Margaret Wheatley said that “whatever the problem, community is the answer.” When social innovation is a hot topic, knowing how to engage your community in whatever business is occupying your time is an underdeveloped if not forgotten skill. Author Paul Born brings back community engagement and outlines ten simple techniques for community conversations. How to start them, keep them talking and then utilize the information in a constructive way that produces a win-win scenario for both business and community. Born is a master storyteller, and draws from decades of experience in community action where common goals are embraced by a diverse group of people . His conversational writing style makes this an easy, enjoyable read. People sometimes forget that communities are living things – they need to be tended and nurtured in order for them to grow and more importantly, flourish. If you wish to engage your community, this book is a great place to kickstart your process.
Canada is big on crowdsourcing – in fact, Chaordix out of Calgary, Alberta – is leading the field worldwide (we can produce something other than hockey players). Crowdsourcing is a lot more than just likes and dislikes. This new technological approach to customers and clients also is an excellent resource for the HR department with employees. When was the last time you had an accurate performance review that reflected your true contribution to your organization? Never? Same here. Talk about an archaic practice.
So … how about rewriting the rules around performance reviews to make them a valuable and more importantly, ACCURATE reflection of performance? How about a dynamic and collaborative system of performance measurement that bypasses bad bosses, insecure bosses and the like? How about feedback from everyone you have worked with? Positive feedback that feeds your individual growth and your worth to your organization? You need this book – its a must read if you care about keeping and feeding your talent.
Eric Mosley and Globoforce have developed not just the why but the what and how of performance reviews that will make a difference. Its a great way to manage and cultivate a healthy corporate culture. Mosley has reinvented employee recognition so that it delivers on its true potential – keeping the best and brightest employees. He has combined the power of crowdsourcing with social media and a positivity-dominated workplace. Its an amazing collaboration that will revolutionize how you manage and motivate your employees.
Back from Copenhagen and getting over jet lag. So catching up on my reading and went looking for a little treasure that is a great start to the Fall madness. Seth Godin put this book out in 2010 and if you haven’t done so, its worth the read. Our economy is sluggish and the only people who can pick it up – is us. Linchpin is a reminder – sometimes not so gentle – but maybe a little push is needed. One of the quotes from the book that sticks in my mind is “Raising the bar is easier than it looks, and it pays for itself. If your boss won’t raise your bar, you should.”
Maybe its the influence of hanging out for the summer at a world-class business school in Copenhagen. Maybe its heat stroke. But it gets me to thinking. What if we all decided to raise the bar? Regardless of what our employers expect? What if we all started to change the ending of our own journey? Godin speaks to the fact that many of us have been asked to hide our empathy and our creativity in service to a job description which is more than likely, outdated. What if we went outside our own ‘box’ and started using our innate creativity – for our own purpose? Even if you aren’t sure what your purpose is, you probably won’t find it in your job description. Your family doesn’t know either or else you wouldn’t be looking for it now.
So a little expansion while we still have great weather? Methinks its worth the effort. Part of my expansion is working on a Tedx talk for September 14th in MIlton, Ontario. A little part scary and a big part exciting. The theme? Linchpins. Hope to see you there.
Terry Pearce followed his heart and went back to school – something dear to my heart. Even better, he was drawn to the same program that I took a few years back – a PhD in comparative mythology and depth psychology. In his studies, he explored what it meant to lead across cultures, deepening his understanding of why people do what they do. I know I am biased, but, I believe no better preparation for the complexities of our current global world of business.
Pearce first published “Leading Out Loud” in 1995 and it quickly become a classic in the field. In this third edition, he expands on the reflective work necessary, no demanded, by authentic leadership in order to inspire commitment and action. He asks the question ‘where do passion and commitment reside’? Answer: in inspiration – and this book will act as both guide and nourishment for the journey to the authentic Self. Pearce has taught leadership communication at UC Berkeley, the Haas School of Business and the London Business School. He draws upon a wealth of experience and adds a deepening of perspective in the authentic leadership model.
