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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    technology

    Let It Go: Making Room For New Opportunities

    Google Images

    Google Images

    Technology changes and times change, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of what was once a good thing.

    I recently decided (in a fury of “decluttering”) to remove the perfectly good CD/cassette tape stereo from my office bookshelf and give it to charity. Truthfully, I hadn’t even used it in years. It was just taking up space that can be better occupied by something more relevant. Then, in another burst of energy and insight, I gathered up all the old cassette tapes stored away (for what?), the CD/DVD teaching packages that were regularly dusted but otherwise ignored, and gave it all away in boxes to The Salvation Army. I’ll admit that I had a moment of sentimentality. The information and music shared via these mediums was still good, but the method and technology no longer met my needs. I listen to music on my smart phone now, and watch videos on my laptop or iPad. Continue reading

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    From Irritation to Innovation

    Elizabeth Holmes hates needles.  To her, the idea of being poked by a needle and withdrawing blood is more than just unpleasant.  When she knows that she has to give blood, she becomes consumed and overcome with the thought until it’s finally over.

    So it should be no surprise that at age 19 she founded Theranos, a ground-breaking blood diagnostics company that 11 years later is worth more than $9 billion. The company has patented its secret technology of performing 200 different blood tests (soon growing to over 1,000 different tests) without using a syringe.  They use a few drops of blood drawn using a finger stick to minimize discomfort, and collected in a “nanotainer”; a container the size of an electric fuse. Her board is stocked with powerful blue chip members including former cabinet secretaries, former U.S. senators and former military brass. Theranos’ innovative technology is poised to transform health care technology at no more than half the cost of similar tests using current technology.

    Holmes leveraged a process that irritated her to innovate a new method of getting it done.

    ??????????????????Productive Dissatisfaction

    Tony Fadell was building a vacation home for his family.  One of the seemingly mundane decisions was selecting thermostats, but he wasn’t satisfied with his choices. So he developed the Nest Learning Thermostat, a digital and WiFi enabled device that conserves energy by learning its owners’ habits. He also designed the Nest Protect which uses new technology to detect smoke and carbon monoxide.

    Fadell’s real goal is to use technology to redesign and control all technology in the home.  He was successful in raising startup capital as a result of his Apple pedigree, and extensive connections in Silicon Valley. He previously led the team that created the iPod, thereby rejuvenating Apple and transforming the music industry (yes, I love iTunes), and assisted in the development of the iPhone. Fadell left Apple in 2008 (along with his wife who was an HR executive there) and his thermostat irritation became the epiphany to innovate his next career move. As evidence of his success, Nest was purchased by Google earlier this year for $3.2 billion.


    Innovation Mindset

    Holmes and Fadell were irritated by processes and technology that others accepted as status quo. Obviously this wasn’t just a minor irritation either. Most of us would have dismissed it, avoided it, complained a bit while it was on our minds, then moved on to what we believed were more important things. We would think that change wasn’t needed, or that technology couldn’t effectively be applied to it and scaled for use. Instead, they saw it as a challenge and took the opportunity to do something about it. They had a mindset for innovation that they applied to their environment.

    At the time, Holmes was a sophomore at Stanford, and according to her chemical engineering professor, viewed complex technical problems differently than other students.  She dropped out shortly thereafter and persuaded her parents to invest her education fund into the business start-up.

    Fadell’s tenure at Apple was distinguished by asking lots of questions, challenging Steve Jobs, and building his network in the “valley” outside the company; something normally reserved for Jobs himself. He didn’t conform to the typical concept of the Apple executive.

    The Key to Innovation

    So what is the key to your innovation?  What is it that irritates you, but you find it difficult to simply walk away or ignore it. Instead, you keep trying to figure it out. This may be your opportunity to move from irritation to innovation; to find new approaches to address old ways of doing things. Though Holmes and Fadell applied innovation on a large scale, you can easily do this within a smaller sphere of influence; in your work team, organization, community group or family. Here are a few simple steps.

