Talk Lean:

Talk Lean:

Shorter meetings. Quicker results. Better relations.

The value to you of everything you learned at INSEAD, and your success and satisfaction at many levels, are a direct function of the extent to which you are able to inspire colleagues, bosses, subordinates, clients, prospects, suppliers, investors, regulators and anyone else you deal with to:

  • listen to you
  • respect you
  • trust you
  • follow your lead
  • agree with your recommendations
  • grant your requests
  • come round to share your point of view
  • invest in you
  • buy from you
  • enjoy working with you as a person.

This course will teach you powerful verbal principles and tools for dealing with other people in ways which are both effective and attractive, which will allow you to be always simple, clear and direct without ever being abrupt or brutal; to generate trust, respect and liking; to broach difficult subjects and announce difficult news immediately and constructively; to avoid the twin pitfalls of perceived arrogance or subservience – and instead to speak as a trusted equal to everyone you deal with, from the humblest member of your staff to your most important client’s CEO.

The programme is an online, alumni-wide version of the popular “Talk Lean” MBA elective led by Adjunct Professor and Alumnus Alan Palmer, a Senior Partner at Interactifs, the company which developed the “Interactifs Discipline®: approach. The programme forms part of INSEAD’s commitment to Lifelong Learning.

Why this programme?

This subject is one of universal relevance. Whatever path you have taken as an Alumnus since your time at INSEAD, whatever your function, your industry sector or your level of seniority, whether you work for a large corporate or a small challenger, whether you are an employee or an owner, it is likely that a significant proportion of your time is taken up dealing with other people, both inside and outside the organisation, and up, down and across the hierarchy.

It is also likely that both your success and your well-being is dependent on how effectively you are able to manage those interactions, particularly when there are challenging conversations to be had. This course will help anyone, at any level, to improve their capacity for producing concrete results from their meetings and conversations, quickly and whilst earning greater trust and respect.

Key takeways

Completing the course will enhance or increase: 

  • the authority you convey (without being authoritarian)
  • the impact you make
  • the influence you wield
  • the results you produce
  • the impression you create
  • the confidence you feel
  • the respect you earn
  • the respect you show
  • the self-respect you maintain
  • the quality of the relationships you build
  • the pleasure and enjoyment you derive from your interactions with others  



In order to maximise each participant’s opportunities for intensive practise in deploying the principles and tools at the heart of the programme, each iteration of the course will be restricted to a maximum of 8 participants. Each course will consist of 4 stages run across 3-4 weeks, with a total of 13 hours teaching time. The course will be structured as follows:

Pre-course questionnaire

Participants will complete a short questionnaire, to be shared with the teacher but also with the other participants, describing their current (or most recent) role, who they interact with on a daily basis inside and outside their organisation, what challenges they face in those interactions and what their wish-list is from the “Talk Lean” course.

1st online group session of 4 hours for 8 participants

Focus on preparing and starting an ‘outgoing’ meeting or conversation to maximum effect. Identification of fundamental but little-known principles behind effective relationships and interactions. Measurement, via role-playing in simple management/client situations, of the gap between the identified principles and participants’ ability to apply them in those simple situations. Identification of frameworks and tools which will allow the principles to be applied systematically at the start of meetings. Application of those frameworks and tools to some first, real-life meetings from the participants’ diaries.

2nd online group session of 4 hours for 8 participants

Focus on listening and responding effectively during a meeting or conversation, whether ‘outgoing’ or ‘incoming’. Identification of simple tools for listening more effectively, both to what is said and to what is not said; and for responding in ways which will always help the meeting to advance in a constructive direction towards the desired outcome; which will reduce ambiguity, and get the unsaid said so that it can be dealt with.

Individual one-hour 1 :1 coaching session for each of 8 participants

Each participant will work with the teacher, in a session which is part training, part coaching, on one or two real-life challenging meetings coming up in the participant’s diary. One of the meetings (introduction and the first 4-5 minutes of exchanges) will be recorded on Zoom and the recordings will form the raw material for the final group sessions.

2 x 4-hour sessions for 4 participants

In smaller groups of 4, the recordings of the individual meetings from stage 3 will be analysed collectively. The group will identify the behaviours which helped the meeting to get quickly to the desired concrete outcome, and whilst generating trust and respect, and those behaviours which got in the way of this. The recordings will also form the basis for further exercises (“How might you respond if I’d instead said ‘…….’ ; ‘Let’s switch roles…’ etc.)


If you want to participate in the course, please leave your name, promotion and e-mail address here so that we can contact you when further dates are available.