When change matters, step up, step out and speak up.

March 3, 2011

We’ve all been there.  Sitting with a group in the break room, the boardroom or over lunch when the conversation shifts to what’s wrong with our team, our business, our community or our lives.

It’s so easy to point out what is wrong.  Words fly.  The passion is inspiring.  Each idea builds on another .  Then, oops, you look at the clock.  Time’s up and you go back to work and keep on doing things the same way you have always done them before. Read the rest of this entry »


Health Care Legislation on the Brink. Maybe it’s time for … Innovation and Change We Can Agree On

January 20, 2010

Watching the Massachusetts Senatorial election results yesterday, started me thinking back to the Presidential campaign of not so long ago… 

back in the days when BOTH candidates campaigned on themes of CHANGE. 

If we look back on President Obama’s first year in office, few would argue that it has been a Year of Change.  But most would agree, that in one way or another, it was also a year fraught with disagreements across many sectors.  The election of Scott Brown on January 19, 2010 to the Senate seat long held by Senator Ted Kennedy underscores that. 

A Beltway Scramble

Beltway Warriors on both sides of the aisle are now scrambling to develop new strategies on key issues, especially the highly publicized Health Care legislation that is so lengthy, so complicated, and so contentious that if you asked anyone – anywhere  if they agreed with ALL of it,  you would be hard pressed to to find anyone who could answer with a resounding YES!  It’s so full of Promise and Compromise that what started out to be a race horse now looks like a camel.  Some fear it may never even make it to the finish line when most would agree that change is needed.  Others fear it might.

It’s time for Innovation in Washington D.C. not Change.

Innovation to me has a simple definition.  INNOVATION IS DOING SOMETHING IN A NEW WAY TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR THE PEOPLE THAT MATTER. 

So here’s my suggestion for a true innovation.  Let’s shift from change we can believe in to Change we can AGREE ON and get it done NOW.

This listing from the Wall Street Journal takes a look at the House and Senate Healthcare Proposals side by side.  In it there are some things that most of us can agree on like

  • removing the ability for the insurance industry to place restrictions on pre-exiting conditions
  • restricting insurance companies from dropping coverage when people actually get sick
  • extending the time period that young adults can be covered under their parents insurance policies
  • making healthcare accessible and affordable for a broader section of the population through incentives or subsidies. 

A REAL change could be HOW we get it done.

Now is the time when the House and Senate are tasked with bringing the two proposals together in a final form.  This is an opportunity to do something in a NEW WAY.  Instead of more horse trading, side deals, and compromises, SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS. 

Pull out each of the key items/issues one piece at a time, prioritize them based on the degree of agreement, and put them to a vote as a stand alone issue. 

Talk about transparency.  No more thousand page documents with hidden deals.  It’s all there nice and clear.  You agree or disagree then vote to decide, send  it over to the appropriate agency to implement if it passes, and move on to the next item.

This would be change the American people could believe in and a change that we could  agree on.  Who knows – we might just make life better for the people – remember us. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker

[Joan Koerber-Walker is a wife, a mother, a small business person, and a voter who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.  Her journey includes executive roles in corporate America, as an entrepreneur, as a community volunteer, and as a non-profit leader.]


Promise and Compromise

January 5, 2010

You’ve probably had the  experience where through the diverse objectives and perspectives of the people on your team, what you set out to create and what you got where not exactly the same.   As concessions are made to reach a point of consensus, a completely different animal begins to takes shape.

It has been said that “a camel is horse designed by a committee.”

Interestingly, having researched this much quoted maxim, there is no true consensus on  WHO actually said it first. 

As leaders, be it in our home, in our business, or  in our community, we are often in a position requiring a promise or commitment.  In many cases, to keep that promise or commitment will require the help of others, and often to get that help, you face a compromise.

When you look at the definition of the words as indicated in the links above, I found something interesting. They both come from the same Latin root – promissus which means to send forth and compromissus which means to send forth mutually  or together.

