Business TED Distribution

TED Ideas in Business aims to shake up the same old thinking on professional development

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TED Ideas in Business are playlists that bring together talks of interest to professional audiences. Here, the art for "Hidden Trends and Systems" and "Skillful Presentation."

TED Ideas in Business are playlists that bring together talks of interest to professional audiences. Here, the art for “Hidden Trends and Systems” and “Skillful Presentation.”

For many, the words “professional development” conjure up memories of sitting in a human resources office, watching a series of awkward training videos and then taking a mandatory quiz. The TED Distribution Team realized: it doesn’t need to be this way. Earlier this year, they started to think about how companies could use TED Talks to get people thinking about their professional lives.

The team is now rolling out TED Ideas in Business, a collection of 25+ playlists curated around big topics in the professional world, like effective leadership, career development, the future of work, and good decision-making. The playlists range from “The Psychology of Success” to “Democratizing Innovation” to “Invasion of the Cyber-Workers.” Each list contains talks that can help crystallize goals, start conversations and spark collaborations.

“TED Talks offer so many ideas that are great for a business audience,” says Janet Lee, our Content Distribution Editor. “The hope with this collection is that it’s not just useful for c-level executives, but for anyone who is looking to better themselves professionally.”

Yahoo! Japan is the first of TED’s partners to offer this programming format. The full collection of TED Ideas in Business playlists is available to readers of the business-oriented website Yahoo! Newsbiz.

“TED offers inspiration,” says Rui Nakamura, of Yahoo! Japan’s Media Service Division. “We’ve gotten comments on the playlists that say things like ‘encouraged,’ and even, ‘I decided to try something new.’”

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo handpicked 85 talks from the TED Ideas in Business collection to make available to employees through their in-house intranet.

“Since we launched our first 45 titles in mid-January, they have been viewed over 40,000 times. They are getting watched a lot,” says Vanessa Walsh, the Learning & Development Manager for the company. “Meeting each of our over 265,000 team members where they are in their development requires new approaches. Using video is a powerful, accessible tool. TED allows us to quickly bring in compelling, relevant videos.”

At Wells Fargo, employees watch talks on their own (an online tool recommends specific talks for employees based on their development goals), and in meetings too. Walsh has gotten feedback that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The danger of a single story” sparked a great discussion about diversity at a meeting, and that watching Shawn Achor’s “The happy secret to better work” at an offsite session got a team laughing together. Walsh says, “Leaders are saying, ‘These videos inspired me to change the way I lead.’ It’s helping them to break the mold.”

At the same time, TED’s Distribution Team is working on one more effort to make sure that the ideas from TED Talks find their way to those who can use them in the business world. They recently launched a partnership with getAbstract to take talks, from both TED Ideas in Business and from the TED library at large, and distill them down into short takeaways that busy business leaders have time to read. “It’s a compact distillation of a talk,” says Lee. ”We work closely with them to make sure that each summary really captures the main ideas in a talk.”

Amy-Cuddy-abstract-small-redoTED Ideas in Business are not your typical business content, and this is evident even in the art that accompanies these playlists. The distribution team let loose when commissioning art, and our designer turned out fresh, brightly colored illustrations. “We took a really playful approach,” Lee says. “We realized that in businesses, people are used to seeing dry stock imagery. We wanted to make it fresher and more relatable. Something that a global audience can understand.”