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#WorkTrends: Ageism and Its Impact on the Modern Worker


Good news for employees, but kind of concerning for employers. In the coming months, the Supreme Court could make it easier for federal employees to prove that they were discriminated against on the basis of age. I saw some fascinating research in Forbes recently that shows ageism starts as early as the age of forty-two. Forty-two?

We deal with isms today in the workplace, but we don’t tend to focus enough on ageism. Not only that, I think a lot of us don’t even know exactly what it is. Here’s what it is, a brutal truth, as our guest, Vinay Singh, says in his new book, “Your Future in Pieces. The Brutal Truth: How Ageism and Income Equality are Destroying America.”

I’m delighted to have Vinay as our guest today, he’s not only an expert on ageism, but he’s also experienced it firsthand, and alarmingly, says, “Today’s workers feel the brunt of it younger than ever.” So let’s get into the realities of ageism and how we can undo this vexing problem, remove the bias, and hopefully protect our employees. The shelf life of a robot is one thing, but the shelf life of a human is an entirely different topic.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode.      

[00:32] America is at a crossroads.
[06:42] Do you think ageism is on the rise because there’s a divide between the tech-savvy and the tech-nervous?
[07:43] Everybody is constantly using technology.
[09:14] It’s a huge impact.

It’s illegal to discriminate against people based on their age.

Most of us understand that it’s against the law to discriminate against someone based on the number of years they’ve spent on this planet, but as my guest tells us, “Here’s the brutal truth: ageism exists and we’re all feeling its impact earlier than ever. Essentially it’s one of those isms we just aren’t talking about enough.”

Vinay Singh is a human capital and workforce development strategist and advocacy professional, and author of a new book, “Your Future in Pieces. The Brutal Truth: How Ageism and Income Equality are Destroying America.” His passion comes from both his professional life and personal experience. And he’s got a lot to tell us.

America is at a crossroads today

“We’ve got four generations in the workforce and too many employers and executives who are buying into false beliefs and biases.” The data around age discrimination is alarming. Research published by Hiscox shows that 21% of US workers age forty and older have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to their age, and respondents stated they believe they’re most likely to experience it at age fifty-one. Moreover, workers over the age of forty are perceived by their younger counterparts to be resistant to change and learning new skills, difficult to manage, and don’t understand technology.

Is Ageism on the Rise Because Older People Have an Aversion to Tech?

Is there a real divide between the tech-savvy and tech-nervous? Not so, according to Singh.” “We’re all technical. We all know how to use smartphones. Grandparents know how to use technology just like young people do.”

The impact of age discrimination on the economy

The impact on the economy is vast. According to Hiscox, ageism is creating a range of hazards for employers, including discrimination lawsuits, demotivated employees, and the lost opportunity costs associated with devaluing older workers. All of this hurts the bottom line, which, in turn, hurts the economy.

A new career forged from personal experience

In my conversation with Singh, he dove into his own experience with age discrimination, which started when he was about forty-three and working in a recruiting agency. It continued when he was looking for a new position and was told repeatedly that he was overqualified. Suffice to say this is happening to thousands of others, according to Singh. The next step, naturally, was to write a book.

How to retool and reinvent yourself after age discrimination

It’s not like age discrimination is going to stop overnight. We clearly have a long way to go. So what does someone who has experienced ageism do? Singh emphasizes the value of focusing on your LinkedIn profile. “That’s the business social media. That’s where employers are going to first and foremost to hire you,” he says. “Maybe HR looks at the other things, the other social media later on, but they are looking at your LinkedIn profile.”

He also recommends using the right industry buzzwords, keywords that convey your skills, creating an obvious digital presence, a professional photo for your avatar, and a compelling image for your banner. Why the banner image? It helps draw attention to your profile and shows you’re paying attention. Singh also recommends creating a vanity URL that’s catchy and tells people what you do. His is Vinay People Strategist, by the way.

One more tip from this veteran: stay in school, get those certifications, be as multi-disciplined as possible, and try to stay cutting edge. “And always be thinking this way, “ he said. “because if you’re not, your competition is.”

Well worth a listen, no matter what your age.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Vinay Singh on Linkedin and Twitter
Vinay Singh’s new book: “Your Future in Pieces. The Brutal Truth: How Ageism and Income Equality are Destroying America.
How to reach Vinay Singh: Vinay12 at opt online dot net.

Photo by Rajshri Bharath KS on Unsplash



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The New One Minute Manager, With Ken Blanchard


Ken Blanchard conceived “The One Minute Manager” as a children’s book for managers. This was a brand new approach when it was first published in 1982, and since then the genre of the parable-based business book has grown into a hugely popular one.

The simplicity of the format matches this classic book’s simple story: a young man sets out in search of the secret of great management. He finds three: “one minute goals,” “one minute praisings,” and “one minute reprimands.”

In “The New One Minute Manager,” which was published in May 2015, the third secret has become “one minute redirects,” reflecting how management styles have evolved over the years.

In this podcast, Ken tells us about other changes to the story he made in the 2015 edition, and shares his thoughts on motivation, trust, customer service, and the future of management development.

Listen to or read the full 30-minute interview, below, then share your thoughts in the comment section, below. What impact has the original “One Minute Manager” had on your life? How do you view Ken’s current approach to goals, motivation and leadership? Join in the discussion below!


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Interview Transcript

Rachel Salaman: Welcome to this edition of L&D Insights from Mind Tools with me, Rachel Salaman. Today, I have the great pleasure of talking to a legendary leader in the field of leadership and management development, Ken Blanchard. He’s perhaps best known as the author of the classic business book “The One Minute Manager,” which has sold 15 million copies in 40 languages worldwide. He and co-author Spencer Johnson have recently revamped and re-released this book for a new generation of managers. The new version is aptly titled “The New One Minute Manager.”

Ken Blanchard joins me on the line from California. Hello Ken!

Ken Blanchard: Good, Rachel, great to be with you.

Rachel Salaman: Thank you so much for joining us today. Let’s start by talking about the original “One Minute Manager,” which is a classic that’s been on the bestseller list for years. It was first published over 30 years ago. What’s its enduring appeal, do you think?

Ken Blanchard: I think one of the things, Rachel, is it was one of the first business parables ever written. And it was interesting. Spencer Johnson was a children’s book writer. He wrote a whole series of children’s books called “Value Tales,” of the value of courage, the story of Jackie Robinson the great baseball player, the value of honesty, the story of Abe Lincoln… and it was wonderful. And I’m a storyteller, and my wife met him at a cocktail party and she carried him over and she said, “You guys ought to write a children’s book for managers; they won’t read anything else.”

So the original motivation was kind of a kids’ book. And he was working on a “one minute scolding” for disciplining kids, with a psychiatrist. And I invited him to a seminar that I was doing the next week, and he laughed at the back. And he came running up and he said, “Let’s forget parodying this – do the one minute manager!” And so we decided to do a story, and I think that’s unique. It’s a short little book and it’s about a young man searching for an effective manager. He wants to work for one, he wants to become one, and he learns the three secrets.

So I think that’s what’s unusual: that there’s three main points in the book, and it’s told in a wonderful, fun story.

Rachel Salaman: What’s different in the new version of the book, then?

Ken Blanchard: Well, I tell you, Rachel, I was working on another book at the time called “Refire! Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life,” and I thought, “Gee, maybe ‘The One Minute Manager’ needs to be refired!” And also we had never had an e-book, and they said maybe you might want to read it to see if there’s any changes.

And I hadn’t read it in years and I kind of laughed, to be honest with you, Rachel, when I read it, because so many things had changed. Like, one is technology, and he was on his intercom system and I asked the young people in our company, “Have you been using your intercom lately?!” And all the people working for him were gathered right around him, and he wasn’t managing anybody online… and also the technology has really changed, and we updated that.

Then the other thing was that in many ways the secrets are wonderful, but it was presented in kind of a command and control strategy, which is really what the 80s were in terms of leadership. He set the goals, he decided who to praise, he decided who to reprimand. So, today, we think that leadership is much more of a side-by-side relationship, a partnership relationship, so we really made some major changes in the tone of the book.

