Jeff Smith

The Second Pancake Theory of Design

Good design is like making pancakes. Most times, the first pancake gets thrown away. It’s burned or gooey, flipped too soon or too late. To get to the pancakes that are golden brown and perfectly fluffy, you’ve got to let the first one or two go.

 It’s another way of saying Fail Fast. We’ve all heard those tired clichés about how if you don’t fail you won’t succeed, and how the best thing for everybody is a good old-fashioned failure. And guess what: that’s absolutely true when it comes to design.

The first idea you have is rarely the best. You start with a blank piece of paper or an empty computer screen. And you take for granted that your first several tries will be bad. Or at least not great. And if you want to get to great design, you have to do the bad stuff first.

Let’s say you come up with something brilliant, but the client rejects it. That’s failure, in a sense, but it’s okay. It’s also an opportunity. Getting a fresh look at a project that you’ve already spent hours on is sometimes the best thing that could happen to your work.

 There’s always more than one right answer to a design problem. Even if the creative work rejected by the client was brilliant, there’s another brilliant idea out there just waiting for you to discover.

When you step back and reevaluate, you begin to see other design solutions. And sometimes, you might even like that solution better than the first. More importantly, your client might like it better. Put in the time, trust the process, and let the work speak for itself.

 Interested in better design solutions for your internal communications? Tribe can help.

Measuring Employee Engagement

Companies usually measure their strategies using quantitative measures, but measuring employee engagement requires strategies off the beaten path.  While these measurement procedures require much more effort than looking at a spreadsheet, they are critical in evaluating the overall health of a company, which can influence the bottom line.

 

To find out more about measuring employee engagement, check out this blog on 5 tips to measure employee engagement.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Healthy Habits To Promote Concentration (and thus productivity)

Concentration is one of the great secrets to high productivity. This week’s Monday Zen is lifted from a blog called ZenHabits and is a guest post by John Wesley of the blog called Pick the Brain. If you’re still with me, keep reading. John has some great advice for how to increase your ability to concentrate.

When you get right down to it, these recommendations are just a darn good prescription for healthy living. But they also provide a good foundation for a lifestyle that supports productivity. Get your rest, eat right, exercise. And while you’re at it, take some breaks but don’t forget to make a plan.

To read his entire post, see “5 Tips To Maximize Your Ability To Concentrate.” 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

5 Tips for Engaging Employees With Your Wellness Program

Companies often launch employee wellness programs because of the health benefits, but these programs also can increase employee engagement. By activating the programs with initiatives that focus not just on the individual but help employees connect with their co-workers, build departmental and cross-departmental relationships and feel part of a group, wellness can foster a much higher level of employee engagement. Here are 5 ideas for how to make that happen:

1. Start a competition: This could be an  annual fitness competition, based on sticking to individual exercise goals; it could be a weight loss challenge; it could be collecting miles walked or run to reach a collective mileage goal. LexisNexis, based in Alpharetta, GA. has instituted an annual 5K run/walk called the LexisNexis Windward Challenge that has evolved into not just a race, but a family event with live music and other attractions.

2. Use your intranet to add a social element: Let your employee intranet make individual wellness efforts visible and create both a competitive spirit and a venue for support. Employees can establish individual fitness profiles with goals and report their progress against those goal; they can post their planned workout for the day; they can track their mileage or time,; or they could even find tennis partners or running buddies from the ranks of their colleagues.

3. Create a partner program: Whether employees are working on weight management or smoking cessation or just general fitness, studies show having a partner can increase success rates. That could mean pairing two people both working on the same sort of goals, or assigning a mentor who’s had success in that area to someone just beginning to make a change in their life. For instance, you might have an experienced runner mentor a co-worker just beginning to train for their first 5K. Or you might pair two people trying to quit smoking as support for each other. These partnerships can also be established and maintained via the intranet.

4. Launch a virtual competition across locations: This can be a particularly strong program for companies with locations spread across the country or around the world. Competing against other locations helps employees realize they’re part of something bigger that just their own office, and can build great awareness of and engagement with far-flung business units and colleagues. LexisNexis now includes a virtual 5K in their Windward Challenge so that colleagues in other locations can participate by running or walking a 5K in their neighborhood — or even on their treadmills.

5. Host a healthy lunch contest online: Ever notice how often people post photos of what they’re eating on Facebook? You can harness that same impulse for an employee competition. Employees snap a picture with their smart phone of what they brought for lunch, post it on the intranet, and then other employees can vote for it or simply “like” it. This could also include a recipe element, but doesn’t need to. Shots of hummus and raw vegetables or a healthy chili or big salad need little explanation for others to emulate — and usually prompt some spontaneous online conversation as well, which can connect employees who might otherwise never have had any reason to interact.

5 Tips to Create an Innovative Culture

Today’s competitive culture not only requires people to think outside the box, but to create a culture where innovation is a part of everyone’s job. Traditionally, companies develop multi-step processes that each person is required to follow in order to be creative. At Tribe, we believe that over-processing sometimes kills creativity. Five simple steps, followed by executive leaderships commitment to instituting them and incentivizing managers to employ them successfully, will transform a culture into an innovative “hothouse”.

1.     Identify your innovation team but encourage unexpected surprises. Leaders should identify the idea-generators and give them ample resources to develop new ideas and solutions. These idea-generators will be the core team but having a core creative team doesn’t give you an innovative corporate culture.  Each person in the organization should understand the importance of being creative, be given time to think and a manager that rewards new ideas. It takes everyone working together to create an innovative culture.

2.     Create a policy-free zone for the core creative team. Allow the core team to live in a protective shell away from stress and policy over-load. The executive leader for this group should do advance work to make sure the team has the resources needed and is protected from the every day stresses of business.

3.     Give your team time – to play! Ideas come to people in all sorts of ways, for some it is in the break room chatting with a co-worker and for others it could be surfing the web.  The key for leadership is to not judge these activities, but instead the ideas produced be the testament of this groups work, not how they spend each hour in the day.

4.     Resist the urge to pressure immediate results. Immediate results will yield incremental improvements.  To create a culture that encourages innovation, leaders need to resist the urge to consistently give tight deadlines. There are times where a deadline will give a creative team focus, but constant deadlines kills creative thinking.

5.     Be their champion. The key to any good idea being executed is selling it in properly and having leadership support.  Creative teams need first-line filters to test the ideas and choose which ones are right to see through to fruition.  The leadership team also needs to have courage and persistence to fight the internal battles to ensure that the ideas see the light of day – in your organization, and not your competitors.