Crowned Grace International
Monday, 26 September 2011

Brainstorming is commonly used for creative problem solving. When done well, the results are increased productivity and efficiency, and most importantly, a problem gets SOLVED. Do organizations make good use of this technique? What are some of the best practices?


We need your inputs and opinions for the October edition of The New Face of Leadership.


We will collate and report results for multiple choice questions.   The last question is an optional short essay opinion question. We will feature selected responses to this question (about 250 words + digital photo and short byline) in the opinion column Based on Your Experience.


Thanks for your participation!!



Posted by: AT 01:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, 19 September 2011

Pay only goes so far. Higher salaries are like the bigger house syndrome: Move into a bigger house and initially it feels roomier, but after awhile larger becomes the new normal.

Employees don’t automatically perform at higher levels if wages are higher because commitment, dedication, and motivation are not based on pay. No matter how high the salary, if you treat employees poorly they won’t care — about their jobs or your business.

Here are eight reasons employees don’t care:

  1. No freedom. Best practices are definitely important, but not every task deserves a best practice or micro-managed approach. Autonomy breeds engagement and satisfaction. Autonomy also breeds innovation. Even manufacturing and heavily process-oriented positions have room for different approaches or paths. Decide which process battles are worth fighting; otherwise, let employees have some amount of freedom to work they way they work best.

  2. No targets. Goals are fun. (I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t at least a little bit competitive.) Targets create a sense of purpose and add meaning to even the most repetitive tasks. Without a goal to shoot for, work is just work.

  3. No sense of mission. We all like to feel a part of something bigger. Striving to be worthy of words like “best” or “largest” or “fastest” or “highest quality” provides a sense of purpose. Let employees know what you want the business to achieve; how can they care about your dreams if they don’t know your dreams?

  4. No clear expectations. While every job should include decision-making latitude, every job also has basic expectations regarding the way certain situations should be handled. Criticize an employee for providing a refund today even though last week refunds were standard procedure and you’ve lost the employee.  (How can I do a good job when I don’t know what doing a good job means?) When standards change, always communicate those changes first — then stick with them. And when you don’t, explain why this particular situation is different.

  5. No input. Everyone wants to be smart. How do I show I’m smart? By offering suggestions and ideas. (Otherwise no matter how hard I work I just feel like a robot.) Deny me the opportunity to make suggestions, or shoot my suggestions down without consideration, and I’m just a robot — and robots don’t care. Make it easy for employees to present ideas and when an idea doesn’t have merit take the time to explain why. You can’t implement every idea, but you can make employees feel good every time they make a suggestion.

  6. No connection. The company provides the paycheck, but employees work for people. A kind word, a short discussion about family, a brief check-in to see if they need anything… person-to-person moments are much more important than meetings or formal evaluations. Employees want to be seen as people, not numbers. Numbers don’t care. People care — especially when you care about them first.

  7. No consistency. Most employees can deal with a boss who is demanding and quick to criticize… as long as she treats every employee the same way. (Think of it as the Vince Lombardi effect.) While it’s okay — in fact necessary — to treat employees differently, all employees must be treated fairly. Similar achievements should result in similar praise and rewards. Similar offenses should result in similar disciplinary actions. The key to maintaining consistency is to communicate; the more employees understand why a decision was made, the less likely they are to assume favoritism or unfair treatment.

  8. No future. Every job should have the potential to lead to something better, either within or outside the company. I worked my way through college at a manufacturing plant. I had no future with the  company because everyone understood I would only stay until I graduated. One day my boss said, “Hey, let me show you how we set up the job scheduling board.” I looked at him oddly; why show me instead of someone else? In response he said, “Someday, somewhere, you’ll be in charge of production. Might as well start learning now.” Take the time to develop employees for jobs they hope to fill — even if those positions are outside your company. They will care about your business because they know you care about them.
Posted by: Dr. Stephanie Parson AT 05:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 19 September 2011

There are two types of mentoring relationships: formal and informal. Informal relationships spring up independent of the organization. Formal mentoring programs are assigned by the company and may factor in the person's experience, job duties, potential career path, race/gender/ethnicity/orientation/disability or personality. Their goal is to promote employee engagement and talent development.

