Martin Lindstrom is the founder and owner of Lindstrom Company, for which he is a Branding Expert and Consultant. He was named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine, and was chosen, by Thinkers50, to be among the world’s Top 50 Business Thinkers for three consecutive years. He is a best-selling author and columnist, earning features as a collaborating writer in various publications like Fast Company and Forbes, to name a few. His most recent book, The Ministry of Common Sense: How to Eliminate Bureaucratic Red Tape, Bad Excuses, and Corporate Bullshit, is a humorous yet practical guide to eradicating the excessively complicated administrative procedures present in every organization. He joins Marcel Schwantes to discuss the erasure of common sense in the workplace, and what needs to be done to bring it back.
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- Through his work, Martin has discovered that there is a direct correlation between common sense and empathy. “Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes… common sense is… seeing the world from another person’s point of view, [because] it’s a common area.” He explains why common sense seems to be lacking in many organizations. [4:38]
- “Technology is increasingly removing the empathy from our world,” Martin claims. Communication through technology limits the scope of information that is being conveyed, as only 10% of communication is verbal. Communicating via technology doesn’t allow you to pick up on all the social cues that are present. This is one reason why employees are becoming less able to empathize with one another, Martin points out. [11:08]
- Marcel asks Martin how corporate politics destroy common sense. “Politics is all about getting things through a system with only you as the person interested in the outcome, and then you get people to buy into it… If the company is not aligned with where it wants to go, or if [all the different departments] start to protect themselves too much… to save their own back, they’re not interested in the bigger perspective,” he replies. [17:36]
- Martin shares an example of shaping regulations around empathy instead of placing regulatory issues at the center. “Politics is there when [the company] loses sight of reality, when you only have a one-way street and [your own] point of view,” he says. [18:31]
- “Technology has stripped our common sense, [and] we have lost a human touch,” Marcel paraphrases. He asks Martin what would happen if organizations didn’t have technology for a while. Martin shares a story where an organization lost control of their technology for six weeks, forcing them to use WhatsApp to run things. Sometime later, he asked 1000 employees how their experience was. He expected them to complain, but to his surprise they enjoyed it: they felt like there was new life in the company, and had a lot of fun. [24:17]
- “Boredom is the foundation for creativity,” Martin muses. “Being bored allows you to take a pause in your life, …and see everything you do in perspective, and start to connect dots in ways you’ve never done before,” he says. [28:55]
- Martin shares some common-sense rules for running successful Zoom meetings. Having team members socialize and communicate with each other in informal ways is productive, as these interactions create the emotional glue and culture of the company. Leaders should allot time to conduct breakout rooms, where these informal interactions can be replicated. [31:42]
- Marcel asks Martin what steps should be taken by leaders to restore common sense to their organizations. “You must first ask yourselves what the most frustrating thing for you customers is,” Martin advises. [37:24]
- Martin Lindstrom on LinkedIn | Twitter
- The Ministry of Common Sense: How to Eliminate Bureaucratic Red Tape, Bad Excuses, and Corporate Bullshit
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