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Achieve True Lasting Workplace Diversity

As a follow up to my previous post on Diversity, in these times of global competition it is critical that you build a diverse and inclusive culture, to ensure lasting competitive advantage.
Following is a list of 23 immediately actionable strategies that you can follow, in order to  create a diversity-driven and inclusive organizational culture:

  1. Review your existing talent acquisition plan with a renewed focus on where you have sourced talent from in the past (geographic focus) to find new talent sources/pools.

2. Help minority/underrepresented employees on-board and facilitate their integration into your organization’s pre-existing culture is an  absolute imperative.  You want (NEED) your new hires to feel included, welcome and part of the organization from their very first day of employment.
3. Expand your reach into a more diverse talent pool by leveraging local community organizations, such as the Urban League, National Council La Raza, etc.Utilize diversity driven websites such as
4. Emulate the best practices of organizations that have already achieved success in their diversity efforts such as: Ernst & Young, Deloitte, VISA, MasterCard, Duke Energy, Merck, Avon, Nissan, etc.  For a complete list of top firms for diversity, see the Diversity Inc. Top 50 2015.
5. Develop an employee “Refer-a-Friend” program.  As you find employees that fit your culture and expand your diversity base, take a “MORE OF THE SAME” hiring approach.  After all, what worked before surely will work again.
6. Create a well thought out Equal Opportunity Employment policy by following the guidelines/standards put forth by the federal EEOC (  Your GOAL in a DIVERSITY-driven hiring approach should be:
7. Create a “meritorious hiring practice that is…age, race, gender, and minority NEUTRAL.” To wit…

8. Develop and conduct DIVERSITY training.  Begin by teaching your management team all about diversity.
9. Learn from your past mistakes by conducting EXIT interviews for all of your employees. Perhaps the reason an employee left was that they did not feel included or that your organiztion cared about expanded its employee representation to reflect these changing times.

10. Understand the truism that diversity is driven from the top-down, yet it is felt from the bottom-up.  Plant the seeds for your organization’s future diversity growth by bringing in a diverse group of college/high School interns NOW.  Provide scholarships, fellowships, and co-op work experiences to help minorities in college.
11. Establish a diversity policy that is documented in your organization’s annual strategic plan on a recuring year in-year out basis.
12. Include diversity-based questions in your employee surveys, to learn how your peopel are feeling about your efforts towards building a workforce that mirrors the changing denographics of society at large.
13. Set up business resource ‘affinity’ groups in your organization (ex. African-americans, young professionals, Hispanic/Latinos, Gay/lesbian networks, etc.) and track your people retention across each group and by recruiting source.
14. Take a proactive stance to diversity-related public policy issues (ex. Microsoft supported a Washington state gay-rights bill.)
15. You have to serve as a change agent to change the behaviors of your hiring and promotion managers. Ask people in positions of power within your organization: “What/how do you think about ‘difference?’ “
16. Use assessment tools to gauge your people’s “intracultural sensitivity.”
17. Hold your managers accountable to diversity goals by making diversity part of their annual performance objectives. Organizations that set responsibility for diversity achieve better resukts from diversity training, evaluations, and mentoring.
18. Support flexible work arrangements, on-site child daycare, job sharing, and other options.
19. Set quotas in your hiring. Esp. women in engineering like Nissan in Japan.
20. Provide opportunities for rising stars/top performers to receive education and professional development.
21. Offer a formal coaching/mentoring program.
22. Assign a role for a full-time Diversity officer position and create a cross-functional diversity team tasked with achieving your organization’s diversity/inclusion goals.
And saving the most important requirement for last..
23. Your CEO must LEAD BY EXAMPLE. They need to set the tone and walk the walk.
What do you think? Have I missed anything? What do you do in YOUR organization to create a diversity-driven organizationalculture by leveraging inclusive hiring practices?
Here’s to your continued success in 2016 building a powerfully diverse workforce!
– Ethan

Multi-Cultural Talent Acquisition (a.k.a DIVERSITY) Ensures Organizational Survival

 Does your management team pass the EYEBALL test?
When you look at the Senior Leadership page of your website, does it scream: “Too old, white, and too male?”

