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art of woo, from wharton


Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca once noted, "You can have
brilliant ideas; but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get
you anywhere." In their new book, The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas, Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor G. Richard Shell
and management consultant Mario Moussa provide a systematic approach to
idea selling that addresses the problem Iacocca identified. As an
example of effective persuasion, they tell the story of rock star
Bono's visit to then-Senator Jesse Helms' Capitol Hill office to enlist
his help in the global war against AIDS.

Bono had all the facts and figures at his fingertips, and launched
into a detailed appeal based on this data. He was, in essence, speaking
to Helms the same way he had recently spoken to executives and
technical experts at the many foundations and corporations he had
approached about this issue. But within a few minutes, Bono sensed that
he was losing Helms' attention, and he instinctively changed his pitch.
Knowing that Helms was a deeply religious man (and drawing on his own
born-again Christian values), Bono began speaking of Jesus Christ's
concern for the sick and poor. He argued that AIDS should be considered
the 21st century equivalent of leprosy, an affliction cited
in many Bible stories of the New Testament. Helms immediately sat up
and began listening, and before the meeting was over had promised to be
the Senate champion for Bono's cause.

Examples such as this one illustrate what Shell and Moussa mean by
"woo": It's the ability to "win others over" to your ideas without
coercion, using relationship-based, emotionally intelligent persuasion.
"The rock star Bono is superb at the art of woo because he understands
what it takes to be a super-salesman, in the best sense of that term,"
says Shell. "Here you have a rock star with tinted glasses and an
elderly, conservative Southern senator. But when Bono had the good
sense to switch from public policy talk about debt relief -- what we
call in our book the 'rationality' channel -- to religious talk about
poverty and disease -- what we call the 'vision' channel -- he touched
Helms' heart. He sold his idea and, in the process, created trust."

The word "woo," the authors note, has many meanings, but all of them
relate to focusing on the person you are trying to persuade more than
on your own needs and fears. "There is the obvious meaning related to
courtship and romance," says Shell, "but there is also the more general
idea of wooing people to seek their support. In addition, Marcus
Buckingham and Donald Clifton have recently used the word 'woo' in
their books to describe the ability to easily establish rapport with
many different people." However "woo" may be defined, the authors argue
that effectively selling ideas -- using persuasion rather than force --
is one of the most important skills that everyone from CEOs and
entrepreneurs to team leaders and mid-level managers need to learn if
they want to be effective in their organizations.

The Spirit of St. Louis

The Art of Woo presents a simple, four-step approach to the
idea-selling process. First, persuaders need to polish their ideas and
survey the social networks that will lead them to decision makers. To
illustrate this step, Shell and Moussa recount how an unknown mail
pilot named Charles Lindbergh turned his dream of being the first
person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic into a reality. His idea was
radical: He would make the crossing in a single-engine plane flying
without a co-pilot or even a life raft. The idea was followed by his
campaign to overcome people's disbelief that such a venture could ever
work and to win over supporters in his hometown of St. Louis. Lindbergh
started with contacts at the local airport who could see why his plan
made sense and eventually worked his way up to the most influential
businessmen in the city, using each person along the way to leverage an
interview with the next.

The second stage of the Woo process is confronting what Shell and
Moussa call "the five barriers" -- the five most common obstacles that
can sink ideas before they get started. These include unreceptive
beliefs, conflicting interests, negative relationships, a lack of
credibility and failing to adjust one's communication mode to suit a
particular audience or situation. Great persuaders throughout history
have shared with Bono an instinct for overcoming this last barrier. For
example, when Napoleon was a young officer at the siege of Toulon, he
set up an artillery battery in such a dangerous location that his
superiors thought he would never get troops to man it. They would have
been right had Napoleon relied on the conventional "authority channel"
and issued threats and orders to get his way. Instead, he demonstrated
his social intelligence by switching to the visionary channel and
creating a large placard that was placed next to the cannons. It read:
"The Battery of the Men without Fear." The position was manned night
and day.

Similarly, when Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on the notorious
Robben Island in South Africa, he managed to obtain blankets and other
necessities for his fellow prisoners by foregoing the expected
high-minded appeals to politics and human rights. He worked instead on
the relationship persuasion channel. By learning the guards' Afrikaans
language and reading their literature, Mandela earned their respect and
won them over to his idea of fair treatment -- even as he continued to
face hostility from the officials who ran the prison.