I have to admit I’m getting a little nervous. In a couple of weeks (or as my niece calls it – 15 more sleeps), I am getting on a plane for Doha, Qatar to speak at the Global Innovators Conference in Education. Certainly one of my passions and pet peeves at the same time. Education needs reform the same as our economy – and if you work in any large organization – you know how difficult it is to change bureaucracy. One of my favourite authors to read when feeling discouraged is Tony Wagner. His previous book, The Global Achievement Gap, outlines some of the changes currently taking place in education (reviewed last year). It might be slow but it is steady and we need all the support we can get. In Creating Innovators, he speaks to both educators and parents as to how to keep that wonderful creative spark alive in all of us. He provides countless examples of school programs that encourage both art and science – both sides of the brain – that spur creative and critical thinking. He also has included video content right in the book – technology working at its best. Download the Microsoft Tag Reader into your phone and you can watch various interviews with both Tony Wagner and many other innovators he has interviewed for the book. Available in both the Kindle edition and hardcover, this is a great read to add to your library of how to make the world a better place. I’ll let you know what happens in Qatar – some incredible work being done in education world-wide. So, patience for a little while longer. We are working as fast as we can to bring about educational reform.
Starting the New Year off right, to me means honouring my roots. The Power of Story. Paul Smith has written an excellent guide to why the art of story is the most probably the most important leadership skill. As Director of Consumer & Communications Research at Proctor and Gamble, Paul got a lot of practice. Storytelling and the power of story has finally come of age in the business world. Most successful companies now use storytelling as a leadership tool. Some examples:
At Nike, all senior executives are designated “corporate storytellers.” 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.” Procter & Gamble hired Hollywood directors to teach its executives storytelling techniques. Scenario planning (or storytelling in multiple forms) is now a highly effective form of strategy. And if you are in my faovurite transmedia space, well … I don’t have to tell you about the power and profitability of narrative. The rest of North America is slowly catching on to what successful global organizations have been using for years.
Business schools are beginning to add storytelling to coursework. I use story and build storytelling into every course I teach – strategy, competitive intelligence, consumer behaviour, marketing – all benefit from the use of the best communication tool ever invented. Start your New Year off by joining a movement that is both instructive and fun. If you want your organization to prosper in 2013, why not increase your competitive advantage? Sometimes, the old ways are the best.
George Friedman is a NY Times Best Seller author for a reason. As CEO and founder of Stratfor, the world’s leading private intelligence think tank, he is called upon frequently to speak to upcoming trends. In “The Next Decade”, Friedman speaks to the political shifts taking place, decisions, their consequences, and how North America will handle the conflicts and opportunities that lie ahead. Well worth curling up by the fire and exploring how the next decade will impact your life and the lives of those you love. What better holiday present?
Tony Wagner has written a thought-provoking book on the state of education – something that concerns any parent and employer. How do we shift from an industrial model to one that produces the creativity and innovation our current economy requires? This is a major shift that is required by all academic institutions in order to compete in today’s global marketplace. The primary focus is on ‘one student at a time accountability’ as opposed to ‘test-score accountability’. Maximizing the potential of each and every student. Wagner emphasizes that learning and citizenship in the twenty-first century demands that each student knows how to think – to reason, analyze, weigh evidence and problem solve and to communicate effectively. “These are no longer skills that only the elites in a society must master; they are essential survival skills for all of us.”
A direct attack on ‘teaching to the tests’, Wagner pushes for a new attitude in education. A welcome breath of fresh air in academe. If you care about teaching or how your children are taught, this book is required reading.
Starting a new job is always challenging so mea culpa for my absence! Making the move to Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning was made easy by the welcoming faculty and staff and I’m loving it! So, look for some good things to be coming out of Sheridan soon. The Faculty of Business is on the move.
Now back to book reviews. I am delighted to be able to feature “Business Model You”, a great little addition to anyone’s library. Written by Tim Clark, in collaboration with Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur AND 328 work-life wizards from 43 countries. And yes, I am one of the work-life wizards–a small contribution to the process. Following on the success of Business Model Generation, this little gem is full of ways to reinvent your career. Its a fun read. Enjoy!
10 years after the success of ‘Good to Great‘, author Jim Collins returns with some interesting findings. Top contenders are findings such as the ability to scale innovation and to blend creativity and discipline. I have long argued that creativity is not ‘flakey’ but the most disciplined that you will ever be (Collins = hedgehog). That creative discipline delivers on performance goals and is consistent with values-in-action. The ability to marry relentless discipline with focused creativity is more important now that ever before. What also hasn’t changed is the leadership mandate of serving a cause bigger than personal ego. The rest is new findings, not a rehash of old results. Emphasis is on long-term strategy – a 20 mile march. Hopefully we have learned by now that a focus on short-term results leads to trouble if not extinction. I love the concept of ‘zoom-out then zoom-in’ – holding both a mega and micro view builds on what we know of complexity theory that is driving business results, SMaC (specific, methodical and consistent) and the genius of the ‘and’. A worthwhile read.