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You’re Not Failing Enough!

We’ve heard it and seen it a lot over the past 20+ years. People in the corporate world are afraid to push the limits and take a calculated risk. They want to be innovative, want to have an impact on their company’s bottom line or how it does business. But at the end of the day, they surrender to fear and do something safe. They do something that doesn’t make waves, something that won’t draw too much attention. What these people don’t realize is that in the waves is where the big ideas live—the real innovation, the real results. The most innovative minds in history (da Vinci, Picasso, Edison and dozens of others) have proven it over and over again—when it comes to innovation, failure is part of the process.

Even in business, we know that many of the people we consider to be the most successful entrepreneurs have failed more times than they have succeeded. These entrepreneurs lack the fear of failure and are driven to continue trying again and again. Ultimately, the success they achieve is at scale so great, it makes everyone else forget about their misguided ideas and botched attempts. Yet for some reason this thinking has evaded many in the corporate culture. So how does a company transform itself into a breeding ground for innovation where the fear of failure isn’t a paralyzing factor?

A few years ago, we had a client who wanted help generating ideas on how to bring innovation to life within his organization. To our surprise, we discovered that the biggest barrier to innovative thinking wasn’t a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of willingness to share those ideas. Our challenge soon shifted from promoting innovative thinking to creating an atmosphere that fostered it. Adding to the complexity of this challenge, was the fact that we were dealing with a global company and a wide range of business units.

Our solution was to remove people from the constraints of a work-based environment and inject them into a competitive, game-like atmosphere. One that promoted free thinking by placing a premium on speed, volume and diversity of ideas. Additionally, we used technology to eliminate the social and political barriers that often exist within a business by ensuring anonymity through user names.

Technology also played a role in capturing the ideas by preventing the facilitator or leadership from weighing the value and viability of the ideas as they were generated. The result? A fast-paced, highly efficient global idea generation session that allowed a leader to address small challenges or large initiatives while leveraging the full creative problem solving skills and thinking of their entire team.

Here are some lessons learned:

  1. Eliminate hierarchy from idea generation. Many workers are afraid that if they submit an idea or take a risk and it doesn’t pan out, their leaders will devalue them (and unfortunately in some cases, this is true). If you create an atmosphere where idea generation can be collected with some level of anonymity, the number of ideas captured are likely to increase exponentially.
  2. Invite everyone to the table. Don’t limit yourself by only capturing the ideas of a select group. Instead, extend the invitation to participate to a wide range of roles and encourage them to share their ideas and insight. You might be surprised by the source of your most innovative ideas.
  3. Leverage technology. Technology offers great potential for your organization to capture and share ideas on a grand scale—embrace it! The more people can share ideas and insight with one another, the greater the potential for innovation to evolve. Often times, a new idea will evolve as different minds see it from a new angle and apply it to other areas of thought.
  4. Create an atmosphere of fluid thinking. Put a premium on the speed, volume and diversity of the ideas that are generated. People are less likely to self-edit and more likely to expand their thinking outside of their comfort zone when the fear of being judged is eliminated.
  5. Incremental can be extraordinary. Contrary to popular belief, not all innovation requires revolutionary change. Smart yet incremental change can move the needle the most, and generally requires little effort to bring to life.
  6. Hold off on evaluating. Don’t try to determine the viability of an idea when it’s first presented. Let it sit for a little bit. Analysis generally paralyzes innovative thinking.

As many businesses look for ways to develop and grow their business they will come to the realization that their greatest potential for growth is through the thoughts and insights that their employees provide.

Give us a call or shoot us an email to find out more on how we did it and to see the projects!  From video production services, to brand stories, green screen, online video marketing, social media marketing, viral marketing or just simply needing a camera crew in Minneapolis or St. Paul, we do it all!

Tell Me a Story: The Power of Traditional Storytelling, Emotion and Employee Point of View

Let’s be brutally honest for a moment. Internally produced corporate videos have a fairly consistent history and reputation. Over the years they have come to be rated by something employees call, “The Yawn Factor.” For some reason, internally-facing videos have been given a free pass to be less than excellent, while consumer-facing videos are held to a much higher standard. We at Mojo Solo argue that it’s no longer acceptable to hold your employee facing messages to a lower standard than your customer facing messages. Both customers and employees deserve to be presented with media that will make them look twice, make them think, and will provide an “a-ha” moment that inspires in them a renewed commitment to your company’s brand.