Several studies show that women, Blacks and Latinos in particular leave corporate America because they feel they won't get promoted and that opportunities are limited. These studies find that formal mentoring programs are one of the most critical ways of retaining these employees and helping them develop in leadership roles.

A few examples: Latinas and Black and Asian women cite a lack of mentoring as the greatest barrier to corporate success. Catalyst's "Women of Color in Corporate Management" survey found that 48 percent of them cited "not having an influential mentor or sponsor" as their greatest impediment, while 33 percent cited "lack of role models in my racial/ethnic group."

A University of Pennsylvania study of more than 1,000 randomly selected employees at a large tech company over five years found that those enrolled in mentoring programs (as both mentors and mentees) were promoted at six times the rate of those who were not enrolled. And those in the mentoring program had retention rates of 72 percent on average, compared with 49 percent for those not in the program.

A National Black MBA Association survey of 2,875 Black managers found that they valued mentoring at almost double the rate of effective performance feedback.

Best Practices

Cross-cultural formal mentoring programs are increasingly used by companies in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®. Five years ago, only 18 percent of managers at DiversityInc Top 50 companies were in formal mentoring programs. Today, that has increased to 39 percent.

Consider these statistics from the DiversityInc Top 50 on mentoring:

  • Ninety percent have measurable goals vs. 74 percent five years ago. Those goals usually include higher promotion and retention of mentored employees
  • Ninety-two percent have training for mentors vs. 80 percent five years ago
  • Ninety-four percent have formal follow-up to their mentoring programs vs. 80 percent five years ago
  • Ninety-eight percent use their employee-resource groups (also known as affinity groups and employee networks) to set up both informal and formal mentoring networks, including mentoring events. Five years ago, 84 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50 did this
  • Most offer a variety of mentoring programs to suit different needs. IBM, for example, has three formal major mentoring categories. Expert Mentoring helps employees acquire specific technical, business, functional and leadership skills. Career Mentoring addresses long-term career development and succession planning. Socialization Mentoring helps new hires adjust
  • Most DiversityInc Top 50 companies publicize the benefits of mentoring programs both internally and externally, often with real-life success stories
Posted by: Dr. Stephanie Parson AT 08:47 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 15 September 2011
Donald Fan is senior director in the Office of Diversity at Walmart.

In a recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama mentioned the word “innovation” nine times, more than any other president ever has, according to Fareed Zakaria. This highlights a key point that in this new era, rife with volatility and ambiguity, innovation is critical in sustaining organic growth and securing success in a globally competitive environment. We know that there exists a strong connection between innovation and diversity and inclusion; our challenge is to help our leaders and fellow professionals understand that connection. By exploring scientific research, corporate practice and personal observation, this article aims to connect those dots. While business lore tends to link innovation with a creative drive that is exclusive to the top and brightest talent, true innovation thrives in an inclusive culture that values diverse ideas, leverages unique perspectives and invites everyone to achieve collaborative breakthroughs across the entire organization.

A Diverse Workforce Is a Valuable Source of Innovation

The vital foundation for innovation derives from a diverse workforce. Diversity of talent, by definition, provides more ideas and perspectives into driving for the best business solutions. Diversity becomes a valuable resource for innovation through a diverse workforce that reflects today’s marketplace through consumer insights and “wisdom of the crowd” that can lead to creative betterment.

People see problems and solutions from different perspectives. These perspectives are accompanied by the heuristics that define how individuals search for solutions.

When confronted with a problem, we encode our perspectives and then apply our particular heuristics to explore new and better resolutions. Diverse teams often outperform teams composed of the very best individuals, because this diversity of perspective and problem-solving approach trumps individual ability.

Research confirms that diversity is a valuable resource for innovation. Prof. Ron Burt of the University of Chicago conducted an empirical study indicating that people with more diverse sources of information generate consistently better ideas, as the graph below mentions.