Over the last two years, watching national and world events, I have seen many examples of this, but no better examples than what we have all watched unfold in Washington D.C.

Throughout 2008, we heard a lot of promises from candidates ranging from local offices up to the highest office in the land.  But, then that is to be expected.  We as a people have come to elect people based on what they say they will do as opposed to what they have done or what they can actually do.  Seem confusing? Here is an example…

On January 11, 2009, the New York Times published a list of Candidate Obama’s Campaign Promises.  They made a truly impressive list.  Yet for the most part, the list was a list of objectives that acting alone, no U.S. President could keep.  (To be fair, if you go back to the ‘promises’ made by the other side, the list was equally impressive and if acting alone, equally unsupported.)   For the reality is, in the United States, we have a system of checks and balances between the Executive Branch, Congress, and The Judiciary.  The Legislative branch makes the law. The Executive branch executes the law. The Judicial branch interprets the law. Each branch has an effect on the other and for any campaign promise to be kept, all three must be in agreement.

To reach that agreement, there often must be concessions and compromises before we can move forward together.  It can be challenging to get TWO people to agree on a contentious issue.  Imagine how much harder it becomes when you are looking at creating consensus among one President, 100 Senators, 435 Congressional Representatives, and ultimately if needed 9 Supreme Court Justices.  Add to that truly monumental challenges like access to affordable healthcare, a less than popular war, a financial collapse, a national deficit so large that the numbers can not be conceived by the average person, and some of our largest states on the verge of financial insolvency. 

Looking at it from that perspective, does it come as a surprise that concessions and trade offs are being made to get ANYTHING accomplished? 

Over lunch with a friend last week, we were discussing what it takes to get things done.  Not just in Washington, but in our businesses and in our communities.  Often, no matter what you do, no one is completely happy with the final result.  In life, just as in Washington, there are trade offs and compromises that must often be made to that we can move forward.  In one way or another, progress comes at a price.

The true challenge, as individuals and leaders, is to have a clear understanding, BEFORE you make a promise, of what will be needed to gain consensus and to get all the support you need to make it happen.  Otherwise, instead of ending up with a sleek and agile Horse, you just may end up spending your days with a Camel!

Thanks for stopping by…Stay Tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker


Recipe for Growth – A Pound of Leadership and a Dash of Innovation

August 26, 2009

In today’s economy, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a magic recipe for growth?  Just pull out your business cook book, follow the instructions, pop it in the oven and enjoy success.  Unfortunately it’s not quite that easy.  If it was, we would all master the recipe early and reap the benefits.

j0402524[1]But in reality it is not that simple.  Business success requires a unique mix of ingredients and process that fluctuates with changes in our internal and external business environment.

I remember, when I was a kid, my Grandmother telling me, “If you want to eat, you need to learn to cook.”  Well, in the world of business – the same can be said.

Each recipe starts with a goal in mind.

You have a physical or mental picture of what your desired result will be whether it is scrambled eggs, a mushroom quiche, or chocolate chip cookies.

The second section is the list of ingredients

If I am making my favorite, warm, gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies – there are some basic foundational ingredients   – butter, sugar, flour, eggs.

I need a leavening agent like  baking soda or baking powder to make my batter rise.

Flavoring – like vanilla or almond extract

And differentiators like chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, or raisins to make my cookies stand out.

I also need to focus on the quality of my ingredients to ensure a great result.  Lot’s of people may have the same recipe – but the quality of the ingredients I use can make my cookies better than the rest.

Apply Energy

And then I need to apply just the right amount of energy to make it all blend together. Plus a different kind of energy to bake it into a finished product.

Results

Only when the cookies are out of the oven, cooled, and in my mouth will I know if I have obtained the desired results. If it’s not perfect – I can always try again.

Applying it to business.

When it comes to our businesses the processes are not that different.  We need…

A goal – that clear picture of what we are trying to achieve.

The right base ingredients – a product, a  service, a market to serve and people to do the work.

A leavening agent – No baking soda here – this the the values that you and your people employ as you follow the plan.