Does this look like your Management Team?
In the famous words of Game of Thrones “Words are wind” or…talk is cheap.
Your organization may talk the talk, but do they “walk-the-walk” when it comes to achieve a truly DIVERSE and INCLUSIVE ORGANIZATION built to compete and win on the global playing field?  If they don’t no worries.  After all, you’re not alone.  Of the Fortune 500 top U.S. firms in 2013, only 4% of those companies had female CEOs.  The glass ceiling is still firmly in place.
Why bother striving for a diverse workforce?  Because building a global team to seize opportunities in new markets takes a global (thus multi-cultural) perspective.

When recruiting in the 5 generation society, appealing to the matures, baby boomers, GenXers, Millenials, and Next Gen segments requires an appeal to all.Diversity can help to bridge the generational divide.  Before you begin down this diversity road ask yourself: “Do I truly have the support, buy in and long-term commitment of my management team?” If yes, proceed. If NO, stop!  Build diversity into your culture.  Go ahead…walk around your organization. Does it look like the rest of the country? Be honest.
Understand that diversity is not synonymous with filling quotas. It’s so much more than finding the right balance between age, gender, ethnicity but a Global Village view embracing divergent backgrounds, beliefs, values, lifestyle, military service, etc.
How does your organization embrace differences? Are you prepared to take your organization from a mindset of merely tolerating diversity to advocating for a diverse workplace?  The benefits your organization derives from achieving true diversity and inclusion extend far beyond legal compliance to include:


  • More effectively connecting with your customers;
  • Motivating your employees;
  • Fostering greater innovation and creativity since people from different backgrounds challenge each other and having people from different backgrounds fosters a constantly evolving culture;
  • Becoming a preferred employer, which makes your job easier;
  • Larger recruiting pool; and
  • Ability to conduct business in more markets across cultural boundaries.


In a survey conducted by Melissa Lauber it was reported that the federal Glass Ceiling Commission found that diversity has a positive impact on organization’s bottom lines:
Organizations which excel at leveraging diversity (including the hiring and advancement of women and non-white men into senior management jobs, and providing a climate conducive to contributions from people of diverse backgrounds) will experience better financial performance in the long run than organizations which are not effective in managing diversity.” (
The Covenant Investment Management firm conducted significant research into diversity.  It rated the performance of the Standard & Poor 500 on a series of factors relating to the hiring and advancement of women and nonwhites. The study concluded that the annual return of the 100 companies with the LOWEST in equal employment averaged a 7.9%, compared to 18.3% for the 100 companies that rated HIGHEST in equal employment
According to the Society for Human Resources Management: “Diversity is marketable!”  Diversity can be the catalyst you need, to achieve a better ROI on human capital:

  • Minorities are a majority in 6 of the 8 largest US metropolitan areas;
  • Black, Hispanic and Asians combined for more than $870 billion in purchases in the U.S. annually; and
  • Women are the primary investors in more than half of U.S. households.

Embed/infuse diversity and inclusion in all of your hiring efforts: discuss your diversity strategies in all of your company marketing promotional materials, job postings, and emphasize your organization’s vision, mission, values, and story. MAKE DIVERSITY PART OF YOUR BRAND!
– Ethan

Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

 At a MeetUp that I attended last night in the town that I have lived in for 18 years, a young woman in the group said not once, not twice,  but FOUR times in her 5 minute intro/elevator pitch to our group how much she wanted to leave our town as soon as possible.


For quite a few of us in attendance we have lived in our town for 20+ years.  How little emotional intelligence this young woman demonstrated by insulting the town we all lived and/or worked in is problematic of many people. Which got me to thinking: “Do people really realize/care what impact their behavior has on the people around them?”
What have to ask ourselves just what is “Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
EQ is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and others through four (4) elements:
1. Self Awareness: do we have a proper grasp on how we are feeling?
2. Self-Management: Do we know how to control our feelings and behaviors esp. in times when we are placed in extreme pressure/duress?
3. Social Awareness: are we aware of the people around us and how they are feeling? Do we genuinely care about the people around us?
4. Relationship Management: do we understand how to form, grow, nurture and maintain productive, constructive working relationships?


