So What, Now What?



In this episode, Ralph and Bill discuss identifying the key takeaways, insights, and concepts that we as leaders want our team members to remember, and perhaps more importantly, how we can help them apply those learnings to deliver positive results for the organization.



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*Note: The following text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors



Bill Berthel: Welcome to the Get Emergent podcast, where we discuss leadership, team, and organizational topics and best practices. We like to provide ideas, concepts, and pragmatic experiments to help you develop your potential in your work and your leadership. I’m Bill Berthel.

Ralph Simone: And I’m Ralph Simone.

Bill Berthel: Ralph, I love the title of today’s podcast. So What, Now What? What are we talking about here?

Ralph Simone: This was early in my consulting career, and I worked with a brilliant consultant by the name of Ron Cardis. And, we were working together delivering a course at Corning. And he said, whenever we do a module as part of this work, we need to be able to answer the question, so what now what? And I was intrigued by that. I don’t think back then I was even smart enough to understand it.

Bill Berthel: Right.

Ralph Simone: I liked it. It was catchy. But this idea of so what? What’s the key takeaway? What are the insights? What are the concepts that we want people to remember? And equally important, how can they apply them? What can they do with it? And I thought from a training and design standpoint, when we think about training that we do, when we think about the podcasts that we deliver, I think one of the things we want to answer both of those questions, so what that’s the concept. Now what? That’s the application.

Bill Berthel: And so I’m hearing, both and balancing concept and application. I’m hearing the abstract and the concrete. I’m hearing what do I get? What insights can I pull from this? And then what do I do about it? What am I actually going to get done or practice?

Ralph Simone: Exactly the fine line on the concept.

Bill Berthel: Right.

Ralph Simone: The abstract. Because I think we want to be careful not to be overly prescriptive.

Bill Berthel: Right.

Ralph Simone: Because there’s so many things that someone could extract from something. And it brings me back. Even though I’m an accounting major in college, I really loved the true liberal arts education. And what I loved about it and I think an important part of anything that we as leaders do is to get people to think for themselves, to think about thinking, to not necessarily give them the answer, but to share information that would allow them to create their own answers. I think that’s the abstract part, and I think we are looking for people to pull things from that abstraction.

Leaders need to be able to abstract from content and apply it

Bill Berthel: What do you think is getting in the way of abstracting? What do you think is getting in the way of thinking?

Ralph Simone: Time. I mean, I always forget the title of this book, but it was a New York Times bestseller, and the author was an educator. And, she talked about how most people do not have the time or the attention span to read an entire book anymore because we’re getting hit with these sound bites and links and things. And so I think the perceived lack of time I don’t want to think about it. I just want you to tell me.

Bill Berthel: Yes.

Ralph Simone: And I think there’s a real power in pulling out of it, what you pull out of it, and then having some guidance as how you would apply it.

Bill Berthel: Right.

Ralph Simone: Because we do see a benefit to getting a return on the investment. But I wish I could think of the title, that book. I’ll think of it later, but that was really a good lesson. But I think we need to be okay with getting out of it what we got out of it.

Bill Berthel: So there’s a little bit what’s coming up for me is operating in the gray compared to just the black and white of things. Both are important, but the space of cultivating more skills, especially as a leader, in being able to extract the lesson from the content, whether it be a book or a podcast, whether it be, a life experience, extract that lesson from the content or experience, and then at least experiment with something or put something into application. Put something into action. That’s a really important skill set for leaders it sounds.

Ralph Simone: I think it is, because I think too many things are way too ambiguous. Have a recipe or a formula to figure it out. And I think I’ll just speak for myself. One of the reasons I might not want to invest in pulling out my lesson from the abstract is I’m afraid I don’t know enough.

Bill Berthel: Right.

Ralph Simone: I can remember I used to poo poo art because I really didn’t get or, you know, when my son would suggest I read Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and I said, geez, what the hell am I going to do with this? But I think I was afraid to just experience it and pull out of it whatever I pulled out of it, and then turn it into my own application. And I go back to my Covey days where he talked about the goose and the golden egg. and the golden egg are the results we get in our lives and our leadership. But the goose is the asset. That’s the production capability.

Ralph Simone: And I think the reason we want people to think for themselves is that that enhances our production capability for the entire organization.

Bill Berthel: So we need everyone thinking.

Ralph Simone: Yeah. Because things are changing and you can’t be everywhere at once. And so we want people thinking for themselves. We want people closest to the action thinking it through. There are certain types of jobs because of safety or things. There’s a consistent procedure. But when we’re breaking new ground, when we’re dealing with the complexities of this changing environment and economy, we want people to be able to think through it on their own.

Bill Berthel: Yeah, I think especially in leadership roles, the way to move forward might be a little ambiguous. maybe we’re in something so innovative, there isn’t a precedence for this type of work or what to do next. We really have to be very creative and abstract from what we have and what we know, to make new action. I think that is the role of a leader. Yeah.

Ralph Simone: give me the playbook. I would if it existed. But you’re creating the playbook.

Bill Berthel: Creating the playbook, yes.

Ralph Simone: And there are times when we will have a playbook that we can leave behind, but I think think of how exciting that is, and we’re all capable of doing it. I think when people, they sell themselves short, when they say, oh, I just don’t get it. Well, get what? First of all, you’re assuming there’s only one thing to get. And second of all, you’re selling yourself short, that you don’t have the ability to abstract meaning out of something conceptual.

