This post needs a snappy headline

August 2, 2006

I’m a bad blogger and before I go any further I want to issue a generalisation alert – you have been warned.
I have discovered in my travels through cyberspace that my blog is breaking all of the rules…I don’t offer “ultimate” solutions; “rules” for getting things done right (apart from this entry which in fact happens to be they way I do work with groups); I can’t come up with too many bullet pointed “top tips” entries and I rarely spend enough time trying to compose sure fire headlines that work. Is this rush to certainty purely an American phenomenon? I say this because I see stark differences between the ways in which many American and European business bloggers approach their craft. We appear to be less comfortable offering certainty on this side of the pond – it’s a bit more conversational, less hard sell. What happens when you are so used to being offered the ultimate, no holds barred, sure fire, guaranteed solution to every problem? Do you become immune? What does the more conversational – let’s co-create something together approaches evoke? Do we look touchy-feely in a world that demands certainty? I don’t know….I have found it interesting to explore various voices on this blog but ultimately I don’t believe in certainty. I don’t believe there’s a 10 step plan to achieving anything you want to achieve that is simple to execute and follows in a logical progression.
The bit that is always missing in these foul-proof plans is emotion. Emotion is a no go area in business for a good reason – it’s the thing that makes or breaks plans. Our decisions, while they may look on the surface to be rational and planned are fuelled, contextualised and informed by emotion and there’s no 10 step bullet pointed approach to putting manners on how we feel. It requires work, it requires bespoke interventions; it requires listening and storytelling, it requires expertise; it requires process, it requires courage. That’s if you want the solutions to stick.
If emotion didn’t matter then we’d all be fit, slim, non-smoking, world travelling, happy camper workers and family people with not a care in the world and a bullet pointed map to get us there. Does that sound like anyone you know?
I don’t live in a bite sized world and while I would love to believe that there’s a bullet pointed list out there with my name on it I simply don’t buy it….My world is richer, more complex, operates on myriad levels, attends to conscious and unconscious processes, is rational as well as emotional. I assume the worlds of my clients are equally sophisticated. And yes, I do get results and yes I do get asked back to work with clients so something works about an approach that doesn’t offer false hope.
So now I need to go away and write a snappy headline for this post that will get me noticed ..any ideas?

7 People reacted on this

  1. Well, this one caught my eye. 🙂
    I think your observations are interesting and timely. And believe me, I know better than to feel any type of certainty when it comes to anything that transcends cultural differences. But that’s why I’ve always been drawn to the root motivations that make us all alike, as opposed to what makes us different due to geography and custom.
    Many Europeans consider Americans unsophisticated and overly literal — and in many cases I can’t argue with that. But before we start traveling down that tired road, let’s consider for a moment that the root of why these types of headlines works so well in the States is more pragmatic than pedestrian.
    When it comes to business, we tend to be extemely bottom line driven, for better or worse. Now with this wonderful and maddening infoglut we call the Internet, that type of non-nonsense adaptive filter is being implemented cross-culturally.
    In short, I don’t think anyone other than the guillable believes that there are “10 Sure-Fire Ways” to do anything properly. But if you want people to pay attention, you have to make a bold promise and deliver on it. Often that’s the only way you can get people on board to learn the more fine and subtle nuances that constitute the real art of your subject matter.
    It really is about relationships and conversations. But it is also really HARD to get a dialogue going these days with people too busy to give you the time of day.
    Hope this makes some sense. 🙂

  2. Well I’m not one of those Europeans who thinks that about Americans (I happen to be a fan!)…but interestingly if you look around the bookshops and see the differences between the management books originating from the US (nearly always with a picture of the author looking well..authoritative..on the front cover) and those from Europe (minus the author on the front cover) it’s similar – and I’m really curious about the cultural differences (genuinely so!) as well as this drive for certainty…because if you’re offering 100% certainty to someone – where’s the room for the conversation? It tends to be a take it or leave it kind of situation don’t you think?

  3. Annette,
    (Just to prove you are still on my blog reading list), It is the certainty/clarity of purpose that makes the American way so comforting and reassuring. Unfortunately the speed at which they jump to conclusions is extremely disconcerting/divisive. It is interesting how Americans (perhaps subconsciously) have started to talk about roadmaps. It’s as if the destination is a given and the only question remains, what is the correct route. Europeans seem much more conservative and shirk away from a concept that is promoted only by an individual. They seem to need reassurance that they aren’t the only one that is adopting the solution on offer.
    So bridging those two (generalised) perspectives, I’d say you have to be offering “Best Practice for Identifying the Goal and a Roadmap to it”.

  4. Hi Paige – welcome to the other side! I do love the “Can do” attitude across the pond it’s in stark contrast to the begrudgery over here. Maybe my post is a reaction/response to seeing so many great ideas get shot down before they’ve had a chance to fly!

  5. Hi,
    I begin with an Americanism that’s found a way to infiltrate my world…
    While reading your piece, I started to think about this blog and why it sounds so authoritative to me? It always feels as if it is written by someone who has a lot of power behind the words, a lot of experience that has been processed by tough reflection. So that it has underlying leitmotifs, recurring themes that feel distinctly solid and worth placing some reliance on.
    This European blog is not tentative and self-effacing; it’s strongly opinionated, meaning that its analysis comes across to me as if it has been carved out of a fund of deep experience – rather than out of the top of the head.
    Not clever but profound, not intellectual but thought out… But a lot of certainty and clarity.
    I don’t know enough about “American” writing or “european” for that matter. I always thought Adam Phillips’ titles were wonderfully chosen to stand out from the crowd and capture the questioning imagination. I thought they were a piece of splendid advertising.

  6. Hi Omani – thanks for the nice comments (I swear I’m going to have to start paying you one of these days 🙂 I’m now thinking about the differences between authority, power, confidence…I feel a post coming along somewhere. I guess I’m one of these people that believes that real change, real learning can only happen through reflective and reflexive processes and that means showing up and participating – you can’t learn to swim from reading a book – you simply have to jump in.

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