Emotional intelligence (EQ) entails obtaining information to gain self-awareness ands revolves around a person’s ability to:
–Perceive emotions in themselves and others,  understand the meaning of these emotions, and be able to regulate/control one’s emotions.  Emotional intelligence is critically important because there is an extremely strong correlation between a high level of EQ and career success.
An excellent resource for a primer on EQ is the “Six Seconds EQ Model” which entails a 3-step process to acquiring emotional intelligence:
1. Know Yourself gives you the “what” – when you Know Yourself, you know your strengths and challenges, you know what you are doing, what you want, and what to change.
2. Choose Yourself provides the “how” – it shows you how to take action, how to influence yourself and others, how to “operationalize” these concepts.
3. Give Yourself delivers the “why” – when you Give Yourself you are clear and full of energy so you stay focused why to respond a certain way, why to move in a new direction, and why others should come on board.
EQ matters because it affects every aspect of your personal and professional lives including:

  • Your performance at work.
  • Your physical health.
  • Your mental health.
  • Your relationships.

Here’s how you can achieve emotional regulation/control over your life, feelings, and relationships:

  • Identify and modify the emotions you feel.
  • Surface Acting: putting on a face to play a role even /especially when you do not actually feel that way.
  • Venting: open displays of emotion may serve a purpose but should be used with extreme caution.
  • Research shows that people in good moods make better decisions, are more creative, and help in motivation.
  • Emotional states affect employee levels of customer service.
  • Increasing use of “happiness” coaches in organizations.

What do you think?
Here’s to your continued professional and career success as we head into the holiday season.
– Ethan

The Future of Work…COLLABORATION

The future of work is sharing.  We are now in the era of workplace collaboration and collaborative communities, the Open Source Movement.
The days of hoarding information, developing proprietary intellectual capital that is selfishly held under organizational “lock and key” is so…20th Century.  In today’s era of Big Data, mobile processing, cloud computing and virtual work teams, organizations that embrace collaboration gain lasting competitive advantage.
Successful organizations understand that in order to maintain their competitive advantage, they have no choice but to collaborate their way to lasting success.
Steve Jobs Inspired Collaboration at Pixar

Steve Jobs famously redesigned the offices at Pixar, which originally housed computer scientists in one building, animators in a second building, and executives and editors in a third.  Jobs recognized that separating these groups, each with its own culture and approach to problem-solving, discouraged them from sharing ideas and solutions. (

Perhaps the animators could introduce a fresh perspective when the computer scientists became stuck; and maybe the executives would learn more about the nuts and bolts of the business if they occasionally met an animator in the office kitchen, or a computer scientist at the water cooler. Jobs ultimately succeeded in creating a single cavernous office that housed the entire Pixar team, and John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, declared that he’d “never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.”
These days, even business competitors are forced to work together…”co-opetition” between such traditional adversaries as Google, Microsoft, Apple…is the new normal.   Samsung and Sony’s successful collaboration in 2006 to jointly produce LCD screens.  (Co-opetition: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)   These firms have found a way to work with one another in certain industries, evolving technologies and new product ideas, and yet still compete in other areas.   Organizations that truly understand the power of sharing and collaboration encourage their people to share.
Consider Linux.


The computer operating system Linux powers 98% of the world’s supercomputers, most of the servers that keep the Internet humming, and tens of millions of Android mobile phones and gadgets.  As an open-source system, Linux relies on the collaboration of programmers from around the world.  (Chad Caydo “Lessons From Linux: How to Foster Collaboration at Meetings and Conferences.”)



