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Archive for Tag 'corporate'

Best in Show

Posted by on February 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I like animals, animals of all shapes, sizes and varieties. In fact, my husband jokes with me that I like animals more than I like humans. Of course, it depends on the human.

Earlier this week, a four-year old Pekingnese named “Malachy” was awarded this year’s “Best in Show” at the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show held in Madison Square Garden in New York.

As much as I like animals, including dogs, I must say that it’s hard for me to get that excited about the beauty-challenged Pekingnese as the top winner of the prestigious dog show. With all due respect to Malachy, he has the face of a vampire bat, with Linda Evans hair.

Others questioned this week whether the Pekingnese is worthy of the famed dog award, since Malachy beat out more seemingly popular dog breeds such as the Irish setter, the Dalmation, the German shepherd, and the Doberman pinscher.

This is not the first time that the mighty Pekingnese has taken home the top award. In fact, Malachy is the fourth such Pekingnese to win “Best in Show” since 1960.

Pekingnese and other canine enthusiasts are quick to point out that the long-lasting breed is worthy indeed, and has been associated with royalty for centuries. The origins of the breed date back to the 8th Century in China. Pekingnese are commonly referred to as the “Lion Dog” due to its long, fluffy mane of hair. Sounds like the work of a good publicist, if you ask me.

With that said, I respect Malachy and his accomplishment. Malachy may not “look” like a winner, but he’s proven that he has what it takes to compete against those perceived to be better apt to succeed.

And isn’t this an important lesson for all of us?

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an oft-used axiom, which many of us seldom take to heart – but maybe we should. How many times do we assume that the colleague who looks the part will be the first to succeed?

The role of a good manager – and the organization broadly — is to provide for a work environment where everyone feels they have a shot at succeeding, not just the popular “show dogs.” This type of inclusive, nurturing culture will result in greater teamwork, higher productivity, and more sustained success for the company and the shareholder, every time.

So find ways to excite and draw out every employee to do his or her best. And you’ll soon find that your next “best in show” just might surprise you.

Recipe for a Storybook Marriage

Posted by on April 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm

What is it about a royal wedding that draws us all in? At 11am yesterday (British time), an estimated 3 billion people around the planet watched as Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot. A cool one million people watched live as they lined the streets of London during the wedding procession.

For the weeks leading up to the royal wedding, media outlets from around the globe spent countless column inches and on-air hours in pre-event coverage on every conceivable aspect of the soon-to-be-wed couple. All of this coverage was clearly fed by an unquenchable thirst of viewers and readers — from every walk of life and background — to soak in as much about this storybook wedding as possible.

Even though I was not part of the millions who staged “watch parties” here in the U.S. in the wee hours of the morning, I did record the entire ceremony and coverage via DVR, which I watched from start to finish last night.

I’m simply amazed at how this one wedding has so captivated our planet. Beyond the natural allure of royalty, maybe our fascination also has something to do with a desire to at least momentarily escape from the recent ravages of wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and nuclear disasters.

In any case, now comes the hard part for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are now known. They have to get along as they lead very public lives.

The most difficult part of any marriage is learning how to get along with one another after all the dust settles from the pomp and circumstance of the wedding. Same can be said for the corporate world and the thousands of mergers and acquisitions that occur each and every year.

Companies which come together must find a way to effectively blend much more than payroll, IT, and HR systems if they are to succeed – they must also find a way to successfully blend corporate cultures.

Like William and Kate who come from very different backgrounds (as we know all too well thanks to the media), companies that merge have to arrive at a new corporate culture that suits the newly combined entity.

The tendency is for the dominant company (e.g., the one doing the acquiring) to impose its culture on the company being acquired. This will result in grumpy employees and poor performance if employees of the acquired company are told overnight to abandon their own culture. (Note the grumpy expression in the photo above of three-year old Grace van Cutsem, who was part of yesterday’s wedding ceremony.)

In reality, many elements of the culture of the dominant company can likely continue in the newly combined company. However, executives should work hard to embrace aspects of both cultures that are worthy of renewal, while seeking to chart a new overall culture that will help to bring employees together in a productive way.

This will ensure that your storybook wedding will also lead to a long-lived and profitable storybook marriage.

What’s in Your Tackle Box?

