Author Archives: thelaurenklein

About thelaurenklein

People Leadership & Communities Strategist, Consultant & Coach

Mergers, HR and Social Technologies

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We are heading into another era of M&A activity.  Just look at all the Big Data companies fighting for market share.  For me, feels like Déjà vu from the 1990s and I hear the Pac man chomping up those little fruits, ahem, I mean companies now.

So the question I’m asking myself is, “How many of your People organizations are leveraging the insights from their tools?  How many are taking the talent analytics, performance data and collaboration metrics?”

According to Talent Management Magazine, “Successful companies begin by recognizing that people-related decisions present the most difficult variables in almost any transaction and pose the greatest risks, such as turnover up to 60 percent, or lingering cultural issues that cripple productivity. They beat the odds by carefully managing human capital to transform two groups of people into one functioning company.”

I’ve seen some progressive organizations taking the data from their enterprise systems to help them identify hi potential talent, which is laudable.  Why not take it a step further and allow these same individuals the opportunity to innovate on the merger and acquisition.  It becomes more about mentorship and learning than it is transactional.  Yes, there are financial and transactional tasks that need to be completed, of course.  But with all the human capital work streams and risk, why not invite new thinking to the process versus hiring an external consulting firm for all roles relating to the acquisition?  Fresh approaches can feel risky, but they could also reap big rewards. 

At a minimum, we can find ways to incorporate employees with strong relationships to help request feedback and spread information throughout an organization. 

Declarative Statements as Game Changers

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Ken Pearlman, engagement manager at Kotter International shared an article in Forbes  that inspired us to write more about simple statements that we could make to change the game or create conditions.  He highlighted how when one person stated that we are going to “be doing business differently.” That alone gave people permission to consider thinking differently, acting differently and being open to new ways of working.

Sometimes you just need a little affirmation that taking a new road is okay. 

I’ve often found in teams that most people really do want to make a difference, but they are simply bogged down in all the corporate policy and politics.  What people often want is to be heard, be respected and be given the green light to create something innovative and powerful. 

Of course, it takes more than just words.  It requires courageous leaders who are willing to fund, advocate or move barriers in order to drive something across a finish line.  Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that we as community leaders in our own words can create new conditions. 

In particular, we want to speak to the community leader.  Why?  Because they have learned leadership lessons from playing with Legos, they are tenacious and they know how to be game changers.  All of which are vital to being a strong and successful leader.

Passion, creativity and tenacity are attributes of great community leaders, and what brought you to this extraordinary role in the first place.   You’re in this role because you have an innate ability to connect with people and build relationships that are meaningful to your brand.  Your teams want your input, ideas, and creativity.  If you have a great idea that you believe will have an impact on the company’s’ business goals, you should share it. 

But before you do, be sure you have thought about it thoroughly, from inception to how you will measure its success, so that when you present your idea you’re able to show that not only are you dreaming up great ideas, but how you will go about launching and moving the needle to support the company’s business goals with your new idea.

These days and ages, being bold and brave is what the world needs – and is attracted to.  While not every idea will move the needle, I can promise you that one idea will lead to another brainstorm, individually and together as a team, that will move the needle.  So dare to dream big and share your ideas. 

Lauren Klein and Jenny Berthiaume

Allowing structure to emerge is harder than it sounds

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Many of our organizations have enterprise communication and collaboration systems in place.  These systems are evolving and creating new communication possibilities.  Yet, I continue to find education gaps as it relates to leadership, communication and human effectiveness education that is aligned with them.   We are allowing our children to check into online portals to get fast feedback on their ‘tests’ yet we may not teach the foundations of respectful debate and critical thinking.

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I have found the work of Dion Hinchcliffe useful to help people visual the pivot that has been taking place.  He states, ”  The pace of advance today can seem overwhelming.”  I believe, a key thread that we must knit together as community facilitators is to invite individuals, teams, groups and organizations to look at our people, our processes and our technologies without judgment.  We must look at them at be open to throwing out the past and inviting in new futures with brand new approaches, models and methods so that we can navigate our journey.  I have found some people are reluctant to start over or re-invent within organizations.  Perhaps it is too risky?  Not sure, but what I do know is that talent will go to start ups and/or to a competitor in an effort to find a new environment that is more aligned with their preferred interaction style and culture. 