And then one of the biggest changes, we changed the one minute reprimand to one minute redirect, because reprimand is kind of parental, and redirect is the same thing but it’s a better term and a better style. So those are really the changes that I think people really get into, and I think the young people today will really be able to relate to it.

Rachel Salaman: Let’s talk about the content in a little bit more detail now. The first of the three secrets that the book is built around is “one minute goals” and it’s still there in the new edition. How have you seen approaches to this change over the decades?

Ken Blanchard: I think the biggest change is that, with goal-setting, it’s much more collaborative. In the past, I think managers used to give people their goals, and now they reach them together. And one of the things that we’ve found in our work about motivation is that, if somebody is given a goal that’s not very motivating to them, it’s probably not a good goal, that you might want to see what could be done to motivate them, or maybe that goal ought to be given to someone else.

But the fact that goals are still there is so important because all good performance starts with clear goals. If people aren’t clear of what they’re being asked to do, there’s very little chance that they’ll get to do it. And all the goals have to be observable and measurable. We’ve said for years, Rachel, that if you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it, so you want to make sure that your goals are observable and measurable, so you and the people working for you both can observe and see where they’re making progress.

Rachel Salaman: And the “one minute praisings,” which is the second of the three secrets, they’ve also stood the test of time; they’re in the latest edition. How important are these as a development tool?

Ken Blanchard: Well I’ll tell you, Rachel, people have said to me, “Ken, if we took everything away that you’ve taught over the years, what’s the one thing, what would you hold onto?” and I think it’s this second secret. I think if you want to have a great relationship at home, at work and in the community, you need to accent the positive and catch people doing things right.

And I think it’s all about creating an environment where you really care about people. And if their goals are observable and measurable, and you don’t have to wait until the goal is completed before you can give any praising, you can praise progress. It’s really important to catch people doing things right, approximately right, in the beginning, as they’re journeying towards completely right.

Take marriage: when people fall in love, everything is great and you’re catching each other doing things right. And then you move in with somebody and you say, “What is that? You’ve got to be kidding!” and then all of a sudden you start catching each other doing things wrong. People ask me, “How do I turn around a bad relationship at home or at work?” Well, you need to start accenting the positive and see if you can catch the people doing something right, and give them an “at a boy!” or an “at a girl!”

Rachel Salaman: So thinking in terms of what L&D professionals can do with all this advice, what’s the best way for L&D professionals to use this particular secret?

Ken Blanchard: I think L&D folks need to first make sure that when they’re training people and all that, that there’s ways for they and the people they’re training to know whether they’re doing what they’ve been trained to. How can you catch them doing things right? So make sure it’s observable and measurable.

One of the things that needs to be done… so often after training, we end up going to a delegated leadership style and get onto the next program, then we forget about the people who just went through it. I think one of the most powerful things is what are you doing to follow up training with people.

And part of that following up is to observe how they’re doing, catch them doing something right, cheering them on. Because what often happens with people, they go through training and they get back to work and nobody seems to care about what they’ve been through or even want to know about it, and after a while they go back to their old behavior

So if you want people to implement what you’re training them to do, the follow up is just as important as the training, if not more important. And a key part of follow up is cheering people on as they’re implementing and trying new things that you’ve been training them in.

Rachel Salaman: And it’s a nice simple way of remembering, isn’t it, just to think of the one minute praising? It’s not too complicated, most people can remember that.

Ken Blanchard: Yes, and you know it doesn’t take a long period of time to say to somebody, “Hey, I’ve heard about what you’ve been doing and, boy!, your people are so pleased how clear you are now on setting goals with them, and they just really appreciate that.” It doesn’t take very long just to say “I noticed.”

Rachel Salaman: As you mentioned, one of the biggest differences between the original “One Minute Manager” and the new edition is the third of the three secrets, “one minute redirects” which replaces the original “one minute reprimands.” And as you mentioned, it reflects a trend away from reprimanding people – can you talk a little bit about that trend?

Redirection is very important because if you have observable, measurable goals, and if they’re progressing you can praise them and cheer them on. If they don’t seem to be progressing then what you need to do is go to them and say to them, “Let me tell you what I’ve been noticing about your performance, I wonder if you’re noticing the same thing?” So you don’t come in and slam them, you say “Here’s what I’m noticing.”

And people will know when they’re performing well and when they’re not performing well, and they say, “No, I’m having a bit of trouble with this.” Then the next question is, “How can we get you back on track, what can I do to help?” And so redirection is not a punishing thing, it’s just saying, “I noticed that performances are not going in the direction that we’d agreed upon: what can we do to get you back on track so you can accomplish that particular goal?”

Rachel Salaman: Do you think that, over the years, reprimanding people has become unacceptable?

Ken Blanchard: Well I think people don’t like that kind of term, and they don’t like that you’re the one that’s saying I observed this and here’s how I feel and you go through the whole steps, rather than it being a participative kind of thing. But the same thing is happening, that you’re getting them back on track, but you’re doing it in much more of a collaborative partnership role than a superior:subordinate.

These younger people say to me, “You’ve got to be kidding, Ken! You used to call people superiors, and the people that worked for them subordinates? The head of the department and the hired hands – we didn’t even give them a head!?” When you really think of some of that language you can see where they would really laugh and say you guys have got to be kidding.

Rachel Salaman: A kind of connected idea here: how important do you think trust is in leadership and management development?

Ken Blanchard: Trust is really a very important thing. In fact we wrote a book called “Trust Works.” One of our people developed a whole model around trust. She studied and asked people what does it mean to trust people, and people had a lot of different definitions, and she came up with what she called the A, B, C, D concept of trust. Her name is Cindy Olmstead, and I wrote the book with her.

And so the four ways that you talk to people about trust… A is Ability, which is, do you trust that they have the skills to do the job that they’ve been assigned, and if they don’t, in terms of situational leadership, well you’ve got to change your leadership style.

Another area of trust is Believability: do you say one thing and do something else? “My door is always open, come and see me!”and you’ve got to go through three secretaries and all that kind of thing to get a meeting with you. Then C stands for Connectedness, which is, do you feel an emotional connectedness with a person? We tend to trust people that we feel positive and good emotions towards.

Then finally D is Dependable. If the person says they’re going to do something, do they follow it through? And we have an instrument that people can fill out and say where are you on the scale, so I had the people that work with me fill it out and the one that I had the lowest scores, that they’re all working with me on, is dependability, because I don’t say “no” very well. I’m a high “I” on the DISC model and I want everybody to be pleased, and so sometimes I say “yes” too much.

And so now, when people ask me for my card, I give them my card, but it’s my executive secretary’s card – haha! – so they have to call her first, to know what I might have promised. So what’s interesting is that, if you can see where you might be falling down, then you can get a strategy to improve that. And so I think trust is very important.

Rachel Salaman: And one of the messages of the new book is that people can develop themselves to a large extent, and you touched on that a bit earlier. Could you talk about what you’ve observed in this respect?

Ken Blanchard: I think people… We’ve been doing a lot of work on employee work passion, engagement and optimal performance, and what we find is (we’ve actually developed a little model called ARC), is that people want a sense of Autonomy now.

I think people in the past have had the capabilities to develop themselves, but weren’t given that opportunity. And now since people have that as an important part, they want to work with a boss who will help them, over time, get to the point where they can be delegated to in most of their tasks.

So that’s autonomy, they still want to have a Relationship with their boss and their co-workers, so they don’t want you just to disappear per se – they’d love for you to wander around once in a while, maybe catching you doing something right even though they’re developing themselves.

Then C stands for Confidence which ties in, I think, with autonomy because they want to grow in their confidence. I think that this is really great, to see people who really do want to be able to run with the ball. But that’s where I think our work in situational leadership comes along because you don’t want to delegate too quickly to somebody if they’re not ready, if they don’t have the confidence or the commitment to operate on their own.

So you’re gradually over time moving from a directive, to a coaching, to a supporting style on each of their goals, as you try to turn over more responsibility for their own development. I think it’s exciting to see it happen.

Rachel Salaman: For people who aren’t familiar with your theory of situational leadership, could you just explain the basics of it?

Ken Blanchard: It basically says that there is no one best leadership style. But we say you not only need “different strokes for different folks,” you need different strokes for the same folks at different parts of the job.