Google encourages its people to collaborate within and across teams by aligning Objectives & Key Results as developed by John Doerr.  If OKRs are done well when they are (1) connected to top line company goals (2) shared openly- so anyone can see anyone’s goals and why it matters to the company and (3) cross-functionally aligned so dependencies across teams are clear from the get go as part of planning process.   (How does Google foster collaboration among teams with non-overlapping OKRs)

Wikipedia has achieved such wide scale success as a platform driven by mass user content contributions where people freely share their own intellectual capital.
In the 20th Century, organizations that controlled the platforms to disseminate information (the media) controlled the message and the very nature of conversation.  Today’s sharing organizations facilitate the free flow of information to enable the sharing of ideas by enabling individuals talk to the world via the Internet and social media.
We can now collaborate online, work productively in virtual teams with members all over the world, and disseminate radical, even revolutionary ideas that spark movements to change the world like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.
Organizations that dominate their respective industries are the ones that most effectively leverage their people’s talents and unleash their employees’ full, untapped potential.  They do this by developing learning organizations where they coach and train their people to use creativity and innovation in project-driven teams.  They foster friendly competitions within their organizations and within their industry through professional associations.
How does your organization foster workplace sharing and collaboration to create a learning organization?
Here’s to your continued success in 2016.

Become Future Ready Now

In today’s turbulent times, only innovative organizations that embrace change management can thrive during times of chaos and uncertainty.  Most organizations do NOT know how to seize opportunities and avoid threats, by leveraging their greatest competitive advantage…their PEOPLE.  Following are actionable tactics that you can leverage IMMEDIATELY to build a highly innovative culture that will enable you to succeed in ANY climate of uncertainty.
Embrace Distance-Based Learning.
With advances in employee training technologies like video conferencing and Skype, the power of training employees on their terms one-on-one becomes more critical.
You need to be able to tie training into employee performance management plans, in order to quantify the impact of skills development for each employee using measurable metrics to quantify your organization’s return on its employee development investments.
Virtual Team Collaboration
With today’s geographically dispersed work forces the reliance on freelance and contract-based workers to supplement your full-time workforce, the importance of tapping into a global candidate talent pool working in a geographically dispersed fashion successfully drives the need for more collaborative efforts.  To create a powerful virtual team, you need stronger leadership skills, better teamwork, and communications.
Improved collaboration technology enables even small firms to leverage employees and contracts based overseas.
Some freelancer websites for you to source talent from include:

  • eLance
  • TopCoder
  • Upwork
  • Toptal
  • Freelancer
  • Guru
  • 99designs

There are many team collaboration tools available to you and your team:

  • Chat Gape
  • Sqwiggle
  • Campfire
  • Redbooth
  • ActiveCollab
  • Huddle

Other tools you and your people can leverage include:

  • Meeting Tools You Can Take Advantage Of:
  • Video Conferencing Tools
  • Video & Audio Conferencing Tools
  • Instant Messaging
  • Document Co-creation Tools
  • Social Network Tools
  • Scheduling Tools
  • Virtual Team Games
    • Prelude
    • VuirtuWall

You can source talent from a broader geographic range while also lower compensation costs and have flexibility by sourcing freelancers. Hiring people globally means they can help you to build your organizational brand internationally.
Co-opetition Is the “New Normal.”
Given rapidly evolving technological innovations, it is often advisable to partner with key players who possess expertise (and intellectual capital) in certain spaces, and compete with others (and some times those very same strategic partners) in other technological areas.  Firms that embrace co-opetition are often leaders in technology and include the likes of Microsoft, Google and Apple.  They partner in some areas, and compete in others.
Vendor / Supplier Strategic Partnerships:
Your vendors and suppliers possess an expertise your organization may lack,  thus the need to form more strategic and value-driven relationships with them.  Rather than attempting to squeeze/negotiate the most favorable terms from them, why not consider them an asset and nurture your relationships to maximize your relationships as a lasting competitive advantage.
Treat Your Employees Like Clients, and Clients Like Employees:
Organizations claim they value their employees, but often do not follow through on such grandiose claims.  One way to value your employees is to treat them like clients.  Strive constantly to determine how you can best serve their needs, and consider assigning key (human resources dept.) staff to specific (groups, Departments) of employees, to learn their needs and deliver exceptional service.
Treating your most valuable clients like employees means sharing often hidden information in full transparency to disclose their account information, work with them directly to see how you can best serve their needs.