I was inspired to article by John Kotter around change leadership.  He states, “How does culture change? A powerful person at the top, or a large enough group from anywhere in the organization, decides the old ways are not working, figures out a change vision, starts acting differently, and enlists others to act differently.”

 

The Crimson Rose: Community Leader and Fire Goddess of the BMC

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Photo courtesy:  hows-your-burn

Photo courtesy: hows-your-burn

Event: PERSEIDS – Meteor Shower Camp Out August 2013. Location: Black Rock Desert. Subject: Crimson Rose. Official Title: Burning Man Project, Founding Board Member.

I was honored to meet a founding member of the Burning Man Project Community on the Playa. Elation comes to mind as there is nothing more inspiring to me than meeting a passionate community leader in their zone. She is known in the Burning Man Community as the ‘Fire Goddess’. In fact, when I was conversing with her, what was running through my mind were concepts, images and stories of Itzpapalotl, the Aztec Goddess of Fire.

Just insert her name into Google Images and you can see her work. She takes the concentrated rays of the sunlight in a traditional fashion to travel to ‘burn the man’. This ritual starts with lighting of the cauldron “El Diabla”. What happens during the ceremony is a traditional drum beat with dancing and celebration. This act has deep meaning in the community as it represents the ‘birth’ to begin the festivities while serving as inspiration for all community members to remember to keep that ‘light’ burning within ourselves. Whether you are a writer, mother, sister, scientist or actress, this desire to create, refine, sculpt, contour, break down and find inspiration is core to a fulfilling life journey. The strength in ‘fire’ can also be a reminder that we should be allowed, permitted and in fact encouraged to be ‘reborn’. Interesting concept ‘rebirth’ as it’s not often something celebrated, but perhaps should be.

I applaud her profound passion for fire in representing this notion of ‘starting or igniting’ inspiration.
I learned a lot from her during the meteor shower that evening. She helped me to understand there are ten principles of the Burning Man Project:

• Radical Inclusion
• Gifting
• Decommodification
• Radical Self-reliance
• Radical Self-expression
• Communal Effort
• Civic Responsibility
• Leaving No Trace
• Participation
• Immediacy

It was a meeting of minds as we both feel strongly about civic and social innovation and change. We are both women in leadership and communities. For me, it was a great honor to listen to her passion as she describes how the ‘regionals’ are engaged throughout the world. How she personally can host members from Africa, Australia, New Zealand to come experience Black Rock City.

So next time you see a sparkler, roman candle or campfire. Drift off and allow your mind to wander. Allow the physical power to transfer into your mind and ‘ignite’ it.

Blogging – how to get started?

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Join the pad!
Several people have asked me how to blog and get a style, so this is a brief attempt to share a few thoughts around see one, do one, and be one.

• Consider reading and searching around the internet, on-line resources, books, magazines or libraries. What I mean by that is: simply spend a few minutes reading content from industry experts, peers or your mentors. This can give you context on styles you relate to and/or inspire you.

• Secondly. Just do it. Most organizations encourage learning. If you are reading this, you can look into wordpress to post a blog, so all you need to do is create a blog title, write down a paragraph, run spell check and post. Don’t over think it. Just do it. Take a few moments to share something you have recently shared over the telephone with a family member, customer, business associate or partner and try to ‘capture it’ in words. If you can’t do that. Record yourself or ask someone else to do it. Actually I find it is a good opportunity to self-reflect and learn about your communication in general if you listen to yourself speak or present.

• Seek peer input. I often find that if I ask for feedback that I will get it. What I mean, is be explicit with your friends, family, staff, peers or your management. Ask them to carve out time to give you their candid feedback on what they would do if they were you, who influences their communication approaches and/or areas they see as ‘development opportunities’ for you to consider.

Business Leader Investing in Social Change and Courageous Leadership

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Sometimes you have those discussions with business leaders who you know just ‘get’ your niche business.  Well, this was the case with Mario Morino and me recently.  Talk about fresh wind.  He is investing in Social Change through helping philanthropy.  So when he launched into discussions around building high performing cultures that innovate, take risks and cultivate courageous leadership, I was all ears.  In fact, he has published a book called Leap of Reason and has a website full of articles, speeches, videos and guides that all build on that book. 

