Corporate social responsibility, it seems, is the new black. CSR may not sound sexy, but it’s become quite fashionable for companies to take on initiatives that take responsibility for their effects on the environment and social welfare.

People expect companies to play an active role in societal causes. According to Edelman, a global public relations firm, 87% of consumers believe business should place at least equal emphasis on social interests as business interests. And with more scandals involving accounting methods, oils spills, executive compensation and sexual harassment in recent years, business ethics are increasingly on consumers’ radar. People want only to do business with respectable companies.

In my work with Fortune 1000 companies in a range of industries, I see business leaders trying to meet these expectations in one of three ways. The first group tries to respond to all of the charitable solicitations they get, but they question if their generosity really makes a difference or it they’re simply being used as some sort of corporate Santa Claus. (read more…)

Having trouble mastering patience?

Patience is a matter of control. I certainly do not possess it, but I do admire those who do. And as someone who likes to be in control, as do most executives with whom I work, control may open the window to developing greater levels of patience.

Boil it down to the maxim “Control what you can control and let the rest go.” We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to it.

This video draws upon the work of Allan Lokos, author of “Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living.” Loko’s book is filled with many practical suggestions for how you can master patience. (read more…)

Arlington National Cemetery is leveraging technology to enhance visitors’ experiences and help staff improve operations. The new ANC Explorer technology application, provides visitors with information about grave sites, memorials and special events. It helps visitors plan their visits, maps routes from their current location in the cemetery to another grave site, identifies points of interest near visitors’ locations and allows them to provide feedback about their visits. Visitors can also search the grave sites by name, date of birth or date of death and get graves’ locations, interment dates, branches of service and pictures of the front and back of headstones.

ANC Explorer, which is available online, on smartphones and on kiosks in the cemetery’s visitor center, uses images and photographs, maps and digital records of the cemetery’s grave sites. The app was developed by Geographic Information Services Inc. and is powered by software and technology from Esri.

“Having access to all this information provides two distinct advantages,” said Ryan Heitz, GISi federal program manager for the Army. (read more…)

MeetingsHave you ever noticed that committees or management teams tend to spend way too much time in meetings endlessly debating the most unimportant or mundane topics, while at the same time, not enough time on the most important or strategic issues?

Most of us have either led or participated in a meeting where this phenomenon has reared its ugly head. Most of the time we blame it on the leader’s lack of meeting planning and facilitation skills, or we blame it on our fellow team member’s low intellect or competence, or both. We cope by getting frustrated, or just checking out and hoping it’s all over when we come out of out the coma.

There’s been plenty written about how to prevent wasting time at meetings, and yes, well planned agendas, process, meeting facilitation and participation skills are ALL very important. However, my friend Alex tipped me off to something that I believe is vitally important for any leader to be aware of and could have a dramatic impact on how your team spends it’s time at meetings. (read more…)

Most sales increase revenue in drips and drabs. Other sales, however, are transformative: The customer buys the company’s full range of services rather than a niche offering; signs a multiyear contract for products and their maintenance; the customer makes the company a preferred vendor or, better yet, a sole service provider.

The CEO has better things to do than get involved in the chief sales officer’s job. When an opportunity to make a mega-sale presents itself, though, the CEO must swing into action. That’s because the company has to deliver a proposal that provides mega-value, and creating such a proposal requires contributions from its many units or departments. The CEO is the only person who can lead this effort.

Can the financial people create a better way for the customer to budget and pay for what it’s buying? Can R&D redesign the product so it’s more valuable to the customer? Can IT help the customer order and inventory the product? (read more…)