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People, People Everywhere And Not A Person To Hire…

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People, People Everywhere And Not A Person To Hire…

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This blog is provided by Dave DuBose and Will O’Brien from True North Growth Partners, as a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Lasting Solutions for Distribution Center Labor Shortages aired on 9/10/19.

 

Of course, that title is a takeoff from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The author referred to a thirsty sailor surrounded by saltwater that he cannot drink. This is what many distribution center (DC) operators face when they can’t attract and retain the workforce that they need to support their operations. With historically low unemployment, the demand for DC labor is escalating- a trend that will continue. This drives higher wages while the quality of the available workforce drops.

Other factors make this situation more complex. Job candidates may be unable to meet an organization’s hiring requirements for drug testing and work history. Lowering standards creates workforce reliability issues. Ecommerce is a big driver. Amazon (the biggest example) has over 100 fulfillment & sortation centers. The e-comm channel requires 4X the labor compared to retail and wholesale fulfillment. This creates a salary war, undercutting any loyalty that workers might have had. This is magnified at peak season.

How does a leader deal with all of this? Three strategies underpin a winning playbook:

  1. Reduce the Work Content
  2. Be a “Sticky Employer”
  3. Get the Most Out of Your Workforce

Strategy #1, “Reduce the Work Content,” is the focus of this blog

REDUCE THE WORK CONTENT OF THE FACILITY

Reducing work content is a challenge that belongs in the playbook. Analytical rigor is required to appropriately consider each option for achieving this goal and careful planning and execution is a must-have: these are not “quick fix” alternatives, but they can be very effective.

  • DC Bypass is the method of flowing goods to the customer or store while bypassing the DC or fulfillment center. It is necessary to analyze volume and order history so that an effective program can be designed that will provide the relief to the facility and have minimal-to-no impact on supplier charges or the customer experience.
  • Store-Based Fulfillment is growing rapidly. The most common version of this is BOPIS (Buy Online – Pickup In-Store). Walmart will ship an e-comm item to a store at no charge. Many grocers offer the increasingly popular curbside pick-up service. Others enable their stores to ship e-comm orders to customers’ homes. One retailer performs this function early in the morning, before the store opens for walk-in traffic. DSW stated that its stores are within 20 minutes of 70% of their customers, so they can’t afford to NOT take advantage of that proximity for improved speed and delivery cost. Target, Dick’s, Best Buy and others use store-based fulfillment as an economical way to compete against Amazon’s hyper-fast delivery model. Details related to how a retailer handles allocation, store operations, order management and small package carrier relationships are critically important. Creating and communicating a detailed plan ensures that leaders understand the assumptions about inventory, handling and transportation costs, as well as reductions in markdowns – and are committed to execution.
  • Pop-Up Fulfillment Centers are used during peak seasons to provide relief from surges in demand. Advancements in robotics enable operators to slot more items in pop-ups than ever before, with reduced training needs and improved speed and customer service. Robots, in this case, Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs) from companies like Locus, Fetch Robotics and 6 Rivers can be deployed very quickly, typically in less than a day. The software that operates AMRs is cloud based, which eases the IT requirements. AMRs are safe around people and other mobile equipment. The interface between the worker and the AMR is very simple, so training for the associate takes only minutes. Worker productivity dramatically increases because the robot eliminates the need for the worker to walk the entire facility. Most AMR providers offer their products on a “Robot-As-A-Service” basis, avoiding the large capital outlay that is needed for traditional material handling equipment. There is great flexibility with AMRs as the number of machines can flex over time with volume.

 

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AMRs in work environment

The two most significant advantages of pop-ups are reductions in labor and the cost of the last mile. By locating pop-up facilities in markets with dense demand, the operator shifts its labor burden from hiring  hundreds of associates in a labor-constrained single market to hiring dozens of associates in each of a handful of locations across the country- a much more achievable task. The cost of the last mile is    significant and is reduced by having pop-ups in dense markets. Given the success of pop-up DCs, operators are beginning to consider keeping them open year-round to augment distribution networks that need e-comm friendly solutions for speed, cost effectiveness and customer service. Careful product flow analysis and cost modeling ensures that the solution will deliver the intended benefits.