So if you were working with me, Rachel, and say you had four or five goals, you might have one goal, (but you’re an enthusiastic beginner,) you’ve never had that goal before, but you’re excited about it. Well you need initially some direction and some close supervision. You might have another goal, that you know more about it than I do, and you’re a self-directed achiever, and I could just leave you alone. Then you might have a couple of goals that are in between.

After enthusiastic beginner, we call them a disillusioned learner, which is sometimes you get excited about a goal and after a while you realize this is a lot tougher than I thought and now you not only need direction, you need support, so you need a coaching leadership style. Then sometimes you have the skills to do something, but you lack the confidence about doing it on your own, so you just need basically a supportive leadership style.

So what you’re doing is looking at goals and, together with your people, you’re analyzing what is their development level on each of their goals and what is the initial leadership style that would be good to start with. And then you hope, over time you can move your style so eventually you can delegate as many of the responsibilities as possible.

Rachel Salaman: Do you see “The New One Minute Manager,” your revamped book, fitting into someone using situational leadership?

Ken Blanchard: Yes, because what you’re doing is, suppose you have a goal that you’re an enthusiastic beginner and I’m working with you very closely, and I say, “Okay, let me see you do this,” and I observe you and I praise your progress. But if I observe you and you don’t make the progress, then I go to a redirection.

So we have a curve going through the four styles, because the two dimensions are the vertical dimension is supportive behavior and the horizontal is directive behavior, and there’s a curve that goes through those four styles. And as you’re moving from directing, up to coaching, you’re delegating and observing and praising progress as over time you’re moving up there.

Then eventually as you move over towards a supporting style three, the curve starts moving down because now you’re not only cutting back on the amount of direction you provide, you’re cutting back on the amount of support you provide, because when you get the delegation you hope that people are providing their own direction and their own support. The directing and supporting really drives the whole developmental process.

Rachel Salaman: So in what practical ways do you envisage L&D professionals using your new book?

Ken Blanchard: I think it’s just a wonderful book to share with people on the basics of leadership. We’re developing a first-time managers’ program around the new book because… in the beginning, if people just understood that… we think that the three secrets, goal setting, praising and redirections, is the 20 percent that would give you the 80 percent as a manager. And so if they’re training managers to be good managers, then it’s a good foundation.

And one of the things that we believe in training is that you don’t want to do things to people, you want to do with them. And so what we encourage people is, if they’ve been trained on the three secrets of “The One Minute Manager,” is that they actually then go back with their people and share the three secrets with them. And so one of the reasons why the book sold 15 million copies is that managers would get it and they’d say wow, this is really powerful and then they’d share it with their people, because they’d say, “I just want you to know how I’d like to operate, does this make sense to you?”

I had a young man come up to me the other day. He said, “My father gave me ‘The One Minute Manager’ in my first job, and his father gave it him on his first job,” so I’m working on the third and fourth generation now of that. So it’s a wonderful pass along through people, but it’s a foundational piece to build a lot of other kinds of training, around listening and around performance management, and all kinds of other things.

Rachel Salaman: You mentioned a bit earlier that you’ve done a lot of work on employee motivation and that includes your 2011 book “Gung Ho.” More recently your company published research on optimal motivation, what were the key findings of that?

Ken Blanchard: One of the key findings that Susan Fowler who has written and done most of the research with Dreyer Zagami, is that you really can’t motivate people: people are motivated! But what you can do is create an environment that their motivation can come out of them, so that they get excited about working on organizational goals and all that kind of thing. But you can’t say, “I’m just going to motivate this person.” A lot of times we think that it’s up to us to motivate people – people are motivated, it’s up to you to create an environment that unleashes that motivation for positive results, and I think that’s a big learning.

So the skill that we’re trying to train managers, is to look at what are you doing with the culture, what are you doing in the environment to create a place where people are really excited to learn And one of them could be, when you start to sit down and you set goals, you want to do it with them.

If somebody says, “I’m not really too excited about this goal,” then the question is, “What can we do to make that an exciting goal, is there anything I could do?” And maybe, if there’s not, well then maybe you might want to give that goal to someone else.

But it’s that whole concept of much more collaboration and side-by-side leadership that says it’s our job to create the environment. People are motivated, we just need to bring that motivation. I’ve never seen a person for example unmotivated after work – hahaha! – a lot of people are unmotivated at work, but after work a lot of people say, “Thank God it’s Friday!” And why? Because now they can do things that they’re excited about. So how do you create an environment that they’re excited about Monday, and coming to work, and working on an organizational goal?

Rachel Salaman: Thinking about ways that leaders can tap into that motivation, (you’ve already mentioned one way, identifying goals that people are excited about,) are there other ways that they can do it?

Ken Blanchard: I think just by talking to people and getting to know your people, it’s really interesting that… I wrote a book with the President of South West Airlines, they’re such an amazing organization, but one of the big things about them is they want people to relate to other people. The Head of HRD for example, a lot of times when he’ll sit down and interview somebody, he will say to them, “Tell me what’s the biggest span of control you ever had.” And so people will think, “Ah, I’m going to impress him, I had 10 or 15 people,” or whatever, and he’ll say, “Tell me the names of all of them,” and that gets to them! “Take Alice, who you mentioned – what was really important about her life when she was working for you?”

I think that’s what really creates a motivating environment, it’s that people want to be known, that is really important, Patrick Lencioni wrote a book about miserable jobs, and one of the big problems in having a miserable job is that you’re not known. Nobody cares much about who you are, or your family, or anything that’s happening in your life. And people want to be known, and I think if they get to be known then they get excited: “People care about me here, so I’m going to care about them and I’m going to care about the organization.”

Rachel Salaman: Another topic that you’ve researched in depth is treating customers right, your book “Raving Fans” offers some advice for this. Why did you choose to focus on that?

Ken Blanchard: Because people were telling us what lousy service they were getting. You’d go in the stores and you had to have a minor heart attack before anybody would show any interest in you! And yet the organizations that really took care of customers were beating the competition. You just look at the leaders in different fields, whether you’re talking about Nordstrom’s in retail, or Disney in entertainment, or Wegmans in grocery, or South West in the airlines.

So Sheldon Bowles was in Canada… he was a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and he had an interesting experience in the 1970s, when everybody was going to self-service gasoline. And he thought, “What a great time to create a full-service gasoline because there will be no competition!” And he asked people, “If you didn’t have to go to a gas station would you?” And of course not, “Well what would you like there?” “We’d like to get our gas quickly and the cheapest price possible within a friendly environment.”

So he created a series of gas stations where he’d dress people up in red jumpsuits and they acted like a pit stop in the Indianapolis 500. So you’d drive in and three people would race towards your car, one under the hood, somebody pumping gas, somebody giving you a newspaper and a cup of coffee and ask you to step outside so they could dust bust your car – and they just killed the competition.

And so “Raving Fans” is all about how can you treat your customers so they want to brag about you, so they become part of your salesforce. And that book has just soared over the years and people are slowly starting to get it.

Rachel Salaman: So how can L&D professionals play their part in improving customer relationships?

Ken Blanchard: I think it needs to be part of the vision of the organization. And I think they can be really important cheerleaders for developing a customer service culture that creates raving fans – and we have a new book out called “Legendary Service” and it’s all about caring. It’s showing your customers that you really care about them.

And the L&D people ought to be key cheerleaders of that, and actually training people in customer service, teaching them to listen to the customers. And if the customer wants something how do you say, “No problem! I’ll get back to you,” rather than quacking like a duck. “Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, it’s our policy, quack, quack, I just work here, quack, quack, I didn’t make the rules, quack, quack…” and how do you get your people to be eagles when they’re dealing with customers?

You have to remember that customer service isn’t just external, it’s internal. Some of the worst customer service is internally. You call the accounting department and try to get a report – man, you got the ducks quacking like crazy about all the reasons why you can’t have that report. And so how do you serve each other internally as well as externally?

Rachel Salaman: Stepping back a bit now, where do you see leadership and management development going in the future?

Ken Blanchard: I’m really convinced that the number one way to train people, and to have people be as leaders, is servant leaders. And when I mention that, a lot of times people think I’m talking about the inmates running the prison or trying to please everybody, but there’s two parts of servant leadership.

