Monthly Archives: October 2010

Measure Innovation Outcomes

If Boston, NYC, and San Francisco are the top three U.S. innovation cities why do their economic, education, health care, and energy systems produce the same poor results as cities around the rest of the country? I read the recent Top Innovation Cities of the Global Economy report from 2thinknow ranking the top 100 global innovation cities with great interest. Of course I quickly scanned the rankings to see which U.S. cities made the list. While I was disappointed my hometown of Providence, Rhode Island didn’t make the cut I was pleased to see our neighbor Boston was ranked number one. Two other U.S. cities joined Boston in the top ten, NYC ranked fifth and San Francisco ranked seventh. Seems logical to ask if the top ranked innovation cities are delivering more value to their citizens or making more progress on the big social challenges of our time …

Posted in Government, Headlines, Innovation, education | 7 Comments
25 Lessons Learned (or Reconfirmed) in 1 Year Away from Corporate Life

It’s been about one year since I left corporate life to pursue The Brainzooming Group full-time. Here are some of the lessons I understand now that I didn’t understand nearly as well one year ago. You’re better off to not think someone else in business shares your same performance standards. You’re definitely better off to not openly assess your own performance in light of your overly-high standards. Give yourself a break. A lot of the same problems exist in lots of companies, so don’t think your crap is so special. Despite preparing as much as you think you can to get ready to do something new, you’ll discover things you didn’t prepare for the minute you actually commit to doing it. All that stuff they tell you about the importance of networking (especially when you don’t really need the network)? It’s all true. And then some. It’s possible to get … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Management | 1 Comment
Harley Stays Cool in the Heat

Few brands were hit as hard by the recession as Harley-Davidson. Demand for motorcycles has taken a hit, and demand for premium motorcycles has taken an even bigger hit. It’s hard to sell a lot of twenty-some-thousand-dollar bikes when discretionary income is at a premium. Harley’s revenues continue to suffer, dipping 7.7 percent in the third quarter. Under these circumstances, the last thing you’d expect from Harley-Davidson is solid profitability, but the company’s profits more than tripled in the last quarter as management cut costs, laid off employees and closed plants. That, however, is only half the story. Beyond cutting back on its supply side—here’s where Harley departs from average brands—the company managed its demand side as well. As the economy tightened up, Harley began requiring larger down payments from its credit customers. The company tightened up its lending standards, too, making it harder for the average Joe to afford … Continue reading

Posted in Finance, Leadership, Strategy, marketing | 1 Comment
Choosing Optimism

The writer Douglas Coupland, coiner of the phrase GenX, is an ominous kind of guy. In a reverse mirror image, he’s calling himself a “radical pessimist” against my school of “radical optimism.” By radical I’m not just meaning extreme, but consciously applied, as per the Rules for Radicals classic by late veteran activist Saul Alinsky. Coupland’s school of radical pessimism has led him to create “A Radical Pessimist’s Guide to the Next 10 Years” which has just appeared in the Globe & Mail, and true to form, offers a bleak depiction of the coming decade. Of the 45 “tips for survival in a messed-up future”, the first one is to recognize that “it’s going to get worse”; the last is that “we will accept the obvious truth that we brought this upon ourselves.” In between are a bunch of glass-half-empty insights and predictions such as “You’re going to miss the … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Psychology | 1 Comment
Importance of Icebreakers to Brainstorming

Often brainstorm workshops are being held for groups of people who normally don’t work as a team. For example people from different departments or layers from a company. In the workshop the group is expected to brainstorm about a topic in a very short time (one or two hours). As a warming-up exercise for the workshop attendees, I like to use ice breaker exercises. Ice breaker exercises can be used to: Form a group within a short period of time Learn out of the box thinking Learn to innovate & brainstorm Icebreaker exercises help people get to know each other, and to prepare themselves mentally to brainstorm about the topic at hand. The rules: Keep the ice breaker exercise short; 5 – 7 minutes. Show a real life version of your example (can of Coca-Cola and a set of batteries). Let the people form a circle and let them stand … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Headlines, Management | 4 Comments
Creating Lasting Influence

Anyone can create moments of influence, but creating lasting influence is where your sights should be set. Understanding how to leverage the influence factor can make a defining difference in your ability to drive change, build cohesive teams, and to successfully implement strategic vision. As a leader your “Influence Quotient” is the IQ you need to pay attention to. In fact, your influence quotient will be a much greater determinant of your ultimate success than your “Intelligence Quotient” could ever be. Innate, raw intelligence while certainly something to be prized, is much more common and much less powerful than real influence. In today’s post I’ll examine the often misunderstood value of influence… Let me be clear…when I mention influence I’m not referring to manipulation, elaborate schemes, or other forms of skulduggery. Ill-gotten gains will always be exposed for what they are, and moreover, they will never be worth the compromises … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Psychology | 3 Comments
Are You Ready for the Pendulum Swing?

Without question, the past recession has hit many companies hard. But as business leaders struggling to keep our companies afloat, we sometimes forget that it’s been hard on employees as well, including those who managed to keep their jobs. According to a survey conducted earlier this year by Kelton Research, today’s employees are feeling under-empowered, underappreciated, demotivated, and overworked. In the six months prior to the survey: 68 percent had not received any useful feedback from their supervisors 82 percent had not established career goals with their supervisors 53 percent did not understand how their role contributed to company objectives 25 percent were given new job responsibilities outside of their primary skill sets This does not sound like a motivated and contented workforce! Even if your company managed to escape the worst of the layoffs and cutbacks, don’t assume that your workforce remains happy or motivated. People may still be … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Management, Psychology | 1 Comment