In the graph, the vertical axis shows management assessments of a series of employee ideas related to supply-chain management. The horizontal axis measures the level of diversity in an employee’s internal connections. As you move to the right, you see employees who are more insular in their connections. They lack diversity of input in their day-to-day world.

The graph indicates that higher diversity of connections also translates to the perception of higher quality ideas, which is a fundamental component of innovation.

Many companies today are becoming more intentional about leveraging diversity to spur innovation.

For example, Walmart continues to build a diverse global workforce by recruiting world-class talent through creative approaches, such as the Junior Military Officer recruiting program and the Women in Retail initiative, and through increased community and campus outreach efforts.

An Inclusive Culture Is an Incubator for Innovation

In addition to cultivating a diverse workforce, we must also foster an inclusive work environment where creative ideas can germinate and grow. Common characteristics of an inclusive work environment include:

BELIEF: Trusting and empowering employees to make a difference in continuous business improvements

ATTITUDE: Respecting a predisposition toward collaboration and diversity of thought

KNOWLEDGE: Knowing how to think creatively to solve problems and capture opportunities

BEHAVIOR: Valuing and leveraging differences

Walmart strives to build an even more inclusive culture to connect and engage the associates by encouraging them to bring up more intelligence, insight, imagination and intuition to solve complex business problems and to serve customers better. This inclusive culture serves as an incubator for creative thinking through the following efforts:

1.     Developing Mavericks (Freedom of Thought)

Constructive mavericks have the vision and passion to pursue an idea and bring it to fruition. They challenge convention and initiate new ways to solve problems. At Walmart, leaders are empowered to be catalysts through mentoring and sponsorship programs and other developmental opportunities that provide avenues for associates to unlock their full potential.

2.     Advocating Collaboration (Cross-Pollination)

Break silos by inspiring people with different backgrounds and experiences to share their unique perspectives and work in different functional areas. Becoming a matrix organization, Walmart spurs on the horizontal flow of skills and information transcending functional areas. Cross-functional projects, enriched career opportunities and global assignments are examples of the company’s commitment to developing associates through collaborative opportunities and roles that expand their knowledge and experiences.

3.     Swimming Upstream (Ingenuity)

Challenge conventional wisdom by going the opposite way. This can elevate the opportunity for success, simply because little energy is currently invested there. A freedom from conventional thinking can unleash a pleasant surprise and unexpected amazement, similar to the Zen principle of “Breaking from Routine.” For example, when Walmart founder Sam Walton first pitched his idea to start a chain of discount stores in small rural communities, he was told the idea would never work. Walton responded by forming a dedicated team with different backgrounds and capabilities that complemented each other, who, through collective endeavors, turned the idea into an unprecedented business success.

4.     Strengthening Cultural Intelligence (Competency)

In today’s global economy, it is essential to build cultural intelligence in order to succeed and lead in innovation. While examining what neuroscience is revealing about the difference between individuals and businesses that succeed and those that fail, Prof. Ying Yi Hong and Dr. David Livermore introduced the Four Cultural Intelligence (CQ) capabilities at the 2010 NeuroLeadership Summit: When we seek to strengthen cultural competencies, we advance the effectiveness, creativity and adaptability of today’s culturally diverse workforce. Efforts such as cultural-heritage celebrations, offering cultural-assessment tools, cross-country leadership summits and cultural-competency training all contribute to strengthen cultural intelligence.

CQ DRIVE (Motivation)

Our level of interest, drive and motivation to adapt cross-culturally. Be curious and seek differences.

CQ STRATEGY (Meta-Cognition)

Our level of awareness and ability to plan in light of our cultural understanding. Draw a blueprint of how to leverage differences.

CQ KNOWLEDGE (Cognition)

Our level of understanding about cultural issues. Take time to understand the merits of differences and shared values.

CQ ACTION (Behavior)

Our level of adaptability when leading and relating cross-culturally. Look for innovative breakthroughs by embracing differences.

