I read an article a while back I found quite inspiring and believe it has a special relation to modern day workforce development and innovation.

On the Japanese Bullet Trains there are people who walk up and down the aisles selling food and drink stuffs to the riders.  These people are typically known as ‘Wagon Girls’.  They buy their goods outside the train before the riders get on and then commence to walking and selling.  In this story there was one person, the authors found, who was selling 5x more than the others and they wanted to find out why.

You might think she was able to move faster, worked in first class, or sold better cheaper products?

This particular wagon girl would wait to buy her goods until the very last minute so she could profile the riders on the platform (market research if you will) and then buy her goods based on the demographics (getting a bunch of beer doesn’t make sense if school kids riding in large numbers that day).  She also decided to pull her cart backwards so she could see the faces of the people as she went down the aisles.  This way she was able to load up on what they wanted and watch her potential client’s reactions and attention thus being more efficient in her ‘sales calls’.

If we were able to teach all the wagon girls to follow these ideas do you think more money would be extracted from the riders on the bullet train overall?  Absolutely.  Sometimes one innovative idea can save a business.  Being on the lookout for ideas like these is tough – which is why keeping your business as connected to the community and marketplace as possible is key.  The information is out there – it is our job to now find the right questions.


Impacts Beyond Measurable

March 28, 2012

In my research of performance management, business consulting, training and development, etc…. I have come across tons of national statistics about the effectiveness of training your workforce and the benefits resulting such as retention, increased efficiencies, decreased losses, sales increases and a more engaged workforce.  However, amid all the headlines and summaries my deepest connection exists in my personal experiences.  There have been multiple points in my career where I have adjusted my perspective, had ‘ah ha’ moments and changed behavior based on training received on-the-job.  Below is a recent example of such an occurrence;

I used to work in the career service department of a university in which one of the main strategic initiatives was to be known as the ‘career university’.  While there were tons of great process coming down to career services to enact this vision there wasn’t a lot of support from the rest of the campus.  Despite numerous attempts to get more buy in from the leadership team, faculty and staff it didn’t seem as if we were making any progress.  Our director at the time had been working with one of our project management professors and organized some learning sessions with him to discuss our situation.

He ended up taking us through a ‘Constraints Management’ series of trainings and assisted us in locating our core conflict.  Though the initial sessions sounded more like ‘bitch-sessions’ they were expertly lead and detailed notes were taken.  This professor was able to walk us through the conflict and assumptions surrounding it and develop a current reality tree.  We were then able to create an injection to address our core conflict and naturally transform the current reality tree into what we would like our ideal reality to look like.  Now I am oversimplifying the process quite a bit – but being able to present to the leadership a thought pattern, thoroughly reason out along with a detailed solution (with visuals to match) was incredibly powerful and shifted the overall culture of the campus.

I have taken the lessons learned forward in my career and continue to mentally use these processes.  Though not specifically measurable, these are the kinds of impacts that truly improve the skills of professionals and lay foundations to a stronger economy.

Danger Ahead

March 15, 2012

There trouble on the horizon.  As the economy beings its slow trek in the right direction, multiple phenomena’s are beginning to occur simultaneously:  Job dissatisfaction is high – many people took, what they consider to be, jobs which are below them and are actively looking to leave.  Baby boomers are retiring at about 10,000 a day – this was slowed down with the economic troubles – but as things improve we can realistically expect the pace to increase.  In the spirit of being lean, and dealing with an unpredictable economy, organizations have been keeping their salaries static and not investing in their people as much as they used to.    What this implies is that retention is going to become a major challenge across the board going forward.

In an ideas based economy it has been suggested that up to 80% of an organizations value is in its people and talent.  My guess would be that smart organizations are watching this trend and will be enacting some measures to make sure their top performers stay put.  To further add into the trouble companies are rating that a high number of recent college grads do not have the skills required to get ahead in this new economy.

What can you do to hold on to your top talent and make sure you are positioned to entice the future “All Stars”? 

A war for talent has already begun and it is time to start thinking about your employees work experiences – are they engaged? happy? performing at high levels? One method consistently proven to reduce attrition is to invest in performance enhancing development programs.  Not only do you increase the value of working for your company but you increase the skills of your workforce at the same time.  I foresee a lot of companies moving this direction and finding the right programs and development professionals is not easy –

This is why we exist here at Invista Performance Solutions.  As this perfect storm of human capital management begins; shoot us a note – we would love to come to you and see if we can help.


The Networked Age

March 12, 2012

I have become acutely aware that we are living in the midst of an ‘Information Revolution’; smart phones and Google have gone as far as changing dinnertime conversation.  After reading an article in the Harvard Business Review titled ‘Are you Network Literate’ I must also agree that we are living in a ‘Network Revolution’.  The ripples of this are creating international headlines and changing the way the globe does business.  Where we used to look for the right answers we are now looking for the right questions (and the right people).  Working in outreach and trying to find the “right people” is easier than ever – finding them at least…

As someone who is trying to take advantage of this revolution as it happens there are implications which are both tricky and amazing.  It is now possible to “ride along” with you companies top performer from anywhere in the world.  It is also possible to network with you coworker across the ocean in real time to solve problems.  It is also possible to find anyone using job titles, zip codes, skills and job level.  Who would have predicted instant messenger and text messaging working its way into mainstream business operations?  In a time where the line between a successful business and bankruptcy is so thin, companies increasingly have to innovate and evolve at faster and faster rates to stay relevant.  Part of this is a result of the revolutions and just how competitive things have become – but the tools being created can also be the cure.  The cliché is true – every problem is laced with opportunities.

The connectivity available to people now is also changing (well, has changed) the way organizations market themselves, sell their services and keep in touch with their clients.  It is amazing how specific we can get when researching a demographic now.  I have heard some people express worry and fear over the amount of information a company can glean about their habits and trends – I for one, enjoy the advertisements and special offers  received being tailored to my lifestyle and desires.

We certainly live in interesting times…

Don’t Hope

March 6, 2012

For my first Blog entry I would like to share a story which inspired me.  I don’t remember where I got it – but some of the implications of it are what got me going to write this blog.

Here it is;


Don’t Hope, Decide

While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about — the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me. Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family. First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!” Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug. While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment. After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married? “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole days!” Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me. I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!” The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”

WordPress Blog Launch

March 3, 2012

This is my first blog attempt.  Test 1 2 3 🙂