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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 'success'

The Tomato Paste Playbook

Posted by on February 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm


Have you ever wondered how your company can get more customers, “likes” on Facebook, or attention with ads?

I tell people that it’s important to share your story.

But what does this mean?

Each day your company goes about doing its job, which to some may seem quite routine.

To customers, especially new ones, they may not recognize or see the everyday highlights of your company. They may not know your company’s history or how it’s gotten to where it is today.

The trick is to look within your company. Look at it with fresh eyes and find those hidden gems — those stories that should be shared with customers. Many times companies overcome great odds or complete huge tasks, and quickly move on to the next challenge. Look closer, as these may be just the stories that should be told.

I recently took notice of a television commercial by Hunt’s. Yes, I’m talking about the 100-year-old company known mainly for its canned tomato products.

So how did Hunt’s get my attention? By sharing a process known as “flash steaming.”

Now I’ll admit I don’t know much about this steaming process. It’s apparently used by Hunt’s prior to canning, when it removes parts of the vegetable you wouldn’t want included in your can of tomatoes.

How do other companies complete this same process you may ask? According to the Hunt’s commercial, they use chemicals, specifically lye — the same potash-based substance used to make the very pungent Norwegian Lutefisk (a.k.a. aged stockfish). Lye is also used in soaps, oven cleaners, and drain openers. Yum.

This is just one small story shared by a century-old company, simply explaining a process they use daily to can vegetables. Hunt’s looked within the company, found something they did every day, supposedly better than their competitors, and highlighted it.

Now I know something I didn’t before, and will look for Hunt’s next time I need some canned tomatoes. And that’s no lye.

March Madness Over Telework

Posted by on March 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Last month’s “no-work-at-home” pronouncement by Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer has set off quite the firestorm in telecommuting and telework circles.

In a company-wide email to employees on February 22nd, Yahoo’s head of HR laid out the new ban on telework in a short, four-paragraph memo. The memo stated, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.”

News stories that followed cited Mayer’s concerns that “200 or so” Yahoo employees were working remotely and that “some did little work for the company and a few had even begun their own start-ups on the side.”

In the last four years, I have written several blogs on the benefits of telework for many companies. I’ve noted that while some positions may not lend themselves to working remotely, others could be effectively performed at home or elsewhere for at least some portion of the work week. In a June 2009 blog posting, I cited several independent studies showing that many employees are more productive working from home. I coupled this with my own experience as a senior HR executive for several large corporations.

Mayer, 37, who is a former executive at Google, does admit that some employees can be more productive working from home. However, she argues that productivity does not translate into innovation and that employees need to be in the same physical location in order to collaborate and innovate.

In another blog posting in 2009, I noted how an average employee can spend as much as 90 minutes a day commuting, and how a stressful commute can seriously impact one’s mindset and productivity. I went on to talk about how “innovation starts with happy and inspired employees, and employees who can get to their ‘creative place’ – whether that be a physical place or a state of mind.”

Let me pose this question: Is an employee apt to be in a more creative frame of mind working from: (a) home or other preferred location, or (b) in a cubicle after spending an hour in traffic?

I would argue that the employee problems that exist at Yahoo are not the result of working remotely, but the product of an ill-defined and ill-managed telework program. Whether an employee is working in the office next door or from home, it’s the responsibility of that employee’s manager to make sure he or she is fully collaborating and contributing.

I too agree that in-person collaboration can lead to creativity and innovation. Yet, a flexible and well-structured telework program could include regular in-person sessions, while also allowing for time working from home.

So let’s not make telework the scapegoat for a company’s lack of creativity. Banning telework would be like a basketball coach banning the full-court press from his or her playbook in response to a loss of a game due to a poorly executed play. That would be madness.

Like telework for a company, a full-court press can be an important game-winning tool for a basketball team – if properly executed.

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.

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.