5.     Enabling New Ideas (Outcome)

Create an environment where great ideas can surface and grow. Walmart uses different channels to solicit ideas, including a monthly Town Hall Meeting hosted by the CEO, an annual Associate Opinion Survey, an Open Door process and more. The ability to act on diverse ideas has shaped the growth of the company and helped customers save money and live better. A couple of game-changing examples include:

Money Center Walmart offers millions of unbanked and underserved customers a series of low-cost financial services through in-store Money Centers (check cashing, bill payments, money transfers, MoneyCard, etc.)

Direct Farm This global program focuses on driving agricultural sustainability. In 2010, Walmart China successfully engaged more than 470,000 farmers in the Direct Farm program. Additionally, the company endeavors to reduce produce waste by 15 percent while upgrading 15 percent of Direct Farm program products from Green to Organic certified; and to increase participation rates to 2 million Chinese farmers by the end of 2015.

‘Fertile Soil for Seeds of Innovation’

Steve Jobs said, “The source of wealth and capital in this new era is not material things … it is the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination and our faith in the future.” When we enlighten and inspire our people to harness their creativity to generate value in an inclusive culture, we nurture fertile soil where seeds of innovation can blossom into opportunity of sustained future growth.

Posted by: Dr. Stephanie Parson AT 08:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 14 September 2011


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REMEMBER ... Look BEFORE You Leap!

Posted by: Dr. Stephanie A. Parson AT 12:41 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Innovation is like motherhood; everyone worships it, but it’s surrounded by a lot of mystique and bogus intellectualizing. The first step on the way to inspiring innovation is to ruthlessly expunge the romantic myths that surround it — they often stop us from seeing the fresh ideas that are right in front of us. Here are four of the biggest myths about innovation, along with tips for seeing your way around them:

Myth #1: Innovation Involves Quantum Leaps. According to this myth, innovation must be transformative. The PC was a quantum leap innovation, as were the printing press and the automobile. But there aren’t many of these. Furthermore, quantum leaps typically involve high costs and huge risks. Think Sinclair C5 or the Segway. Both required changes in consumer behavior that didn’t happen.

The better alternative? Think constant, incremental improvement.  Think about the iPhone 4. How many avid purchasers really needed to edit video on the fly? Loyalists bought the phone because Apple has made its customers fall in love with upgrades. Or, in this economy, simply finding ways to make your products more cheaply may be innovation enough.

Myth #2: Only Geeks May Apply. We’re constantly told that engineers are the only people who make important innovations. But there are many other sources of ideas. If you’re good at noticing social change, you might invent comfortable clothes that transition effortlessly from work to dinner, like Eileen Fisher. If you understand the green revolution, you could make new products from old ones, like Preserve Products. In the UK, Yo Sushi owes as much of its success to the growing number of business people eating alone as it does to its food. Innovators are people who pay attention, not just geeks cooped up in cubicles. (For ideas on this front, stay tuned for my next post.)

Myth #3: Innovation Requires Off-Sites with Geniuses. Much has been written about Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, the company he started after retiring from Microsoft. He gets all his super-smart pals to read scientific papers and then convene to solve Big Problems. So far, they’ve filed over 500 patents — but where are the businesses? Ideas are cheap, functional companies and real products are hard. Or, as Steve Jobs said, “real artists ship.”

Forget the geniuses; give thinking time to your staff instead. W.L. Gore, the maker of Gore-Tex fabric, requires that all employees spend half a day each week working on their own new ideas or helping with someone else’s. Are you prepared to be that serious about innovation?

Myth #4: Innovators Are a Special Breed. According to this myth, to be innovative, you need to hire an innovator with a track record. But beware: just like stocks, past performance is no guarantee for the future. Even Steven Spielberg has made flops. The romantic belief in the power of individual creative geniuses won’t make you smart, it will make you dependent. You’ll do better to cultivate creativity as a process. Oh and by the way: your customers are fantastic sources of ideas, if you know how to talk to them.

If you work from the assumption that every person in your business is capable of having a good idea, then you have to ask yourself a serious question: What is stopping that idea from contributing to your business? It may be mythology. It may be processes. It may be individuals. It might even be you. What are you going to do about that? Where are your next ideas going to come from?

