Search This Podcast

Monday, March 24, 2014

#040 - Is your Project Team like a Light Switch...or a Candle?

A few years ago I went on a fly-fishing trip with a group of work colleagues. I was working on a project in New Zealand, and we were going to be staying in an old company-owned holiday "bach" just outside of Taupo. You could book these properties for a weekend and pay a small fee. A basic type of unit - furnished with several beds, kitchen, TV, tables, chairs and couple sofas - nothing too fancy.

We unpacked our gear, loaded up the fridge and headed back outside for fly-fishing lessons. My first ever lesson - and apparently you need to learn how to do it while on dry land (without a hook) just to get used to the back-and-forth action before you try it standing hip-deep in a river. Perhaps to make sure you didn't fall over while casting - or hook anyone around you.

After about an hour of practicing casting, it was getting dark and our arms were getting tired, so we headed back in to get dinner ready and settle in for the evening. One of the guys was frying up dinner while the rest of us chatted and watched the little black-and-white TV. I was just walking back into the living room with a fresh beer when the lights went out.

"Who turned off the lights?" I asked.

"There's some coins on top of the fridge," one of the locals called out from the sofa.


"Coins on top of the fridge. Put some in the slot."

"What slot?"

He sighed and got up. "In the meter."

He walked over to the fridge and picked up three coins. He popped them into a box on the wall, one by one. The lights suddenly came back on. "That should do for an hour. We pay for power when we use the bach - it's one reason it is so cheap to stay here."

I studied the pile of coins on top of the fridge. It was perhaps my first experience of "user pays" - in this case, quite literally with a pocket full of change.

I was experiencing a sudden and strange shift in expectation - electricity is just supposed to be "on", right?

Listen to the podcast or read the full article on Gazza's Corner Blog.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

#039 - May I have your Attention, Please?

You know the drill - anyone who has ever flown on a commercial airline has heard this announcement from the flight attendant, usually followed by a safety briefing video and a demonstration by the crew. 

Most of us briefly look up, see the flight attendant standing there, snug our seat-belt, glance up above our heads, and resume reading - or listening to music, whatever. Most of us ignore the actual briefing if we have flown more than a few times. Even the comment "you may have flown before, but this aircraft may be different than what you are used to, so please follow along with this safety briefing" is unlikely to gain more than a few curious glances. If the safety message is only a video, there may be even fewer people paying attention.

We have become so used to distractions and the constant babble of noise around us in our daily lives, we learn to tune it out - and that can sometimes be a good thing. But how do you get - and hold - someone's attention, particularly if the message you have to share is really important?

On aircraft, different techniques have been used over the years to try to gain - and hold - your attention when announcements are made, with varying degrees of success. Humorous flight attendants are popular, but what about the safety videos?

Some of the most effective have been produced by Air New Zealand, who developed a series of safety videos that actually get you watching - and engaged. They also change the videos regularly, so you are also less likely to be "ho-hum" when you get settled in for your flight. Passengers now look forward to the safety videos - imagine that! Nude flight attendants with paint-on uniforms, anyone? You can be sure everybody paid attention to that safety video!

"That's nice for the airlines", you say. "But
how can we get - and keep - someone's attention?"

One tactic is to hook them with the unexpected - and then engage them in the message, and keep them interested until you are finished.

The Unexpected


Well, perhaps it is not a great idea to literally start with a bang (especially on an airplane), but you need to do something to begin to hook their attention away from their smartphones at the beginning of your message or presentation. Something out of the ordinary can work quite well, if you don't overdo it.

Many years ago,well before the clever Air NZ videos, I was on an aircraft that most definitely held my undivided - and disconcerted - attention. 

 Listen to the podcast or read the full article on Gazza's Corner Blog.