Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Key to Being More Innovative

When Michael Docherty joined Sunbeam Corp. years ago as vice president of product development, he says the company was in “shock and crisis,” reeling from the aftershocks of Albert J. Dunlap’s CEO reign. (Dunlap has been called “Chainsaw Al” and “Rambo in Pinstripes” for his methods of streamlining failing companies.)
Docherty says things needed to be improved at Sunbeam, and quickly. As part of the turnaround team, Docherty focused on restoring internal collaboration. But, it wasn’t enough and eventually outside experts were brought in to help the company be more innovative. Sunbeam partnered with suppliers, inventors and outside companies, moving from launching 10 new products in the first year to more than 150 by the end of the second year.
Docherty says working with outside creative partners not only jumpstarted internal creativity, but helped Sunbeam navigate through Chapter 11 reorganization and rebuild the company to profitability.
That was Docherty’s first introduction to open innovation, and led to him eventually building a boutique consulting practice, Venture2. His company now helps large companies and startups connect, collaborate and commercialize innovations.
In his new book, “Collective Disruption,” Docherty says that if companies want to be competitive, they must understand that the old definition of innovation is dead.
“What used to be enough to grow a company is now just enough to stay in place,” he says. “It isn’t about core innovation – you have to be really good at core innovation and transformative innovation.”
The stakes for this transformation are higher than ever before, he says. It has been estimated that on average an S&P company is now being replaced every two weeks, and 75% of the S&P 500 firms will be replaced by new ones by 2027.
“Too many companies are going through the motions. They think if they take a picture of themselves wearing a hoodie, it means they’re entrepreneurial,” he says.
Docherty says (read more here)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Is Your Boss Stealing Your Ideas?

One of the ways to get ahead in your career is to offer new ideas or come up with innovative solutions.

But what if you do that -- and then the boss takes credit for your idea?

First, don't take any action until you've had time to think it through. Reacting in anger -- or bursting into tears -- isn't going to help the situation and will probably make it much worse. Second, take the time to think about who your boss is as a person before you craft a response.

Maybe your boss has been under increasing pressure, and she feels that she must come up with a new idea or she's going to lose her position. 

Or, it could be that your boss is just a jerk.

If you feel she made the decision because she's feeling insecure about her position, or simply overwhelmed by her job, then set up a time to talk. During this discussion, have your points before you in writing so that you don't attack her, but establish the fact that it was your idea and you don't understand why she took credit.

If he or she is just being a jerk, then you need to be more careful. People who are a**hole bosses really don't care about anyone but themselves and won't hesitate to make your life miserable if you challenge them.

No matter what kind of boss you have, it's a smart idea to document your work so that it's clear you came up with the idea. Then, share the idea with your team so that it's recorded as your idea and your boss (or anyone else) can't claim complete credit. (Sometimes your boss may hone the idea a bit, and in that case, make sure you give her kudos for her input. Bosses can be as insecure as anyone else, and they may need a pat on the back.)

It's important that you get credit for your ideas, and that your career benefits from them. If your boss consistently tries to hog the limelight and won't give you credit for your contributions, you can't let that go unanswered. Either talk to her as diplomatically as possible -- or start looking for a  new boss who is willing to help you achieve your potential.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ignoring Digital Could Doom Your Career

When it comes to digital transformation, companies are spending millions to ready their workforces for the future. Presentations and training sessions to employees stress how critical this transformation is if an organization wants to serve the customers and compete in a fast-paced marketplace.
Yet in reality, many employees and those in the C-suite are simply nodding their heads while secretly thinking: “This really has nothing to do with me. IT will figure it all out.”
That mindset is becoming more of a concern, especially since CEOs often are thinking the same thing.
The problem is that while the tech staff can help research and advise on a digital transformation, digital transformation will not be successful unless every single employee and every single leader understands it, embraces it and contributes to it. Further, business success depends on qualified leaders not ceding this responsibility to other workers who better grasp technology.
That’s the underlying theme in a new ebook, “Becoming Digital: Strategies for Business and Personal Transformation,” by Knowledge@Wharton, the online research journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The research was sponsored by Mphasis, an IT services company.
How big is the technology skills disconnect? Consider a KPMG survey that finds only 5% of CEOs and 3% of CIOs are leading the digital transformation at their companies. Nearly two-thirds of those survey respondents say they lack the necessary skills to put critical changes into play.
That lack of knowledge is what leads many C-suite players into believing they can simply work around the technology, or just delegate digital transformation to others. Such a strategy is doomed to failure, the ebook reports, because this is a major upheaval in the business world that requires everyone to get on board.
For digital transformation to truly work, it must begin with a commitment from the individual to change (read more here)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Data Reveals Secrets of Great Public Speaking

Whether you like it or not, people make judgments about you every time they see you or hear you.

