Ask and listen thoughtfully

Useful for managing innovation and most other things!

Shut up and listen! (linked above) is one of my favorite TED talks. I’ve blogged about this talk before (last August), but I recently watched part of it again preparing for a class session, and decided to re-post in case any of my subscribers haven’t see the video yet. It was presented in 2012 by Ernesto Sirolli, whose career started in international development and now involves a fascinating institute that makes “enterprise facilitation” a vital process in the development of diverse communities.This talk describes the importance of listening to a community’s aspirations and needs before trying to address their challenges. For me, the message underscores the value of asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to the answers. I apply this regularly, e.g., when negotiating agreements and thinking about customer-satisfaction surveys for my clients and students. Asking and listening are also hugely important to understanding customer needs when developing new products in the innovation space. Dr. Sirolli’s description of hippos scarfing down tomato plants in a Zambian river flood plain makes the point extremely well (at about 2:30). Enjoy the video!

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