The third stage is to pitch your idea in a compelling way. Shell and
Moussa note that at Google, employees selling ideas to upper management
are given a challenge: to distill their business concepts into short,
punchy presentations that get right to the essence of what they are
proposing. This discipline forces them to figure out exactly what
problem their idea addresses, how their idea will solve it and why
their idea is better than both the status quo and available
alternatives. The authors offer a template for pitching ideas in this
format and give examples of distinct ways one can personalize an idea
to make it memorable and distinctive.

The final stage of Woo is to secure both individual and
organizational commitments. "One of the most common mistakes people
make in selling ideas," says Shell, "is to think that their job is
finished once they succeed in getting someone to say 'yes' to their
proposal. That's only the beginning. Research shows that in most
organizations, a minimum of eight people will need to sign off on even
simple ideas. The number goes up from there. So after you move the
individual, you also have to move the organization."

Shell and Moussa use a number of cases from business history to
illustrate this point. For example, they tell the story of Charles F.
Kettering, a brilliant inventor and engineer from the 1930s whom many
consider an equal of Thomas Edison. Kettering invented such things as
the automatic transmission and safety plate glass, but one of his best
ideas -- the air-cooled automobile engine -- sat on the shelf for
decades until the Volkswagen Beetle incorporated it. Kettering
convinced Alfred Sloan, GM's top executive, that producing the
air-cooled engine was a good idea, and the company's executive
committee gave the go-ahead to make a limited number of cars with the
prototype. But instead of following the idea through, Kettering went
back to his lab to concentrate on the technical aspects of the project.
The committee handed the production assignment to the Chevrolet
division, whose top managers had never been brought into the persuasion
process. They let the idea languish and it was eventually abandoned.
"Kettering made a fundamental mistake: He didn't follow up and keep the
pressure on," Shell notes. "He didn't do the political
coalition-building needed to implement his idea."

Andy Grove's 'Constructive Confrontation'

Individual personality plays a key role in how you influence others,
Shell adds. The book therefore includes two personalized "diagnostic"
tests that readers can take to discover their persuasion strengths and
weaknesses. One of the diagnostics is the "Six Channels Survey," which
is designed to help people learn which of the key channels of influence
they feel compelled to use most often at work and which they would
prefer to use if given a choice. These channels include Authority,
Rationality, Vision, Relationships, Interests and Politics. The idea is
to help readers understand both how these six channels work and when
they should adjust their pitch -- as Bono did with Senator Helms and
Mandela did on Robben Island -- to appeal to different kinds of

A second self-administered test, the Persuasion Styles Assessment,
helps readers determine the degrees of assertiveness and natural social
intelligence they bring to the idea-selling process. The authors point
out that there is no one "correct" style of persuasion; rather, the key
is being self-aware so you know how you perform and how others will
perceive you.

For example, Shell and Moussa illustrate the "Driver" style (a
highly assertive type who gives only limited attention to the social
environment) by examining how Intel CEO Andy Grove managed the
persuasion process at Intel during his years as that company's leader.
Labeled the "screamer," Grove could be intimidating to people who
didn't know him well. But he was also willing to listen if people stood
up to him and matched his passion. To facilitate communication, Grove
instituted what he called a culture of "constructive confrontation"
that freed everyone to be as blunt and assertive as he was. The result
was a high-stress environment, but one in which everyone could speak
their minds.

The Art of Woo goes on to describe four other distinctive
styles with examples drawn from business history. Banker J. P. Morgan
is given as the model for the Commander (a Grove-like person who has a
quieter demeanor), John D. Rockefeller exemplifies the Chess Player (a
quieter person who attends strategically to the social environment),
Andrew Carnegie's life provides the example for the Promoter style (a
gregarious type who uses high levels of social intelligence), and Sam
Walton is the model for the style that strikes the balance among all
the others -- the Advocate.

Three Typical Mistakes

Both Shell and Moussa have wide experience in the area of
negotiations. Shell is director of Wharton Executive Education's
Negotiation Workshop and author of Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People.
Moussa teaches executive education courses on negotiation and
organizational change and is head of the Negotiation Practice Group at
management consulting firm CFAR (the Center for Applied Research). This
year, Shell and Moussa launched a new Wharton Executive Education
program called the Strategic Persuasion Workshop.

The idea for the book arose from the comments of executive education
participants who frequently spoke about internal negotiation problems
they were facing in their companies. These conversations gave the
authors the idea to "talk about persuasion inside organizations, with a
focus on selling ideas," says Shell. "We had a laser beam into the
crisis moment when you're sitting at the table and you've got an idea
or an initiative or a program, and you're trying to get buy-in from a
decision maker. From there, we built out the strategic process that can
prepare you for that moment in the best possible way. By doing that, we
were able to identify the key personality traits that great persuaders
share and develop the diagnostic surveys to help people gain insights
into their own styles and approaches."