Innovate or Die: Bridging Your Today to Tomorrow

Innovation is the lifeblood to any organization’s continued success.   It helps overcome the many challenges we face. Here’s why:
Organizations face challenges EVERYWHERE, from global competition to rapid changes in technology, changing demographics, an aging population, etc.  Too big to fail is no longer a realistic survival reality.  Huge organizations are becoming extinct at a faster rate of attrition than ever before.   Here’s the 1958, the average life span of an S&P 500 company was 58 years.  Today it’s less than 18 years.
In fact…

“The success of corporate R&D is on every C-suite agenda.  Yet wide disparities persist in how well innovation investments actually pay off. As a consequence, R&D is often seen as a black box, where large sums of money go in and innovative products and services only sometimes come out.” (Global Innovation 1000, 
We need to infuse our organizations with a creative spirit to achieve innovation.
So…What’s “Creativity?
Creativity means looking at the same information as everyone else, and seeing something different.
 Okay, but what is ‘Innovation?’
Innovation entails turning creative ideas into action.  It’s all about what’s NEW, BETTER, NEXT.
Got it. So, why is innovation so critical to your organization’s very survival?


Challenges are everywhere, from global competition, rapid change in pace of technology, changing demographics/population composition, aging population, etc.  The PERVASIVENESS of software means technology around us demands constantly assessing how we can be more innovative.
China’s rise as THE global innovation powerhouse  is forcing other nations to adapt and respond QUICKLY.   Too big to fail is no longer a valid protection.  As a gauge for the rapid change of transformation driving our need for innovation, n 1958, the average life span of an S&P 500 company was 58 years.  Today, it is less than 18 years.
Following are actionable steps that you can take NOW, to foster a culture of innovation in your organization:
Have a mission that truly matters, that inspires others by making emotional connections with them.
You need to plan…and PLAN TO FAIL. Innovative organizations don’t just happen, you need to plan for it.  It is crucial that you understand that innovation entails trial and error.  Therefore, you need to not only to be willing to FAIL, but to see failure as exploration and success, NOT as failure.   This is often difficult to accomplish when your organization invests significant time, effort, and resources you would normally invest in current operations, products, and services.
Thus the critical imperative of seeing continual innovation as an ongoing pursuit and not a destination to reach.
Create an IDEAS program for your organization and include everyone.  Set aside a cross-functional team to meet on a recurring regular basis to review all ideas that you actively solicit from all of your people, and decide which ideas will be funded/pursued based on their ability to help you achieve your short and long-term business objectives.
You MUST have passion!
The positive is that MANY organizations have already embraced innovation, and have set the lead for other organizations to serve as proof of what it takes to be GREAT at it.
1. Google’s culture of “8 pillars of innovation” actively promotes/embraces BLUE SKY thinking.  They have employees dedicate 20% of their time on innovation, by giving them INNOVATION TIME OFF.
2. Adobe offers a KICKBOX campaign in which it gives its employees a box filled with creativity tools including a $1,000 prepaid credit card to spend on any new innovative pursuits.
3. An Amazon key principle is “Invent and Simplify.”
4. Intuit has a CEO Leadership award that is gives out to executives who help to create start-ups inside the company.
How can you become truly innovative in everything you do:
 It helps to know that there are no silver bullets or magic lists to follow.  Only environments where innovation is MORE likely to occur. So by developing a culture that fosters creativity and innovation, you will be more likely to BE innovative.  Sound simple…?
Always talk to and observe your customers, with a singular focus on solving their problems:
Dan Buchner who was the head of Proctor & Gamble’s product development team had his team spend time in customer homes watching them, which led to the development of the Swiffer product line.
Record all of your ideas and thoughts about problems. You need to be diligent in tracking all of your inspirations and committing them to writing.
Most people settle on the most promising approach based on our past experiences and we tend to exclude other options as we work within a clearly defined direction towards the solution.  BREAK THIS PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR! (From an interview with Michael Michalko.)  You and your Team can cultivate your collective creativity by implementing the following 2 approaches:
(a) Constantly try to improve your idea, product, service.  This is important because your early ideas are usually not true (your best) ideas as they are only partially formed “baked”; and
(b) Challenge your assumptions – To test an assumption, reverse it and try to make the reverse work.