 

  • Automated Material Handling Equipment (MHE) solutions offer different options for reducing labor requirements in large, capital-intensive DCs. Continued innovation in automated-storage-and-retrieval and goods-to-person systems, as well as in conveyors, sorters and put-walls, enable operators to realize significant labor savings. 60% of a DC worker’s time can be spent walking in the facility, sometimes as much as 15 miles per day. Innovative developments continue in pack station and auto-bagger technologies. Automated MHE solutions fit well in high-volume operations and these solutions require significant effort to properly design and select the appropriate equipment for each situation.
  • Leverage a 3PL Partner: Finally, sophisticated 3PLs provide a wide range of services, from end-to-end fulfillment, including last mile delivery, to executing only the pieces of an operation that are most challenging to the business. A 3PL is a viable option for many scenarios. It is very important to perform due diligence in partner selection and in the integration of all processes and technologies to guarantee a flawless conversion and smooth operation.

 

If you are facing distribution or fulfillment challenges in your business, there are many options available to you. If you would like to discuss your situation with Will O’Brien or Dave DuBose, they can be reached at www.truenorthgrowthpartners.com.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

About the Authors

Dave DuBose is a senior supply chain professional with strong cross-industry experience including retail, consumer products, resources and high-tech in the North American and global theaters. Dave has held executive positions in logistics and supply chain in industry as well as consulting and has more than 30 years of professional experience. DuBose delivers innovative results and can translate business strategy into operating strategy and tactics. He has deep expertise in end-to-end business operations and in deploying business solutions from strategy through implementation. Dave is currently serving as the Columbus Roundtable board president the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. He is active in speaking and writing about contemporary supply chain issues.

Will O’Brien is a partner at True North Growth Partners where he works with organizations on the supply chain and operations sides of their business. He helps his clients overcome the things that hold back their growth and profitability. He has over 30 years of experience in supply chain and operations. He has held executive positions in both industry and consulting. As an executive at Lowe’s Home Improvement he helped to lead the development of the supply chain for that big box retailer during a period of rapid growth, from $35 billion to $50 billion in revenue. He also helped pioneer Lowe’s omni-channel fulfillment when its online sales were growing significantly. He successfully grew a mid-sized family owned supply chain consulting firm by over 50%, expanded its markets, improved its pricing, reengineered its sales and business development organization and created career paths and professional growth for its associates.

Influence Is All About PEOPLE

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Influence Is All About PEOPLE

This blog is provided by Brian Ahearn, the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC, as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade aired on 9/3/19.

When it comes to influence I believe it’s all about PEOPLE. I write that because we don’t try to persuade things. Dale Carnegie had it right when he wrote, “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you’re in business.” The more you know how to ethically influence people the better your chances are for success at the office and happiness at home.

When it comes to PEOPLE I encourage you to think about the about the Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Let’s take a quick look at each component of PEOPLE.

Powerful

Who says influence is powerful? Here are what a few well known people from history had to say about persuasion:

“Persuasion is often more effective than force.” Aesop, Greek Fabulist

“If I can persuade, I can move the universe.” Frederick Douglass, American social reformer, abolitionist, writer, and statesman

“The only real power available to the leader is the power of persuasion.” Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States

In addition to those intelligent people, we have more than 70 years of research from social psychology, behavioral economics and more recently neuroscience, to tangibly prove how powerful persuasion can be.

Everyday

Unless you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway you interact with people every single day. Quite often in your communication with others you make requests hoping to hear “Yes!” Nobody goes it alone, especially the highly successful. Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO said, “Nearly everything I’ve done in my life has been accomplished through other people.”