 

He is a visionary around building entrepreneurship, eLearning and business ambassadors.  His no airs style is direct and bursting with prickly truths that are refreshing around constructs such as community leadership, community business models, monetization and community business processes. 

He understands that social business and communities will take decades for us as leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to understand it.  This is a paradigm shift, or as he calls it, “the Manhattan Project all over again.”  We must find wants to truly understand the power of network intelligence.  This is so much more than using #big data construct. 

 

I found his charter at Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) refreshing in how they approach learning with their investment partners and how they realize innovation while strengthening nonprofit organizations.   

Talent Mobility Summer Checklist

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Read the Signs

I recently experienced a massive failure in a global talent mobility program. How can this be true you ask when we live in a world where great talent is critical to business success?  Because we get comfortable.  Which is why I encourage fellow talent professionals to consider adding a review of your talent mobility program to your summer checklist?

Often we put away our winter clothes and pull out summer clothes this time of year.  Which is why we absolutely should take the time to pull out all the vendors in our ecosystem to review them as we would our summer wardrobes? 

Ask ourselves the difficult questions: 

Do they still fit my talent acquisition objectives

Are they current with the times? 

Do they allow me to realize goals?    

I know, I know.  You are thinking, oh no, I’ve invested countless hours to establish these relationships, these rates and the overwhelming task of re-establishing them sounds daunting.  Don’t fear.  It may not be necessary to re-establish vendors.  In many cases, it may just require re-negotiations or real time adjustments and feedback sessions that are in alignment with your talent management programs. 

Talent Mobility Checklist

  1. Review quantitative surveys from past 12-18 months from vendors
  2. Review qualitative data
  3. Check in with current mobility clients and ask them about from past 12-18 months from vendors
  4. Reach out to employees who have left the organization in the past 6 months who had mobility packages and interview them yourself or a trusted delegate
  5. Call your mobility coordinators yourself to assess if they pick up the phone and/or how long they take to respond back to you? their experiences to better understand any areas they have opportunities for process or vendor refinement
  6. Review the approach your vendors are taking with issues and their resolution
  7. Check in with spouses or domestic partners of a cohort of recent mobility clients to gather spousal feedback on the programs
  8. Look at industry data and compare against your programs to assess gaps and/or opportunity areas
  9. Review financials with your vendors for the past few years to bench against industry rates to ensure you are in alignment and/or where you see opportunities
  10. Test out a mobility experience yourself from start to finish to live the entire experience as if you were your own talent

Coloring outside the lines in marketing programs

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Coloring inside the lines sounds familiar, right?

Whether in the office, at home or in preschool, we often find ourselves being encouraged to keep ourselves focused, on track in results-orientated organizations. Especially for people working in global knowledge intensive organizations where there is a multitude of cultures, markets and relationships. Why? Because it is complicated. Information is rampant and often can cause angst if taken out of context and/or misconstrued. Which is why recently when I had the opportunity to discuss a Community Launch plan with Kelly Shelburne she immediately made the inference that with fresh thinking around integrated communications and leadership, anything is possible. She believes with the creation of innovative communication programs we need to work as if we are ‘coloring outside the lines’.

Her perspective and leadership communications philosophy was refreshing. She is one of these people grounded in ethical standards with a heavy emphasis on employee engagement because her philosophy looks at the audience, their maturity to the communication theme and any additional organizational context that drives business results. She has a keen eye to culture and patterns. She thinks about harnessing leadership acumen and the notion that people are part of an organization unit or family who all are in varying stages in their relationship with the organization. In a nutshell, she believes there is real power in engagement, and that when that’s truly and effectively harnessed, the possibilities are limitless. She believes in the power of people and of unity – and in the power of ‘One’ – both the ability for a single person to influence great change and the ability for many to come together as one to do the same, when they are engaged and aligned with purpose.

