New Lantern

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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.

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Monthly Archive for April, 2009

Find Your Creative Place

Posted by on April 26, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Do you have a creative place? It’s the place where you feel you are at your most creative and productive. It may be a bench in your favorite park, a special nook or room in your house or spot in your yard, a quiet desk at a library, a small bistro table in a busy Starbucks, or a spot at work where no one can interrupt you.

Frankly, your creative place may not be a physical location. It could be a particular state of mind. It could be a certain mood, time of day, or the type of music that you are listening to at the time. It could be something you do such as driving or walking. Or it could be any combination of the above.

Every employee has at least one place that focuses the mind and puts them in a more inspired state. Not a state that will necessarily lead to a nuclear fusion breakthrough, or the next generation of computer chip. But it could be a state that helps them think through a more creative presentation, design a more environmentally-friendly container, improve the profitability of a company service offering, or find a more efficient way to process expense reports.

A company’s challenge is to help find those places for employees where they can be more innovative. Most companies insist that employees produce results in sterile environments under rigid conditions. Ask yourself this question: if you were using your own money to fund a composer to come up with a great score for your next blockbuster movie, would you insist that he or she do it between 9 to 5 on a Tuesday in the small conference room down the hall? I don’t think so.

I realize that organizations may not have the flexibility or the resources to put their employees into their most creative physical spaces. But with a little bit of ingenuity, leadership, and guts to try something different, they could clearly get employees to a better place or frame of mind.

Let New Lantern help your company find its creative place. It could be the beginning of a more beautiful and productive relationship between you and your employees.

Time to Upgrade Your Corporate Culture?

Posted by on April 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Is your corporate culture what it should be? If you are like most companies the answer is probably “no.”

A corporate culture reflects an organization’s character, its values and the vision of its management. The culture serves as an unseen GPS for employees, customers, and partners – signaling who you are as a company and how you do business.

Too many companies place a glossy mission or values statement on their website, but don’t work to build a corporate culture that truly lives up to the words.

Senior management cannot impose a desired corporate culture on an organization. It must be earned and built brick-by-brick. Management must create a culture that treats employees as the company’s single best asset. Employees need to know that performance will be measured and appropriately rewarded. Conversely, they need to know that underperformance has its consequences. And employees need to know that the same performance yardstick will be used fairly throughout the entire organization.

A culture that places loyalty to management over performance is a company abusing the shareholders’ trust. Likewise, a culture that tolerates — or worse yet – rewards an attitude that says, “all I need to do is keep my head down, go along with the flow, and not cause any waves,” is doomed to failure.

Jump-start your corporate culture starting today. Let employees know that their talents and value to the company matter. Provide a vision and a clearly defined set of goals for which all employees will share responsibility in achieving. Let employees know that risk-taking, an entrepreneurial spirit, and challenging the status quo are strongly encouraged. And make it clear that a strong sense of ethics is an integral part of your company’s DNA.

If you are able to do the above, your corporate culture will change for the better, your future will be brighter, and shareholders will happily reap the benefits.

Inspiration from a Young Artist

Posted by on April 14, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Fumiko Toda

Fumiko Toda

Growing up in rural Japan, Fumiko Toda spent many summer days visiting a nearby pond to study the insects, leaves, and stones that lined its banks. She later went on to attend the Kyoto University of Art and Design, and after graduation Fumiko moved to New York City in 2001 to continue to pursue her passion as an artist.

From 2001 to 2007, Fumiko studied art at the National Academy of Design in Manhattan. The Academy (now known as the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts) was founded in 1825 to promote American art through exhibitions and education. Today, it houses one of the largest public collections of 19th and 20th century American art in the United States.

Since coming to America, Fumiko, 28, has won numerous awards and grants for her work, which has been showcased in more than two dozen exhibitions in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, Japan and Thailand. She admits that she is “obsessively fascinated with color, texture, textile design, and form, although most of the images and inspiration I find for art, are drawn from my childhood background.”

The Safe-T-Gallery in Brooklyn will be the site of Fumiko’s first major solo exhibition in New York, which will be open to the public from April 23 to May 30. Her show is aptly named “Recent Insects.”

What can a company and its employees learn from a young and promising artist? Success is not a static destination; it requires continuous, thought-provoking training and rigorous practice of one’s craft. Find what inspires you and leverage that inspiration in your work. And, if you’re seeking to create “buzz” with your next product or service, you might try looking at obvious things in a new and less obvious way.

Fumiko Toda art

Pay-for-Performance 2.0

Posted by on April 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm

salary art

With the current 8.5 percent unemployment rate, and pay freezes or cuts for much of the remaining 91.5 percent of the nation’s workers, there is no better time for companies to embrace creative pay-for-performance programs.

The current state of the economy is undoubtedly making even the best employees anxious. And anxiety breeds under-performance, which can exacerbate your company’s already mounting challenges. Freezing employee salaries doesn’t mean that you can’t reward over-achievers with other perks and pay incentives. Cash bonuses, stock grants, and highly desirable professional development opportunities are fair game and can provide the necessary catalyst for top employees while encouraging under-performers to step up their game.

You can also use the current economic situation as an opportunity to revamp your overall compensation structure. Does your current pay structure fully differentiate between your performers and laggards? Is your current pay plan designed to pay past performance rather than spur improved future performance? Does your current plan truly encourage innovative thinking and risk-taking or does it simply encourage loyalty to the boss?

Here’s a thought: Instead of simply freezing every employee’s salary this year, how about increasing the salaries of the top-performing 20 percent while lowering the salaries of the bottom 20 percent? Your total salary expenditures would remain flat, but your overall corporate performance would surely increase.

Turn adversity into an inspiring opportunity to make the necessary upgrades to your compensation program that will result in performance 2.0 for your company or organization.