Here’s something I love about persuasion; it applies at work and home, a 24x7x365 skill. At work you try to persuade your boss, direct reports, coworkers, vendors and customers. At home influence helps with your parents, significant other, children, neighbors and anyone else you come in contact with.

Opportunities

In virtually every communication you have there will be opportunities for you to do seemingly little things just a bit different to potentially reap big rewards. For example, wouldn’t you be interested to find out what the Cancer Society did to increase their volunteer rate 700% in one area of town or how Easter Seals doubled the number of donors? Both were accomplished by doing a few, nearly costless things differently to employ a little psychology.

The problem is, all too often people miss the opportunities that are right in front of them. However, once you begin to learn the language of persuasion you’ll be amazed at how often you spot the opportunities to engage psychology to leverage better results.

Persuade

What exactly is persuasion? The definitions I hear most often are “to change someone’s mind” or “to convince someone of something.” Those might be good starts but they’re not enough. In the end you want to see people change their behavior.

With a focus on behavior change I think Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, put it best when he said, “Persuasion is the art of getting people to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”

Lasting

Sometimes your interaction with another person is “one and done” but quite often it’s an ongoing relationship. In those relationships you don’t want to go back to the drawing board time after time. No, you want to have communications that change people’s thinking and behavior for the long haul.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood the power of persuasion to create a lasting effect when he said, “I would rather persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.” Done right, persuasion can have a lasting impact on others.

Ethical

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, manipulation is, “to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner.” That’s not so bad but another definition for manipulation is, “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”

Manipulation makes most of us bristle because it connotes taking advantage of someone. I’m confident in writing this next statement – no one likes to be manipulated. I’m reasonably certain the vast majority of people don’t want to be known as manipulators either.

When it comes to the difference between ethical influence and manipulation I like the following quote from The Art of WOO (Richard Shell & Mario Moussa), “An earnest and sincere lover buys flowers and candy for the object of his affections. So does the cad who succeeds to take advantage of another’s heart. But when the cad succeeds, we don’t blame the flowers and candy. We rightly question his character.”

Conclusion

Your ability to ethically influence others will be a big determinant when it comes to your professional success and personal happiness. Knowing that, and knowing how much you use this one skill each day, doesn’t it make sense to get better at it?

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most other online sites.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities this fall.

 

Check out this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the ILI LinkedIn.

LET THE SPARKS FLY: Innovation Needs a Culture that Fosters Fireworks

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LET THE SPARKS FLY: Innovation Needs a Culture that Fosters Fireworks

This blog is provided by Charles D. Morgan, CEO, First Orion Corporation, as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview The Biography of a Finally Successful Startup aired on 8/27/19.

One of the paradoxes of modern business is that success tends to stifle the innovation that made a company successful in the first place. If you think about it, that’s not all that hard to understand: Innovation breeds success, success breeds expansion, expansion breeds bureaucracy, bureaucracy breeds logjams and a kind of complacent short-sightedness, borne of the sheer weight of that success and the processes that support it. So companies that have become big and successful by creating a successful product tend to focus on continuing to make that product better or on improving the service around that product, rather than on doing the hard work of branching out – of creating something new and different. But this is a recipe for disaster. Today’s business world moves too fast, and if you don’t keep innovating, one of these days you’re not going to be around anymore.

Let me tell you a story: For 35 years, I ran a company called Acxiom Corporation. In the early ‘70s we started, with just 25 employees, as a “service bureau,” which meant we rented out space on our computers to other companies. But as computers became more prevalent, and therefore less expensive, we could see that we were rushing headlong toward a dead end. So we pivoted to direct marketing, and eventually to data mining and database marketing. One by one, we landed the big banks – Citi, Chase, Amex, JPMorgan, you name them, we had them. Between 1982 and 1991, our annual revenue increased from $7 million to some $90 million, the vast majority of it from the banks, who increasingly depended on us to give them accurate information on potential credit card customers. We went public in 1983, adding stockholders to the people we had to please. Growing like a weed, we were adding layers of managers and VPs and directors faster than we could print their business cards. By the middle of the 1980s, I could walk down our main hall and see people I didn’t even know.