One is the leadership part of servant leadership, which has to do with vision and direction and goals, because leadership is about going somewheres. And that is the responsibility of the hierarchy to make sure that everybody is clear what business you’re in, what you’re trying to accomplish, what are your values that should guide your journey, what the initiatives and what the goals are. Then once those are set, now you go to the servant part of the servant leadership and you turn the pyramid upside down and now your job is to work for them. And that’s where you can praise progress and cheer them on and redirect them, because you’re working for them.

Rachel Salaman: Do you see servant leadership as perhaps fitting into situational leadership? Can it be one of those types of leadership that people turn to?

Ken Blanchard: Yes, situational leadership is a servant leadership model, because if you don’t start off with clear goals, (which is the leadership part of servant leadership,) you can’t be a situational leader. But once the goals are set and you’ve analyzed development level and determined the leadership style, that all happens in performance planning, now your job is to deliver the leadership style that you’ve promised.

You know one of the questions that I always get (and since your audience is so broad,) is that, “Do these concepts really apply around the world?” and what we’ve found is that they do. Obviously you have to adapt them into your cultural way of doing things, and praising in one culture might be a little different in the other, but the concept of catching people doing things right applies no matter what the culture is.

And redirecting people might change with different styles and different cultures, but again the idea of observing people’s performance and when it’s not heading in the direction you want, how do you get them back on line. We found the same way with situational leadership, that people all over the world use it, and they obviously use it and tie it into their particular cultural way of doing things.

Rachel Salaman: Ken Blanchard, thank you very much for joining us today.

Ken Blanchard: It’s great to be with you, and all the best to you. And I’m excited about “The New One Minute Manager.” I think it’s just going to help a whole new generation of people to just get the basics of managing people, so that they can create great results and great human satisfaction – because that’s what it’s all about.



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Unlocking opportunities in the next frontier of IoT – The Official Microsoft Blog


We live in an increasingly connected world. I commute to work in a connected car, one that gets over-the-air updates with new experiences. I’m connected to my work and personal life in real time with my smartphone and laptop. And I work in a connected office, one that knows how to automatically save energy and ensure security. From the moment I woke up today, I was immersed in an IoT world.

And so were you.

We are surrounded by connected devices, all of them collecting and transmitting vast amounts of information. That makes a seamless, smart and secure Internet of Things (IoT) important to us all.

This week at IoT Solutions World Congress we are announcing new capabilities that further simplify the customer journey and deliver highly secured IoT solutions. These solutions help customers embrace IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, improve safety and address social issues, such as:

  • Predicting and preventing equipment failures
  • Optimizing smart buildings for space utilization and energy management
  • Improving patient outcomes and worker safety
  • Tracking assets across a supply chain that is constantly being optimized

IDC expects that 41.6 billion devices — including smartphones, smart home assistants and appliances — will be connected to the internet by 2025[1].

At Microsoft, we are committed to providing a trusted, easy-to-use platform that allows our customers and partners to build seamless, smart and secure solutions regardless of where they are in their IoT journey.

Making IoT seamless: Delivering new IoT innovations from cloud to edge

In 2018, we  announced our commitment to invest $5 billion in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity for transformation across industries. Since then, we have launched more than 100 new services and features in our IoT platform designed to make IoT solutions more secure and scalable, reduce complexity, make our platform more open and create opportunities in new market areas.

Azure IoT Central, our IoT app platform, reduces the burden and costs associated with developing, managing and maintaining enterprise-grade IoT solutions. With IoT Central you can provision an IoT application in 15 seconds, customize it in an hour and go to production the same day.

And today, we are excited to announce a set of breakthrough features to help solution builders accelerate time-to-value:

  • 11 new industry-focused application templates to accelerate solution builders across retail, health care, government and energy
  • API support for extending IoT Central or integrating it with other solutions, including API support for device modeling, provisioning, lifecycle management, operations and data querying
  • IoT Edge support, including management for edge devices and IoT Edge module deployments
  • IoT plug-and-play support for rapid device development and connectivity
  • The ability to save and load applications to enable application repeatability
  • More data export options for continually exporting data to other Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) services
  • Multitenancy support to build and manage a single application with multiple tenants, each with their own isolated data, devices, users and roles
  • Custom user roles for fine-grained access control to data, actions and configurations in the system
  • A new pricing model for early 2020 to provide customers and partners with predictable pricing as usage scales

A variety of partners are already using IoT Central to transform their industries. For example, C.H. Robinson, a Fortune 500 provider of multimodal transportation services and third-party logistics, is using Intel intelligent gateways and IoT tags managed by IoT Central, allowing it to quickly integrate IoT data and insights into its industry-leading Navisphere Vision product. Key retailers are using Navisphere, including Microsoft’s own supply-chain teams who are optimizing logistics and costs as we prepare to deliver Surface and Xbox products for the holidays.

Read more on our IoT Central blog about how partners are leveraging IoT Central to transform their businesses and their industries.

Making IoT smarter

Azure IoT Hub is the core of our Azure IoT platform services. It is used by IoT Central and acts as a powerful cloud gateway, enabling bidirectional communication with millions of IoT devices. We are excited to announce new features that will make IoT solutions using IoT Hub even smarter:

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, is using IoT Hub to move over 12 million containers a year all over the globe. “With Azure IoT Hub, we have seamless two-way communication between our IoT platform and devices,” says Siddhartha Kulkarni, digital solutions enabler, A.P. Moller – Maersk. “The ability to send commands from within Azure IoT Hub makes it a command and control system and not just a data ingestion system. Being able to set up Azure IoT Hub globally in different locations and regionalize data ingestion opens up many future options for us.” Read the Maersk customer story here.

And Danfoss, a Danish company that creates products and provides services used to cool food, heat and air condition buildings and more, is using Azure IoT Hub to build IoT solutions with reliable and secure communications between its IoT devices for refrigerators and an Azure-hosted solution backend.

Azure Maps inherits the goodness of Azure — including global scalability, robust security and data sovereignty — and provides location intelligence to IoT applications with mapping and geospatial services to drive insights and action.

For 12 consecutive years, Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a leader in analytics and business intelligence. With integration into Power BI, Azure Maps now enables Power BI users to easily perform Geospatial Analytics, enabling customers to build out Azure Maps solutions that don’t require developer resources. And to provide world-class security, protection and compliance to government customers, Azure Maps is now available on Government Cloud.

And now, in partnership with AccuWeather, Azure Maps customers can add geospatial weather intelligence into their applications to enable weather-based scenarios, such as routing, targeted marketing and operations optimization. “This is a game changer,” says Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder and CEO. “AccuWeather’s partnership with Microsoft gives all Azure Maps customers the ability to easily integrate authentic and highly accurate weather-based location intelligence and routing into their applications. This opens up new opportunities for organizations large and small to benefit from our superior weather data based on their unique needs.”

Azure Time Series Insights provides a turnkey, end-to-end IoT analytics solution with rich semantic modeling for contextualization of time series data, asset-based insights, and a best-in-class user experience for discovery, trending, anomaly detection and operational intelligence. It is purpose-built for IoT scale data, allowing customers to focus on their businesses without having to worry about manageability of their infrastructure, regional availability or disaster recovery. We are excited to announce the new capabilities, releasing soon:

  • Multilayered storage that provides the best of both worlds: lightning-fast access to frequently used data (“warm data”) and fast access to infrequently used historical data (“cold data”)
  • Flexible cold storage: Historical data is stored in the customer’s own Azure Storage account, giving them complete control of their IoT data. Data is stored in open source Apache Parquet format, enabling predictive analytics, machine learning, and other custom computations using familiar technologies including Spark, Databricks and Jupyter
  • Rich analytics: Rich query APIs and user experience supported interpolation, new scalar and aggregate functions, categorical variables, scatter plots and time shifting between time series signals for in-depth analysis
  • Enterprise-grade scale: Scale and performance improvements at all layers, including ingestion, storage, query and metadata/model
  • Extensibility and integration: New Time Series Insights Power BI connector allows customers to take queries from Time Series Insights into Power BI to get a unified view in a single pane of glass

Through our Express Logic acquisition, Azure RTOS (real-time operating system) continues to enable new intelligent capabilities. It unlocks access to billions of new connected endpoints and grows the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure. Renesas is a top MCU (MicroController Unit) manufacturer who shares our vision of making IoT development as easy and seamless as possible and we are excited to announce that Azure RTOS will be broadly available across Renesas’s products including the Synergy and RA MCU families. It is already integrated into the Renesas Synergy Software Package and will be integrated out-of-box with the Renesas RA Flexible Software Package).