But why do so many internally facing productions fall flat? Why do they seem destined to catch no one’s attention and inspire nothing but yawns? Tom Clifford, a multimedia consultant, rightly points to a phenomenon known as the “Safe” phenomenon.

“When it comes to producing corporate videos, most internal marketing departments create something ‘safe.’ ‘Safe’ works. ‘Safe’ is easy. ‘Safe’ will keep your job. ‘Safe’ gets me through the day.

Not really. ‘Safe’ doesn’t inspire conversations. ‘Safe’ doesn’t ignite action. ‘Safe’ doesn’t make me think harder. Or differently. Or stretch me. ‘Safe’ doesn’t make me go, ‘A-Ha!’”

We would also argue that the biggest common reason corporate videos don’t capture the hearts or minds of employees is this:

Corporate videos often lack 1) anything resembling a well-told story or 2) an actual person’s point of view. Thusly, it is unable to spark an emotional connection or inspire any positive reaction from an employee.

Riddle me this: If you release a video into the company intranet without a compelling story angle or human perspective, will it still make a sound?

Storytelling Stands Out
Even when an organization has produced an informational, high-definition video with slick-looking graphics and also has a proven distribution method for employees to see the videos, the messages can still fail. Simply put, if an internally facing video is missing a personal, human point of view, and is not harnessing the true power of story, it will most likely go unnoticed or unwatched.

Three basic techniques that will lead to better storytelling in corporate videos include:

Build an instant human connection.
iewers have a very basic desire to identify with someone in the video. We want to connect with one or more of the people onscreen, so let’s be sure to have some real people telling real stories in their own authentic voices. Here the “Voice of God” narration technique often need not apply.

Give the story some context.
How does this new initiative or campaign fit into the bigger picture? Who are the supporting players? What is the long term mission and how will this new adventure of a campaign help us achieve our common goals?

Keep it simple.
Tell a story that is easy to understand. Save the in-depth statistical analysis for the accompanying spreadsheets. The video is meant to inspire and energize. After the employees feel connected to a personally relatable mission, they will want to dig deeper into charts, spreadsheets and statistics. NOT during the video.

Like any good television commercial or program, you must work to engage your audience. Yes – this means employees, too!
A common thought among management might be, “My employees are already on board with the company. Just present them the information they need to do their jobs. They already understand the brand and are already inspired to participate in the new initiative or to be passionate advocates for the new product launch.”

It’s this kind of thinking that will lead to uninspired and disengaged employees. We’ve seen it happen. Instead, we challenge you to think of your employees as you would your customers (see our Brand is as Brand Does article for more on this) and put the same thought and effort into internally facing messages as you would into a customer facing commercial. Shouldn’t you treat employees as the best potential brand advocates you have?

The Benefits of Authentic Voice
At its essence, a video’s success will rely upon its ability to convey an authentic message from a real human’s point of view. Often to achieve this goal, we invite real employees to tell their own stories to other employees, rather than having the CEO or “Voice of God” narration do the storytelling. Let them tell it in their own words! This employee voice technique has had proven success for our clients and often results in:

Increased interpersonal connection and relationships between employees and management, which are critical to successful collaboration and result in higher productivity and engagement.

A strong feeling of community in the workplace. Employees want to come to work to collaborate with their peers.

A positive and accurate reflection of an organization’s culture. Identifying with an organization’s culture is a big factor in employee job satisfaction.

Whether it’s to announce a new company-wide innovation campaign or perhaps to recognize success stories within your organization, the next time you are considering producing an internally facing video, we hope you will consider crafting it in a manner that reflects what we’ve found to be successful:

Tell them a human story, which employees can connect with on an emotional level. And tell it to them using a human voice, from a point of view they can identify with. You just might notice your video getting a few second looks.

