• Halloween, the Unofficial Holiday

    Halloween is an unofficial holiday. Yet, it has grown from a children's holiday to include adult celebrations. Many businesses celebrate by letting their employees dress in Halloween costumes. Furthermore, Halloween is the most popular holiday for candy sales. There is no major holiday immediately before Halloween, so it gets more display time on shelves than other holidays. Many stores devote shelves and aisles to Halloween products beginning in August.

    According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), "More Americans than ever will be in the haunting mood this year, with seven in 10 celebrating Halloween, the most in NRF's 10-year survey history. On average, celebrants are expected to spend almost $80 on decorations, costumes and candy as total spending on the holiday is expected to reach $8 billion."

    What did you buy for Halloween? How much did you spend?

    Top Halloween costumes for adults, kids and pets in 2012 – Infographic


  • Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy Stops Business in the East

    NASA timelapse of Sandy - Photographer: NOAA

    Yesterday, Hurricane Sandy, dubbed "Frankenstorm," hit a 1,000-mile-wide area of the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Virginia.  The storm brought rain, flooding, cold wind, and power outages. Managers in the area decided to close or limit business hours. Retail stores and restaurants closed. Oil refineries in the Northeast shut down or cut production. Even the U.S. stock exchange closed for the first time since 1888.

    New technologies were used to communicate during the storm. Weather and News feeds on the Internet were enhanced for those situations where citizens might lose television or cable but have some access to Internet, especially through mobile devices. Utilities and police sent emergency update email and text messages.

    Need disaster information? There's an app for that! FEMA's app contains a checklist for an emergency kit and a page on what to do during a hurricane, including tips like "take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level." The American Red Cross released a Mobile App that includes a request for help, a flashlight app, and weather updates. It has information about open shelters and an "I'm Safe" alert for Facebook, Twitter, and email so people can tell their friends and family that they are OK. People can follow key accounts on Facebook and Twitter (@FEMA and @RedCross) to track the storm.

    Even though businesses in the affected areas closed, several are running some of their technology operations through offices in other parts of the U.S., Europe, and Asia. How has the storm affected businesses where you live? Do you think the storm will have a significant impact on business?

    Photo source: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/national/frankenstorm-live-video-8-year-old-boy-among-at-least-16-dead-in-us-after-hurricane-sandy-havoc#ixzz2AnDsZhKz

  • Do Educational Video Games Actually Work?

    Do Educational Video Games Actually Work?
    From: OnlineCollegeCourses.com

  • Scaling Up Sustainability

    Many businesses have a genuine commitment to give back to society. But, others encounter roadblocks to scaling up business sustainability. A weak business case is a major limiting factor. A business may not understand natural assets. It may not give value to ecosystems. Furthermore, it may lack business knowledge of the importance of biodiversity.

    One solution to scale up business sustainability is to work in partnership with education, institutes, certification organizations, and partners to progress despite the obstacles.

    In this video, Sir Richard Branson talks to the IUCN World Conservation Congress. How can business "listen to Mother Nature"? How can business "learn from Mother Nature"? How can this scale up sustainability?

  • Test Your Global IQ

    Managers must work hard to improve their relationships around the world. A Business for Diplomatic Action [BDA] study several years ago found three "root causes" of "anti-American sentiment":

    • Effects of globalization: "People in many countries feel left out; they feel that they can never be a part of, or enjoy the benefits of, the globalization movement led by U.S. business expansion."
    • The impact of American popular culture: The BDA paper found that some of America's entertainment "is often most attractive to young people in repressive cultures who are thus led to believe that America is a criminally violent and sexually immoral nation."
    • The perceived personality of Americans: "Research from 130 countries confirms that Americans are broadly perceived by others as arrogant, ignorant, lacking in humility, loud and unwilling to listen."

    Take Pew’s 10-question quiz to test how much you know about the worldwide image of the United States based on key findings from the Spring 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project. Take the quiz

    What did you find out?


  • Start With Why

    In this TED talk video, Simon Sinek presents "Start With Why." His golden circle has why in the middle, how circled around why, and what circled around how. It explains why some leaders are able to inspire while others are not.

    What - Every organization knows what they do.

    How - Some organizations know how they do it.

    Why - Very few organizations know why they do it what they do.

    Why is the company's purpose or reason for existence. Successful leaders communicate from the inside out. Sinek says, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." . . . "The goal is not to business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to business with people who believe what you believe." . . . "The goal is not to hire people to do a job, but to hire people who believe what you believe."

    How do great leaders inspire action?

