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 December, 2009

New Year’s Resolution: Leverage Social Media

Posted by on December 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question.

Many of you who are reading this blog probably have your own personal Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. Your employer may also have its own Facebook page. And, your corporate communications department may already have someone tasked to monitor social media sites like Twitter for specific web chatter and trends that may impact your business.

If you’re not already doing these things, you should be. But even if you are, you would only be scratching the surface of what these new social media tools could be doing for your company.

According to, the term “social media” includes the “various online technology tools that enable people to communicate easily via the internet to share information and resources. Social media can include text, audio, video, images, podcasts, and other multimedia communications.”

Of course, social media is not a panacea for companies; and neither was the advent of television and video starting in the 1960s. Yet, television provided an exciting new medium for companies to reach customers and the public through advertising. Those companies that moved early and effectively to take advantage of this new medium prospered. And video later provided companies productive ways to communicate internally and to train large numbers of employees in multiple locations in a cost-effective way.

Likewise, social media provides your company with new opportunities to communicate with customers and the public – in real time – like never before. Social media can also be utilized within your company as very effective collaboration tools. For example, managers within different parts of the company could use a customized internal website or “wiki” to trade best practice information. Employees could use it to provide real-time suggestions on process innovation, or ideas for new or improved products or services.

Social media tools are not your traditional “one-to-many” glossy corporate newsletters or large distribution emails from the CEO. Social media are instead “many-to-many” tools, which support the “democratization of knowledge and information” in a highly cost-effective manner according to – a poster child itself for many-to-many Web 2.0.

High benefit. Low cost. What’s not to like?

So add this to your New Year’s resolution list: get serious about new social media tools and put them to work for your company in 2010. New Lantern can help show you how, and I predict you’ll then be tweeting our praises.

Wishing You a Merry Winter Solstice

Posted by on December 21, 2009 at 7:19 pm

It’s going to be a long night tonight. That’s because at 12:47 pm (EST) today, the Winter Solstice occurred for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, the Winter Solstice means it’s the shortest day of the year when the sun appears at the lowest point in the sky.

According to, “solstice” comes from the Latin word “solstitium,” which combines “sol” for the sun and “stitium” for stoppage. This means that during either the winter or summer solstice, the sun at midday appears to be in the same position for several days prior and after the solstice.

For centuries, cultures all over the globe have celebrated the Winter Solstice in a wide variety of ways. Yet, a common thread in many of these cultures is that the marking of the longest night brings with it the optimism of increasing amounts of daylight to come.

This year seems particularly fitting to note the passing of the Winter Solstice and what at times felt to be a very long night.

Here’s wishing all of you a safe and healthy holidays, and the hope of brighter days ahead in 2010.

Building Corporate Muscle with Flex Time

Posted by on December 13, 2009 at 9:58 pm

In today’s New York Times, economist and author Sylvia Ann Hewlett discusses the merits of flex time for both corporations and employees in the article, “Making Flex Time a Win-Win.” Much like my two-part blog post earlier this year that touted the benefits to your business of implementing a telework program, flex time too can be a powerful catalyst for increasing employee morale and productivity.

Hewlett points out that flex time is a win-win in today’s economy since many workers will be happy to take less pay if their managers give them a more flexible work schedule. So not only could employers save money by embracing a flex time program, they could also get more out of their employees.

Flex time can come in a number of forms. For example, it may mean working four days a week for a total of 32 hours, and receiving 80% of the pay. Women are particularly attracted to flex time as Hewlett notes, since they are increasingly out-earning their husbands, while still facing domestic duties at home (e.g., as a mother).

A successful female employee and mother typically faces the dilemma of either quitting her job or living with the guilt of not spending more time with her kids at home while they are young. If the mother decides to leave her job, then the company loses out on the talent and investment in that employee. Flex time can potentially keep her at work, contributing to the company’s success, while possibly helping the company save money at the same time.

Ms. Hewlett is the founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, author of nine non-fiction books on business, and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize. She has taught at Cambridge, Columbia, and Princeton.

Her latest book, Top Talent: Keeping Performance Up When Business is Down,” was released in October. Jeffrey Kindler, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer: “The right book at the right time. With skill and conviction, Hewlett provides new insight into motivating your top performers during tough times and preparing your organization for renewed innovation and growth.”

As we have discussed here in numerous blog posts over the last year, tough times are exactly when your company should invest in its best performers and mine all the talent your employees have to offer. This investment can come in the form of enhanced incentive rewards programs, imaginative leadership training, and other innovative programs to spur creative thinking and performance.

It will require a management team who is willing to embrace change, e.g., how and when employees work — in short, a team willing to flex different muscles. I’m guessing you’ll like how the results will look on you and your company.

A Little Red Carpet Can Go a Long Way

Posted by on December 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Tonight, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will add five more names to its wall of legendary performing artists in the 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, DC. The 2009 honorees include: producer Mel Brooks; pianist and composer Dave Brubeck; opera singer Grace Bumbry; actor, director, and producer Robert De Niro; and singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen.

The honorees will join President Obama and the First Lady in the President’s box at the Kennedy Center tonight for the three-hour live tribute, which will later be aired in a two-hour show on CBS on December 29. Last night, the honorees and their families and friends, were feted at a State Department dinner, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They will also attend a White House reception this evening prior to tonight’s show.

There are no shortage of annual award shows that pay tribute to the achievements of actors, directors, and musicians. Yet, the Kennedy Center Honors seems to stand apart. It seeks to honor a life-time of talent and accomplishment, not simply a snapshot of fame. The show also uniquely brings together on the red carpet the best that America has to offer from the arts and government.

I have attended six Kennedy Center Honors, and each was as distinctive as the inductees themselves and the remarkable stories told by the famous individuals who spoke on their behalf.

Former President John F. Kennedy said, “I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.”

The highest levels of business achievement, like that of the arts, are attained based on a compilation of successful work over an extended period of time – not merely the results of one quarter or one year. And it is the companies that are the most creative, the most innovative, and the most willing to invest in their best performing employees, which will most likely succeed and endure.

Make it a point to honor those employees who help make your company successful with a little red carpet treatment of your own.