For anyone involved in senior leadership or decision-making, nothing’s simple anymore. Regardless of the specific problem or opportunity, the surrounding context is nearly always marked by complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty. The Too-Hard-Basket is overlowing.
Graeme Bowman is comfortable with complexity, and is noted for his ability to simplify the complex so people can understand it. He is neither management consultant nor Mr Fixit, but he’s a real person with a complex professional background that blends expertise in creativity, communication and comedy. Clients have ranged across all types of industries within the corporate, association and government sectors.
Graeme is also his own client at present, being founder of the emerging community, Wise Women Will Save the World. This initiative not only reflects his commitment to social, environmental and economic sustainability, but has also heightened his understanding of concepts around shared value, conscious capitalism, systemic change, gender balance and cultural diversity.
Through Graeme’s involvement with your own conference, event or launch, your message will be closely examined through the eyes of a creative director, humorist, strategic thinker and presentation coach. He'll also put on his cynical audience member hat and challenge you every step of the way.
Specifically, Graeme will help you to: • Simplify the complex • Link strategy to creativity • Make your message stick • Engage, energise and focus your audience • Get people collaborating • Connect your audience to their future
Graeme Bowman can’t empty the Too-Hard-Basket for you … but he can help you tackle it … by unraveling complexity, weaving clarity and engaging people.
“Okay, I get it. Tell me a bit more.”
How come many projects or change initiatives don’t turn out in quite the same way that was suggested by that confusing diagram on the ugly PowerPoint slide that everyone strained to see during the hastily called crisis meeting?
Could it be because of poor communication or employee engagement? Perhaps the boss couldn’t clearly articulate the Big Idea, which left people scratching their heads and running for the exits, rather than thinking, ‘Ah-hah – I get it!’ Or maybe the leadership team gave people lots of rational reasons for getting behind the change, but forget about the emotional reasons … so there was a disconnect between head and heart.
Or could the initiative have faltered because employees hadn’t been primed to challenge the old way of doing things, and think more creatively about the future? Maybe employees’ heads were full of assumptions, beliefs and behaviors that were out of date, and at odds with new goals and strategies. Or maybe, with the stress of it all, people had forgotten how to have a bit of fun. (Maybe a few senior execs had forgotten that life is for living, and not just one long cost-cutting exercise.)
If we want people to change their view of the world, or change their behaviour, the starting point is effective, engaging communication. Such communication paints a picture of future opportunities … tells a compelling story about the journey your organisation is taking … provokes discussion and interaction … and energises and motivates individuals. Messages are built upon a foundation of clarity, simplicity, dynamic design and delivery, and fresh creative concepts.
The starting point for Graeme’s involvement is a thorough understanding of your Big Idea about the future. Then, as a writer experienced in both internal and external communications, he assists you to craft key messages that are clear, concise and memorable; messages that make the complex simple. Importantly, he weaves your key messages into a story that speaks to the hearts and minds of your people, painting a compelling picture of the forces that are driving the change, and a vision of where the change will lead. It’s also vital at this point to establish connections between the individual stories of your leaders and the narrative of the organisation, and to harness individual identities to the strategic needs of the business.
Graeme also helps your leaders deliver the story of change in a way that ignites people’s imagination, garners support and marshals their participation. This may involve his work as a coach, MC, hoax speaker or comedian.
At the same time, he may be helping you create employee mindsets that will be receptive to the Big Idea. Hidden assumptions and beliefs must be unearthed and challenged if they are at odds with your future direction. This is where Graeme’s experience as a Creative Thinking PresenterandWorkshop Facilitator come in.
Like a good story, humour connects head and heart, thoughts and feelings. As such it can encourage interaction, provoke discussion and reduce that adversarial ‘us and them’ attitude.
A tried and tested approach is to give everyone a bizarre third party to laugh at. As a Hoax Speaker, Graeme has turned up at an event as a new senior manager or external consultant, armed with ludicrous suggestions, along with a tendency to poke fun at your organisation’s jargon.
Then there’s the concept of the outspoken Devil's Advocate Character, whose purpose is to raise sensitive or controversial issues that would be on the audience's mind. For example, a ‘cynical employee’ may stand up and mention a common, deep-seated concern, hence giving voice to the voiceless. Or a ‘disgruntled customer’ may burst in and bluntly point out the elephant in the room.
Nothing beats the fun and ideas generated by your own people themselves. Graeme’s energising workshop, 'Do-It-Yourself Futurist' taps into your group's deep knowledge of relevant trends, opportunities and challenges. The outcome can be far more focussed and valuable than what you’d gain from some generic celebrity futurist.