    1. Tap into what’s irritating you.  What problem needs to be solved? Chances are it’s right in front of you.
    2. Find the benefit. Who will it add value to? Identifying your stakeholders will help you to target what action to take, and encourage you to stick with it for their benefit.
    3. Ignore the naysayers. What do you believe is possible? If you don’t have faith in yourself, no one else will either.
    4. Identify all the assumptions associated with the status quo. Why do people do it this way? Calling them out individually helps to break the innovation opportunity down into workable sizes for better analysis.
    5. Methodically challenge each assumption. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?  By the time you’ve asked “why” five times, you’ll uncover some suppositions that really don’t have a strong foundation.
    6. Think of a new approach. What if we did it this way instead?  Then think of another different approach.  This practice gets you into the mode of change.

    If you’re really irritated, true innovation will typically involve transformation, not evolution. It will yield a totally unexpected outcome that represents a leap ahead, not just a step forward.  So embrace that impatience and exasperation with the current situation, and press forward to a new mindset of innovation.

    Read the articles on Elizabeth Holmes and Tony Fadell in the June 12, 2014 issue of Fortune.

    Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

     

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    New Ideas, New Work

    New Ideas, New Work

    Recently, while perusing Forbes Magazine’s list of the top 30 Under 30 people in 15 different industries, I was struck by how many of them were listed as “founder” of a company. In industries such as Media, Technology, Energy and Industry, Food and Drink, Education, and Social Entrepreneurship, more than half the individuals held this title.  In Sports, Music, Hollywood Entertainment, Art and Style, independent individual contributors comprised the majority of the list.

    Many in this millennial group of 30 Under 30 have rejected the traditional notion of graduating from college and finding jobs. Instead they have used the campus environment to facilitate networking to create their own jobs.  They have avoided the conventional corporate environments in favor of unconventional workspaces and work relationships, like living and working in the same space to increase productivity and connectivity.  They have pushed back on the established methodologies of getting things done, and created new pathways to purchase art online and process financial transactions.

    Their advantage obviously is that they aren’t entrenched in a “this is how you do it” mindset.  Their educational process and developmental upbringing likely placed greater emphasis on creativity instead of conformity. Research shows that millennials as a group, are less interested in considering a career in business.  According to an article by Shama Kabani in the December 2013 issue of Forbes, millennials are projected to comprise the majority of the workforce by 2025, however data from Bentley University’s study on the preparedness of college students to move into the workplace shows that:

    • 6 in 10 students say they are NOT considering a career in business, and 48% said they have NOT been encouraged to do so.
      • 59% of business decision makers and 62% of higher education influentials give recent college graduates a C grade or lower for preparedness in their first jobs.
      • 68% of corporate recruiters say that it is difficult for their organizations to manage millennials.
      • 74% of non millennials agree that millennials offer different skills and work styles that add value to the workplace.
      • 74% agree that businesses must partner with colleges and universities to provide business curriculums that properly prepare students for the workforce.

    This data, and the accomplishments of the 30 Under 30 speak loudly about how current organizations must adapt to and embrace the future generation both as employees and as customers, to be able to leverage their ideas and intellect to solve problems, and effectively compete in the marketplace.  

    A New Model

    Many companies still operate based on the old model of experience taking priority over innovation at the individual employee level.  Employees with greater technical, policy or process knowledge, and therefore experience in a particular area, teach the younger people how the organization works. Such companies may externally broadcast their innovative products and methodologies, but internally they muffle creativity at the expense of familiarity. Instead they need to place innovation and creativity of the culture and work style on par with their innovative products and services. Those who fail to adapt and become more flexible will pay the price of failing to keep pace with the speed of technology and change.

    A glaring example of this is Eastman Kodak, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two years ago in January 2012, after more than a decade of falling sales and stock prices.  Kodak, a name long synonymous with photography, didn’t go bankrupt because people stopped taking pictures, but because they couldn’t adapt to the new way pictures were being taken.  People started using their smart phones to capture, send and store pictures electronically, instead of solely using traditional cameras and hard copy prints.  Twenty months later, Kodak has emerged from their restructuring transformed into a technology company focused on imaging for business, in a way that will hopefully produce better corporate results.

