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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Archive for Tag 'development'

Celebrate Your Employees

Posted by on September 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 as a day set aside to commemorate the “social and economic achievement of the American worker,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Labor Day has since come to represent the end of summer, the beginning of football season, and one of the last opportunities to get in those picnics, barbecues, and backyard family gatherings before the chill of autumn sets in across many parts of the country.

This year, Labor Day for your company should serve as a reminder to re-invest in your employees. Your employees are your company’s single most valuable asset. You already invest heavily in your employees through wages and benefits, but are you truly getting a solid return on that investment? Most likely you are not, and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Treat your employees like a valuable resource, and you will in turn reap the benefits. Nurture their talents, encourage risk-taking, and incent creativity and innovation.

Developing talent within your organization does not happen overnight. It takes persistence, a sustained dose of right-brain stimulus, and a senior management team who is willing to provide a culture where talent and creativity can take root and thrive.

Let New Lantern help your company mine and grow the talents of your employees through creative leadership training, performance-based compensation and incentive programs, and other inventive business innovation methods.

The pay-off for your company could be the next hot product or service offering – which would indeed be cause to celebrate the fruits of your company’s labor.

Whistle While You Work

Posted by on June 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Universal Pictures’ Snow White & the Huntsman opened this weekend and quickly shot to number one in box office sales in response to a big marketing campaign and an attractive cast including Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart.

Despite the early success of this action-fantasy movie and its much darker twist on an old tale, I frankly prefer the upbeat time-tested Snow White original.

For example, I like the important and simple life-lesson that the original seven dwarfs gave us with their advice to “whistle while you work.”

Ok, maybe if you actually whistle out loud at work, you may bear the wrath of your colleagues. However, figuratively speaking, the idea of being happy while you work will only serve to increase your productivity.

Managers should take note as well. It is up to them and the senior management team to provide for a workplace and culture that fosters happy employees. Managers should be willing to use every tool in the tool box to accomplish this feat, including flex time, awards and recognition, morale events, more creative work environments, etc.

There’s no better source for ideas on how to spur a more content workplace than to solicit suggestions from the employees themselves. It doesn’t mean you have to respond to every suggestion. What is important is that you genuinely listen to your employees in terms of what can make them more happy – and thus more productive.

By doing so, you’ll find that it will pay far more in long-term dividends than it will cost.

And that’s a nice tune that you can whistle to.

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.

It Pays to Have a “Plan B”

Posted by on October 17, 2010 at 11:25 pm

This past week, we all watched joyously as the 33 Chilean miners were pulled alive from the depths of the earth that had entrapped them for 69 days.

It was back on August 5th when the copper mine in Copiapo, Chile collapsed, leaving 33 men trapped 2,300 feet below the earth’s surface. Seventeen days passed before rescuers received any sign of life, when the eighth test bore drill came back to the surface with notes attached to the drill bit stating that 33 miners were indeed alive.

At that point, the world rallied to help Chilean officials and mine experts craft complex plans to rescue the miners. Three drill plans — A, B, and C — were launched using different drilling technologies in an effort to reach the miners with a shaft just large enough for their escape. Meanwhile, medicine, liquid food, and oxygen were sent nearly half a mile down via the tiny bore hole as the three drilling rigs worked for weeks around the clock.

NASA developed and built a special transport cylinder to bring the miners to the surface that was a mere 21 inches in diameter inside. Some miners, who had lost over 20 pounds during the first 17 days, were later put on a special diet to ensure that each could fit into the slender rescue tube. Miners were also put on an exercise regimen to minimize muscle atrophy. Mental health experts were consulted on how to engage the miners in certain routines to address the severe mental stress from the ordeal.

In the end, it was the “Plan B” drill that finally reached the small refuge area on October 9th where the miners were located. The “Plan B” drill used a special drill bit from a Pennsylvania company with a hammering mechanism never before used by the Chilean mining industry.

The Chilean government, including its President and its Mining Minister, deserve a lot of credit for the unprecedented rescue. Against enormous odds, they put together a plan of action that embraced both the known and the unknown, while giving themselves necessary contingencies. They also were willing to accept critical input, assistance, and know-how from around the globe, yet remained in control of one of the most complex and intensive rescue operations in history. They proceeded to relentlessly pursue their plan, and 33 lives were saved as a result.

It is a tribute to human ingenuity and the human ideal. When lives are at stake, I marvel at what humans can do when working together.

Corporate executives can learn from this survival phenomenon. The last two years have brought near-death experiences to many companies around the globe. Those companies whose managers and employees rally together, stay focused, and design necessary contingencies are more apt to come out of their hole alive.

It ultimately just might be your “Plan B” that saves your company.

Stack ’em, Pack ’em, and Rack ’em

Posted by on September 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

In watching the weather reports today, which show three to four hurricanes lined up in the Atlantic heading toward the eastern coast of the United States, I am reminded of one of the more memorable lines in American cinema.

In the 1990 “Die Hard 2: Die Harder,” the actor and former U.S. Senator, Fred Thompson, plays the Chief of Air Operations at Washington Dulles Airport and utters the great metaphorical line, “stack ‘em, pack ‘em, and rack ‘em.” With this line, he gives the order to his air traffic control staff to keep all incoming aircraft in a holding pattern until hijackers are no longer controlling the airport. The intent is to buy time until Bruce Willis (John McClane) can save the day.

So when I saw the colorful, eye-popping flight path this week on our television screens of the incoming hurricanes and tropical storms — Earl, Fiona, and Gaston, I thought of Fred Thompson’s 20-year-old line and the image of the jetliners lined up over the dark skies of Dulles Airport.

Whether it’s turbulence as a result of Mother Nature or man-made disasters, companies are best served by executives and managers who are able to keep their cool and focus in response to both seen and unforeseen events. These necessary attributes can only come through experience, effective training, and a corporate culture that values and cultivates them.

When crisis strikes, do not bet the company on managers knowing what to do. Spend time and resource to make sure they have the tools and know-how at the ready.

Have a safe and restful upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Reaching the Peak

Posted by on February 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

It’s not everyone who can say they accomplished what relatively so few others have done, beat the long odds and the obstacles, faced adversity head-on, and finally reached the pinnacle of achievement where you can plant a flag and mark it as your own.

As the photo shows above, this past weekend I did reach a once seemingly unobtainable peak …or so it would seem.

What may appear as a desolate and snowy peak just before sunset, is in fact a photo of my neighbor’s roof taken yesterday in late afternoon after a near-record 24-inch snowfall in the Washington, DC area.

Images and words can sometimes create a powerful illusion. They can lead one to take action – or result in inaction – in light of a perceived set of facts. Such a phenomenon is not limited to an individual, but can also beset an entire company or organization.

Companies, which possibly once enjoyed a leadership position or a genuine high level of performance, many times find themselves operating in a culture of perceived accomplishment. The management may convince itself that yesterday’s achievements are still in play, or it may insist that it is further down the field than reality would allow.

Worse yet, management may believe that the company’s employees are fully motivated, productive, and eager to take the next hill.

Things aren’t always as they appear. A false sense of achievement can erode the foundation of an organization, and can eventually bring it down. An honest and candid assessment is a good start, but should be followed by high-value leadership development, employee training, and a creative incentive program that can help put your company at the top if its game.

Let New Lantern help your company truly reach its peak performance.