  1. Sketch your ideas: 99U talk from Twitter creator Jack Dorsey.
  2. Use “lateral thinking skills” as Paul Sloane, visionary creativity problem-solver notes this entails looking at things in an entirely NEW way.
  3. Employ “wrong thinking.”
  4. Mix different ideas together to see what new and interesting combinations arise as outcomes.
  5. Follow Einstein’s EIGHT-step SCAMPER process to improve a system, process, product, idea…:

You can and should re-frame the challenge you face, by looking at it in another way.  Here’s how:
1. Ask powerful questions.
2. Challenge your assumptions.
3. Foster multiple perspectives.
Change the parameters you are faced with:
Think of a parameter in your market as being different then it currently is today, and then imagine the products/services that would best serve that different reality.  This gets you thinking down a different path. Some examples how to change your parameters to change your reality:
(a)  Ex. A vehicle currently requires a driver to navigate it.  Imagine removing that requirement altogether, and you are left with a vehicle that DRIVES ITSELF. (Hello, Google!)
(b) Ex. How might you design a store IF…you were able to identify exactly who each visitor/patron was and all of their past purchase behavior as soon as they entered?

  • Solve a PARADOX: Ex. Apple set out to get a bigger screen for its iPhone by reducing the size of the device.


  • Find CONNECTIONS: the Wright brothers watched birds in flight, to better understand and ultimately solve manned flight.


  • Elevate “ASKING QUESTIONS” to an art form.



Experiment: Gain invaluable experience by watching, and/or making something yourself.  This entails “tinkering.”   Follow your natural curiosity as far as you possibly can.

  • Instead of taking a PROBLEM –SOLUTION approach, use a SOLUTION-PROBLEM approach.  This means you find a solution first, then go in search of problems the new solution addresses.


  • Use the following five step process:

(a)  Define your problem clearly.
(b) Throw out any constraints.
(c)  Ensure that those people working with you to solve a problem are passionate.
(d) Ideate in small teams. “Design thinking process.” Jeff Bezos at Amazon feels it should only take 2 pizzas to feed a team. Keep the team SMALL to maximize the likelihood of a successful team working experience.
(e) Have competitions and give prizes for the best innovation.

  1. Measure your learning and NOT outcomes. Ex. You want to keep track of the number of customers that you interviewed, NOT your results.

Ask powerfully enlightening questions such as:
(i)   What did you/we learn?
(ii) What don’t we still know?
(iii) What are the limits to the metrics that we are using?
You get what you measure!
Follow the THREE HORIZONS Model outlined in: “The Alchemy of Growth” by Mehrdad Baghai, Stephen Coley (
Horizon 1: Sustaining innovation entails investing in established products and services to maximize sales and revenue streams from your existing business. Examples include adding new products to your menu, rolling out new product features, additional service offerings, store expansions, etc.
Horizon 2: Adjacent innovation: Ex. Mercedes develops electric fuel vehicles. The market is experiencing rapid growth, and Mercedez does NOT want to get “left behind.” and;
Horizon 3: Disruptive innovation: Mercedes Benz invests in Car2Go, allowing customers to “rent” a Mercedez where ever they are to travel very short distances, ideal for major metropolitan areas for target segments with extremely high disposable income..
4.  Resources for you to evaluate/consider/leverage:
Clay Christensen, “The innovator’s dilemma.”  DISRUPTIVE innovation versus sustaining innovation.
Stephen Johnson, “Where good ideas come from.”
Scott Anthony, “The little black book of innovation.”
Michael Michalko, “Thinker toys: A handbook of business creativity.”
Linda Hill, “Collective genius: the art and practice of leading innovation.”
The PWC Global Innovation 1000 Research Study
Here’s to your continued success in 2015 and successful planning for 2016.
 It’s time to unleash your and your Team’s significant untapped creativity and innovation potential!
– Ethan
Learn more about my organizational productivity services at