To my mind, one of the greatest requirements of a successful CEO is to be able to keep one eye on the far horizon. In the midst of the maelstrom I was looking ahead, and the problem I foresaw was that we couldn’t continue processing greater and greater amounts of data in the same old way without becoming less and less accurate. If we kept doing what we were doing, eventually we would be of no use to the banks, and that would be that. “But,” I said to one of my partners, “what if we could give everybody in the U.S. – and every single address – a number?” Such a thing had never been done. But I knew that if we could come up with a series of constant numbers, we could eliminate much of the time, computer power, and uncertainty then inherent in data processing.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t even a choice –it was either disrupt every single process that we had worked for two decades to establish, or face the fact that we were on our way to becoming a dinosaur. But oh, the screams, the wails, the hand wringing! I had to finally threaten to quit the company before my people came around and faced the inevitable. And yes, it was hard. It took a couple of years to create the data mining system we called AbiliTec, and several more years to implement it throughout our business – about five years in all. But once done, it kept us relevant. When I left Acxiom in 2008, we were the global leader in data mining and its accompanying technology, with 7,000 employees worldwide and $1.5 billion in revenue.

Today I’m the CEO of a tech company called First Orion, whose product is spam and scam protection for the major telecoms. We started with three employees in 2008 and now we’re up to nearly 200. We’re in the process of building our own headquarters building in Little Rock, Arkansas.

A lot has changed in business since those pivotal days back at Acxiom. Today, innovation is the name of game – of everybody’s game – and I’ve made sure to create a corporate structure that fosters innovation: no more than three layers of reporting; nimble team-based product and process units; open encouragement for people to try things, to play around with the fireworks of creativity – even if what they come up with doesn’t immediately lead to anything.

You never know where the spark for your next billion-dollar idea will come from, so you better make it easy for the sparks to fly.

 To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

 Charles D. Morgan is the visionary former Chairman and CEO of Acxiom Corporation, and is now Chairman and CEO of his latest tech venture, First Orion.  His new book is Now What?  The Biography of a (Finally) Successful Startup.  Morgan lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.  For more information, please visit https://firstorion.com.

Check out this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the ILI LinkedIn.

 

 

Managing Organizational Headwinds in Digital Transformation

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Managing Organizational Headwinds in Digital Transformation

This blog is provided by Tony Saldanha, extracted and exclusively adapted from his book “Why Digital Transformations Fail,” as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future with Maureen Metcalf. This interview aired on 8/20/19.

Organizational change management is treated as an afterthought for digital transformation as opposed to being proactively planned for. That’s troubling because based on my research, more digital transformations fail due to organizational change related reasons than technology. Most reliable process systems, such as say aircraft flights, plan for headwinds. Digital transformation can learn from them. Unfortunately, organizational headwinds are often dismissed in simplistic terms like change resistance or the frozen middle. That’s a mistake when planning for success in digital transformation.

The Science of Immune System Management

A corporate immune system is not necessarily a bad thing. Like its counterpart in the human body, it plays a vital role. In our bodies, the immune system protects us from disease and keeps us healthy. It is true that immune system disorders can be problematic (i.e., an immune system deficiency leaves the body susceptible to constant infections, while an overactive immune system will fight healthy tissues). However, on balance, a healthy immune system is desirable.

If that’s true, then why do so many change leaders blame the corporate immune system when things go south? Shouldn’t disciplined change leaders understand the strength of the immune system within their own organizations and prepare for appropriate handling?