Making IoT more secure, from cloud to edge

Enabling a future of intelligent and secure computing at the edge for organizations, enterprises and consumers will require advances in computer architecture down to the chip level, with security built in from the beginning. Microsoft is taking a holistic approach to securing the intelligent edge and IoT from the silicon to the cloud in a way that gives customers flexibility and control.

Azure Sphere is quickly becoming the solution of choice for customers across industries — including Starbucks, Gojo and Leoni — as they look to securely connect existing mission-critical equipment and develop net-new devices and equipment with security built in. Today we are excited to announce the upcoming general availability of Azure Sphere in February 2020. Read more about the upcoming Azure Sphere general availability on the Microsoft Security blog.

Our mission is to set a new standard for IoT security that makes it easier to securely connect existing equipment and create new devices with built-in security. In April 2018, we introduced Azure Sphere as an end-to-end solution that includes an Azure Sphere-certified chip, the Azure Sphere Operating System and the Azure Sphere Security Service. The solution is designed to make it easy for manufacturers to create innately secure devices and keep those devices up-to-date over time with over a decade of security and OS updates delivered directly to each device by Microsoft.

Since we first introduced Azure Sphere, we’ve made tremendous progress delivering on our ambitious product vision, investing in partnerships and capabilities that help us serve customers wherever they are in their IoT journey. This includes our partnerships with silicon leaders to enable heterogeneity at the edge; our longstanding partnership with MediaTek, and our recent partnership announcements with NXP and Qualcomm, which will introduce the first cellular-enabled Azure Sphere-certified chip.

Discover how to unlock your own IoT opportunities

We have a number of ways to learn more, no matter what your goals are and where you are on your IoT journey.

  • Come see us at IoT Solutions World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Oct. 29–31, 2019. We will be bringing IoT solutions to life in our booth (#D411), across various industries and scenarios:
    • IoT at Home, featuring ABB & EnOcean
    • IoT on My Commute, featuring Dover Oil & Accenture
    • IoT in the Office, featuring Bosch & Edge
    • IoT in Store, featuring Codit & Cognizant
    • IoT for a Drink, featuring Celli Group
    • IoT in the Factory, featuring Softing & PTC
  • You can also catch my keynote on Tuesday, Oct. 29, Unlocking the Next Frontier of the Internet of Things.

IoT has already revolutionized our lives by transforming everyday devices into an incredible connected universe. The question now is, are you ready for what’s next?

[1] Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast, 2019–2023, Doc # US45066919, May 2019

 

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How HR Can Help Organizations Handle the Unthinkable


A natural disaster. An active shooter. A turbulent political situation in a foreign country where your organization does business. No crisis is exactly alike, but leadership is always crucial to guiding an organization through the unthinkable or unimaginable.

So how can we prepare for the unknown? This week we speak with Eric McNulty, co-author of “You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most,” on the steps we can take to help organizations weather whatever crisis that may arise.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

How HR Can Lead the Way

HR’s role has expanded within organizations over the past two decades. But when it comes to preparing for and leading during a crisis, HR has a critical role to play, McNulty says. “People are the center of any crisis,” he says. “So HR has a natural role.”

McNulty advises HR to make connections with those who would be involved with issues that may arise in a crisis. “They need to become very good friends with their counterparts in safety, security, health safety and environment, and whatever the business continuity and safety function is in the organization,” he says. “They should be linked at the hip.” As part of these partnerships, HR can work to allocate time to the resources organizations need to be prepared — whether it’s drills, classroom training or other exercises.

HR can also help organizations think through the implications of different scenarios. McNulty uses the example of an organization in a community that had an active shooter event. An employee of the organization was injured, but he was a new employee and hadn’t yet qualified for the company’s insurance plan. Led by HR, the company found a way to contribute to the employee’s family through a donation, alleviating the cost of the employee’s medical care without having to change its broader health insurance policies for new employees. This experience and strategic thinking is necessary, McNulty says, as companies prepare for the worst.

What You Can Do to Build Your Skills

But beyond the organizational level, we all have an individual responsibility to prepare our own selves for crisis leadership. Turbulent times, it seems, have become the new normal. “I think we are in for a sustained period of turbulence,” McNulty says.

He says the best thing we can do individually is to work on our emotional intelligence and our ability to make decisions quickly. “It’s actually not a different set of skills,” he says. “It’s being able to take your skills to a different level.” These are skills we can work on every day. For example, the next time you think about avoiding a difficult conversation, don’t. Have the conversation. It will be awkward, but it will help you become a better decision-maker over time.

Also, use the power of your imagination. The next time you read about a terrible event, think about what would happen if it took place in your own life or organization. What are the warning signs you might have missed? As difficult as the exercise may sound, it can go a long way toward preventing other crises — or mitigating the effects of one. “By getting ready, you’ll do better every single day,” McNulty says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode



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L&D Blog » 10 Things Managers Should Never Say… and What to Say Instead


We all make mistakes. Sometimes we say things in the heat of the moment that we immediately regret. But for managers, off-the-cuff comments to an employee can cause irreparable damage. From demotivation to resentment, guilt to open conflict; one ill-thought remark could go so far as to damage your entire organization.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”  

Doug Conant, American businessman 

Some things are non-negotiable: managers shouldn’t engage in gossip, make threats, hurl insults, or banter inappropriately with employees. But innocuous remarks can cause more harm than we realize: a 2015 Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager.

Unfortunately, everyone has bad days, and it can be easy to lash out when work is getting on top of you. That’s why the best leaders always think before they speak. After all, as American author and businessman, Stephen Covey, said, “Leadership is a choice, not a position.”

Managers are there to be supportive and encourage growth in their employees, through nurturing talent and building strengths to everyone’s advantage.  

You need employees to feel appreciated and valuable. Patience, understanding and focus are therefore key attributes for managers to demonstrate.

As an organization, encourage managers to abandon their verbal “auto-replies.” Instead, teach them to use their words wisely by following these 10 tips.

1. Don’t Say, “I Don’t Have the Time.” Say, “Can We Book Some Time to Discuss This Later?” 

Saying that you don’t have time for your employees suggests that they aren’t important enough. You’ll fill them with insecurities and drag down their motivation and performance. If it’s an employee’s issue, then it’s yours, too. As a manager, there’s nothing more important than the well-being of your team.  

Plus, it might have taken a lot of effort for your team member to come to you in the first place. I know I once spent mornings rehearsing a difficult conversation in the bathroom mirror and in my car en-route to the office, only to be shot down painfully with, “Send me an email.”

It’s in everyone’s best interests to try to resolve problems swiftly and compassionately. Gallup found that the employees who have some form of daily communication with their managers exhibit the highest engagement levels.

As American entrepreneur, Sam Walton, said, “The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.”  

2. Don’t Say, “Leave It at the Door.” Say, “Would You Like to Talk About What’s on Your Mind?” 

We’re all people, not robots. Personal problems – and mental health – have a huge impact on employees at work. It’s much healthier to work through these issues than to shut them away in a box and pretend that they’re not happening. When has that ever made anything better, or go away?  

Everyone needs support sometimes. A 2018 State of the Workplace study by Businessolver found that 96 percent of employees believe that showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention. The 2019 study also revealed a startling disconnect – while 92 percent of CEOs feel their organization is empathic, only 72 percent of their employees agree.

In the words of former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

Be the sort of boss you would want to have. You may end up helping someone through a bad situation, like my friend, Joe. A young woman in his team was becoming easily upset and frustrated at work. Inviting her to talk in the coffee-room led her to open up about depression, and eventually seek counselling.

A word of warning, however – be cautious of oversharing. As a manager, you must still maintain boundaries. 

