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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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Archive for Tag 'catalyst'

A New Look at Motivating Employees

Posted by on March 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Last week, Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein profiled career analyst and author Daniel Pink and his new book: “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”

In the book, Pink makes the case that money can only motivate employees up to a point. In fact, he cites studies and real-life examples that support the notion that incentive bonuses actually result in less creative and innovative thinking.

Granted, Pink notes that good performance starts with employees who feel like they are fairly compensated. Beyond that, he contends that employees will in fact use higher levels of initiative, problem-solving, and creativity in response to traditional, non-monetary competitive forces.

In a speech at a TED conference at Oxford, England last summer, Pink previewed some of his thinking that went into “Drive.” He cited a 2005 study by MIT conducted for the Federal Reserve that found that “as long as the task involved mechanical skill, bonuses worked as would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance.” However, “once the task called for an even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance.”

Pink also wrote “A Whole New Mind” in 2006, which makes the case for more right-brain thinking (e.g., inventiveness and creativity), noting “the workplace terrain is changing yet again, and power will inevitably shift to people who possess strong right-brain qualities.” This is an interesting proposition (and a correct one in my opinion) considering it is coming from a trained left-brain-thinking lawyer.

Given today’s level of global competition and the fragile economy, companies would be well-advised to look differently at how they try to motivate employees. Based on my own experience in managing executive compensation programs at large multinational companies, companies are far too quick to assume that traditional carrots like higher bonuses and larger stock grants will result in higher levels of performance.

These compensation tools are important for retaining your most promising employees. Yet, when used alone, they may in fact be stunting – not inducing – higher levels of innovation, risk-taking, and problem-solving.

Companies that seek to promote a motivating corporate culture, a competitive work environment, and ample levels of recognition for excellence will ultimately be in the best position to elicit the innovation “drive” needed from employees to beat the competition.

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.

The Legacy of Duncan Phillips

Posted by on March 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm

The Phillips Collection is America’s first museum of modern art. It was founded in 1918 and opened to the public in 1921 — eight years before the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and two decades before Washington’s National Gallery of Art.

Located in the eclectic Dupont Circle area of our nation’s capital, Duncan Phillips (1886-1966) established the museum as a memorial to his father and brother who died, respectively, in 1917 and 1918. The brothers both went to Yale, were very close, and shared an interest in modern art. “Sorrow all but overwhelmed me,” Duncan Phillips later wrote. “Then I turned to my love of painting for the will to live.”

Over the next five decades, Phillips collected a broad representation of both impressionist and modern art – including works from European and American artists. The museum has showcased works of Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Marin, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Today, the Phillips Collection is a model for other museums to follow – giving back to the nation and the DC community through education and outreach to nearly 90,000 children, teachers and families each year. The museum’s programs seek to leverage the “magic of the arts” to inspire creative expression, the development of critical literacy skills, and lifelong learning. Phillips’s upcoming Annual Gala on May 15 raises money to help fund these very worthwhile causes.

The magic of the arts can also transform individuals in the workplace. Inspiration from present-day and past artists can provide a mighty catalyst for more inspired products and services. Putting your employees in creative environments can pay dividends for your company or organization. Learn from innovators like Duncan Phillips who used loss and adversity to break from the pack and turn a passion into a life-changing experience.