50 Ways to Put Innovation on the To-Do List

Tuesday, 15 December 2009 13:39 by kpotvin

Via today’s SmartBrief on Leadership, I saw an inspiring blog post, 50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation,” by Mitch Ditkoff of Idea Champions.  Here are some of my favorite tips:

#4. Always question authority, especially the authority of your own longstanding beliefs.

#8. Help people broaden their perspective by creating diverse teams and rotating employees into new projects -- especially ones they are fascinated by.

#12. Instead of seeing creativity training as a way to pour knowledge into people's heads, see it as a way to grind new glasses for people so they can see the world in a different way.

#30. Stimulate interaction between segments of the company that traditionally don't connect or collaborate with each other.

#41. Don't make innovation the responsibility of a few. Make innovation the responsibility of each and every employee with performance goals for each and every functional area.

But don’t stop here.  Read all 50 tips and be inspired to move innovation to the top of your to-do list in the New Year.

 

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Help Fight Pink Fatigue!

Thursday, 1 October 2009 07:47 by kpotvin

 

Each October, Splash goes pink to urge marketers and consumers to Fight Pink Fatigue.  As a symbolic gesture during National Breast Cancer Awareness month, we change the Splash logo from blue to pink.  Why do we do this?  As a breast cancer survivor and a marketer, I see the value of these cause-related efforts from both sides.  Three years ago, I was immersed in the cancer world, discovering more about it than I ever wanted.  One thing I learned quickly was that all the dollars funneled into attacking this disease are helping.  In the last decade, there has been much progress.  One reason is that the breast cancer awareness cause has gotten some great attention from Corporate America.  This support has made an important and positive impact on the prevention, detection and treatment of the disease…and I hope on the companies’ bottom lines too.  That’s my marketer side coming out.  After all, companies – no matter how altruistic -- are not going to continue cause-related programs if there is no return on investment.  So we say keep selling pink products, keep buying pink products and together we will keep breast cancer on the run.  For inspiration, here are a few examples of pink programs:

NFL – The NFL, its clubs and players launched a campaign, "A Crucial Catch," in partnership with the American Cancer Society.  It focuses on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are over the age of 40.  Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel to raise awareness for the campaign, as well as on-field pink ribbon stencils and special K-balls and pink coins. All apparel worn at games by players and coaches and special K-balls and pink coins will auctioned off, with proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society and team charities.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) -- P&G launched GIVE HOPE, a partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. to help increase women's chances of survival from breast cancer through early detection.  A special edition of the P&G brandSAVER coupon booklet was included in newspapers across the country this past Sunday to help kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month today. For every brandSAVER coupon redeemed from this booklet, a two-cent donation will be made to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc – with no cap.  Dancing With the Stars" host Carrie Ann Inaba is helping spread the word.

RedEnvelope --  When you shop the Pink Ribbon Collection at RedEnvelope, 10% of the revenue goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. When you purchase a gift from the Collection, you will receive free shipping for a limited time.

Yoplait (General Mills)Yoplait, in partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, launched Know Your Girls, a sassy interactive campaign geared to young women. Yoplait encourages young women to take a pledge to protect their "girls" and also share the information with their friends.  For every pledge received by October 31, 2009, Yoplait will donate 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, up to $100,000.  

There are many other wonderful companies helping with this cause.  Tell us how you are fighting pink fatigue.

The Splash for the Cure Team joins thousands of walkers in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in Exeter, NH, on Sunday, Oct. 18.  Last year's event raised $236,970 and we hope this year is even better.

 

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Categories:   General | Inspiration | Leadership
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Keep Moving Forward

Tuesday, 22 September 2009 12:17 by kpotvin

Last night, I caught the end of the animated flick, "Meet the Robinsons," with my son and noticed a quote from Walt Disney (the man) before the closing credits. Here it is:

"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long.  We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."

The movie celebrates imagination so the quote is a good fit.  Even better, it's an important reminder that while we should learn from the past, we need to "keep moving forward."  Stay curious.

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Simple Leadership Lessons from The Senator

Thursday, 3 September 2009 04:20 by kpotvin

In a recent blog post, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, draws four important leadership lessons from her observations and time with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

·         Remember that performance is everything

·         Find a higher purpose

·         Keep going (resilience)

·         Never forget family

The beauty of these four lessons is their simplicity.  Life -- and business -- doesn’t have to be complicated.  I encourage you to read Professor Kanter’s entire piece.