At Procter & Gamble, when leading the industry disruption ecosystem, which included the biggest five IT companies and startups from the top ten venture capitalist firms, we took a different approach. For each of the twenty-five experiments (projects) that the ecosystem, called Next Generation Services (NGS) executed during my three years, there was always a proactive immune system conversation and plan. It made a huge difference versus historical trends on disruptive change acceptance.

There were three key truths that drove our approach:

–        The immune system is not necessarily a bad thing. Anticipate and prepare for immune system responses.

–        Immune system responses can originate at all levels in the organization, but the toughest ones occur at middle management.

–        The bigger the change, the harder the immune system response (i.e., digital transformation will be tough).

Having covered the first item, let’s zero in on the issue of middle management reaction. In most organizations, it is easy to get senior executive leadership excited about change. Similarly, the younger generation gets quickly on board. It is the middle management layer that’s on the critical path and has the potential to slow down or even block change. The term “frozen middle” has been associated with this phenomenon. This concept was published in a Harvard Business Review article in 2005 by Jonathan Bynes.[i] Bynes’s point was that the most important thing a CEO could do to boost company performance was to build the capabilities of middle management.

For corporate immune system disorders at the middle management level, the term “frozen middle” is accurate, but it comes with the risk of being pejorative for seeming to blame middle management for recalcitrance and inertia. In reality, the responsibility to bring middle management along on the journey resides with the change leaders and their sponsors. Consider this—the so-called frozen middle protects the enterprise from unnecessary distractions and change, just like the human immune system protects the body from harmful change. Middle managers are rewarded mostly for running stable operations. Is it fair to criticize them as a whole for doing what their reward system dictates? We must separate immune system disorders from normal immune system responses.

At NGS, we paid special attention to identifying, by name, the middle management leader for each affected project. We identified the middle management leaders affected by each project, involved them in the initial “fun” of designing the disruption, and jointly designed the risky roll-out of disruptive projects that could destabilize ongoing operations.

In the worst case, where despite the enrolling of the leadership the change resistance continued to be high, the project was quickly killed. That idea of selectively killing a few projects worked well because of the portfolio effect of having several other projects available in the pipeline.

Though the concept of a frozen middle is applicable broadly, overcoming it has never been as critical as it is with digital disruption. The amount of change necessitated by a systemic and sustainable digital transformation is massive. This isn’t just a technology or product or process change but also an organizational culture change. The middle management will need to lead the rest of the organization in learning new capabilities (i.e., digital) as well as new ways of working in the digital era, including encouraging agility, taking risk, and re-creating entire new business models and internal processes. Retraining middle management on digital possibilities is not sufficient. Entirely new reward systems and organizational processes will be called for.

Planning for headwinds during digital transformation isn’t just prudent, it’s a necessity given the high stakes of digital disruption. Emphasizing on “transformation”, more than on “digital” is a strategic imperative for success. For this, understanding and acting on the three truths of immune system management is critical i.e. it isn’t willful bad behavior but a rewards issue, it can happen at all levels in the organization but is toughest in the middle layers, and digital transformation by nature needs solving the toughest immune system challenges.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Tony Saldanha is a globally recognized expert in Global Business Services (GBS) and Information Technology. He ran Procter & Gamble’s famed multi-billion dollar GBS and IT operations in every region across the world during a 27 year career there. Tony has over three decades of international business expertise in the US, Europe, and Asia. He was named on Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Professionals list in 2013. Tony’s experiences include GBS design and operations, CIO positions, acquisitions and divestitures, outsourcing, disruptive innovation, and creation of new business models. Tony is currently President of Transformant, a consulting organization that advises top companies around the world in digital transformation and global business services. He is also a founder of two blockchain and AI companies, and an adviser to venture capital companies.

.[i] Jonathan L. S. Byrnes, “Middle Management Excellence,” jlbyrnes.com, December 5, 2005, http://jlbyrnes.com/uploads/Main/Middle Management Excellence HBSWK 12-05.pdf [accessed December 19, 2018].

