What flaw can you turn into a feature?

Jaws - turning a flaw into a feature.

“Jaws” is a classic film, despite the fact that the film-makers faced a flaw in that their mechanical shark was both not very realistic and also often didn’t work when they needed it. Faced with this “flaw”, though, they turned it into a feature. Did you realise, for example, that the shark does not appear until 1hr and 20mins into the film, so creating so much suspense?

When it did appear first, it was for a tiny flash, just enough to allow the director to catch this shot of shock on this character, who, dazed, then walked to the captain’s cabin and uttered the famous line: “You’re going to need a bigger boat”.

Looking at the ways we have been limited in life and in business through lockdown, though, again and again, I have seen people open their minds, to look outside their norms, and to “turn flaws into features”.

Let me give you an example.

Each year I fly to Canada to facilitate the annual meeting of a national medical charity. About a dozen board members come, the majority of the flying from across Canada, one of the vastest countries on our planet.

This year, we chose to keep the dates set in early May and run the meeting on Zoom. Feedback from the board members was that in some ways it was even better than when we got in person.

In addition, it was notable how the board really opened their minds and did a rethink as to how they can best serve their community. In particular, patient support groups are a huge part of what they do, so now, moving forwards, they will focus on doing far more of that via online meetings, as well as an online national summit series of talks and events.

They turned the flaw of being limited to online to a long term feature that will be core to how they do things for years to come.

One more. I worked on a project during lockdown where a client in the USA had me film short videos capturing core points from articles I was writing for them on self-leadership in, through and beyond this crisis. Whilst, with their help, I got better and better at it, I still don’t really enjoy talking to the camera, I far prefer to be in conversation with someone.

Last week, then, I was interviewed for a weekly live half-hour show, done on zoom and linked to a live platform. Gosh, I loved it! So much fun to be bouncing ideas around with the host.

It then struck me, rather than keep looking to get better at the “shots to camera” style of video, instead let me embrace that I prefer the conversational style and the longer thirty-minute duration.

I laughed when I realised that I also offer thirty-minute calls to people with a framing of them bringing a leadership question they are focussed on, then I listen, then reflect back to them some thoughts, then we talk it through so they gain more clarity. Thirty minutes of conversation.

So, I’m now getting ready to start my own thirty-minute live conversation series, I’m turning my flaw (of preferring a longer and conversational style of video rather than the short speech to camera) into a feature.

I encourage you to open your mind and see, perhaps, how some flaws may become features? Oh, and talk to me about it, let’s see what we can work out in conversation for thirty minutes!

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Also published on Medium.