Knowing When You Don’t Know
“I don’t know. We apologise and will get back to you.” Those words would have gotten me out of the most challenging and intense presentation I have ever given. The ‘clients’ even walked out during the presentation. But for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to say them. Honestly, they barely even crossed my mind. In trying to save the presentation, I caught myself running in quicksand with every response digging us slightly deeper. Now, you may have noticed the word ‘clients’ was in inverted commas. Fortunately, this entire presentation was part of Capgemini’s Consulting Skills Workshop set up to prevent exactly something like this from happening when the stakes were higher. It was the culmination of 3 intense days (and a couple of weeks of preparation) which honed our presentation skills and client facing ability.
Graduating from IIM Bangalore, I felt ready to conquer the world. I had given numerous presentations and solved innumerable case studies. However, from the first day of the workshop, I realised how much work I needed to do. Our facilitators Stefan Cornelius, Kees Langbroek and Chirag Thakral presented us with taut, practical sessions designed to improve our communication and structure our thinking. Each session was interactive yet application focused with the facilitators drawing on their experience to show us how we could become better consultants and presenters. But to me, the biggest takeaway was how the learnings didn’t just apply to consulting or talking to a client but extended to our everyday interactions.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller
One of the key themes that stuck with me was collaboration. I was used to internal collaboration with my case team. We would all work together, bounce ideas off of each other and try to come up with the best solution and presentation. However, collaboration here extended from that traditional perspective. How do you keep all of the stakeholders involved throughout the process? Involving the various stakeholders in our mock project helped us reach a solution we would have never thought of otherwise. It opened up different perspectives and concerns. The organic method of aligning everyone’s interests helped mitigate potential future conflicts. This extends to all facets of our life – whether we’re making dinner plans or planning the future trajectory of a multi-billion dollar business. Just by opening up situations to collaboration increases ownership and interaction between stakeholders. The emphasis on collaboration could be clearly seen through the Co-Creation Challenge where we all worked together to brainstorm ideas to help with Capgemini’s CSR initiatives.
“A story has its purpose and its path. It must be told correctly for it to be understood.” ― Marcus Sedgwick
First of all, I have to thank Fabienne for the above absolutely amazing graphic that she live-scribed during a session on how to tell a good story. There’s no dearth of information available in today’s age but it’s usually the story and presentation around it that ends up deciding what stays and what is discarded. To me, the entire 5-week onboarding experience had been setup like a good story. Every element had been carefully planned by the E.L.I.T.E. core team (Shoutout to Bill Sullivan, David Wilson, Chirag Thakral and Heena Mehta) to create an amazing learning atmosphere where we could both learn about the vision of Capgemini and hone our skills to help achieve that very vision. We were first informed, then persuaded and now it’s time for us to take action.
I feel like I could go on and on about my learnings from the first couple of months of my first full-time job but I will end it with a quote –
“The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in” – Henry Green