Category: Uncategorized (Page 3 of 26)

Srini’s Tech Tip: Converting Text into a Smart Art Graphic in PowerPoint

Let’s say you had some hierarchical text such as the 5 Phases of a Project.  The outline below is a multilevel list.  As you can see, it looks very complex and is also hard to process the content.  A graphical representation of the outlined text is a better solution and also easier to explain and follow during a presentation.  There is an old saying, “a picture paints a thousand words”.  In this case, converting the text outline to a diagram also makes it more presentable and interesting.   See the steps below (green box) on how to convert the Outlined Text into a Smart Art Graphic in PowerPoint.  Also note, our L&OD PowerPoint Level 2 course covers various examples of Smart Art Graphics.


You can follow along with all the steps to convert text into a smart art graphic in PowerPoint by clicking HERE.

If you’d like more hands-on experience, please join us for the next PowerPoint Level 2 class in December.

A New Method to Boost Your Team’s Creativity

Most brainstorming sessions wrap by attempting to select the best ideas on the whiteboard. When you do that, what you’re actually doing is attempting to eliminate the worst ideas via logical techniques such as convergent and critical thinking.

That’s counterproductive. It reinstates whatever biases you managed to escape during the brainstorm, and it kills your most promising creations. Those creations will be less developed than old standbys and so often will get crossed off the whiteboard as imperfect or impractical. What these nascent intuitions need instead is further development, via counterfactual thinking.

A more effective approach is to use this two-step, “meet the moment” process. This method matches your originality to the moment. In stable and certain environments, highly creative options are less likely to work, so there’s no need to try them. In unstable and uncertain environments, less-creative options are doomed, so the value proposition lies in gambling on a long shot.



Harvard Business Review (2022, March 24) Angus Fletcher: 3 Exercises to Boost Your Team’s Creativity

The Road to Success Is Paved With Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is one of the most in-demand skills in the workplace, yet, nearly half of employers rate their employees’ critical thinking skills as average or worse. This is due, in part, to the fact that there is little agreement around what critical thinking is exactly. Simply put, critical thinking is the process of analyzing information to get the best answer to a question or problem.

In reality, many employers lack an effective way to objectively assess critical thinking skills and countless managers don’t know how to provide specific instruction to team members in need of becoming better thinkers. Instead, managers often employ a sink-or-swim approach, ultimately creating work-arounds to keep those who can’t figure out how to “swim” from making important decisions.

What if we told you  there is a better way? The professionals at Zarvana have developed the Critical Thinking Roadmap, a framework that breaks critical thinking down into four measurable phases: the ability to execute, synthesize, recommend, and generate. Within this detailed framework managers will learn:

  • How to assess the critical thinking skills of each of your team members
  • How to help those who are struggling
  • How to recognize when a team member has mastered one phase and is ready for the next


Phase 1: EXECUTE

In this phase, team members simply do what they are asked to do. They complete all parts of their assignments on time and the quality of work is at or close to your professional standard. If a team member is struggling with this phase, make sure they understand your instructions by asking them to rearticulate each assignment before they begin. Provide clarity, if necessary, and consider breaking the assignment down into more manageable chunks. Once team members are making suggestions for how to improve their work, you know they’re ready for the next phase.



In this phase, team members learn to sort through a range of information and figure out what is important (such as summarizing the key takeaways after an important meeting). They should be able to identify and communicate all the important insights clearly and succinctly, while excluding all unimportant insights. Further, they should be able to accurately assess the relative importance of the important insights. You know team members are ready for Phase 3 when they can provide a summary of the important insights and implications for future work on the spot without preparation.



In this phase, team members move from identifying what is important to determining what should be done. When asking questions, they should be able to:

  • Provide a recommendation backed by strong reasoning
  • Demonstrate appreciation for the potential downsides of their recommendation
  • Consider alternatives before reaching a final decision

Team members are ready to move to Phase 4 when they make reasonable recommendations that reflect sound business judgment on work that is not their own.