3. Don’t Say, “You Have Big Shoes to Fill!” Say, “We’re Excited to See What You Bring to the Role.” 

I’ve heard this at the start of nearly every new role and seen its effect on others. It’s always said in jest, but it’s more demoralizing and intimidating than it is motivating. It can instil a sense of pressure and self-doubt. Not a nice feeling on day one of a new job!

Each new employee is hired based on their own potential – no one wants to be considered as a replica of their predecessor.

4. Don’t Say, “Good Job Today.” Say, “How Did You Get on With [X] Today?” 

All praise is positive, right? Well, not if it sounds generic and insincere – it can actually have the opposite effect on an employee. Praise is only effective if it aids a person’s growth.  

Global studies show that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs do so because of a “lack of appreciation.” So, be specific and constructive with feedback; tailor it to individuals and their achievements, so that they’ll apply the same efforts elsewhere in their work.

A few thoughtful words can make someone feel like they’re walking on a cloud and provide a new-found burst of pride and energy.

It’s always best to check in with team members to gauge how they feel about their accomplishments. They may have done a great job at holding a campaign together, but they could now be suffering from burnout as a result. Never assume that you know how an employee is feeling and always provide an opportunity for them to “offload.”

5. Don’t Say, “I’m Not Paying You So That I Can Do Your Job for You.” Say, “How I Can Support You?” 

We can all feel overwhelmed and out of our comfort zone at times. Perhaps a task has revealed a need for some additional training? Managers should deal with this in a supportive and constructive way. Putting in additional effort now will enable you to build a more confident, proficient and skilled team.  

Gallup found that 67 percent of employees felt more engaged when their managers focused on their strengths, compared with only 31 percent whose managers focused on their weaknesses. What’s more, a Zenger Folkman study of 35,279 leaders found that better coaches saw over three times as many employees willing to go the extra mile. And that only 22 percent thought about quitting, compared to 60 percent under bad coaches. 

6. Don’t Say, “Why Did/ Didn’t You Do It Like This?” Say, “How Can We Do This Differently Next Time?” 

American industrialist, Henry Ford, put it best when he wisely said, “Don’t find the fault; find the remedy.” I once witnessed my colleague Steph be brought to tears as her manager berated her loudly in an open plan office.

Steph was inexperienced, had asked for support that she never received, and consequently messed up badly on a huge email blast. She was still learning, but her manager’s reaction made Steph doubt her potential to the point that she quit the company and changed career paths.  

Even if someone is to blame, anger and finger-pointing are not the answer. Playing the blame game makes people feel beaten-down, and emotional. Focus on facts, not feelings, and approach difficult feedback from a constructive standpoint. Don’t make employees feel like naughty children.  

Also, the word “why” can feel challenging and demotivating, and can put recipients on the defensive. Instead, offer guidance and assistance. A U.K. waiter and his employer recently went viral after accidentally giving away a £4,500 bottle of wine to a customer. The company tweeted, “One-off mistakes happen, and we love you anyway!” 

Top Tip: If you think you’ve said something you shouldn’t have, don’t just push it out of your mind. Assess whether you need to address it, apologize for your mistake, and explain what you should have said instead. It will calm emotions and show your growth and caring nature as a manager. 

7. Don’t Say, “No One Else Has a Problem With It.” Say, “Shall We Discuss What’s Not Working for You?” 

Perhaps it’s simply that no one else ever had the courage to bring it up. Good managers don’t tell their employees how they should and shouldn’t feel. Instead of acting defensively to complaints or concerns, view them as a clear warning sign that someone needs your help. If performance is an issue, then it’s yours to help resolve.  

Or maybe it’s just a case of training and support. The Association for Talent Development found that 80 percent of employees who receive coaching say that it positively impacts their work performance, productivity, communication skills, and wellbeing. The best managers seek feedback and input from their teams. Responding compassionately builds trust and means employees will feel more confident about opening up to you. 

8. Don’t Say, “Failure Is Not an Option.” Say, “What’s Our Plan B?” 

Abandon any aggressive sports metaphors when communicating expectations or delivering bad news. Often, they are less motivational and helpful than you might think, and can stir insecurity or resentment in your team.

“Management is nothing more than motivating other people,” says American Executive, Lee Iacocca. So, make your team members feel valued by inviting them to discuss creative, alternative solutions that can act as a safety net. And you never know, you might just strike gold – great ideas don’t only come from the boardroom, after all. 

9. Don’t Say, “I Hate This Job / Client / Co-Worker.” Say, “What Do We Think Makes [X] So Challenging?

Your words have consequences. A throwaway comment may seem harmless, but it could come back to haunt you later. During a particularly stressful week, my friend, Marissa, was going above and beyond the call of duty because she loved the company and challenging herself. But when her boss, Graham, breezed past her desk and said, “I wish I had your job instead; it’d be so much easier”, it crushed her spirit

Whatever you do, don’t be like my old manager. He used to say how much he hated his job, as a way to bond with employees. But this attitude didn’t inspire any confidence or respect and “poisoned the well” for everyone. It also backfired on him, when he was quoted by an employee to the very boss he’d moaned about.

10. Don’t Say, “I Don’t Want Questions; I Just Want It Done,” or, “It’s Always Been Done This Way.” Say, “How Else Could We Approach This?” 

Asking questions clarifies understanding, and proposing new ideas shows that employees are engaged and want to feel involved. Excluding them indicates that you don’t respect or value their opinions. This can be particularly hurtful if they are the ones on the front line every day, keeping the company running. 

Don’t be a “My way or the highway” sort of manager. Change is not something to resist or be frightened of. We should always be striving for continuous improvement. So, a truly great company and its managers seek input from people at all levels. A 2017 Salesforce survey of 1,514 U.S. workers found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to deliver their best work.

“What helps people, helps business.” 

Leo Burnett, American advertising executive

By keeping the focus on maintaining and growing relationships with your employees, everyone benefits – and so does your bottom line. You’ll increase people’s confidence, satisfaction and performance, and in return, you and your business can identify, retain and benefit from the best talent.  

Have you ever said anything to an employee that you regretted? How was it taken? Has a manager ever said anything that upset you at work? How did you handle it? Would you do anything differently? Share your experiences in the Comments below! 



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How AI is transforming education and skills development – The Official Microsoft Blog


Artificial intelligence can help us to solve some of society’s most difficult challenges and create a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all. I’ve already shared the exciting possibilities in the fields of healthcare and agriculture in previous posts. But there may be no area where the possibilities are more interesting – or more important – than education and skills. From personalized learning that takes advantage of AI to adapt teaching methods and materials to the needs of individual students, to automated grading that frees teachers from the drudgery of assessing tests so they have more time to work with students, to intelligent systems that are transforming how learners find and interact with information, the opportunities to improve education outcomes and accessibility will be truly transformational.

There are many classrooms around the world where educators teach very diverse groups of students from different cultures, who speak multiple languages. Take The Dhour Shweir Public Secondary School in Lebanon, for example. It improved the academic interaction between students and educators through applications like OneNote and Microsoft Teams which provides real-time language translation, allowing students who speak different languages to communicate with one another. The tools not only promote better collaboration and productivity, but also enhanced interaction between the students and their teachers.

We also saw just how much more Teams can do when Australian professor, David Kellermann, recently demonstrated how he created a unique learning experience for his university students – from a Question bot that can answer students’ queries on its own to a Power BI dashboard that shows how students’ exam answers compare to peers’ and helps build personalized study packs for future tests based on previous performance.

I am intrigued by a new digital assistant that was recently launched by Staffordshire University, in England. Called Beacon, it is designed to help ease the stress and anxiety that many students experience in their first year at university. Hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform, Beacon takes advantage of the fact that students at Staffordshire, one of the UK’s leading institutions for digital technologies, are more likely to use their mobile phone to find information or search for help than to talk to a lecturer or seek out a member of the university’s staff.

Part information source and part digital coach, Beacon answers questions, suggests activities that students might be interested in, checks on their mood, and supports them in their classwork. If the digital assistant detects signs that a student is struggling, it can send an alert to a university staff member who is able to offer help. By providing insights about how each student is adjusting to university life and creating an avenue for delivering extra support quickly to those who need it, the hope is that it will reduce the dropout rate and help students thrive.

Education doesn’t end with school or University. In today’s world, we must all be prepared to keep learning and re-skilling, as the world of work evolves.

