Lessons from TED

I love TED.com and one of my all time favourite presenters is Sir Ken Robinson (btw, I’m not alone – to date his three talks have been viewed 79.7 million times).

I’ve contributed considerably to this record number by watching his talks several times not least because I believe his thoughts and lessons about schools and education can be equally applied to companies and business – including yours and mine.

Robinson’s overarching idea is that the education system isn’t working: he cites dropout rates, failure to prepare people for modern day life and the narrow focus on exam results rather than what people actually learn. I contest the same can be said for many companies and the failure rate of new businesses, the demise of many long standing ones and the appalling waste of physical and human resources will be my exhibits to support this case.

The first question that needs to be answered is why? Robinson suggests there are three key reasons:

1. Conformity over diversity.
Go to any High Street across the country and they all look the same. Visit a supermarket and without their own labelled produce you’d be hard pressed to know which one you’re in. Remove the badges and branding from all newly produced mid priced cars and they are really difficult to tell apart.

To quote Swedish professors Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale in their book, ‘Funky Business’ published in 2000 but just as applicable two decades later:

“The world is alive with knowledge, with products and services, with
information. But more often more of the same. The surplus society has a
surplus of SIMILAR companies, employing SIMILAR people, with SIMILAR
educational backgrounds, working in SIMILAR jobs, coming up with SIMILAR
ideas, producing SIMILAR things, with SIMILAR prices, SIMILAR warranties,
and SIMILAR qualities.”

2. Compliance over curiosity
It worries me how compliance, whether it be health and safety, licencing or other regulatory demands, dominates much of the board room agenda. Whilst some might welcome these barriers to entry, perhaps arguing that it will deter the rogues and make things more professional, the consequence of increased regulation is likely to be even greater homogeneity.

3. Mechanical over human
I applaud the many developments in the tech world and am amazed by the lifestyle benefits of such things it enables such as ordering something on Amazon and having it delivered to my home in the middle of nowhere the next day. However, to quote Robinson, “Life is inherently creative” and it’s human imagination, creativity and passion that’s at our core and is in danger of being diminished as we rely more and more on tech.

So, the second and more important question is, what can we do about it?

Again, using Robinson’s TED.com talks as my inspiration, I offer three things:

1. Get really personal.
Everyone is different. Even if we can be bracketed into neat segments we’re still individual. The best doctors diagnose using a tried and tested process and then prescribe individually, or at least cause the patient to feel that they are being personally treated. Likewise brilliant teachers, they tailor lessons to each child. Your business should have outstanding systems and processes, not for their own sake but to enable more time for highly personal service and delivery.

2. Freedom within a framework.
Of course you have to comply with the rules and regulations, I’m not advocating a cavalier, anarchic approach. But don’t let the red tape bind and stifle innovation. Create a framework and then let people operate with freedom within it. To quote Robinson, “Leadership should not be command and control but climate control – creating a climate of possibility.”

3. Invest at least as much in people as in tech.
“There’s no school in the country that’s better than it’s teachers.” Likewise, this applies to companies. Business leaders and senior managers must be learning and developing themselves to both ensure they’re teaching their teams appropriately and also to set the right example. I’m staggered by how little some people invest in their personal development, how few books they read and how narrow their range of experiences.

I tried to book Sir Ken Robinson for https://www.eamasters.co.uk/ on the 10th October, but he wasn’t available. Instead we have Natalia Cohen, a TEDx speaker whose 9 month row across the Pacific is a truly inspiring story with many lessons for modern day life. Likewise Jonathan “Jiffy” Davies who on the face of it has led a charmed life being one of the most talented rugby players of his generation and now the main rugby pundit on the BBC, but behind the visible successes are a series of tragedies that all needed to be overcome – something many of us will relate to.

We also have live from Sydney, leading agent Michael Pallier who holds the record for the most expensive home sold in Australia, the record price at auction and the highest $/ft2 land sale – he will be interviewed by the number one estate agency coach, Josh Phegan who will also deliver a keynote highlighting what other top agents are doing to outperform the competition.

Robbie Anderson, psychologist at ‘Chimp Management’ (The Chimp Paradox), will discuss how he enables elite sports teams to perform at an even higher level and some of his concepts will be discussed by Gabby Logan who will interview three proven business leaders that provide world-class services to estate agency and three of the next generation of agency leaders who have each founded an award winning business.

With the latest insights from Rightmove plus 60 other suppliers in the Innovation Hall this is an event that is crammed full of four-i. Conference and Innovation Hall tickets are available here: https://www.eamasters.co.uk/tickets/ The lowest priced package means each ticket is just £149+VAT which I believe to be incredible value for the breadth and depth of learning you’ll receive.

Join over 6,000 property professionals, including leading estate and letting agents and receive information, insight, ideas and inspiration (four-i) from top estate agency coach Peter Knight, straight to your inbox every Monday. Join now

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