    Preparing for the future

    So what about these 30 Under 30? Instead of just talking about new ways of doing things, they take new ideas and develop them into marketable strategies, trends and entrepreneurial ventures.

    For example, Carter Cleveland (#1 in the Art and Style category) founded Artsy as a student at Princeton when he realized that there was no quick and easy way online to find art for his dorm room walls.  His website now provides more than 85,000 works of art from 1,800 museums, galleries and foundations. Most of it is for sale and he also recommends artists to users.  (This is an idea I’m sure I could have thought of, but would I have done anything about it?)

    So how are you leveraging innovation, creativity and technology in your team or organization to capture the next NEW idea or process? How are you finding new and different ways to meet customers’ needs? Are you developing intrapreneurs (in all demographic groups) who will keep your team fresh, or are you attracting entrepreneurs who will collaborate on new ways to accomplish organizational objectives?  Whatever your strategy, recognize the value of new ideas and build a culture that embraces the new world of work for millennials.

     

    Photo from iStockphoto

    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

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    Visionary Leadership

    Steve Jobs recently announced that he was stepping down from the role of CEO of Apple, the company he co-founded in 1976. Given his ongoing and unfortunate health challenges, this may not have been a surprise to employees, shareholders, and customers, but it was certainly a disappointment. Jobs has been the creative force behind successful technology including Macs, MacBooks, IMacs, iPod, iPads, iPhones, and iTunes. His latest is the iCloud, which according to a September 8, 2011 article in Fortune Magazine  is “a set of online services designed to tie all of Apples products together and make it easier for millions of people to access music, photos, files, and software across devices”. A short time ago he unveiled plans for a new headquarters for Apple in Cupertino, CA that will house 13,000 employees. The building’s ring shape design has led some to call it the iSpaceship. He also created Apple University as a tool to train mid to senior level managers on their management principles, vision and way of doing things. Thus employees have no doubt what Apple stands for.

    IStockPhoto

    Jobs created a legacy that has impacted the way millions of people across the planet communicate and interact. He utilized technology applications to enhance the way individuals live and work. He is quite literally a visionary. Though well known for his demanding and somewhat aggressive personality, he has the ability to communicate his image of the future in a manner so compelling that others rally around it. His creativity is undeterred by naysayers, and his focus is uninterrupted.

    Traits of Visionary Leaders

    As I reflect on the visionary leadership of Steve Jobs and others like him, they have several traits in common.

    • Visionary leaders have faith in their ability to create a different tomorrow.
    • Visionary leaders see a future that is unlike the present.
    • Visionary leaders convey a compelling picture of the future to others.
    • Visionary leaders push the boundaries of the expected into the unexpected.
    • Visionary leaders motivate people to perform beyond their normally demonstrated capabilities.
    • Visionary leaders listen to their inner voice of confidence, and ignore the external voices of doubt.
    • Visionary leaders see new products, processes, people and perspectives.
    • Visionary leaders have strongly held beliefs, determination and focus.

    Are YOU A Visionary Leader?

    In a similar manner, God has a vision for our future that is far greater than what we could attain on our own. He sees a future for us resplendent with blessings as we walk in His way to achieve His great plans for our lives. You can be assured that God’s vision is accompanied by the same creative powers He displayed when He formed the universe.

    Each of us may have an aspect of our lives where we have the potential to become visionary leaders. Whether the vision is for our children, our spouse, our organization, our community, our business, our government, or our selves; God can give us the vision to see far into the future and visualize possibilities that others might consider almost improbable. The question is, will we glimpse that future and fall back in fear, or look boldly forward and step toward it. Will we meditate on our lack of _______ (fill in the blank) to accomplish that vision, or will we move forward undeterred by all the signs that point against it.

    Just as Steve Jobs vision impacted the lives of millions of people, God’s vision for you can change lives as well. Whether it effects a few or many people, it’s no less important. So seek God’s vision for your life. His vision, His eye is guiding you into His greatness.

    I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Psalm 32:8 NKJV

    Copyright 2011 Priscilla Archangel, Ph.D.

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