiguities are difficult to understand, and you lose control over your message – those presenters, who know what they want to convey, should introduce the content in simple and unambiguous language. Explanations should only be as detailed as they ensure that the results are understood – even if you have more to say and there are good places for lengthy anecdotes. Presented processes and causal relationships should be described coherently without breaks and voids.

To take the opportunity to point out any additional insights, it is suggested to mention the additional findings at the end of the presentation and to offer a follow-up meeting.

Bottom line: Presentations suffer too much from too little or from much too much. It is difficult to limit yourself to the essentials, especially when you have developed so much more. The original order creates orientation. The results should provide the findings in a digestible compactness. Even if there are other topics that one would like to present to the respective group of people, only expected and proven results should be reported. The decisive factor is the interest of the target group. The appropriate amount and an understandable language help to make the contents clear. It is advisable to resist the impulse to verbosity and ambiguity. A presentation is successful, if it strikes the right note and fits the respective situation. All this helps to get to the point.