This week, we welcome guest blogger Robert Palmer: Professor Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Kaplan University & Sr. Consultant Learning & Development at Next Era Energy
I’m Robert Palmer, I’m a Theologian (Master of Divinity) and a Psychologist. The Theologian part of me involves helping leaders find their authentic selves and reach their full potential. The Psychologist part of me (I have a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology) reinforces leaders to improve their performance as individuals and better influence the performance of their people, and ultimately their organization.
I do a lot of communicating whether it’s in a university classroom, business training classroom, online or distance learning. It’s essential to my work that I communicate in a way that allows people to comprehend a concept quickly and foster discussion that enhances their understanding. Based on Androgogic (adult learning) Principles my work focuses on behavior. Behavior is a complex issue in the business world, and I seek clarity in my explanations so that the conversation is spent on root issues.
I attend a lot of meetings in order to learn about the needs of a client or their team as well as different members of my own team. One of my favorite meeting tools is the Rhodia Meeting Book (I also like the Meeting Book 90 and the Reverse Book). It’s structured to function in a way that helps me capture and organize ideas.
The Meeting Book uses the Cornell Method, which divides the paper into two columns: notes and key words. This method avoids long sentences and is very conducive to symbols and graphs. I seek understanding as to the root causes of my client’s current results and the behaviors causing those results. To me this is a very creative process. I have to exercise free association, but at the same time capture thoughts quickly from the randomness of ideas that business leaders produce. To do that, I write with fountain pens (Mont Blanc Meisterstuck No. 149, Pelikan Souveran M 600 & Parker 51 Vacumatic) because the ink flows as fast as I can write. The ink I use (Noodler’s & J Herbin) is also vivid in its color and as it is applied to the paper it leaves its mark-no skipping or spacing leaving me to wonder what I was writing later on when reviewing my notes. The other factor is the paper. Paper quality has become critical to me over the years. The process of making good paper is amazing and a true art. Even the smell of good paper starts my creative juices to write. Rhodia makes great paper. The Webnotebook is also a great tool that I use for tracking projects using the dot grid paper.
Once I capture my ideas I need to process them. Using pencils and chalk I like to create a mind map to understand the big picture of the idea I need to communicate. It helps to develop my flow of thought. A mind map is a diagram that organizes information visually. It involves note taking and brain storming. The first thing I develop is my primary concept/idea, and then I break down any sub ideas that support the primary concept. These sub ideas are called secondary and tertiary concepts and are necessary to support the primary concept/idea. The practice of visually mapping information has been around for centuries developed by Porphyry of Tyros (3rd century), and Ramon Llull (1235-1315). I find it very helpful in generating, visualizing, structuring and classifying ideas. It’s amazing to me how many ideas I can generate and many of them become useful for other projects, curriculum, or action plans.
Once my mind map is fleshed out I try to create a visual model that captures the concepts and the flow of logic for my presentation. My lecture or teaching is based on this diagram I’ve created. I will often convert the diagram to an animated PowerPoint slide. However, depending on my audience I may use the slide or draw my diagram free hand, one section at a time. I find that this keeps my audience engaged. By the time I’ve completed my diagram my communication has ended. The visual combined with the communication and dialog makes impact on my audience that enhances their behavior and ultimately their performance.