Posted by: Dr. Stephanie Parson AT 09:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 08 September 2011

1) Citizen Kane, the story of newspaper tycoon, Charles Foster Kane, one of the richest men in the world. The film tells his story through a series of flashbacks from the people closest to him.  The movie details his trail to fame and then his ultimate fall from it. Citizen Kane is a must see for CEO’s and executives, with guidelines on how to stay at the top.

2) Inside Job. Follows the true story of what caused the global financial crisis.  The crisis is still affecting most of the world so this is the movie to see for CEO’s, executives and everyone else.  It is the product of extensive research and interviews about the issue. The tagline of the film is blatantly, “The film that cost $20,000,000,000,000 to make.

3) The Godfather . If it’s the family business you are in, then The Godfather is the movie for you.  And if it is not it’s still a great flick. Sometimes business is about morals and values.  Don’t think you can forget those, even if your business is not as scandalous as murder.

4) The Godfather II, for all the reasons mentioned in The Godfather, except two movies from the same great story line.

5) Wall Street. The original or the recent remake, Wall Street: Money never sleeps.  Although some say the first was better, both are movies to see if you’re a CEO or executive especially in the stock market.  This movie displays the shady side of getting into the stock market which makes a great plot.

6) The Social Network is a more recent movie focusing on the social-networking website giant, Facebook. The story follows founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his journey from his college years to present day becoming the youngest billionaire in history.  A definite must-see for young entrepreneurs who think their dorm room ideas are not worth pursuing.

7) Office Space. On a lighter note, office space is a comedy about a office workers who hate their jobs.  All CEO’s and executives have employees below them, so why not make sure they aren’t miserable and planning to plot against you.

8) Working Girl. For all the females succeeding in the business world, working girl tells the story of a secretary who one day hopes to be an exec, only problem is she doesn’t have the outlet to do so.  With her boss injured from a skiing trip she pretends to be her and tries to form a business deal. This is the film to see for anyone still trying to make it up the ladder, or for those who have already succeeded in doing so.

9) The Corporation is a documentary of the concept of a corporation.  Pretty much self explanatory, the film takes a look at what the business corporation model once was and how it has transformed through a series of case studies.

10) Too Big to Fail also examines the financial crisis of 2008.  The center of the film is Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and other top players in the financial world at the time Lehman Brothers was in need of an intervention.  It continues with the bailout of Lehman Brothers and an attempt to save the U.S. economy.

Posted by: Dr. Stephanie Parson AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 06 September 2011

There are a multitude of rewards programs that encourage customer loyalty. What about the other side of that transaction -- the outstanding employee? How well do organizations do when it comes to recognizing and encouraging the best and brightest? Saying "good job" or "well done" is certainly the least that should be done--is it enough?


We need your inputs and opinion for the September edition of The New Face of Leadership. Questions 3-7 are multiple choice and we will collect and report the results in tabular or chart form.

Question #8 is an optional short essay opinion question. We will feature selected responses to this question (about 250 words + digital photo and short byline) in the opinion column.


Thanks for your participation!!




Posted by: AT 07:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 01 September 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
For over 40 years, people have known that I would do what I promised unless the funeral director had me!
This is due to my beloved cards, one for each day of the week that I have used for over 63 years. (I wasn't always as careful in the earlier years!)

This involves two things:
1. Immediately writing down on my cards what I promise to do!
2. Writing down any stray or random thoughts so that I can remember them later and do them (or later to decide not to do them in the cold light of day)!
These two ideas have resulted in satisfaction for me and faithfulness toward others!
It is so simple, you just have a 3 X 5 card for every day in the week and a year long calender cut down to the size of the 3 X 5 cards (if you have not noted it down before where to get it at Office Depot, it is DayMinder AY53, Academic Calender July 2011-August 2012) and always carry a pen (Office Depot sells two collapsible pens that fit in your rear pocket for $6.)
What freedom never to have to say that you are sorry as you fully intended to do something, but simply forgot!!!

Rev. Bruce W.H. Urich, PhD,
Dean, Florida Christian University 
Posted by: Dr. Stephanie Parson AT 07:05 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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