Outside of traditional education institutes, AI can also help people to reskill or acquire news skills – for example, through Microsoft’s partnership with Ashoka, a global organization that supports social entrepreneurs who are committed to finding innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges. As part of Microsoft’s worldwide Tech for Good Initiative, at the heart of this new partnership is the Microsoft-Ashoka Accelerator, a program designed to foster an ecosystem of start-ups that take advantage of the power of cloud computing and artificial intelligence to tackle social and environmental issues. I had the pleasure of meeting Arnaud Mourot, Co-Director of Ashoka Europe earlier this year, to talk about support for promising social start-ups. Microsoft is providing access to technology, AI and cloud expertise, and mentors who can help entrepreneurs create intelligent, data-driven solutions, connect to markets, and more.

I also attended the opening of the first Microsoft-Ashoka Accelerators in France and India, where we are piloting the program. Among the early participants in the program are Singa, an organization that helps refugees and asylum seekers connect with people, services, and economic opportunities in their host countries; Ipso Health, which is working to improve healthcare systems and expand access to quality healthcare; and Libraries Without Borders, which sets up libraries and provides access to information resources in conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters.

One of the things I like most about this new partnership is Ashoka’s focus on programs for young people and its understanding of the value that comes from helping a new generation of young entrepreneurs gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to apply advanced technology to social innovation. Through its Youth Ventures program, Ashoka has worked with more than 500,000 young people around the world.

I too, am a strong believer in the value of mentoring young people, and it is something I am actively engaged in through Live for Good, a foundation my family and I founded in 2015 to enable young people from all walks of life to reach their full potential through social entrepreneurship and digital innovation.

One of the most important things I have learned is that the world is filled with talented young people who have brilliant ideas and a deep desire to create a better world, but who often lack access to skills training, to technology, or to mentors who can provide the critical guidance they need to truly thrive – in school and at work. Today, AI-based services like Staffordshire University’s Beacon digital assistant and programs like the Microsoft-Ashoka accelerator are providing opportunities for young people to get the support they need to prepare them to lead the way forward, while technologies such as AI are creating new ways to have a positive impact.

To me, this is probably the most inspiring and promising aspect of the digital revolution—the doors it is opening for all of us to thrive and to create a better world.

 

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#WorkTrends: Remote Work Is More Than Staying in Your PJs


Remote work is a hot topic these days, and many people dream of working from home. And why shouldn’t you? Who wouldn’t want to keep their pajamas on, stroll over to their laptop and work from the convenience of home? And did I mention the savings in gas money?

If only it were that simple. Successfully working remotely takes a lot of effort, not just for employees but also for the organization that signs the checks. In order to seek some guidance, we turned to James Lloyd, co-founder and chief technology officer of Redox, a completely distributed company. We broke down all things remote: How to manage a remote team, how to lead a remote company and how to work remotely without losing productivity OR the human connection.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Remote Work: An Investment in People

Remote work is incredibly convenient for those who get to do it. But Lloyd says remote work is also an investment in the organization’s people. “Many of us have come from environments where your job is very geographically located, and when things happen in your life that may mean you need to move,” he says. “That means you might have to change your job, and that feels like a really low investment in the people that you work with.”

Distributed companies like Redox avoid this issue and have other advantages as well. “We can recruit from anywhere,” Lloyd says. “It helps us get the best talent possible.” This trust and investment placed in remote workers lead to a very positive outcome: “We see a remarkable amount of retention,” Lloyd says.

The Challenges of Building a Remote Team

There are a lot of potential employees out there who are interested in working for a remote organization or having the option to work remotely. But building a remote team is not without its challenges, Lloyd says. As he and his co-founders grew the company, they kept a tenet in mind: “We definitely want ‘remote’ to not mean ‘isolating,’ ” he says.

Lloyd and his team quickly learned that face time was incredibly valuable. At the start when there were only eight employees, the team got together every six weeks. Now the company gets together twice a year for three to four days at a time. “It’s really important for just getting to know each other and meeting people who aren’t normally on your teams,” he says. “We typically use that time to align around our goals and our strategy.”

Providing social support for employees is also very important, he says. “For many people who have a lot of experience in an office setting, they may find a lot of their friend groups and social circles being formed with coworkers, because you have that proximity,” Lloyd says. This typically isn’t an option for remote workers, so Lloyd and his team have created settings for his employees to interact online regarding things outside of work. However, the Redox team also looks to support its employees in their hometowns, by connecting them with meetups and volunteer programs.

How to Make Your Remote Workers Feel Like They’re Part of the Team

Not every company is completely distributed, but many organizations have remote workers or employees who work remotely part of the time. This has created a conundrum: How do you better connect the people off-site to their colleagues who are at the office?

Lloyd says setting protocols for meetings can go a long way toward helping remote employees feel more of a connection. His team uses the videoconferencing tool Zoom for internal meetings, and they require every person to use Zoom, even those who are in the same location. “Even if there are three people in a conference room and one person in a different state, all four people have their webcams on,” he says. “It really helps to prevent alienating the person who is not in the same room.”

Additionally, Lloyd recommends doing as much preparation as possible for meetings ahead of time and to do it in writing. This allows meeting-goers to focus, and it also respects the differences in employees’ schedules. “Everybody feels like they can make an equal contribution independent of their location or time zone,” Lloyd says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode



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L&D Blog » Challenging Perceptions in L&D


As an L&D professional, you’ll likely have spent most of your career developing a suitable learning strategy for your organization and its learners. You’ll have used tried and tested methods that you know will engage and educate them.

But how can you be sure that you’re delivering what they truly need and want? Sure, you have the experience, but the modern learner is changing and developing as fast as the iPhone! The truth is, in order to deliver a successful learning strategy, we all need to stop acting on instinct and start acting on hard facts.

In our latest webinar with our sister company, Towards Maturity, we took a look at the findings from our recent white paper, “Challenging Perceptions.” The paper explored ways that learners can weave quality learning into their daily lives.

L&D Challenges

In a 2018 survey, Mind Tools identified three top L&D challenges for Learner Engagement. These are:

The biggest challenge for most learners is time. Many people feel that they just don’t have enough time to dedicate to learning. So, getting people to engage can be a struggle, initially.

This leads us to the second challenge — development is not seen as a priority. If learners can’t see the benefit of learning, why should they take time out of their busy schedules to do it? L&D professionals must be able to demonstrate the value of learning to people upfront.

The third challenge is lack of resources. Many learners believe that the type of learning on offer is not relevant to them. Everyone has different and specific learning needs. So it’s important that organizations provide a wealth of resources that allow each learner to find what they want.

How Can We Improve?

Our white paper also looks at the key areas in which L&D professionals want to achieve better results. These are:

  1. Improving learner engagement.
  2. Increasing self-determined learning.
  3. Facilitating new ways of learning.
  4. Integrating learning into the workflow.

A big area of improvement cited by L&D professionals is helping people to become more engaged with learning at work. But what about the learners themselves? Interestingly, our research uncovered a disconnect between what learners and L&D practitioners feel about learning.

A significant disconnect was discovered between how learners and L&D professionals feel about putting learning into practice quickly. Only 16 percent of L&D professionals believe learners can do this, compared to 70 percent of learners themselves.

The results show that our perceptions are often misaligned with what is actually going on in our workplaces, and the wider market. The trend continues when we look at learners’ efforts as well…

According to our research, 26 percent of L&D professionals say self-directed learning is common practice in their organization. But 86 percent of learners report that they are learning all the time as part of their everyday work. This demonstrates just how much people are willing to engage with learning at work, albeit at a time that suits them. It also shows just how difficult it can be to record the workplace learning that is going on. Just because it’s not documented, it doesn’t mean that it’s not taking place!

How Top Organizations are Winning 

Many organizations face similar struggles implementing learning at work. So, over the past 10 years, Towards Maturity have recorded the habits of top performing companies in L&D to see whether anything can be learnt from their strategies.

Coined as the “Top Deck,” these statistics come from the top-performing 10 percent of Towards Maturity’s data sample.   

The results show the difference between top performing organizations’ approach to learning and that of average organizations. In order to demonstrate where top organizations are thriving, we’ve produced a handy infographic. You can use this to pinpoint focus areas for improvement and share the findings with the rest of your company. Just download your copy, here.

