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July 16, 2008

More on establishing the premise...

If you look at some of the really successful teachers and trainers in the world today, a lot of their success can be traced back to the premise of what they are saying.

For example, Robert Kiyosaki has had immense success with his Rich Dad series fo books. And what is the underlying premise of his entire series? "Everything you think about money is wrong!"

Alan Weiss is another one who has enjoyed immense success and his own focus is similar, but not quite as sharp. More like "Most things you think about consulting are wrong, oh and here are a few others you haven't even considered yet"

Last is Tom Peters, again someone who comes out against pretty mush everything that management has held dear at one time or another. And he does so with an extraordinary level of enthusiasm I have to admit.

All of these people have moved beyond the expert status and into the "prophet" status. That is, where ever they are speaking people will go just because they are there. (In fact I'm hoping to see Tom in Dubai)

Following this contrarian vein I built a course a few years ago in the field of engineering where I work that set out to present a similar case. That is: "You got it all wrong..."

I argued the case on a number of issues that people in my game hold dear, things like:
  • Failure and age are not linked
  • We are not trying to keep things as good as new
  • Its not about the equipment, but about their functions..
And all sorts of other issues that are far too left-of-center for me to go into on this blog. But the point is... it worked! It really worked! And it has been the most successful course that I have developed to date.

The moral of this little tale? If you argue a case against existing maxims, then you will get peoples attention.  If you present it well, and are able to get the logic to seep into your audiences minds, then they will see you in the light of a thought leader.

I am sure there are a number of areas out there that have yet to be explored fully; here are a few:
  • Why social media is actually working against your business (Who'd a thunk it?)
  • How teams can stifle innovation and quantum leaps in performance
  • Tolerable conflict is always better than hidden resentment (Maybe outdated, I find that a lot of people still think conflict management means sweeping it all under the carpet)
  • Marx actually had some valid economic arguments (He was an economist after all)
  • Guest worker programs are a matter of economic survival against emerging economies who routinely use slave-wage labor
  • Flat organizational structures breed ambiguity and low motivation
I agree with some of those points; others are right out there. But the point remains the same. If you can eloquently present a logical argument against existing maxims, then you may be able to move from the expert status to the "prophet" status.

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