 

Six Ways To Prepare Your Team For A Digital Transformation

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Six Ways To Prepare Your Team For A Digital Transformation

The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is the companion to an interview conducted with Mike Kritzman, Founder and CEO of SkillNet on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, July 23rd titled SkillNet: Personalized Learning Framework for Your Company.

Experts have been discussing technological changes, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, for a while now. I believe many professionals have accepted that this is how the world is unfolding, but they don’t necessarily have a clear view of what it means for their employees.

Many of the leaders I work with are curious about digital transformation and would like to be proactive, but they aren’t sure where to start. My role is to help them with a range of activities, including understanding opportunities and connecting them with our expert partners who can help them accomplish their goals.

I predict that many (if not all) industries will feel the effects of these technological advances, some at different rates and with different specifics. According to the 2018 jobs report by the World Economic Forum, at least half of the U.S. workforce will require significant reskilling by 2022.

I’ve developed a few ways leaders can become proactive and stay on top of these changes in the workplace:

  1. Continually update your mindset to demystify changes.

I’ve observed that many of the changes we are facing involve the automation of tasks in our lives. In my experience, keeping up with these changes can be as simple as taking the time to read articles from credible sources that explain the adoption of more technology. Make a conscious effort to understand more about what this tech is and how it could impact your organization.

Forbes Insights

  1. Take a look at what could be automated.

Ask yourself which aspects of your role or company can be automated by technology. As you explore the landscape of current and future software, do you see routine parts of your organization’s work that can be more effectively done by technology? I’ve found that this frees people to process the difficult cases that require more unique analysis. Plan any future changes in your company over time so you can schedule skill-building exercises that intersect with when these changes will occur.

  1. Determine a strategic approach to reskilling.

The World Economic Forum’s job survey also reported that the time it takes to reskill workers can vary among organizations. So, define and enable a plan for continuous reskilling. One plan, for example, might include using software that offers a range of content that is aligned with your development goals. Or, you could consider using a combination of online training and mentoring with coaching. I’ve found this can help provide more flexibility for busy employees, as well as combat the cost of in-person training so that you still receive hands-on guidance and strong learning outcomes.

  1. Address new job requirements with innovative hiring practices.

In my experience, it can be difficult to find good matches for open positions that cannot be filled via reskilling. I’ve observed a number of companies that are beginning to implement more digital practices of hiring to help save themselves some time. My own company, for example, uses a digital tool that allows job candidates to fill out an assessment before they’re ever interviewed, and we can then see if they are a match for the roles that need to be filled. This allows us to save time and find the best person for the job. So take a look at your current hiring process, and if you find there is room for improvement, brainstorm a few ways your hiring methods could be more effective and efficient — it might even help you in the long run.

  1. Consider utilizing microlearning tools.

I’ve found microlearning tools — content that is provided in a broken-up, easy-to-digest way — can help employees and organizations share the responsibility of upskilling. This way, you can enable an ongoing conversation and focus on reskilling, as well as ensure your team has the tools to recognize any gaps in their knowledge and can continue to improve. Find and utilize the tools that fit the needs of your business and team so they can set milestones and achieve development goals.

  1. Build a culture that supports ongoing skill evolution.

Beyond addressing one-time skill gaps, companies now need to create systems and cultures that ensure learning is easy to access and ongoing. In a business sense, I believe this will need to become as common as personal hygiene. Most of us would not imagine showing up in the office without brushing our teeth. In my opinion, as we go forward, the most innovative companies and employees will develop a similar view about learning: It’s a necessity.

I believe one of the simplest steps to encourage ongoing learning and skill-building is to choose one of the aforementioned recommendations to pilot. Experiment with these tools, and identify which ones fill your immediate needs. Then, expand on this exploration item by item.