Asked what the top three mistakes are that people make in selling
ideas, Shell notes that the number one-error is "egocentric bias," or
"focusing on yourself instead of your audience. People assume that the
person they are trying to sell on their idea is just like them, that he
or she has the same primary goals and frame of reference, and that what
they are talking about is important to the other side. But other people
may not care at all about what is important to you.... It's a killer

A second mistake is the belief that there are no systematic ways to
persuade people to accept an idea. "A lot of people just wing it,
thinking they can count on their own experience and instinctive powers
of persuasion to carry the day," says Shell. "But in fact, you do need
a strategy. That is what this book is about."

The third most common error is to forget about organizational
politics, as Charles Kettering did at General Motors. "Whenever a new
idea might affect resources, power, control or turf," Shell says,
"politics will be part of the problem at the implementation stage. You
need to prepare an idea-selling campaign, not just a presentation."

The authors suggest that people working in any group -- from the
largest Fortune 500 company to an entrepreneurial startup -- can
benefit from improving their skills at the art of persuasion. As Shell
notes: "Influencing others in an organization to accept and act on your
ideas is a challenge that never goes away."


Annoying isnt it


Lifted from another blog...

In last week's post,
we noted how the accounting profession has contributed a phrase to the
general office lexicon. I began to wonder if there's something here --
a trend perhaps -- so I searched for other examples. First one that
came to mind was net-net, because the first time I heard the phrase, I scribbled a mental post-it to myself (perhaps we'll look at that phrase someday). That post-it, crumpled, but still legible today, reads, "woh -- that's annoying. Not one net but two? What would possess someone intelligent to say this?"

In today's office, net-net has come to replace the bottom line,
yes, another accounting term that we too often use in conversations
that have nothing to do with accounting. Invariably, those
conversations -- we've all had them -- are about the vagaries of
business, where it is often so difficult to get to the heart of the matter, the gist, the bottom line. Both the bottom line and his teenage daughter net-net
serve a useful purpose in business life: to make vague and aimless
business conversations feel as rational and conclusive as a P&L
statement. When a colleague utters either of these phrases, you know
you have reached a point in the conversation when you will soon be done with the conversation.

But there's also something falsely hip about net-net that
some people -- many in marketing -- find irresitible. They are not
thinking of accounting, of course. Marketing people may steal ideas
from the accounting trade, but never their sense of fashion. Instead,
they are thinking -- unconsciously -- about of the Internet. That was
almost certainly the case when I first heard the phrase net-net (during
the mental note episode) in a conversation I had with a colleague
several years ago:

ME: So, how did the briefing with [analyst firm] go?

COLLEAGUE: We, I believe [analyst] was impressed, but as you know, [our client] is not an [analyst firm] customer.

ME: Right.

COLLEAGUE: It was a good meeting, but not sure how much will come out of it.

ME: Will they write?

COLLEAGUE: Uh-huh. Maybe he'll mention them in a note, maybe they'll move nicely on [famously branded industry-analyst report].

ME: Bottom line: they're gonna get something?


ME: But not much, right?

COLLEAGUE: Net-net? Nothing big.

Net-net felt almost right in that situation, given the fact
that our client was a technology company. The accounting metaphor
almost became cool, by adding a second layer of meaning, i.e., by
subtly referencing the Internet, the technology world's super-metaphor
for simplying business conversation. Net-net, in this context, is unconscious short-hand for "the bottom line for us
-- in this stinkin' technology world, where a very few influencers hold
so much sway -- is that our client is gonna get nothing."

But there's one more thing: net-net seems to be helping
marketing people illuminate a world too complicated and compromised for
simple, arithmetical rules. There's often a bottom line, to be sure.
But if you press further, you will sometimes find another (and if you
are in the green business, you might press for three, but that's another story). For some of the best people in our profession, including those who use this unfortunate phrase, net-net -- the bottom line spoken twice -- means you are telling the truth to your colleague, your boss, or your client, the one who would be left holding the bag were it not for this simple act of decency. Bottom line? Net-net is probably a good thing.


I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration...

Everything you do..


Do it with love.



Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

Political people take note.

Happiness comes from caring. Not gold. Commercialisation of religion is soon upon us. Commercialisation of state is already here.


I said this about 7 years ago...


And now its financially possible.


Essentially, there is no need to have moving parts for anything - such as music or movies. Now that Flash is cheaper to make/buy (or are we relying on cheap chinese labour?) it is sensible to avoid moving part issues.

This means...things get smaller and more space friendly.