Give us a call or shoot us an email to find out more on how we did it and to see the projects!  From video production services, to brand stories, green screen, online video marketing, social media marketing, viral marketing or just simply needing a camera crew in Minneapolis or St. Paul, we do it all!


The Lost Art of Authenticity in Corporate America

Over the years, our work has taught us time and time again that when employees are intellectually and emotionally engaged, they become evangelists for their employer’s brand. They will take the company’s mission to the world at large and preach it like gospel. Can I get a hallelujah?

But it all starts internally with smart, dynamic communication that ensures all employees are carrying the mission forward, are continually aligned with stated goals, and most importantly they must truly be emotionally invested in the livelihood of the company.

So how do we keep our messages fresh and our employees engaged in the media-saturated, multi-task-or-lose 21st century?

Authenticity: Messages must feel authentic
Author Paul Barsch recently pointed out that, “we eagerly seek out, and are willing to pay a premium for, “Authentic” experiences, whether delivered via product, service or engagement.”

While this statement relates directly to customer experience, we maintain that the same rules apply in how we deliver messages to our employees. Authenticity breeds credibility. Credibility breeds trust. And trust, well, trust is the stuff you never want to do business without.

When a message is lacking in authenticity, one simply cannot build the high-trust relationships with employees that a company needs to reach its goals. Crafting truly authentic messages will result in:

    1. Employees becoming emotionally connected to the company’s mission.
    2. Increased consistency in behavior and quality of work due to an increased desire to succeed.
    3. A strong culture of commitment and accountability.

The pursuit of authenticity then, for a corporate message creator means this: Telling meaningful stories with emotional depth, using a human voice.

A Meaningful Back Story
Your company’s back story must inspire employee loyalty and energy. For example, a message about the history of your company should not be a simple timeline with important names and dates. It should be presented as a captivating journey about an underdog’s struggle to succeed, starring the fascinating entrepreneurs who took great risk to build what is your company today!

And we also recommend a theater in which your new film should play: Employee Orientation. Orientation is the beginning of an employee’s journey and is the first opportunity to start to build credibility and connect with new employees on a very human level. Once employees connect with this fascinating story of the great people who built the company they now work for, they will be standing firmly on a foundation of credibility and will want to perpetuate and continue your powerful legacy.

Emotional Depth
Let us not underestimate the power of a well-told story. All truly moving stories have at least one thing in common. They affect us on an emotional level. Everyone has seen the black and white historical film that portrays the founders of a company as two-dimensional characters that started the business X numbers of years ago with X number of employees. While this approach will certainly inform a workforce, it won’t inspire or energize one.

However, when you can tell the story of the birth of your company using proven storytelling techniques that create an emotional connection with the viewers, you will change the way employees look at their employer, transforming them into brand advocates for a company that they can’t help but want to be a part of.

Human Voice
Messages will never feel authentic when delivered in “business speak.” Business jargon has no business in the crafting of authentic messages. Rather, we must convey our messages in a human voice. In Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, Brian Fugere argues that,

“There is a gigantic disconnect between these real, authentic conversations and the artificial voice of business executives and managers at every level. Their messages lack humanity in a world that craves more of it.”

Let’s look at an example of both kinds of voices, using a very familiar call to action and compare them side by side. In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath use JFK’s space exploration call to action to great illustration.

John F. Kennedy’s 1961 call to “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade,” was a simple way, using a human voice to declare a mission and inspire listeners.

In business speak, conversely, that same mission might sound something like “Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.” Whew. Chew on that for awhile. Quite a mouthful, and completely lacking anything resembling a human voice or human emotion. The difference between two ways of communicating the same mission can be startling.

And so to re-cap, our mission is rather simple:

Cut through the clutter, establish a connection and emotionally engage your employees in an authentic manner using a human voice.  Mediums that we deploy are corporate storytelling, brand stories, video production, humor, viral marketing, and humor.

Because at the end of the day, fully engaged employees are happier employees. And happier employees are more productive employees, which is what we think sounds like the definition of a win, win situation.

Give us a call or shoot us an email to find out more!  From video production services, to brand stories, green screen, online video marketing, social media marketing, viral marketing or just simply needing a camera crew in Minneapolis or St. Paul, we do it all!