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True Grit

Wednesday, 5 August 2009 08:37 by kpotvin

 

Grit might be one of the most important factors when it comes to success.  Author Jonah Lehrer explores this subject in his terrific article in the "Ideas" section of the Boston Globe.  Lehrer writes that grit is "about setting a specific long-term goal and doing whatever it takes until the goal has been reached. It’s always much easier to give up, but people with grit can keep going."  How is your grit quotient?  Measure your grit level here

 

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Metaphors for Business

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 10:15 by kpotvin

Here are two recent examples of how using seemingly unrelated subjects like bike riding or card playing can effectively convey valuable business lessons.First, read this interview with Annie Duke, professional poker player recently seen on The Celebrity Apprentice.  She speaks with USA Today management reporter Del Jones about parallels between playing poker and conducting business.  Think bluffing, negotiation, perceptions, risk and more.

Second, best-selling author Seth Godin writes about business lessons learned from riding a bike.  He says, “It’s very difficult to improve your performance on the downhills.”  He uses this as an effective metaphor for why tough times (difficult circumstances, the unexpected, poor economy) often provide the most significant opportunities.

Trying to convey a business lesson or philosophy to employees, customers or others?  Use a metaphor.

 

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News Splash Interview: How To Write A Book When You Have A Full Time Job

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 11:38 by kpotvin
 

 

This News Splash interview is with Tim McIntyre, Vice President, Communications, Domino’s Pizza, and co-author with Dave Melton of “Hire The American Dream, How to Build Your Minimum-Wage Workforce into a High-Performance, Customer-Focused Team.” Not only is Tim an exceptional writer but he is also one of the best PR professionals and corporate spokespeople out there.  By the way, I’ve seen Dave Melton’s teams in action and they are phenomenal – learn his secrets by reading “Hire the American Dream” – it’s relevant for anyone who manages teams.

News Splash (NS):  Tell us about “Hire the American Dream.”

Tim: Dave Melton [Domino’s Franchisee] has built a culture in his four Manhattan Domino’s stores seldom found in the quick serve industry. This is an industry where 150% turnover is typical and managers are replaced yearly in many restaurants. In Dave’s case, his average employee stays 8 years and managers average 6 years. When there has been turnover of managers, it was because the manager went on to become a store owner like Dave. Dave creates this culture by sharing his business philosophy and successes, and reinforcing that everyone wins when the store succeeds. This is a how-to book which shows that anyone can build this type of culture.

NS:  Dave asked you several times to help him write this book and you turned him down at first.  How come?

Tim: An editor from John Wiley & Sons saw an article about Dave in The New York Times and called him to say, “I think you have a book here for managers of entry-level, minimum wage employees.”  Dave came to me, said he had a book deal and asked me if I wanted to help write it.  I turned him down. I have a day job and it’s a pretty busy one. Besides, Dave lives in New York City – swing a pizza bag and you’ll hit a writer. I thought he could easily find a writing partner there. Dave approached me a second and then a third time, and said, “You know who I am. You know Domino’s. Let’s do this together.” I proposed the idea to my boss, Lynn Liddle, and Dave Brandon, Domino’s CEO, and said that if I participate, we will have an accurate portrayal of Domino’s Pizza and be involved in the final outcome. It can also help with recruiting and franchising as well as improve internal operations. I also outlined how I’d do it along with my job. They gave their full support.

NS:  How did you find time to write a book while working full time?

Tim: We had 12 weeks to turn in 60,000 words. We started in June 2008 and the full manuscript was due the day after Labor Day. I did a lot of writing at night, on weekends, on airplanes and on vacation. Dave provided me with a constant stream of ideas and insights into his business philosophies, how he manages people and how he’s built a culture for his stores. It was a matter of taking those gems and turning them into a manuscript. I came in to the office by 7 am before it opened, at lunch I’d pick up the project and then again at the end of the day. I had a supportive boss and family. I have the benefit of having older kids so I didn’t have to attend events like Little League games. I literally looked at the calendar and found chunks of time for writing. I never want to do that again. If I have another book in me, I’d write most of it before approaching a publisher. Then I would spend that time polishing instead of writing.

NS:  What did you learn about publishing during the process that could help others interested in writing a business book?

