With a library of more than 1900 (and growing) inspirational, informative, thought-provoking, rallying, ingenious, funny, courageous and fascinating talks to choose from, we couldn’t resist a dip into TED Talks pond. So, here are five more TED Talks for HR professionals looking for personal and professional growth—carefully selected by the team at Cezanne HR.
Guy Winch: Why we all need to practice emotional first-aid
While we all know the fundamentals of looking after our bodies (brushing our teeth and putting bandages on cuts and scrapes, for example), Dr Guy Winch, psychologist and author of Emotional First Aid, argues that we’re practically clueless when it comes to our emotional health. Why is it that we consider our physical welfare so much more important than our mental welfare when it has been proven that issues, such as chronic loneliness, can have the same detrimental effect on long-term health as smoking?
In his animated, personal, and anecdote-filled talk, Winch discusses how our mind reacts to blows to our mental well-being, such as loneliness, failure, and rejection – and how we can practice good emotional hygiene to ensure we remain mentally fit and healthy.
Action: Read ACAS’s guide to promoting positive mental health at work.
Linda Hill: How to manage for collective creativity
What sets innovative companies like Pixar and Google apart from the crowd? How do they stay ahead of the curve?
Having spent the best part of a decade observing exceptional leaders of innovation, Linda Hill, Harvard University professor, ethnographer, and author of Collective Genius, believes it comes down to their approach to leadership. Rather than inspire their teams to follow their vision, ground-breaking leaders don’t necessarily have “a vision” because what they’re trying to do is new, so the end result is undefined. Innovation, Hill argues, takes a village. Cutting-edge workplaces should be like a public squares, where anyone, regardless of their level or role, can contribute ideas and give feedback, and the leaders “in charge” should be social architects as opposed to visionaries.
Action: Hire people who will argue with you.
Tom Wujec: Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how to make toast
When a tough problem presents itself to you, business visualisation practitioner Tom Wujec suggests you put it to one side, take a step (or two) back, and first think about how to make toast. Then draw how to make toast, step by step.
Having asked hundreds of people to partake in this exercise over many years, Wujec noticed that what the majority of diagrams have in common were images of an action, or nodes, (e.g. slicing bread or waiting for the toaster to do its magic), and arrows between these actions, linking and ordering them within the broader context of toast-making. What participants created was a full systems model – making their thoughts about how something works visible on paper. This process, Tom argues, is the foundations for creative problem solving (which can be refined through asking participants to complete the same task using sticky notes instead of paper, and then again using sticky notes in groups) each time yielding different, much richer results.
Drawing helps us to understand situations as a series of nodes and links. So, after tackling a simple process like making toast in this way, you’re in a much better situation to tackle complex workplace issues, like figuring out your organisation’s direction and vision.
Action: Take a big step back and think about what you’re trying to achieve as a series of links and nodes.
Vernā Myers: How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly towards them
Back in September last year, we blogged about unconscious bias and its potentially dangerous impact on businesses. So Vernā Myers’s talk, ‘How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly towards them’ in the online TED library caught our eye.
In her honest and open talk, Myers firstly implores us to stop denying that we have biases. Even professional diversity advocates aren’t immune to unconscious bias, she says, recalling an aeroplane journey she took piloted by a female. She found herself thinking she’d feel safer going through turbulence with a man in the cockpit—a bias she didn’t know she had until the thought popped into her head.
It’s OK to have biases, she says, but if we’re going to address them, we need to accept we have them. Taking an implicit association test (IAT), such as those offered by Harvard University, can be a productive first step to identifying and remedying unconscious bias.
Action: Stop pretending you don’t have biases – everyone does. Take an IAT, find out what they are, and address them.
Ricardo Semler: How to run a company with (almost) no rules
Twice per week Ricardo Semler, CEO of Brazilian company Semco Partners, engages in what he refers to as “terminal days” – days spent doing the things he’d do if he was told he only had six months left to live. Growing from the idea that you either have money, but no time to enjoy it, or have time but not the money or good health to enjoy it fully, Semler asked – if we strip back the rules, ceremony, and traditions from business, what are we left with? The result is a radical form of corporate democracy where the employees’ lives don’t orbit their jobs.
An entertaining, thought-provoking talk from an inspirational and highly accomplished businessman with a passion for life, summed up perfectly by the presenter’s reaction: “this seems so crazy and yet so deeply wise.”
Action: Encourage your staff to do the things that make them happy through flexible working and well-being initiatives
You may be interested in reading TED Talks for HR professionals – part 1.