I tried explaining see-saw development, then called re-co-venturing, to a friend a long time ago. It wasn’t easy.
“Oh, I do that through networking,” she said, and gave me a long list of the very impressive connections she had made with others, around her own venture. “And you need a short strap line that draws people in.”
“But what if,” I replied, “the idea of see-saw development is simply not something that is in people’s normal experience? What if it is far enough from their normal experience that a strap line just won’t be effective?” Because, I was thinking, when you give people those few strapline words, they understand them in terms of their own experience so far. If they don’t have that kind of experience, it will probably miss the mark, unless you are very lucky.
Now I’m quite ready to admit freely that I’m not so extravert that I’m always building up relationships with everyone I meet (though wouldn’t that be really great if it happened!). But from what my friend said, I was left feeling rather inadequate. Why can’t I use networking opportunities like other people do?
“Maybe even extraverts have something to learn in networking,” I felt like replying, but I couldn’t say just that, because networkers are experts — they are in their element in their kind of context. The fact is that when I’ve been supposedly networking (quite a lot actually for a relative introvert, over many years) the conversation has often had difficulty getting beyond the level of strap lines. So how might it go … “Hello, this is what I do,” you say. Do I relate to that? Of course, as a good networker, yes! “What a great idea! I can imagine … and this is what I am trying to do.” Will you relate to that, yes or no? Can I express enough in a couple of sentences to capture your attention? I mustn’t panic …
And, of course, often it doesn’t work. My friend went on to say, very sensibly and understandably, that what I might do in this situation is at least to make people curious. But how can I hope for that to be effective, in a world where we are all suffering from such a deluge of information that we seem to have barely any time to follow up our curiosity? Do I have to make some outrageous (and probably untrue) claim? Well, frankly, no, I’m not into that at all.
Perhaps I could give my problem a fancy Latin name. Let me see now … how about “reticulatio interruptus”? What could I give as the cause of this fancy-named syndrome?
On the one hand, it’s difficult to be sure whether the other networker is interested in knowing more about an idea, if it is difficult to encapsulate. Their eyes are likely to be glazing over, their gaze wandering, before real engagement. And how should it be otherwise? They have all come with their own agenda. A failure to connect — the ultimate networking faux pas, perhaps — and you’d better connect quickly, as time moves on …. Whoops! There goes another non-consummated meeting. And you can imagine what that does for one’s networking confidence.
Outside the networking context, I have often found that it can take up to an hour and a half really to get the measure of someone’s new idea, where there is no initial preparation. I allow that sort of time for discussing anyone’s PhD thesis. But maybe, with suitable preparation, a lot can be done in less time?
This whole issue provides a basis for explaining see-saw development. So here are a few key points.
I guess you’re understanding more now. I would find it really hard to put that all across in one strap line. Even the straplines I’ve actually used — “advancing our ideas and ourselves” “developing ideas for people” — may not bring the right things to people’s minds in advance. Maybe what I have are “un-strap lines” rather than strap lines. Or “slow straplines.” Or “backstrap lines.” They work backwards — they’ll make sense when you know what I’m talking about, but not really until then.
Then — now I hope — perhaps you’ll be able to share with me the optimism that this really is different, and could open up exciting new possibilities for many good people.
Welcome to the world of the See-Saw. Read the web pages if you like, where among other things I explain the name, then arrange to come and try it!
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