Tim: First, publishers like Wiley are looking for books that others can learn from. They like lesson books, not biographies. We always had to keep in mind: Will this help anyone? Is this useable stuff? That’s why we focused so much on offering practical tips on exactly what to do and how to do it. That was also the driving force behind the profiles of people who started as minimum wage employees but are now incredibly successful. For instance, Emir Lopez from East Harlem who worked for Dave had an opportunity to “escape” from his upbringing but he chose to go back and bring Domino’s to the neighborhood he grew up in. He saw opportunity that others didn’t – he knew the neighborhood and that people were hungry for a company to provide the same services that other communities enjoy. He was the first to bring food delivery to the neighborhood and the store has thrived. Our goal was to write a book with value on every page and tell inspiring stories like this.

I also learned the importance of Chapter 1. When someone is in a bookstore with their latte, they look at the front cover, the back cover, and then flip to Chapter 1. We wrote and rewrote that chapter four times because we were constantly pushed by Wiley on that first piece. It makes or breaks the sale.

NS:  There is nothing like a trip to gain perspective.  You just got back from an amazing trip to Machu Picchu.  Any epiphanies?

Tim:  Four days hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was the most physically exhausting – and the most exhilarating – thing I’ve ever done. On day two, we walked (and walked!) up and over “Dead Woman’s Pass,” more than 13,000 feet above sea level, carrying packs on our backs. It felt like cinder blocks had been attached to our hiking boots. The air is thin and the trail is steep. At the same time, we were reveling in the incredible beauty of Peru and were marveling at the technological advances of the Inca people; it distracted us from the physical struggle of the trek. Traveling like this opens you up to the world, to new points of view and to different perspectives on history.  But if there was an epiphany, it was this:  you can overcome challenges if you’ve got the passion, the will and the tools to do so…whether those challenges are hiking the Inca Trail, writing a book in three months or something even more meaningful. You really can do things you didn’t think were possible.  All you have to do is try.

 

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Lesson from Times Square: No Sacred Cows

Friday, 12 June 2009 08:37 by kpotvin

I was curious to see the new set up in Times Square now that parts are closed to traffic, creating a pedestrian mall in the crossroads of the world.  Strolling through the other night, it was filled with tourists and natives alike, many resting on the lawn chairs placed on this empty stretch of Broadway.  Talk about bold.  Mayor Bloomberg’s solution to tackling congestion (traffic and crowds) in Midtown is out of the box and reminds us that when you are problem solving, nothing should be sacred.  Can you imagine the first meeting when someone suggested closing Times Square to traffic?  I’m sure it seemed quite complicated and possibly laughable.  And yet, why not?  Take a chance on fresh thinking.  Consider everything, even ideas that question those sacred cows in your organization. While the cabbies I spoke with weren’t happy with the new configuration, pedestrians certainly were.  Time will tell if this experiment becomes a permanent addition to one of my favorite cities. I think it will.  Remember, if you can make change there, you can make it anywhere.

 

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Putting Creativity on the Whiteboard

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 07:37 by kpotvin

I'm a big fan of Jim Collins and his books, "Built to Last" and "Good to Great" so was happy to read an interview with him in Sunday’s  The New York Times.  Part of the story discusses where he spends his time.  On a whiteboard in his office, Collins posts these targets:

Creative - 53%

Teaching - 28%

Other - 19%

Reporter Adam Bryant writes:  “That, he [Collins] explains, is a running tally of how he’s spending his time, and whether he’s sticking to a big goal he set for himself years ago: to spend 50 percent of his workdays on creative pursuits like research and writing books, 30 percent on teaching-related activities, and 20 percent on all the other things he has to do.”

Collins actually tracks his time with a stopwatch and spreadsheet.  Do you like this model for tracking creativity?  How committed are you to creativity?

  

Photo:  Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

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What's Wrong with Flip-Flopping?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009 11:28 by kpotvin

Flip-flopping is bad in politics and in business, right?  Not so, according to Jack and Suzy Welch in their March 9 BusinessWeek column.  Here is what they say:  "What nonsense.  It is the essence of leadership to have the self-confidence to admit that a strategy has gone off course or a position has become outdated...Change happens."  We whole-heartedly support this position when it comes to business.  When is the last time that a project moved perfectly from A to Z?  More likely you ran into obstacles, experienced changes or met unexpected outcomes.  To some, that might mean failure or poor planning.  But if you waited for each and every question to be answered before moving forward, you never would.  What leads to success (or not) is how you recalibrate at each roadblock.  As the business gurus write, "...it is the responsibility of all leaders in such a 'predicament' to revise their direction swiftly, widely communicate it, and move on without undue pandering or emotionality."  What do you think about flip-flopping?

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