  • Sustainibility is Corporate Social Responsibility

    More and more companies are including sustainability in their visions of the future. Also, a company strategy may include a statement on corporate social responsibility (CSR)/sustainability. Many companies desire to invest in communities, care for the environment, and build a better society. This might be accomplished through actual business practices or through activities such as charitable donations or employees volunteering for charitable events.

    The annual conference for Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) is meeting in New York this week. BSR has "more than 250 member companies and develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. With six offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR uses its expertise in the environment, human rights, economic development, and governance and accountability to guide global companies toward creating a just and sustainable world."

    Should the company care? Do we expect more of companies than maximizing profits? Should managers make decisions based on the impact on people and the planet or on profit?

  • No More Pointless Meetings

    Martin Murphy, author of No More Pointless Meetings published by the American Management Association, says "I can walk into any conference room cold, without any prior knowledge of the organization, the people or the meeting that is about to begin and lead it in a manner that gets more done in a shorter period of time than anyone in the room has ever experienced" (Chapter 1).

    Meetings have a two-part structure: content and process. Content refers to topic and purpose, for which the attendees accept responsibility. They prepare for the meeting and come with an open mind. The facilitator is responsible for process, covering the agenda in a timely manner. The manager responsible for the meeting should not be the facilitator, because the facilitator does not participate in content. The facilitator keeps discussion on point and ensures that no one directs and/or dominates the meeting, including the boss.

    Start the meeting with a discussion of what you don't know. In this way, attendees understand each other's perspectives, and the real issue may surface quickly. End the meeting with an action plan.

    Compare Murphy's meeting suggestions with the last meeting that you attended. If you don't work, interview someone and ask him or her to compare. Report your findings.

  • Softbank’s 300 Year Plan

    Softbank, the third largest mobile carrier in Japan, just announced a $20 billion takeover of Sprint Nextel, the third largest mobile carrier in the United States. This is all part of Masayoshi Son's 300-year strategic plan for Softbank. He is Softbank's Chairman and CEO.

    Son shared "SOFTBANK's Next 30-Year Vision" on June 25, 2010. He wants to "Design corporate DNA leading SOFTBANK's growth in the next 300 years." Softbank's web offers the following explanation. This vision aims for the SOFTBANK Group to contribute to people's happiness through the Information Revolution for the next 30 years, and to become "a corporate group needed most by people around the world." To achieve this vision, SOFTBANK will continue to concentrate its operations in the information industry, and advance the Information Revolution with leading technologies essential to the times and superior business models.

    Read "SOFTBANK Next 30-Year Vision," June 25, 2010, at http://www.softbank.co.jp/en/design_set/data/irinfo/library/vod/2010/pdf/press_20100625_01.pdf)

    Most strategic plans are for more than one year, but not for 30 years, much less 300 years. What do you think about Masayoshi Son's goal to create the largest and fastest wireless network?

  • October is Cyber Security Month

    Did you know that in 2011, Virus protection software detected and blocked over 5.5 billion cyber attacks - nearly double the number from 2010. But it's not just the sheer volume of attacks that's worrisome. They're also getting smarter and more sophisticated.

    Some highlights:

    • Web based attacks increased by 36% with over 4,500 new attacks each day.
    • 403 million new variants of malware were created in 2011, a 41% increase of 2010.
    • SPAM volumes dropped by 13% in 2011 over rates in 2010.
    • 39% of malware attacks via email used a link to a web page.
    • Mobile vulnerabilities continued to rise, with 315 discovered in 2011.

    The attached file gives some useful tips to keep your identity, your computer, and devices safe. 

    Most jobs use computers. In the past, different jobs could be depicted, but today every job looks the same because it is depicted with someone sitting at a computer! Is there any job that doesn't involve using a computer? What is it?

  • Ford Uses Social Media to Control Costs

    Automobile companies were losing billions of dollars six years ago. They had too many plants, too many workers, and union contracts forced them to pay workers even when the plants were shut down. So, factories were kept running to cover expenses, even though cars weren't selling. Too many cars and trucks were built that had to be sold at deep discounts. Today, carmakers are doing everything they can to control costs.

    One example is Ford Social, Ford's social media site used to share information. Jim Farley, group Vice President of global marketing, sales and service for Ford Motor Company told the attendees at the Association of National Advertisers' Masters of Marketing conference, "We test it, and if it works, we scale it right away. It's allowed us to innovate where others have gone on autopilot. It's not a very fancy message."

    Consumers opt-in at Ford Social. For example, they could opt-in to see information about the Ford Fiesta about a year before it launched. Potential buyers could comment on the car and make requests. They told Ford that they liked the European colors better and wanted a cup-holder for Red Bull. Ford loaned 100 of the new cars for six months to social media content creators, such as bloggers. Farley reports, "Ford didn't launch the car; our Fiesta agents did. Auto writers interviewed these agents, not executives, and it produced 28 million views. We had 60% nameplate awareness before we ran one traditional ad, and we had spent nothing. That showed me the power of social media."