Another fun and energising workshop is the ‘Coat of Arms’, which focusses everyone on the unique aspects of your organisation’s values, products, services and business approach.
Before and after a conference, periodic internal communication can be accompanied by quirky online video characters who explore relevant issues. Video is a powerful way to show rather than tell, and to reach out to the most remote corners of your organisation. As an example, Graeme wrote and acted in a series of training videos for Woolworths BWS, aimed at changing staff behaviour in areas such as safety, customer service, teamwork and responsible service of alcohol. The creative concept was based on a nature documentary, so Graeme's 'David Attenborough' character was used as the presenter.
A good way to describe the advantage of involving Graeme Bowman is to view him as a very real person who can work alongside the folk who are more focussed on process, structure and technical content, and to bring a range of skills that: • keeps the conversation real • opens people’s minds • explores future possibilities • and adds fun and energy to the whole exercise
What Clients Say About Graeme Bowman
"There was a need for us to give some very complex, and possibly unsettling information about the future of our industry to the sales teams. How could we expect someone from outside the business to get it right when many insiders had trouble with the changes? Well you did get it right. Your script hit all the important issues and set the tone for the whole week." SmithKline Beecham
“At our national conference, which was themed around 'change', Graeme Bowman contributed to the outcome in a variety of ways. Apart from serving as Master of Ceremonies, facilitating discussion and injecting a good dose of humour, he also played a key role in three specific sessions: firstly, he delivered a comic hoax speech to open the conference, then opened up the delegate's minds with his presentation, 'How to Suck Great Ideas out of Your Head', then ran a 'team identity' session that fostered much interaction between delegates and helped identify what the Go Vita brand really meant to them. The feedback conducted was overwhelmingly “excellent” in the delegates comments, with quotes of what was said and what actions they were going to take as a result of Graeme’s presentations.” Go Vita
“Project Meridian recently finished a large-scale systems implementation. The project team wanted a facilitator to host an entertaining debrief that would give the project team members time to reflect and unwind. Graeme opened the event pretending to be an international guest and tricked the audience into thinking there was a new project they’d all need to be involved in. It was a hilarious ice breaker that had everyone talking for days. Graeme then facilitated the event by using interesting and humorous activities which by the end of the event had everyone sharing their experiences. Graeme had not been given a lot of information to work with and we were very impressed at how he still managed to understand the needs of the group and apply his facilitation skills to achieve our objectives.” Housing NSW
“Thank you for all your help filming our ‘David Attenborough’ themed conference training videos. Your creative ideas, work ethic, patience and commitment to filming overnight, appearing in the most outrageous places, made a huge contribution to the project. Your ability to transform into character was a great experience to watch and you are a true one take wonder.” Woolworths Liquor Group
“Graeme helped set the scene and facilitated a couple of relevant themed activities during a Strategy Alignment day for the Dulux business. As a way of getting people’s attention up front, Graeme assumed the character of a Trade Painter and proceeded to 'tell it like it is', focused around our theme of the Consumer needing to be at the heart of everything we do. Given the nature of the day, it was important for the teams to get mentally active and do some fun activities that built on the core purpose as well as on the team culture between two different business units. Graeme facilitated two themed energisers to do just that. The activities were tailored to our business, and promoted significant interaction and discussion, not the least of which was the activity around team behaviours, which was something we'll remember for a while to come! At the end of the day people walked away feeling fresh, rather than drained, and we had achieved what we came to do.” Dulux Group
“This was the first time we conducted a live webcast to all of our 8 sites across Australia and New Zealand, and we found the creative and humorous speech was extremely well received and had just the desired effect. Our audiences were thoroughly engaged and inspired. The opening act of David Attenborough’s brother worked a real treat.” Ensis (Joint venture between CSIRO and Scion)
"You did brilliantly, providing us with a script that was both flexible enough to accommodate all the different personalities speaking, and homogenous enough to make us all sound wildly intelligent and meaningful!" Samsung
"Graeme's creative inspiration enabled each of the three divisions to communicate their specific plans in an entertaining and memorable fashion. Well before the National Sales Conference, he participated in an intensive briefing session at which he helped us to explore the business issues that needed addressing, and how they may best be presented. He assisted ten presenters with the writing of their speeches, helping each one to convey important messages in a manner that was clear, concise and motivational." Carter Holt Harvey
"Your scripting and speaker support material accurately reflected the input you gained through interviews with our senior management, and whilst it encapsulated several important but complicated concepts, you sympathetically pitched these to an appropriate level of sophistication for our audience." BP
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