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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 'challenge'

Breaking with Convention

Posted by on September 17, 2013 at 8:44 pm

On this day in 1787, a small group of delegates met in Philadelphia on the last day of their Convention to sign the Constitution of the United States. For nearly four months leading up to this date, the 55 men deliberated over the contents of what is regarded as one of the most important documents ever written.

George Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention, which comprised other “Founding Fathers” such as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania chaired the Constitution’s drafting committee, which also included Madison, Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, and Rufus King of Massachusetts.

The document and the process were not without their detractors. Rhode Island refused to send delegates. A number of delegates refused to sign the final document including George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia, and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. Mason felt strongly that the Constitution include a “Bill of Rights,” which was not part of the original document that was submitted to the states for ratification. The Bill of Rights, which contained the first ten amendments to the Constitution, was later introduced in 1789 and ratified in 1791.

The Constitution prescribes how the federal government is to be organized, outlines the role and powers of each of the three branches, and defines the government’s relationship with states and its citizens.

It starts with a simple yet eloquent Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I marvel at the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution. It was not a perfect document; on the contrary. In its very creation, the Constitution contemplated a process by which it could be amended, and it has been 27 times.

Foresight, experience, perspective, and flexibility are key ingredients to any major endeavor. In order to accomplish great things, you need to develop a sound game plan with the input of other key stakeholders. You’ll also need to build in a process by which the plan can be modified if and when the need arises.

Your plan most likely will not need to support a nation, nor endure more than two centuries. But it will require your best thinking, and need to stand the test of time and the strain of events that will inevitably come your way.

The Art of Managing (The White House)

Posted by on February 6, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Can you imagine having 300 people counting on you to keep daily operations running smoothly? Now imagine one of those people is the newly inaugurated President of the United States, and the rest are his closest advisors and staff.

If this isn’t enough to think about, remember the country and world are watching.

Here are 10 strategies I learned during my five years serving as the Operations Manager for the White House, Executive Office of the President.

1.  When the Oval Office or anyone in the West Wing calls, you make things happen, quickly.

2.  Treat all who need your help as if they too work in the the West Wing.

3.  Get to know your customers and act as their liaison. Be the bridge between your customers and the experts who will help you solve their problems.

4.  View each challenge as an opportunity to showcase your skills and learn new ones. With each challenge comes risk for great success and equal failure. Commend others who helped you be successful, and own your failures.

5.  Always have a back-up plan so that any failures are quickly fixed.

6.  It can be prudent to ask questions such as, “Why are we doing it this way?” If the answer is, “I can’t remember,” or, “This is just the way it has always been done,” it could be time to rethink your solution.

7.  Change is constant – be able to adapt and improvise. There may be times when the best plans go south, this is when you must think on your feet, move fast or get run over.

8.  There is a solution for every problem; use your imagination and creativity to find those solutions.

9.  Mentor and train others – this is both challenging and rewarding. Showing someone the ropes and training them will ensure their success, while also ensuring your team’s legacy will continue.

10.  Lastly, one of my favorite sayings I used while working in the White House – “The impossible is possible, it just takes a little longer.”

The photo above was taken by Tina Hager (former White House photographer).

A Winning Playbook for 2013

Posted by on January 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

It seems like only yesterday that we were talking about Y2K. Yet, here we are now in 2013.

A great deal has transpired in these last 13 years. Many businesses were started. Some greatly expanded or bought up other companies. While others are no longer with us.

We survived the stock market bubble burst of 2000. The economic meltdown of 2008. And historic long-term unemployment ever since.

Fortunately for all of us, the start of each new year brings with it the opportunity for your company to start afresh. Try something new. Leave an ill-conceived or outdated practice behind.

Importantly, the new year also gives you the most runway — 365 days — to accomplish your objectives. So there is no better time than the present to self-access and retool.

Every company, no matter how well run or high performing, can find room for improvement. Last year’s playbook is an important baseline, but it should never substitute for this year’s winning game plan.

Times change.
Conditions change.
Competitive threats change.
Employees change.
Leaders change.

As such, your playbook should change as well, and frankly should be regularly reassessed, challenged, and updated throughout the course of the year.