    Ford is also very active on other social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Has Ford found the right balance between spending on advertising balanced with interesting social media posts? What makes customers, as well as potential customers, return to Ford's social space day after day?

    Source for quotes: Sarah Mahoney, "Ford Uses Social To Rewrite Launch Rules" http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/185069/ford-uses-social-to-rewrite-launch-rules.html#ixzz29O87bLgh

  • Best Buy Fights Showrooming

    "Showrooming" is when shoppers come into a store to see a product in person, only to buy it from a rival online, frequently at a lower price. That is what's happening to Best Buy. The company must adapt to their competitors and to a changing retail environment in order to survive.

    Yesterday, Best Buy authorized its store staffers to match online prices of competitors in some cases. It already offers price-matching guarantees for local competitors' brick-and-mortar stores. But, is this adaption too little and too late?

    Brick-and-mortar stores must compete with online merchants. It is just too convenient for consumers to order online. If you were the manager, what else could you do to compete, besides matching some competitors' online deals?


  • It's Your Ship

    D. Michael Abrashoff turned one of the worst ships in the Navy into the top performing ship in the fleet by deploying "grass-roots leadership" techniques. His rallying cry was, "It's your ship." Sailors made most of the decisions and if they made the wrong decision, it became a learning experience shared with all. The captain and his officers listened and paid attention. Performance improved, and costs decreased more than 25 percent. It took less than a year to turn the USS Benfold around.

    Captain Abrashoff shares those leadership techniques in his book, It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy.

    • Lead by example
    • Listen aggressively
    • Communicate purpose and meaning
    • Create a climate of trust
    • Look for results, not salutes
    • Take calculated risks
    • Go beyond standard procedure
    • Build up your people's confidence
    • Generate unity

    How can you focus on the things that you can do?

  • Getting Strategy Execution Right

    In this video, Michael Jarrett, INSEAD professor, discusses strategy, the most important imperative for any business.

    Does the company have the right strategy? Elements of strategy include a clear goal, a defined target market and products, and an aligned company structure. If the answer is, "No," then the company needs to rethink the plan.

    The company must employ a fair and open process to create a strategy. Once a problem is identified, a solution created, and vetted through a fair process, it is more likely to get buy-in from employees.

    Use project management skills to implement the strategy. To implement a strategy, managers must build project teams, create milestones, set performance indicators, track progress, report to stakeholders, and hold people accountable.

    Companies should treat strategy as a real initiative. Strategies don't form or implement themselves.

    Over 70 percent of corporate strategic initiatives are never implemented. Why should managers strategize?

  • What to Know When Looking for a Job

    In addition to looking at your resume and application, employers can buy your background report. This video from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) helps job applicants know their rights when an employer buys their background report.

    Employers need your permission to get your background report, so pay attention to the papers you are signing. You don't have to give your permission, but you might not get the job if you don't give permission to view your background report.

    A credit report can be part of your background report. It has information about how you pay your bills. You can get a free copy of your credit report to see what employers will see.

    A criminal record could be required, but employers aren't supposed to rule out everyone who has been arrested or convicted.

    If the employer doesn't hire you because of something in your background report, you will be told and given a copy of that report and your rights. You have the right to review your report. You might find mistakes that you can fix.

    Employers, just like anyone else, can look you up online. Search for your name on the Internet. What did you find? What do you need to do to prepare for your job interview?

  • Managing by Storying Around

    Everyone likes a good story. A friend of mine gave me a book, "Managing by Storying Around: A New Method of Leadership" by David M. Armstrong published by Doubleday in 1992. Mr. Armstrong's grandfather started Armstrong International. "Storytelling is an effective way to make you a better manager." Tell stories and you'll become a different kind of leader.

    Mr. Armstrong's stories have a catchy, teasing, or enticing title. They include facts, mental images, and a moral. One of the stories that I found interesting was "What We Learned from Our College 'Scholarship' Program." Instead of offering college scholarships and loans to students, Armstrong International guarantees employees' children a summer job, which includes four summers plus winter and spring breaks. The morale is, "If you like the parents . . . you'll probably like the kids." In general, good workers have children that are good workers. It helps students pay for school, know what they like and dislike on a job, and helps the company spot new talent. 

    How does telling stories make managers better leaders? How could telling stories benefit employees?

  • Active Shooter Training

    Many managers provide "Active Shooter" training for their employees. "Run. Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event" is a video used to introduce the training. It was produced by the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security and funded by a grant from Department of Homeland Security.