Plus, nothing skips!


Still got it


There is nothing better than having a confidence boost. It would be best if someone affirmed your skills, but somethimes you play with what you are delt.

I said a few things on my new project. You need x, y and z i said. No no no, said the others. Today. Yep. We need em.

Did they thank me? No. But i know i got skills. Still.

Boo ya.

Hope you get your skills too.


True vocations


I know many people who are in jobs that dont suit them. I always felt that we all need a total fussball life coach. Someone who says 'you are working as a teacher (say) but you are better suited as a councillor. So lets get your skills rounded.'

Much like good coaches do to footballers. Start on the wing but your talent is defence.

So, question for you;

What do you think is your true vocation?

What about a friend who is evidently not aligned to theirs?


Its like this you see...

...there is something wonderful from a film that summarises most of what we face right now:

"we're in the business, of being in business, so lets get down to business"

or thereabouts.

this applies to: organisations that are now concentrating on membership and not voice, politics and political parties, etc.

its all business....just like don corleone said.


Liberty, Justice and .... ID Cards


Regular browsers will know I'm a big fan of Liberty, actually a Friend of Liberty. The Independent newspaper did a Q&A with Shami, head of Liberty UK. Here's the run through. Please remember, what you enjoy today, may not be enjoyable tomorrow, unless freedom is preserved.


Shami Chakrabarti: You Ask The Questions

The director of Liberty answers your questions, such as 'Can torture ever be justified?' and 'What makes you sad?'

Published: 15 October 2007

Is there a case from a human rights perspective to try Bush and Blair for war crimes? Najinder Sander, by email

I'm not at all qualified to answer this question, not being an international lawyer, let alone an expert in the laws of war. Let's just say that if I were one of these gentlemen, I would probably get myself some legal advice.

What should happen if Osama bin Laden was apprehended in London? Rupert Fast, Esher

This one's easy. He should be charged with umpteen offences of murder, conspiracy and incitement to murder and put on trial. Yes, he would be granted the humane treatment that he has denied to thousands, but this would be an historic worldwide testament to our democratic values. He would know that we see him as a heinous criminal, but a common criminal nonetheless.

A terrorist suspect cannot be charged for lack of evidence and cannot be deported as he who comes from a country that practises torture. What should be done with him? Mike Pictor, Cheltenham

The devil is in the detail on this one. You say "terrorist suspect" but what exactly is the nature of the suspicions? Do they relate to what he's done or what he's about to do? Is he a suspected funder, inciter, conspirator or bomber? Clearly what we want is evidence with which to charge him or dispel our suspicions. Remember, it may well be possible to charge him with a lower level offence like attending a terrorist training camp if we can't yet prove the big conspiracy. One important decision might be whether to arrest him for such an offence or to put him under close surveillance. This surveillance might be covert (so that he leads us to more evidence), or overt (so that he knows not to put a foot wrong). I will never accept the counsel of despair that says the choice is between locking up a suspect (who may be innocent) indefinitely without charge or doing absolutely nothing.

A man has been arrested. He has planted a bomb in central London scheduled to go off at rush hour. Would you use torture to make him tell police where it was? If not, why not? Roger Fairclough, Liverpool

To my knowledge, this classic nightmare scenario has only ever arisen in Hollywood movies but is frequently used to justify the living nightmare of torture victims the world over. The bottom line is that in a human rights' framework filled with balances and qualifications, the one absolute is no torture; no compromise. This principle is the greatest distinction between democrats and tyrants.

Why do so many people remain unconcerned about the reduction of our individual freedoms? Roy Parizat, by email

We are fortunate enough to live in perhaps the oldest unbroken democracy on the planet. We've had our rights and freedoms for so long that it's easy to take them for granted.

Isn't your organisation just made up of privileged do-gooders and Oxbridge graduates, completely out of touch with real people? Keith Hall, Norwich

No. Liberty (the National Council of Civil Liberties) has a rather broader membership, united by shared values rather than education, class, race or even party politics.

What is your opinion of the 10 years of a Labour Government? Matthew Smithen, by email

Mr Blair left us the Human Rights Act but denigrated it in thought and word and deed. We got the Race Relations (Amendment) Act but poisonous anti-asylum policy and legislation for ID cards. Surely Mr Brown can do better?

You are a woman from an ethnic minority, but you lead a powerful organisation. What's the secret of your success? Rita Harvey, Sussex

You said it. It's the organisation that is powerful but not in the classic sense. Liberty's annual turnover is little more than £1m a year. It is independent of government and therefore has no statutory "power". Its strength comes from its members and staff sharing a set of principles that actually run very deep in this country. It has been a joy and privilege to be in the right organisation at such an important time.