That's why it's so important for your career that you make a good impression whenever you have a chance to speak publicly. While it may be a presentation in front of five team members -- or a public speech in front of 100 people -- you need to understand that there are specific steps you can take to make a good impression.

In other words, don't just try and wing it, or do things the way you've always done them. If you rely on that strategy, you could lose a client to a competitor, a promotion to a colleague or even a chance for a new job.

It's time to pay attention to the data.

A new Stanford University study  used a team of data scientists to analyze more than 100,000 presentations from corporate executives, politicians and key note speakers. Specifically, they looked at things like word choices, vocal cues, facial expressions and gesture frequency. Then, they used this information to rate and rank important communication keys such as persuasiveness, confidence, warmth and clarity.

Here's what they discovered make the best communicators:

1. They don't pepper talks with jargon. The researchers found that if you're going to use terms that everyone in your audience might not know, then you need to define them. One way to avoid alienating people with your confusing word choice is to get someone to read over your presentation beforehand and ask them to point out any terms or technologies they don't understand.

2. They're specific. Saying the product is "kind of" having, problems or you "think" it might be ready at the end of the third quarter can confuse a public audience. You need to speak more formally with a public group that you might to a small gathering of your colleagues, because such "hedging" language can damage your credibility, research finds.

3. They're concise. Review your presentation and edit out unnecessary anecdotes, facts, words and long-winded sentences. You want to speak naturally to your audience, so look for phrasing that sounds awkward when said aloud.

4. They vary volume, rate and cadence. These speakers make sure they're not monotonous, and use their voice to not just say emotional words like "excited" or "challenging" -- but to convey them with their volume and rate. Eliminate the "ums" and "uhs" in your speech by ending each sentence on an exhalation, Your next thought will start on an inhalation, and it's nearly impossible to say "um" when you're inhaling. This will also help you vary your speech rate.

5. They use visuals. Research shows that up to 83% of human learning occurs visually. You will appear more confident if you stand or sit so that your hips and shoulders are square and your head is straight.  Gestures need to be broad and extended.

6. They show authenticity. Researchers say that the top 10% of authentic speakers are considered to be 1.3 times more trustworthy and 1.3 times more persuasive than the average communicator. To be considered authentic by an audience, start within yourself. Think about your passion for the project, how it will make a difference and how you're helping your team. This will help energize you, which will be conveyed to the audience. Let you audience know you understand their problems or issues by sharing anecdotes related to the subject.

What other advice can help someone become a better public speaker?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why You Need to Get Emotional With Customers

Most companies realize that customer emotions are key in purchasing decisions or brand loyalty, but it’s something based on gut reactions with little data or science to back it up. Until now.
If you’re loyal to a certain shampoo because the company gives to environmental causes or are willing to spend big bucks on a designer bag because it makes you feel unique, you’re not alone in being swayed to make a purchasing decision because of your emotions.
For customer experience gurus, however, this can be a bit frustrating. How can they predict exactly what emotions will affect customers enough to drive sales? How can they leverage customer emotions? How can they use emotional connections to attract the right kinds of customers?
The answers may no longer be elusive. New research by Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon reveals that it’s possible for any company to measure the feelings that propel customer behavior, and then use that information to help drive profits.
“The most sophisticated firms are making emotional connection part of a broad strategy that involves every function in the value chain, from product development and marketing to sales and service,” they say.
They’re not the only ones who are underscoring the importance of the customers’ emotional experience.
In a look at customer experience data, a Forrester analysis finds that it is emotion – more than effectiveness or ease – that drives customer loyalty.
Meagan Burns, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester, says that customer service professionals “need to factor (read more here)

Monday, April 11, 2016

How to Repair Bad Relationships at Work

Even the nicest, most even-tempered person has difficulties getting along with everyone at work. (If someone tells you they love everyone, they're either lying or taking some really nice meds.)

When workplace relationships go bad, it can be really difficult because you're still required to work with the person. Ignoring him or her can not only hurt your ability to do your job, but puts colleagues in an awkward position between the feuding parties. Also,the boss is going to get very unhappy if this starts to resemble a tiff from the junior high cafeteria.

In addition, having a bad professional relationship hurts you emotionally. You may think you're handling it, but carrying around those resentful feelings can only add to your workplace stress, eventually bleeding over into your private life.

That's why you need to take steps to resolve damaged professional relationships, whether it's with a colleague or a boss. Here are some steps to take:

1. Look in the mirror. Before you blame your co-worker for everything that goes wrong at work, think about the part you play. Did you egg her on by saying," Oh, let's not let Marsha be in charge of the final report. You know she'll get it done late -- she wouldn't even get to her own funeral on time! Ha-ha!" If you claim you were only kidding -- were you? Or were you taking this approach instead of privately talking to her about being late with a previous report, which caused you to have to work overtime? Consider how your own behavior could be improved before you heap blame on someone else.