In this phase, team members become adept at translating the vision in others’ heads (and their own) into projects that can be executed. Many people don’t make it this far because they don’t give themselves permission to do the kind of open-ended thinking required. To help your team members move into this phase, ask them to keep a list of their ideas for improving a project, department, or organization and invite them to share those ideas with you regularly.


It’s time to reject the notion that critical thinking is either an innate gift that can’t be developed or a skill learned only through experience. Begin using this systematic approach to lead team members through the four phases of critical thinking. By doing so, you can help your team members develop one of today’s most in-demand skills.

Learning & Organization Development is offering the next Critical Thinking class on August 10th. You can register HERE.


Harvard Business Review (2019, October 11) Matt Plummer: A Short Guide to Building Your Team’s Critical Thinking Skills
MasterClass (2021, May 25) MasterClass staff: Guide to Critical Thinking: Learn to Use Critical Thinking Skills
Indeed (2021, June 9) Indeed Editorial Team: 6 Ways to Improve Critical Thinking at Work

Navigating Change in the Workplace

According to Heraclitus, the only constant in life is change. That couldn’t be truer than in today’s work environment. When a change is first proposed, most people immediately want to know three things:

  • What does this change mean to me
  • Why is it happening
  • What will it look like when the change has been made?



As people begin to ask these questions, their initial mindset is usually that the change will be difficult, costly, and weird. People only begin to be open to accepting, embracing, and making this change when their mindset starts to shift to “this change could be easy, rewarding, and normal.” The author offers four straightforward approaches for leaders to support their people through this necessary mindset shift, resulting in a critical mass of people who will understand, accept, and adopt the change reasonably quickly.

While coping with change in the workplace can be challenging, there are ways to make it easier. Here are five tips for dealing with change in a way that will benefit you and your career:

  1. Help others. The process of helping others will help you to deal with the stress and adapt more quickly to change.
  2. Embrace new opportunities. Change often translates to possibility for those who are willing to embrace it.
  3. Maintain relationships. Make an effort to stay connected to previous co-workers and continue to expand your network.
  4. Accept rather than resist. The most important thing to do to cope with change in the workplace is to acknowledge it. Recognizing and accepting change is one of the first steps toward managing it
  5. Overcommunicate. If you can effectively communicate your concerns to co-workers and managers within the organization, your anxiety can be better addressed and alleviated.


Additionally, the lack of managerial support and buy-in are a consequence of people staying in the “difficult, costly, and weird” mindset about a change, and not being helped to see the change in a more neutral or even positive way. So, how can leaders better support their people to make the mindset shift that will allow them to embrace change?

  1. Increase understanding. The first thing people want is foundational information about the change. It’s important that this summary be realistic — that it acknowledge the time and effort the change will require — and that it lets people know how you’ll support them (with information, training, etc.) to make the change.
  2. Clarify and reinforce priorities. Letting people know what isn’t changing as well as what is changing can be very reassuring. Quite often, even a major change won’t have much impact on people’s key priorities.
  3. Give control. By giving your people as many choices as possible during the change, you can reduce their fear and discomfort and increase the chances of engagement and buy-in.
  4. Give support. Give them a little time to be worried, to hesitate, to ask questions, to want to know the impact on them, even to be sad or anxious. Listen. Summarize their concerns and ask what you can do to address them. Rather than labeling it “resistance,” recognize they’re going through the same arc you went through: they need to understand and process the proposed change and then move through their mindset shift about the change.


As a leader, if you can understand that initial fear and hesitation around change are normal — rather than assuming it means that people are “change-resistant” or “negative” — and support your people through the necessary mindset shift, you’ll be much better able to build a critical mass of people who will understand, accept, and adopt the change reasonably quickly. More important, you’ll be helping your people to become more change-capable overall: to create skills and habits of mind to approach change in a more neutral, open way, and therefore to be better able to navigate all the changes that will arise in this new era.


Harvard Business Review (2022, April 7) Erika Andersen: Change is Hard. Here’s How to Make it Less Painful.
Forbes (2020, February 26) Caroline Castrillon: How to Cope with Change in the Workplace

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