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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 May, 2011

Is Your Company as Good as Ever?

Posted by on May 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm

In Toby Keith’s 2005 hit country song, “As Good As I Once Was,” the punch line of the song goes, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”

I can’t say that it’s a favorite song of mine, but the song surely resonates with my husband. Leave it to country music to always win the day in the lyrics category. And as lyrics go, “As Good As I Once Was” is as good as it gets.

The song spent six weeks at the top of Country music charts in 2005 and helped to make Keith one of the most popular singer-songwriters of the past decade.

“As Good As I Once Was” may also resonate with your company as suggested in this verse:

“I ain’t as good as I once was,
My, how the years have flown,
But there was a time back in my prime
When I could hold my own.”

Has your company seen better days? Were you once number one in your product category, or higher up the charts than you are now? Odds are that your employees may be less motivated today than they were a few years back when your workforce was probably younger and hungrier. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’ve probably just described over half of the Fortune 500.

Many companies today are looking over their shoulder to find younger and more ambitious competitors on their heels. Or worse yet, you may already be looking at their taillights.

There are ways to turn maturity and experience to your company’s advantage. Sure, your organization and employees may be less nimble than they were a decade ago, but you can draw upon the expertise that comes with age. The key will be to find ways to inspire and incent your workforce through creative compensation and reward programs.

A motivated workforce also starts with motivated managers. Make sure you are utilizing innovative executive and manager training programs to spur more inspired leaders.

In the end, you should not try to match your younger opponents step-by-step, but should seek to ensure that each step counts and is smarter and more efficient based on valuable experience and perspective.

That’s the type of company I would want to work for. Then again, I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.

Getting There From Here

Posted by on May 21, 2011 at 6:24 pm

The flooding along the Mississippi River over the last two weeks has devastated thousands of homes and millions of acres of farmland throughout the bordering states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The storied river that ordinarily is no more than one-half a mile wide swelled to three and four miles wide in many areas. Scores of roads along the river disappeared under the flood waters. Many roads along the river remain closed, making it impossible for some homeowners and farm owners to access their properties. Drivers – both commercial and private – have been forced to find alternative routes to destinations throughout the entire region.

Unexpected catastrophes or events throw us curve balls every day in business. What was your company’s path to profitability yesterday may suddenly no longer be available today. At a moment’s notice, you may find yourself searching for a new road in order for your company to survive.

Don’t wait for disaster to hit before you start charting your company’s new path to success. Work with your management team today on new routes and alternative game plans to ensure you have more than one way forward.

You’ll sleep better at night, and so will your shareholders, knowing that you can still get there from here.

Putting the “T” in Virtual Team

Posted by on May 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Over the last three years, I have used this blog on a number of occasions to note the value of telecommuting or teleworking. I’ve called on corporations and organizations to look seriously at telework programs, which can lead to happier employees and greater productivity.

While telework programs are not the panacea for all workplace ills, they can serve as one important tool for motivating certain employees, increasing work-life balance, and increasing retention rates of top performers.

There is one challenge, however, that managers need to address as today’s employees spend more time working remotely from home or from other distant offices: maintaining the sense of team.

High-performing individual contributors can serve as a huge asset for any organization. Yet, the value of this asset is greatly diminished if these contributors are not effectively collaborating with team members toward a common business objective.

Also, there are immeasurable benefits that derive from a strong sense of team that cannot be overstated. Visibility to other team members and their accomplishments tend to increase the game of other teammates. Competition breeds increased performance. Case and point: a sprinter running the 100-yard dash against one or more competitors will almost always clock faster times compared to running the sprint alone.

Fellow team members also learn from one another in important ways. An employee that might excel in one aspect of her role can serve as a good role model for other team members – if there is visibility to these winning traits.

So how do you overcome the obstacle of geographic distance when at least some members of your team are working remotely?

First, leverage all the new collaboration and technology tools to increase your team’s “visibility” to one another. Thanks to fast, inexpensive broadband today at both work and home, relatively high quality VoIP (online) conference calls – including real-time document sharing and video – are easily within reach for your organization. Granted, these technologies are still no substitute for face-to-face collaboration, but they can play a critical role to the team experience.

Second, build regular face-to-face meetings and events into your annual budgets. Utilize existing office space or, better yet, a thought-provoking venue to spur creativity, team cohesion, and a more memorable experience. I’m not talking about a windowless, subterranean hotel conference room. Instead, seek out unique offsite meeting spaces such as an artist’s studio, a museum space, or conference room at a professional sports facility.

Third, include a fun, non-work event in every offsite retreat. It can be a team-building exercise; an informal round-table discussion or reception with a leading innovator; a nice dinner at a hot, new restaurant; or an inspirational training session. The point is to create synergies and chemistry within the team through shared experiences.

In short, use today’s telework and virtual office programs to reduce overall costs while increasing individual employee productivity — but not at the expense of eroding the team dynamic. Bring your team together at regular intervals that suit your company’s needs, and put them in intensive, idea-inducing environments.

You’ll soon find yourself building a winning team, which will take your company to virtually any new height.

It Pays to Persevere

Posted by on May 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

We all learned an important lesson this week about the meaning of perseverance.

For almost 10 years, U.S. military and intelligence forces worked round-the-clock to track down and bring the world’s most hunted man to justice. And their patience and persistence paid off with Osama bin Laden’s death on May 1 at the hands of Navy SEAL Team Six.

As the news of bin Laden’s demise spread at the speed of Twitter last Sunday night, Americans spontaneously rejoiced. No one was more pleased to receive this news than the family members of the 3,000 people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

With each passing year, it appeared that bin Laden’s trail was growing colder and colder. Yet, the focus and commitment to find him never dimmed among those within our national security ranks, who were responsible for completing the mission.

While some unfulfilled missions may require eventual termination, others are much too important to the core principles of an organization to abandon.

Seek to identify those mission critical objectives within your organization, and pursue them with vigor and perseverance.

It may very well make the difference in your company’s survival.