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 'management'

A Labor of Love

Posted by on September 1, 2014 at 11:58 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 is all the more reason to love your employees.

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.

Find Your Creative Place

Posted by on March 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Do you have a creative place? It’s the place where you feel you are at your most creative and productive. It may be a bench in your favorite park, a special nook or room in your house or spot in your yard, a quiet desk at a library, a small bistro table in a busy Starbucks, or a spot at work where no one can interrupt you.

Frankly, your creative place may not be a physical location. It could be a particular state of mind. It could be a certain mood, time of day, or the type of music that you are listening to at the time. It could be something you do such as driving or walking. Or it could be any combination of the above.

Every employee has at least one place that focuses the mind and puts them in a more inspired state. Not a state that will necessarily lead to a nuclear fusion breakthrough, or the next generation of computer chip. But it could be a state that helps them think through a more creative presentation, design a more environmentally-friendly container, improve the profitability of a company service offering, or find a more efficient way to process expense reports.

A company’s challenge is to help find those places for employees where they can be more innovative. Most companies insist that employees produce results in sterile environments under rigid conditions. Ask yourself this question: if you were using your own money to fund a composer to come up with a great score for your next blockbuster movie, would you insist that he or she do it between 9 to 5 on a Tuesday in the small conference room down the hall? I don’t think so.

I realize that organizations may not have the flexibility or the resources to put their employees into their most creative physical spaces. But with a little bit of ingenuity, leadership, and guts to try something different, they could clearly get employees to a better place or frame of mind.

Let New Lantern help your company find its creative place. It could be the beginning of a more beautiful and productive relationship between you and your employees.

(Back by popular demand, the above posting appeared originally in April 2009.)

Using the Old Bean

Posted by on November 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Nothing says November like the feel of wearing a wool sweater from L.L. Bean.

I’ve been a fan of L.L. Bean’s no-frills, long-lasting clothing products for over 30 years. They are comfortable, affordable, and always get the job done.

If I had a dollar for every “Blucher Moc” moccasin shoe that L.L. Bean has sold over the years, I would, well, have a lot of dollars. The shoe is timeless and iconic, and the product description today was the same 30 years ago: “The handsewn upper conforms to your foot for a fit that only gets better with time. Traditional rubber sole has channel grooves to provide traction on wet surfaces.” Current retail price: $69 a pair.

If it ain’t broke, keep selling it. Or something like that.

L.L. Bean owes its success not only to great products, but to great customer service. Year after year, L.L. Bean ranks among America’s top 10 companies for customer service according to the National Retail Federation, based on written surveys of over 9,000 shoppers.

The company was founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean in Freeport, Maine — a place that knows something about the importance of keeping warm and dry. Today, L.L. Bean’s flagship store and campus is still in Freeport on the original site where Bean opened his retail business.

Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the 200,000-square-foot flagship store draws nearly three million visitors each year.

Next year marks L.L. Bean’s 100th anniversary. Few companies on the planet survive long enough to celebrate this milestone, much less one that is still at the top of its game. The company’s annual sales now top $1.5 billion.

L.L. Bean wrote the book on succeeding as a mail-order business, and decades later was able to successfully pivot to capitalize on the e-commerce revolution. Like its famed Blucher Moc, L.L. Bean has been able to effectively adapt and conform “for a fit that only gets better with time.”

Yet, L.L. Bean’s current President, Chris McCormick, knows that the company’s success will continue to rely on its commitment to putting the customer first: “It goes back to L.L.’s Golden Rule of treating customers like human beings.”

That’s using the old bean from which we all can learn.

Keeping Your Cool

Posted by on July 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Things have gotten pretty hot in Washington, DC these days, and I’m not talking about the 100-degree heat index. The recent heated exchanges between the White House and the House Republicans have once again reminded us why the public approval ratings of our elected officials continue to hover around their all-time lows.

Yet there is something about the current debt ceiling debate that makes me think that there is much more at stake in this discussion than the usual Democratic and Republican skirmishes. The threshold question that confronts every American is whether our country should continue to ramp up historic and seemingly unsustainable debt, or should we take a meat axe to scores of federal programs that so many Americans have come to rely upon.

I’ll not use this blog to pontificate on my own personal political bias on this question, but I will say this: our country’s leaders need to find a way to talk to one another and work this out. I’m hoping for less hot rhetoric and finger-pointing and more substantive discussion and responsible leadership.

Whether it’s in a board room, a corporate conference room, a manager’s office, or in the Cabinet Room, heated and anger-toned debate serves no interests. I’ll put my money any day on the cool and level-headed executive or political leader than the hot-headed, barb-thrower.

Shareholders deserve this sort of cool-headed responsibility from corporate executives, and the American citizens deserve the same out of their elected or appointed government leaders.