Wouldn't you like to get involved in real politics one day and have a voice inside Parliament? Laura Connolly, by email

I don't think I'd be best suited to party politics.

Do you think the concept of individual civil liberties needs to change for the modern electronic era? Delash Patel, Wokingham

No. I don't believe that fundamental values need changing. However, I am concerned that technology advances very quickly and public education, ethical, political and legal debate lag too far behind.

Over-policing at the recent climate change camp clearly breached civil liberties for many peaceful protesters. What do you think citizens can do to reclaim the right to protest? Sandrine Levêque, London

Join Liberty. Protest even more. Write to your MP, chief constable and local newspaper.

Do you believe the Human Rights Act 1998 should be repealed? Alex Ustych, by email

Absolutely not. The myths about the Human Rights Act constitute some of the biggest lies ever told in Britain. The rubbish about it being alien and European when Churchill was the greatest proponent of the Convention on which it is based. The nonsense about rights without responsibilities when most rights are balanced and all demand our responsibility to protect the rights of others. The piffle about too much power to lawyers when the Act expressly prevents judges striking down Acts of Parliament.

Many left-wingers campaigned against Pinochet's Chile but not Videla's Argentina. To what extent is it objectively possible to discuss human rights without being ideologically biased? Nicholas Jones, by email

It's perfectly possible. It just takes a clear head and an even hand.

When did human rights turn into "civil liberties" anyway? Daniel Smith, Aberdeen

It's fascinating the way some people cling to one phrase and not the other. If we're talking about the civil and political rights in the Human Rights Act like free speech and protest, privacy, fair trials etc I don't see the distinction. The danger is of some people on the left and right of politics using "civil liberties" as a means of protecting just citizens or people they like, as opposed to all "human beings".

Why hasn't Liberty taken a stronger position on the question of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" flights? Marcus Williamson, by email

Is it possible to have a "stronger position" on kidnap and torture than utter disgust, complete condemnation and ongoing efforts to uncover and outlaw any British complicity?

If the most powerful country in the world is regularly committing human right atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay what hope is there of influencing less developed countries to change their ways when it comes to human rights? Russell Sheehan, Los Gatos, California


Do you ever worry that you've become overexposed?, Paddy Fletcher, Vauxhall

Whoops. Many thanks. Zips can be so unreliable.

Have there been any events in your own life that have made you such a keen defender of civil liberties? Marcus Corby, Kent

I've had an incredibly fortunate life. No persecution or profound injustice. My parents who saw cruelty and injustice, share their positive democratic values with me.

What saddens you about today's Britain, and what gives you hope? Mark Anderson, by email

It's sad when people turn a blind eye to profound injustice or when people are too casual about rights which their ancestors fought and died to defend. But I always burst with hope. People, in my experience, are generally more decent than not and Britain has an ancient tradition of rights and freedoms and I take great comfort from people across political, geographical and other lines who want the pendulum to swing back.

If ID cards will catch more fraudsters, illegal immigrants, simplify police investigations, protect us from terrorist outrages and make the nation a safer place to live in then what is the problem? Laurence Measey, by email

One big problem is that ID cards won't do any of these things. Nor will they deal with global warming or junk mail.

Will you resign in protest when ID cards are forced on us? Diarmuid Casey, by email

My job is to protest. Its hard to protest by giving up protest.

Will the media treat the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights seriously? David Cole, by email

I hope so.

Do you not agree that a surveillance state is inevitable? Joshua Darbo, Croydon

Some surveillance is inevitable. It is necessary, proportionate and lawful for very good cause. But we have been too casual with our precious personal privacy, which is essential to dignity, intimacy and other essentials.

Do you support the "right" for people to hunt with dogs? Amanda Young, by email

A human rights' analysis often helps to evaluate whether a particular policy has gone too far to be acceptable. But I don't think it decides every thorny political issue.

Some people regard you as a bit of a left-wing pin-up. How do you feel about this? Duncan Reader, Chepstow

Sticks and stones.


Do we have to use that term?


I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been
To sit with elders of the gentle race, this world has seldom seen

We go in at 3am, eternal.

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Weekly musings from a confused mind. This blog, and all posts within it, are just ramblings. They are in no way affiliated with any past, current or future employers. Neither do they represent my deep felt views, or those of my friends or family. Really, its just a blog, which is a new thing, and has new dimensions. So please, dont take anything seriously. If you do, contact me via a comment, and I will get back to you to resolve the situation. Seriously, enjoy life, ignore this blog, and views within it.


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