If you’d like to listen to the webinar in full, click here. Alternatively, if you want to access the full research report, you can download our white paper, “Challenging Perceptions,” here.

Are you a top performing organization or does your company have a long way to go? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the Comments section, below!



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Empowering financial services to achieve more


It’s a transformative time for the financial services industry. In the fast-changing, tech-driven world banks now live in, they recognize that technology can play a role in helping them meet both their customers’ expectations and challenging regulatory requirements. Coming to Microsoft from that world myself just two weeks ago, I’m now leading the team responsible for helping our customers do just that – regardless of where they are in their transformation journey.

After 20 years in financial services, I’ve seen the impact technology can have, and recognize we have been approaching an inflection point for some time – and are at the tipping point.

We’re approaching the close of a decade, and the industry has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate use of cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) as a catalyst to improve competitiveness, drive growth, elevate customer experiences and keep ahead of changing regulations and cybersecurity threats.

To take full advantage of what Sibos 2019 describes as a hyper-connected world, more banks are making broader cloud platform choices – moving beyond infrastructure services – and extending their cloud investment to productivity, data and AI, and agile customer relationship management services.

They’re making this platform decision to seize the opportunity at hand and evolve to meet the rapidly changing needs and expectations of customers. They recognize technology can help them create the new business models required – even integrate past, present and future.

As we look ahead, key to this will be the ability for financial organizations to:

  • Deliver differentiated ​customer experience​ by accelerating growth and loyalty through deeper customer insights and relationships ​
  • Modernize payments and core banking​ with agility to roll out new products and services​
  • Manage risk across the organization​ with deep insights and compliance with regulatory requirements​
  • Empower employeesthrough teamwork​ and improved employee productivity and accelerate workplace modernization​
  • Combat financial crime​ by protecting your bank and customers while lowering compliance costs​

Because of the hyper-connectivity, we know that regulatory compliance is and must be a top priority, which is why Microsoft continues to work with financial services regulators and customers to ensure our cloud services help customers meet their strict regulatory requirements.  Our team has been a part of the consultation period in sharing perspectives on updated outsourcing guidance by the European Banking Authority (“EBA)” and the final issued guidance, which takes effect on Sept. 30, 2019.  This longstanding engagement with regulators around cloud computing is one of the reasons more than 90 percent of Global Systemically Important Financial Institutions (“GSIFIs”) depend on Microsoft cloud services. As a company we’ve made the investments and commitments to ensure they can meet their regulatory obligations.

To accelerate digital transformation, Microsoft has focused on removing barriers to adopting cloud technology – such as regulatory and compliance, and beyond. At Sibos, we’re unveiling several announcements to further underscore this effort:

  • Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection general availability and new feature addressing wrongful declines: This cloud-based solution will be generally available on Oct. 1, 2019 and is designed to decrease fraud costs and help increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions with e-commerce merchants. Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection is designed to benefit merchants and banks while also improving customer shopping experiences by providing a seamless purchasing experience. The solution combats payment and account-creation fraud with AI technology that continuously learns and adapts to evolving fraudulent patterns. When generally available, the service will include a new feature (Transaction Acceptance Booster) that addresses wrongful declines – a common issue negatively impacting both merchants and banks. Among the first to deploy the new solution is Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting Group in India to reduce the fraud rate for their ecommerce platform Yardley.com. FMCG players like Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting Group can opt into this feature to increase acceptance rates for authorization requests they make to their issuing banks participating in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection.
  • Microsoft Banking Accelerator adds BIAN API implementation: Following the general availability of the Microsoft Banking Accelerator in July, today we are releasing an API sample implementation on GitHub for interoperability with the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN) API service domains. BIAN is a not-for-profit association to establish and promote a common architectural framework for enabling banking interoperability. Microsoft and BIAN have been working together to help unlock new open banking opportunities by allowing organizations to more seamlessly and consistently share banking-specific data across disparate systems. In addition to the BIAN API samples, Microsoft released an update to  Banking Accelerator on AppSource bringing additional use cases for retail banking.
  • Microsoft is the first cloud providerto receive a comprehensive cloud assessment from TruSight, an industry-backed, best-practices third-party assessment utility. Today, TruSight delivered a comprehensive on-site assessment of Microsoft’s Cloud Computing environment, including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Dynamics 365. The assessment was conducted using TruSight’s stringent best-practices assessment methodology. The new TruSight report gives financial services organizations a high-quality assessment of Microsoft’s cloud services based on standardized, industry-designed control assessment methodology. TruSight and its third-party assessment utility was created by leading banking institutions for the collective benefit of all financial services participants. The utility gives financial institutions the ability to access assessments on the most widely used third parties across financial services, rather than having to individually conduct assessments. Microsoft is the first of the major cloud providers to complete the assessment, which covered 27 control domains such as information technology, cybersecurity, business resiliency, privacy, physical security and risk management. Visit the Microsoft Trust Center to learn more.

Microsoft customers share their success stories 

Microsoft is focused on empowering financial services organizations to achieve more. That requires being focused on trust, and always enabling our customers – through innovation, and security and compliance investments, as well as industry leading cloud scale. We continue to put our customers at the center of everything we do by sharing their inspired stories from our customers’ success since last year’s Sibos. We see momentum increasing worldwide as our customers tell their transformation stories – answering the questions about how they overcame obstacles, pitfalls to avoid, keys to success, why cloud or AI, and why Microsoft. Here are just a few of their stories:

Microsoft partner news 

At Sibos 2019, we’re excited to showcase our partners’ progress in helping our mutual customers with their technology needs. Microsoft is the only cloud provider with a mature partner program and has the largest partner ecosystem in the market with more than 68,000 partners worldwide. Our partners are equipped and prepared to work with financial services organizations of all sizes across all their needs.

We’re featuring the following partner successes and collaboration efforts:

 



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Getting Real About Artificial Intelligence


What’s the most exciting technology on the horizon? Is it self-driving cars? Voice-activated computing? Computer-assisted medicine? While each of these technologies is exciting and has the potential to revolutionize our lives, they’re all based on a single technology: artificial intelligence.

The potential impact of AI is incredible. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this technology. According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, AI could deliver $13 trillion in annual global productivity gains by 2030.

Shaker/Montage is a leading entity in the field of AI and its applications for business. I recently had a conversation about the current state and future of AI with Shaker’s Eric Sydell and Isaac Thompson. Sydell is executive vice president of research and innovation, and Thompson is principal data scientist. Here’s some of what we discussed.

What Do We Mean By ‘Artificial Intelligence’?

AI is loosely defined as computers that can learn and adapt to input and feedback. Many applications of AI today are based on the concept of “deep learning.” This technique of using computers to analyze enormous sets of data for patterns and insights is behind everything from computerized chess programs that can defeat the best players in the world to radiology systems that can diagnose cancer earlier and with more accuracy than can be done by humans.

Are There Any Drawbacks to AI?

Just like any other powerful tool, AI can be used in good ways and bad ways. It falls on us to use AI in a way that is fair and equitable, and that leads to good outcomes.

Is There an Inherent Bias in AI

Humans have innate biases, while AI evaluates the data it is given without any built-in biases. If the data we feed an AI system is itself flawed, limited, or biased, then the resulting prediction will mirror those issues. Programmers need to ensure that AI is developed using good data, and must be careful to avoid unintended consequences like bias.

Is AI a One-Size-Fits-All Solution?

Different companies will use AI in different ways. One of the biggest problems with AI today is that many companies are rushing solutions to market without fully understanding how they work, let alone how they’ll perform in the real world. Developing beneficial AI solutions that solve real-world problems requires a great deal of research and revision to get them right.

What Should We Expect in the Future of AI?

Our field and world are in the early stages of exploring the power of AI. We expect the benefits above to be developed over time, and AI to gradually learn to make better decisions than people do. This process requires a lot of data and a lot of research, so it won’t happen overnight. There are also hurdles and pitfalls of which we must be aware.

Artificial Intelligence is one of the most powerful technologies humanity has ever developed. It has the capability to revolutionize our world. And yet, even with the power of this technology in our hands, we must choose how to use it to make our world a better place.

 



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