2. Hold a private meeting.  When meeting with a boss or colleague, admit how you've done some soul-searching because you want to improve the relationship and even your performance. Be upfront with your grievances and state how you want the relationship to improve. Be specific about how your performance is affected by the actions of the other person, but never make the comment personal. "When I don't get the report until 5 p.m. instead of at 3 p.m., then I don't have time to do the necessary fact-checking because people are leaving work and don't want to respond to my emails or phone calls. This means the final report to the customer can be nearly 24 hours late, which makes them think our organization is unreliable."

3. Take action. Things may not be completely resolved when you leave the meeting and it may take a while for things to thaw. But as long as you focus on a shared goal, such as making the team more productive, you will begin to rebuild trust in the relationship. Try to go beyond a "hello" with this person and perhaps offer a "nice presentation" comment after a meeting. You don't have to be besties with this colleague or boss, but your actions will do much to ease the tension. It's especially important that you not gossip about the situation -- the colleague will more than likely find out and any progress will be lost.

Finally, you need to give up the idea that someone is "right" and someone is "wrong" in these situations. Focusing on that will prevent you from moving past the hostility and forming a more even-handed work relationship.

What strategies have you used to handle workplace conflicts?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How to Give the Best Virtual Presentation Ever

Giving a virtual presentation to a tech audience has special challenges, but an expert provides tips to overcome any obstacles and give an engaging and informative talk.
It’s fairly easy to tell if people aren’t paying attention during your presentation or meeting. Eyes glaze over, bodies slump in chairs and someone appears to be engrossed in a Sudoku puzzle. That’s the signal that you need to make more of an effort to engage the audience by soliciting feedback or doing anything short of juggling to get their interest.
But when you’re giving a virtual presentation, how do you know when things aren’t going well until it’s too late? How do you salvage your presentation and all your hard work when your virtual audience tuned you out 20 minutes ago?
Matt Forrest Abrahams, a lecturer on organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaches how to make virtual communications more effective, and he says that speaking in front of a virtual audience that is tech-savvy does have unique challenges.
“I’d say the biggest problem is that people don’t practice their (presentation) content,” he says. “By that I don’t mean checking their slides. I mean actually recording themselves to ensure the technology will work correctly, and they’re being engaging.”
Abrahams explains that when there is a virtual audience, the speaker must plan ahead and consider not just his or her role – but what he or she wants from the participants, such as support of a new app or cross-functional collaboration.
In a virtual presentation, for example, the presenter may need to prepare the audience beforehand to be engaged. This can be done by sending out a poll or contacting participants beforehand to get a handle on their concerns or interest that can be addressed during a virtual get-together.
“Remember that people in a virtual presentation are going to be sitting in front of the biggest distraction there is (read more here)

Monday, April 4, 2016

3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

A confident stride, a firm handshake and a calm demeanor in a crisis will more than likely ensure that you are seen as a real pro at work, someone who is competent and skilled in her job.

But before work every morning, you're a mess. Your stomach may even cramp at the thought of putting in another day in a job where you feel like a fraud. You worry that everyone is going to find out that you're really not qualified and the job and your life are going to crumble into a million pieces.

You're not alone. I've talked to many successful people in powerful jobs over the years, and I've been surprised by the number who tell me that they feel like imposters.

Those suffering from what is known as "imposter syndrome" believe they don't deserve what they have achieved. It doesn't matter how hard they've worked to get to a top position, they're constantly doubting themselves. So, they work even harder, heading toward emotional and physical burnout.

So, how can you quiet that inner voice that nags you night and day? The American Psychological Association has some tips:

1.  Reach out. You're not alone in your feelings, and it can help to talk to a mentor or other trusted person such as a psychologist who can help you gain some perspective. 

2. Write your resume. This is a gift to yourself. Once you look at your accomplishments, training and hard work over the years, you will see that your success isn't a fluke. You are where you are because you deserve to be there. Writing down your accomplishments also will help you gain a realistic view of areas you may want to improve, instead of thinking that everything you do needs to get better.

3. Build a new mindset one step at a time. You can't just snap your fingers and automatically be rid of imposter feelings. But you can set some limitations to prevent yourself from overworking and fixating on trying to make everything perfect (there is no such thing as perfection, remember?) For example, commit to eight hours for an assignment, instead of obsessing over making it perfect and working 10 or 12 hours.

It's time to stop feeling so anxious about your career. You should be able to enjoy your work without feeling like you're not worthy. Other people have overcome it and are much happier in their careers, and it's time you took steps to do the same.