5 HR TED Talks Every Small Business Should See

August 12, 2016 Pete Jansons

Let’s face it: Every small business leader needs a little extra inspiration sometimes. Watching a TED Talk can be a great way to discover new ideas or new ways of thinking in an entertaining and educational format. And because they are relatively short in length, you can watch them when you’re pressed for time or “on the go.” Below are five TED Talks that speak particularly well to small business leaders.

Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits

In his captivating TED Talk, innovation strategist Ravi Radjou discusses a concept with which all small business employers are all too familiar: “Doing more with less.” He introduces the term “jugaad,” or frugal innovation, and gives real-life examples of individuals and organizations doing extraordinary things using extraordinarily few resources. He then shares three principles for applying frugal innovation to our own lives to do a lot with just a little.

How to manage for collective creativity

As leaders, it’s not our job to be innovators. It’s our job to set the stage for innovation. That’s just one of the points Harvard Business School management professor Linda Hill makes in her TED Talk. Having spent years studying the world’s most innovative companies, the author of “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation” discusses how leaders in organizations of any size or industry can create space for innovation. But be warned: It might mean letting go of some of your beliefs about what it means to be a leader.

Got a meeting? Take a walk

Going for a walk isn’t just good exercise, it’s a good business practice, says Nilofer Merchant in her TED Talk. The author of “The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Creative Strategy” explains how getting out of the “box” of the office and into nature helps promote out-of-the-box thinking. In her short but persuasive talk, she makes the case of turning one-on-one meetings into “walk-and-talk” meetings to introduce fresh ideas along with fresh air.

Why work doesn’t happen at work

Despite the money and resources businesses spend creating a place for people to get work, surprisingly few people actually get work done at the office, 37signals co-founder Jason Fried points out in his TED Talk. People need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get meaningful work done, he says – yet that rarely happens in today’s offices. He draws a comparison between sleep and work, saying that, when people are interrupted too many times during the night, they won’t get quality sleep. Likewise, too many interruptions during the workday result in poor quality work. In his talk, Fried talks about the real distractions at work – which may come as a surprise to some – and offers three ways employers can create workplaces where people actually accomplish meaningful work.

Forget the pecking order at work

What makes some groups more successful than others? That’s the question Margaret Heffernan, a former CEO of five businesses, attempts to answer in her TED Talk. Many company leaders believe the success of their business relies on star performers; however, that might not be true at all. Citing examples from a recent MIT experiment, Heffernan argues that social connectedness and equal treatment among teams is a better indicator of success. Her talk challenges traditional leadership thinking and makes us reconsider how we set our teams up for success.


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