It was so fulfilling to me to hear someone talk about the importance to communicate openly in a manner to engage employees. Especially with an eye to fostering collaboration through blending traditional content streams with video with an eye for a well aligned strategy that enhances internal communications that allow organizations to reach goals. It then occurred to me that she is absolutely right. We as social business leaders need to look for ways that we can color outside the lines. People won’t judge you because you draw inside the lines. We have to be able to go outside the boundaries of the ‘lines’ and yes, there is some risk in that, but in both cases- you can make it look amazing in your own by infusing your style, your color choice or person voice. In fact, we also discussed a recipe for success to color outside the lines with change programs:

• Build alignment
• Invest in wide organizational relationships
• Build integrated communication programs
• Be intentional with activities
• Harness the power of the network
• Be consistent
• Repeat

Makes sense to me. Think about intentional activities that can feed into the larger plan which leverages nodes and leaders in the organization to help with messaging and understanding. Be rigorous, timely and generous with your time. The rest will come. Besides, who doesn’t want to go back to the sandbox and build creative castles like we did when we were five years old in the office?

Diversity in Social Business Programs and Authentic Leadership

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I’ve seen some great traction over the years to harness the power of new technologies.  Every day I learn about countless new software solutions that my clients can add onto their environment.  Which is why I’m posting this blog, it is time for us in Social to look beyond the tool.  It is time to invest in our people commensurate with our tool development investments.  Chief HR Officer, Douglas Reid has advised me that issues in HR have been fundamentally the same throughout his entire career.  I thought to myself that cannot be?  For we have new generations of talent and tools, right?  This just doesn’t compute for me as I know countless consultants who are brilliant in the areas of Diversity and Inclusion, Change Management, Talent Management, Learning, Human Resources and Organizational Design and Social Business. 

Yet we continue to see pieces like Coffee VLOG which have amazing storytelling potential come across as ethnocentric because the leaders lack authenticity.  I was inspired by the idea; I was inspired by the real people on the video talking to one another.  Many of us working in market know about their organizational acumen.  Yet when the Vice President enunciated poorly CEMEX and interviewees names, I was disappointed.  The Vice President highlighted herself and her degree from Harvard during the piece.  I felt we lost focus on the interviewees and their story.  To be customer centric, we must have that in our titles and in our thoughts throughout the day.  Why not focus entirely on the customer story?  I was inspired enough to share it on my social networks and was surprised to see that the Vice Presidents avatar was featured as the #1 thumbnail when posting the url on Facebook?  I was left wondering why IBM didn’t recognize CEMEX content in the thumbnail. 

Don’t get me wrong – right social storytelling concept. It simply lacked in diversity and inclusive execution and authentic leadership.

Why does this happen?   We need to focus more on creating great organizations, as described in the May HBR article by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones. We don’t have cross organizational alignment and engagement with our People programs.  We still cannot seem to interlock the People programs with the technology solutions in ways that allow us to harness the talented people’s gifts they have within organizations to allow both parties to ‘sing’.  Although we may have amazing talent, we often can’t figure out how to harness their potential without courageous conversations, courageous conversations, open leadership models and alignment between marketing and technology organizations. 

 

Trust Your Journey Community

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For every woman that has struggled, questioned, realized, believed, accomplished and triumphed. What a fantastic tag line from the company, Trust Your Journey. This message is put into their products and inspires people to keep on keeping on. It is an inspiring message from two women, a cancer survivor and a young widowed mother, who have dealt with challenging turning points in their lives and discovered along the way that sharing inspiration and stories of hope are an incomparable way to give.

This mighty organization is based in Reno, NV and has for many years supported an American Lung Association, Northern Nevada Stair Climb. They sponsor apparel that the teams sports in ascending 36 flights of stairs. Rather appropriate for such a mighty effort that they would sponsor eradication of lung cancer and clean air advocacy all the while supporting their local parents who deal with lung disease.

I’ve been honored to have met the owner over the years, which embodies her brand in her demeanor, in her character and her integrity. I’m so pleased that I’ve met her on my life journey and therefore felt I should in turn share it with my network. Because it is really about the people as the medium that matters and this inspirational message and business duo sell something that is a vehicle to carry our aspirations, experiences and feelings through their product.
Often in our marketing efforts we find that our campaigns in traditional media lack credibility and these women collect stories and feedback through their communities which gives us a reason to have hope in business and in turn their products provide us with a sheath of protection.

I must brag and tell you that their products recently on QVC sold out in 7 minutes. They are not only ascending the Silver Legacy Stair Climb, but in business also. So, I hope that you find their storytelling in their products laudable.