‘The richest areas for growth and innovation
Exactly right. There is far too much
are the seemingly unbroken aspects of
the situation — the areas where absolutely
nothing appears to be wrong.’
But the perception seems to be that to
be disruptive, you’ve got to rip some-
thing down and then rebuild it.
emphasis on destruction or revolution.
It’s just not needed at the end of the day.
Another big part of my work is, we’re far
too obsessed with problem-solving in
America. Ninety-eight percent of everyone’s job is spent solving problems,
putting out fires as fast as they can put
them out, making decisions as quickly
as possible so they can get on to the
next thing on their to-do list.
What I often talk about is, the
problem with problems is they’re
seductively clear. They’re screaming
for attention, which typically means in
an organization, the problems are the
only things getting any thinking attention. The richest areas for growth and
innovation are the seemingly unbroken
aspects of the situation — the areas
where absolutely nothing appears to be
wrong. It’s precisely because nothing
is wrong that these areas aren’t getting
any attention. So innovation is not
necessarily about destruction, it’s not
necessarily about solving problems. It’s
often nothing more than a willingness
to just pay attention to what’s normally
ignored, or pay attention to things that
Is there one takeaway you’d like your
audience at PCMA to go home with?
At the conference, we’re tackling some-
thing pretty specific. I’m not giving my
normal spiel about all this stuff. We’re
really just focusing on the pitch part:
How do you actually convince others to
adopt the new idea you’ve come up with?
I break it down into three parts. The
first is that you have to create empathy.
Your audience is thinking, Why should
I care about this? This is the point of
orientation for the audience. Your
objective is to spark their empathy by
first establishing the inadequacy of the
status quo. You’re explaining why this
is an issue, and how this is frustrating a
The second part is that you need to
build curiosity through introducing
some tension. What I mean by tension
is that this middle part of the presentation is a point of surprise and intrigue
for your audience. Your objective is to
introduce them to something that they
don’t know, and then provide a sense of
how this new knowledge could actually
be used in a familiar example, to help
them understand the potential.
The final part is building belief,
making them believe. This is the audience’s reward for having paid attention,
because now they get to understand
what your solution is. Your objective
is to build a belief in the answers — the
opportunity, the motivation — for customers and stakeholders to make the
change you’re suggesting.
The whole point of this pitch is to
move them from why to how. So, the
pre-presentation: “Why should I care
about this?” The mid-presentation:
“I’m curious to see where this is going.”
The post-presentation: “Hey, this is
great. How do we implement it?” .
Christopher Durso is executive editor
ON THE WEB
› Luke Williams will
deliver a Main Stage
presentation at PCMA
2017, being held in New
York City on June 11–14.
For more information,
He will also speak at
the PCMA European
being held in Monaco
on June 25–27. For
more information, visit
› To learn more about
Luke Williams, visit