As we step into what I like to call the “Wild West” of emerging technologies, I believe all leaders and employees will need to understand new trends and manage them to their advantage. An ongoing theme I’ve observed is that we as leaders must find ways to understand the changes our organizations need to make to meet our missions and ensure our teams are able to develop their skills. As leaders, you are uniquely positioned to invest in defining a comprehensive approach to identify and fill gaps on a regular basis and create work that is fulfilling for your team and your company.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the author

Ms. Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute (formerly Metcalf & Associates) is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.

Top Ten on Demand Episodes on Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future

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Top Ten on Demand Episodes on Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future

4 Year Anniversary.pngInnovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future is celebrating the completion of its 4th year on Voice America Business channel!!  In honor of that milestone, we are sharing the countdown of the most listened to shows on demand.  These shows can be listened to via the internet or via the Business channel on the Voice America app. Use the links to access the episodes and the guest bios.  Thanks for 4 great years of listening!

10.   How Does the Brain Impact Leadership Resilience?  with John Wortmann aired on 9/11/2018

Resilience is a key factor in leadership success during times of stress. Our ability to manage our own energy and thinking have a significant impact on our ability to deliver personally and on our ability to inspire our followers. By building our resilience and creating a culture where others are expected to build theirs, we can make a significant impact on driving and sustaining our success as individuals and as organizations. Jon and Maureen start with defining resilience then move to the critical aspects of personal resilience. They include a focus on how brains and bodies react to stress and practices that will reduce the impact events have on leaders. discuss their areas of expertise in brain functioning. This interview includes a discussion of specific tools that allow leaders to build more resilient brains and reduce emotional reactivity. These tools help leaders manage feelings thereby also reducing stress. Equipped with these tools, leaders need to build practices.

9.  Winning In The Face of Adversity with Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman and Doug McCollough aired on 10/23/18

In a time when people are sharing more of their personal struggles, we talk to Congress Woman Beatty and Doug McCollough about their struggle and more importantly how they navigated those struggles so that they could make their greatest impact on the world. Congresswoman Beatty not only overcame, she changed the people’s view of what it was to be a successful black woman and she mentored women to make sure the pipeline behind her was strong and the country was better because of all facets of her service! She talks about how helping women succeed helps America succeed. She serves as a role model for inclusion globally by serving with grace and decorum! Doug shares how his focus on inclusion is expanding the field of employees working in technology in central Ohio. Through his board work as well as his work as CIO, he is creating a pipeline that allows unemployed people to get trained and find technology jobs. He is helping build the system that will close this gap long term!

8.  Position Success Indicator: Identify Where You Fit with Mark Palmer and Warner Moore aired on 11/13/18

According to a McKinsey study in 2018 focusing on the future of work: “technologies will transform the nature of work and the workplace itself. Machines will be able to carry out more of the tasks done by humans, complement the work that humans do, and even perform some tasks that go beyond what humans can do. As a result, some occupations will decline, others will grow, and many more will change. While we believe there will be enough work to go around (barring extreme scenarios), society will need to grapple with significant workforce transitions and dislocation. Workers will need to acquire new skills and adapt to the increasingly capable machines alongside them in the workplace. They may have to move from declining occupations to growing and, in some cases, new occupations.” The interview explores how the Position Success Indicator assessment identifies “job DNA” based on occupational traits that help people determine their best role fit to support workforce transitions.

7. Sustainability: Why Hasn’t It Been Embraced? with Christoph Hinske, Michelle Thatcher, and Khoo Hock Aun aired on 6/25/19

“Business as usual” can no longer be the leader thought pattern in regard to environmental impacts made by businesses. We are at a critical point where sustainability and impacts on the environment by business practices must be considered. What as leaders can we do to make a difference in these highly sensitive decisions? Christoph Hinske, Michelle Thatcher and Khoo Hock Aun discuss the options leaders have to encourage favorable corporate behavior and what leaders can do to make a difference.