Posted by on March 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

It’s been almost 40 years, but I can still smell the fish and the worms, and hear the waves splashing against the pier pilings at the Caspian seashore where I would fish as a young girl. I spent most of my summers as a child vacationing in a small seaside town in northern Iran with my family; and I would routinely sneak down to the piers to fish and talk to the fishermen. I loved to fish.

I would always look for an old fisherman with the largest and most impressive tackle box, and would stand beside him with my small fishing rod. I marveled at the orderly compartments of his tackle box and all of its contents: bobbers, weights, hooks, pliers, bottle opener, extra line, rubber worms, and a variety of colorful jigs.

Every item type had its own place in the multi-tiered box. I discovered over time that the most successful fishermen were meticulous in their preparation, and were ready for all contingencies.

I reflect often on those summers at the seashore and my fishing outings, and the life lessons that came from the experience.

Plan for every contingency. Meticulously prepare, and seek to find joy in what you do. Admittedly, my weak spot has always been the meticulous part.

These same traits would benefit you as a corporate manager. Make sure your tackle box is amply stocked, well-organized, and ready for anything that may come your way.

Likewise, approach your job or next project with the experience of a wise fisherman and the curiosity and enthusiasm of a young fisher girl.

Fighting Tweet Fire with Tweet Fire

Posted by on July 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm

The current edition of the Harvard Business Review (July-August 2010) includes an article by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler of Forrester Research, entitled “Empowered.” In it, the authors talk about the need for corporations to “unleash their employees to fight back” using the same social media tools that angry customers are increasingly using against corporations.

Today’s latest social media tools, like Twitter and Facebook, have given the individual customer unprecedented power to take his or her grievance to the masses. One of my favorite such incidents in the last year involved musician Dave Carroll, who took on United Airlines for rejecting his damage claim after baggage handlers broke his guitar. In response, he wrote a humorous ditty called “United Breaks Guitars,” and posted a video of him performing the song on YouTube — which has received nearly nine million views to date.

United’s brand took a beating, and it is not alone. As Bernoff and Schadler point out, these types of single-customer social media firestorms are popping up all over the place, and corporate executives are scrambling to figure out how to effectively respond.

Granted, I am not suggesting that customers, who have a legitimate complaint against a business entity, lay down their new social media guns. On the contrary. I applaud the creative use of technology by a customer to hold a company’s feet to the fire — when a genuine wrong has occurred. But what I also applaud, and encourage, are companies which are beginning to embrace these same technology tools to tell their side of the story.

In a number of my past blog postings, I have called on executives and managers to empower employees to think more creatively, and incentivize them to take risks and to challenge corporate routine. And empowering employees to leverage the same social media tools at work as they use at home opens up a whole new front in cost-effective corporate communications, while better utilizing employee talent.

Of course, this type of empowerment is not without risk as the authors of “Empowered” note. It requires a clear set of internal ground rules that govern both management and employees. But if properly designed and executed, the benefits of engaging employees in leveraging social media will far outweigh the costs of not doing so.

Get More Out of Your Corporate Events

Posted by on January 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Chances are your company will host a number of off-site or on-site meetings in 2010 aimed at driving corporate strategy development and execution; employee, manager, or executive training and development; or engagement with customers, partners or other individuals important to your business.

If this is the case, chances are also high that you’re not getting as much from these meetings or events as you could be. You probably continue to use the same meeting template year after year, and put it in the category, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It may not be “broke,” but ask yourself this question: Are your investments in these activities costing you more than they are giving back?

It’s time for some fresh thinking and a new template when it comes to your important corporate events and meetings. Attendees and participants should be provoked, engaged, challenged, and inspired. They should be exposed to leaders in their fields, as well as other high-value leaders and innovators. And, they should be put into environments and frames of mind that truly promote development and innovation.

For example, how about a quarterly “innovation” or “strategy” off-site meeting for 40 of your most promising mid-level managers from across the company? Host it in an offbeat and creative setting. Build the agenda around a relevant topic for your business. Bring in one or two inspiring thought leaders. Create some break-out group competition to drive meaningful meeting takeaways. Spotlight the best ideas. Top it off with an imaginative social component.

Create buzz around these events within your company so that other employees will want to attend future off-sites. This alone will give rise to higher personal performance, not to mention the idea generation that comes from the events themselves.

This is only one example. There’s many more where this came from. Let New Lantern help you get the most out of your corporate meetings and events in 2010.

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.