Make 2013 a winning year for your company. Update your playbook today, and you’ll soon be enjoying the rewards it will bring.

Innovation By Design

Posted by on October 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I draw your attention to this month’s Fast Company magazine, which it refers to as its “Design Issue.” The entire issue focuses on the important role that design plays in business innovation as a positive disruptive force.

As the magazine points out, the marriage of design and innovation is not a new concept. For it was the legendary CEO of IBM, Thomas Watson, Jr., who noted almost 40 years ago that “good design is good business.” And scores of companies since then, including IBM, have ably demonstrated the truism of these words.

The magazine spotlights the latest social media darling, Pinterest, and its 30-year-old CEO, Ben Silbermann, as shown in the cover photo above. Silbermann has leveraged the power of the Internet to turn the age-old idea of the scrapbook into a must-go-to web destination. In the last year alone, the number of monthly unique visitors to Pinterest has soared from 600,000 to over 20 million.

Of course, 20 million users is a drop in the bucket compared to the social media behemoth, Facebook, which just past the 1 billion mark in users. Yet, Pinterest tops both Facebook and Twitter in its ability to translate visitors into product sales.

Fast Company also uses this month’s issue to highlight its “2012 Innovation By Design Award” nominees at 1,700 strong across nine categories. Nominees include companies and products such as Boeing’s fuel efficient 787, Nike’s lightweight Flyknit shoe, and Nest Labs’ slick and simple-to-use “smart” home thermostat. Winners will be announced on October 16 in New York City.

I urge you to spend more time in Q4 and in 2013 thinking about good design and how it can be good for your business. It might just be the best decision you make over the coming year — and could lead to your company’s nomination in a future Fast Company’s Design Issue.

Aiming for New Heights

Posted by on July 5, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Later this month will mark the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 20, 1969, when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the moon’s surface. Upon doing so, Armstrong then uttered those immortal words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

That day in history represents one of the world’s most famous examples of successful human achievement as a consequence of setting a seemingly unachievable goal. It was on May 25, 1961 when President John F. Kennedy spoke before a joint session of Congress and laid down a challenge to the country and the U.S. space program: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Forty-three years ago was indeed a mighty proud moment for our country — frankly one of the proudest moments of a decade that otherwise had been stained by a long war and the assassinations of two Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pride comes from accomplishment, teamwork, and reaching a worthy goal in the face of adversity. Great corporate leaders and managers provide a vision, a common set of meaningful objectives, and a credible game plan on how to get there.

And it is in the most challenging times that organizations should call on employees to share in the risk and reward of trying to achieve an important goal that may appear just out of reach. It may very well lead to new heights for your company and the pride that comes from real accomplishment.

The Power of Competition

Posted by on April 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, died on this day 65 years ago in Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford is credited for revolutionizing factory production with his assembly-line methods. Most importantly, he helped change how people lived and where they lived by developing the Model T, the world’s first affordable, mass-produced car.

Ford first produced the Model T in 1908, which sold for $850, according to History.com. And by the time the last Model T came off the assembly line in 1927, over 15 million had been sold. However, like many corporate trailblazers, Ford’s market dominance began to wane in the 1920s when it fell behind General Motors, which was responding more quickly to consumer demand with newer models.

To this day, Ford still trails GM in automobiles sold annually, but only by a narrow margin. Ford’s star has risen particularly in recent years under the leadership of former Boeing executive, Alan Mulally, who has helped make Ford profitable despite the country’s near economic meltdown. In late 2008 and early 2009, GM took bailout money from the U.S. Government; Ford notably did not.

The Ford and GM 100-year rivalry is longer than any in U.S. corporate history and will surely continue. There is no better fuel for innovation than competition, and no industry better illustrates this cause and effect than the automotive industry.

Thanks to GM’s and Ford’s long-term rivalry – and the competitive threats from Japanese and German car brands over the last three decades – consumers have a lot to be thankful for.

One wonders what Henry Ford would think today if he were behind the wheel of one of Ford’s latest models, such as a Ford Fusion Hybrid (gas and electric), in which he could control much of the dashboard with voice commands.

I bet he’d like the company that still bears his name.