A few years ago, a group of rising-star executives gathered at MIT to take part in a special competitive event. Each was to present a business plan to be evaluated by the entire group. The best ideas would then be recommended to a team of venture capitalists for final evaluation. Participants saw this as a great opportunity to see how their ideas compared to those of others in an elite peer group.
If you had been one of those chosen executives, how would you have prepared for the event? Would you have concentrated on formulating a coherent description of your business plan? Developed a strategy for convincing others? Practiced your presentation skills?
The leaders at the MIT event probably did all of these. But on the day of the competition, an additional component was added to the mix—one nobody had prepared for. Each presenter was outfitted with a specially designed digital sensor, worn like an ID badge. This device, called a Sociometer, would be taking notes on each presentation along with the rest of the group, but not on the merits of what was being said. Unbeknownst to the presenters, the Sociometer would be recording what wasn't being said: tonal variety, vocal nuance, physical activity, energy level, even the number of smiles and nods exchanged between presenter and audience.
At the end of the ...