Bill Berthel: You do. Yeah. I, love your example of art, because, as you know, I’ve spent the majority of my career around creative people, mostly painters and gallery etiquette isn’t that hard. It’s basically don’t touch anything unless you’re invited to touch it. From there, you’re free to roam about and look and enjoy. And soak it in. Right. But from there, what do I do with that experience? How do I look at this piece of work, especially if it is truly abstract? Non representational. Right. Like, just think of different pieces of artwork. The number one selling from visual art, from paintings, is landscapes, because we know what they look like, we know how to interpret them. We’ve all seen landscapes. Right. But the highest valued is abstract art. Non representational abstract art. Why it demands you to be creative.

Ralph Simone: And interpret it and give yourself permission to be give yourself permission to not know, because the artist may not have known. And part of the power is that you can interpret it any way you want and turn it into your now what? However it so moves you. And I think we sometimes and I think this is more a Western phenomenon we need to get it right.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

Ralph Simone: I remember being a little intimidated around people who knew a lot about wine, and some guy netted it out for me. He said, pay attention to what you like. Write it down.

Bill Berthel: Order that again.

Ralph Simone: Yeah. He goes, that’s how I started. Right. Don’t overcomplicate it. So what? Now what? But I think we want both we want to be able to interpret in abstract, take from the concepts, and then be able to apply it in a way that works for us and I think suspending judgment, too, trying to think that there’s only one way to interpret something. I mean, how limiting is that?

Bill Berthel: Absolutely.

Ralph Simone: One way.

Why do you think people listen to our podcasts? Because they like us

Bill Berthel: So I don’t want this to sound too self serving, but I want to ask you, why do you think people listen to our podcasts?

Ralph Simone: Because they like us.

Bill Berthel: I hope so.

Ralph Simone: I would like to think they listen because we answer, So what? And now what? But I think we answer it differently. I think we sometimes put things out to somebody saying what the hell are they talking about? But it gets them thinking differently.

Bill Berthel: Yeah, I agree.

Ralph Simone: And we also give them some specific how to’s. So I think it balances the both and. I mean, I think the fun for me of these podcasts is to explore things in a way that gets me thinking. And sometimes I think some of the better podcasts from my perspective have been ones that we weren’t sure where we were going.

Bill Berthel: that’s great.

Ralph Simone: But we did get there.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

So thinking about the now, what part of our podcast where we provide somewhere to start an Pragmatic experiment

Bill Berthel: So thinking about the now what part of our podcast where we provide somewhere to start or a pragmatic experiment to take on? What would we share with our listeners around this concept of so what now what? How can they start putting it in their work and their leadership?

Ralph Simone: So I think the so what you could answer by what’s a stretch area for you, something that you typically wouldn’t do because it’s a little too conceptual, a little too abstract. And the reason that you would want to do it is so that you could become less uncomfortable in new territory. And so that kind of answers the so what now what? Right.

Ralph Simone: The why is so that you would become less uncomfortable, but pursuing something that you wouldn’t normally pursue that puts you a little outside of your comfort level and get out of it whatever you get out of it.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

Ralph Simone: With no expectations. I mean, I think that would be one thing I would suggest.

Bill Berthel: So that might be if you’re not currently reading much, maybe it is about picking up a book that you’re truly interested in and reading that for application, not just completion, but reading that to see what you can learn and put into action for your own self.

Ralph Simone: Or watch a movie from a genre that you have never ever gotten close to. And whether it’s horror or whether it’s that would be one I haven’t gotten into. But something that you would just never watch. Or music. Same thing with music.

Bill Berthel: Absolutely.

Ralph Simone: immerse yourself in some music that you’ve never listened to and maybe that you had some resistance to and just notice how it moves you.

Bill Berthel: It’s almost a silly example, but sometimes in our household, the menu gets a little routine, a little too routine. So we look for a new recipe, something we maybe have never made ourselves before. Maybe it’s about exploring a new ingredient or something like that. And you learn from it. You get to try something different. You learn from it

Ralph Simone: Or ​make ​the meal out of whatever is in the house.

Bill Berthel: We do do that actually quite a bit.

Ralph Simone: And so the so what now, what is, is I become more resourceful.

Bill Berthel: Absolutely.

Ralph Simone: I don’t need anything other than what I have to make a positive experience. That is a huge so what now, what in my mind. It’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever done that, but I like the idea.

Bill Berthel: Yeah. so this really is balancing the abstract and the concrete, balancing the conceptual and the practical as a really important leadership skill to cultivate.

Ralph Simone: We need both, right? If we’re going to innovate, if we’re going to break new ground, if we’re going to invent new things, then we have to be comfortable in that abstract space. If we’re going to make a living out of it, we’ve got to turn it into something pragmatical, that’s repeatable, that pays the bills. And so both are important.

Bill Berthel: Thanks, Ralph. And folks, thanks for listening. You can listen to a new podcast two times every month here at GetEmergent, emergent, or wherever you listen to podcasts, this is where we bring you contemporary leadership topics and ideas. Balanced with what we hope you find are better practices that you can apply to your work and your leadership. thank you.

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