    For our own safety, we all must become proactive.

    • Run from the building, if possible, and don't stop running until you are sure you are safe.
    • Hide if you are forced to stay in the building, but deny the shooter entry or access. Lock the door, turn out the lights, and block entry points to the room.
    • Fight to defend yourself and others. Use things you find in the room as improvised weapons (such as chairs, fire extinguishers, and computer monitors, etc.) to defend yourself and others. Know your work space and how to fortify it.

    What is your plan for your individual area?

  • Digital Textbooks

    The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) released a report Out Of Print: Reimagining the K--‐12 Textbook in a Digital Age. (See the attached report.) The goal is to move away from printed textbooks to digital textbooks. Online experiences offer students videos and interactive help features in a way a textbook never could.

    College and university students have been one of the most reluctant groups to adopt digital textbooks. What is it that students like about the printed book? What makes them reluctant to adopt digital books? Have you shifted from print to digital? Explain.

  • Mobile Payments

    Are you reading this from a mobile device? By 2015 most customers will be. Managers realize that a business without a mobile strategy, and the tools to track, measure, and optimize, will quickly get left behind. Thus, some of the largest U.S. retailers formed the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCE), a mobile payment system. Mike Cook, corporate vice president and assistant treasurer of Wal-Mart said, "The MCX platform will employ secure technology to deliver an efficiency-enhancing mobile solution available to all merchant categories, including retail stores, casual dining, petroleum and e-commerce." (See attached press release.)

    MCE will compete with other smartphone payment devices, such as Google Wallet and MasterCard PayPass.

    Convenience and speed are some of the benefits of using a smartphone payment system. Do you use one? What other tangible benefits like rewards, incentives and a personalized shopping experience might be available for the customer? If your manager asked you for ideas, what would you suggest?


  • Work Skills 2020

    According to a report issued last month (September 24) by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, conducted by HIS Global Insight, "the nation is expected to gain about 11.5 million jobs in the next five years." Unfortunately, many workers are not prepared for those future jobs. So, the mayors and workforce development leaders met to discuss future job needs and ways to shrink the skills gap. (See "Mayors warn of skills gap at Dallas gathering.")

    We've all heard that U.S. students need to improve their math and science skills. But, the Institute for the Future and the University of Phoenix published a report, Future Work Skills 2020, which lists ten skills needed for the future workforce: sense-making, social intelligence, novel & adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new-media literacy, transdisciplarity, design mindset, cognitive load management, virtual collaboration.

    Which of the ten skills do you have? How are your classes preparing you for the jobs of the future?

  • OSHA and Employee Rights

    No manager wants employees to be hurt on the job. Thus, most companies want to improve safety and reduce accidents and injuries. But accidents and fatalities occur. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for workplace safety. The mission of OSHA is to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect the health of America's workers. Employee rights under OSHA include the right to a workplace free of hazards, receiving training, access to injury/illness and medical records, complaining to your employer or OSHA about a safety and health problem, participating in an OSHA inspection, and participating or testifying in any proceeding related to an OSHA inspection. Workplace hazards include toxic substances, electrical hazards, fall hazards, hazardous waste, machine hazards, infectious diseases, fire and explosion hazards, and dangerous atmospheres.

    Regardless of the unsafe condition, employees are not protected if they simply walk off the job.


    Your right to refuse to do a task is protected if ALL of the following conditions are met:

    • Where possible, you have asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and the employer failed to do so; and
    • You refused to work in "good faith." This means that you must genuinely believe that an imminent danger exists. Your refusal cannot be a disguised attempt to harass your employer or disrupt business; and
    • A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; and
    • There isn't enough time, due to the urgency of the hazard, to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels, such as requesting an OSHA inspection.


    When all of these conditions are met, you take the following steps:

    • Ask your employer to correct the hazard;
    • Ask your employer for other work;
    • Tell your employer that you won't perform the work unless and until the hazard is corrected; and
    • Remain at the worksite until ordered to leave by your employer.

    The table below offers a few "IF/THEN" scenarios to follow.



    You believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful.

    Call your employer's attention to the problem.

    Your employer does not correct the hazard or disagrees with you about the extent of the hazard.

    You may file a complaint with OSHA.

    Your employer discriminates against you for refusing to perform the dangerous work.

    Contact OSHA immediately.

     Source: http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/refuse.html

    Most employers want to prevent injuries on the job. Common methods used to prevent injuries include training and maintenance of machinery and equipment. But, both cost money. Hidden costs might include loss of production time, loss of equipment, retraining of new employees, and lower morale. What other costs might exist?