Flavoring – your marketing and communications strategy

Differentiators – the unique aspects or innovations that you bring to the equation and to your customers.

To Add Energy – in the right proportions at the right time – and that’s where leadership comes in.   Not enough energy and your result is half baked.  Too much and your result is burned to a crisp.

Don’t forget to focus on the quality of your ingredients to ensure a great result.  Lot’s of people may have the same recipe – but the quality of the ingredients you use can make YOUR BUSINESS better than the rest.

There is a recipe after all.

You just have to keep experimenting until you find yours.

So, what are you going to mix up and pop in the oven?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


How big of an impact can one thing make?

August 21, 2009

I remember my grandmother quoting the poem “For the Want of a Nail…” to me as a child. Her message to me – all things great and small can have tremendous impact on the success or failure of what we are trying to achieve”

For want of a nail,

V-Trak Nails 5 Citythe shoe was lost.

For want of the shoe,

the horse was lost.

For want of the horse,

the rider was lost.

For want of the rider,

the battle was lost.

For want of the battle,

the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail!”

 

Anonymous

Grandma looked at life as a series of chapters, each full of choices, opportunities, goals and challenges. When one chapter ended, another commenced. You might not have control of all the twists and turns of the plot, but you could make a huge impact on how the story turned out.

So, why write an article about business – and that’s what this is – with old proverbs and messages learned at Grandma’s knee? Because we often make business and business decisions much more complicated than they need to be!

Many of the lessons we learned early on in our lives – when things were simple – can have a significant impact on business success. Simple lessons like –

  • Look both ways…
  • Listen to your teacher
  • Look out for your brother
  • Don’t cry over spilt milk
  • You’ never know until you try
  • If you fall down – get up
  • You’ll never finish if you don’t get started.

Our lives and our businesses are made of a continuous series of little things – some that may seem important at the time but have little impact in the grand scheme and others that seem insignificant but can have a long and lasting affect. The trouble is that we lack perfect intuition or the crystal ball to determine what the important things are right now.

There may be some pretty big questions that you are be facing in your life or business in today’s economy.  It pays to keep in mind that the simplest answers are often the right ones and, as in the case of the nail, one small thing can make a big difference. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


The Economy and Your Economy

March 3, 2009

When you view the world news on The Economy, its pretty dismal as recounted in the attached report from the Associated Press.

The important thing to remember is that WE are the economy. And while the Federal Government, Wall Street, and the Big Banks clean up their act, it will be up to all of us, the entrepreneurs and small business owners to innovate, expand, create jobs, and save jobs.

As I make my way around the valley and talk to companies across the country and around the world. I am seeing some incredible things. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are creating innovative products and services – the kinds that can pull us out of this economy the old fashioned way – with American spirit and entrepreneurial ingenuity.

Here are just a few:

  • Imagine a Convenience Store open 24-7 that has when you need but is totally automated. This video shows the first one in the US. Now there are three and soon to be more. Check out Shop24 and be sure to view the video press releases. This cool technology may be coming to a corner near you some time soon!
  • How about having a guardian angel looking over your company or property with video surveillance and live reporting. That’s what Iveda Solutions is doing. Click their link and see what this cool Arizona company is up to.
  • GangPlank in Chandler in Chandler has created an incredible environment where entrepreneurs can gather for learning, support, and even locate their new business.

So don’t let all the doomsday news from The Economy keep you from being innovative, reaching out, working with others, and continuing to build up Your Economy. The opportunities are out there!


Change is what we make it.

December 4, 2008

Are you ready for Change?  2009 will be full of it.  From politicians, to business owners…  from consumers to sellers – January 2009 brings a who new year filled with opportunities.

Now is the time to take stock of what you have to work with, lay some plans, and get energized for the change you will make in 2009.  Don’t let all the negative media steal your energy.  Make your changes positive – act on your plans – find new resources – make a difference in your business, your community, your life.

Working together anything is possible and opportunites will be what we make them.