6.  How Developmental Maturity Aligns with Organizational Maturity with Terri O’Fallon and Kim Barta aired on 9/25/18

During this show, Terri, Kim and Maureen talk about the interconnection between organizational issues and levels of developmental maturity. The conversation focuses on three types of issues and how they map to maturity as well as approaches to address them: 1. Existential, the group is moving to a new developmental level. How does it look for the organization? How do you see individuals? Do you have recommended course of action to help move forward? 2. Breadth, the group has the necessary philosophy and capacities at the level they are at, but they don’t have the skills they need. How does it look for the organization? How do you see individuals? Do you have recommended course of action to help move forward? 3. Shadow, the group has an adequate developmental level and skills but they have group shadow material that is holding them back. Let’s revisit what is shadow material? How should the team work to address it?

5. Leadership Happy Hour: Aspirations – Fuel for Results with Greg Moran and Terri Bettinger aired on 9/4/18

This is the kick-off of our leadership happy hour series. During this conversation, Greg, Terri and Maureen discuss the topic of aspirations over the courses of their leadership careers. Aspiration has the power to expand our limits and potential by motivating us to test our capabilities and competencies further and in new ways. It has a completely different effect on us than its evil twin – desperation. Not that aspiration is inherently good or desperation is inherently bad, but when people believe, the paths they follow look very different than when they do not. The conversation will touch on the following among many others topics: 1. The power of aspiration as a means of creating opportunity where it is desired 2. Aspiration is necessary filtered through our values and priorities – and that’s okay! How do we remove the limits of aspiration when they have been indoctrinated into leaders for reasons that have nothing to do with their potential (i.e. race, gender, etc.).

4. Ron Heifetz on Adaptive Learning and His Journey with Ron Heifetz, PhD aired on 12/6/16

During the Interview, we discuss Ron’s thoughts on leadership and his journey. Here is a preview: In times of change, people often try to hold onto the values of their culture that have had personal meaning and significance to them. When dominant cultures are confronted with stresses such as immigrants, they are called to examine their values and often required to take on very difficult integrative work. The leadership required must point out values such as: We stand for freedom and respect for all people, and our policy does not align with what we say we stand for. How do we make space for this evolution? What are the “gives” and “gets” required to evolve cultures? How can we hold steady to our cultural DNA and still evolve? In nature, when an organism adapts, it builds on its old capacity and generates radically new functionality. Ron suggested that “God didn’t do zero-based budgeting in evolution”. We honor our past and at the same time determine what can we release.

3. Top Leadership Trends in 2018 and Beyond with Christopher Washington aired on 8/21/18

Each year Maureen publishes a synthesis of the interviews she hosted and discuss the main themes she is hearing in the past year as well as in her consulting work with senior executives around the world. She has now completed more than 150 interviews. This interview is a synthesis of what she is taking away as key themes for leaders and executives to focus on for 2018 – 2022. This is a rolling synthesis, she will update it again in 2019 with new themes. Christopher Washington, PhD, hosts this show and discusses what he is seeing as a board member of Global Ties and EVP/CEO of Urbana University. The goal of this conversation is that listeners have a clearer understanding of the global leadership trends and what they might do personally to prepare themselves and their organizations to respond.

2. A Case Study of Doing Well By Doing Good: The Internet Backpack with Dr. Dale Meyerrose aired 10/2/18

We have been hearing about the topic of doing well by doing good for a few years. Should tech leaders take adopt this concept to reevaluate how they do business? If so, why would they? How would they? To take the question further, what accountability (if any) do leaders have for the uses of their products and services? During this conversation, Dale and Maureen will discuss the questions posed above and a project Dale has been involved with where Imcon International Inc., the developer of the Internet Backpack, a remote connectivity solution that allows users to communicate from almost every location on the planet, the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University and the Republic of Liberia will collaborate on a far reaching project that will digitally transform Liberia by increasing the nation’s current internet penetration of about 7% to 40% by 2021. This project is a strong example to illustrate how technology leaders can solve global challenges.

1.  A CIO Story of Leadership: Maria Urani – NetJets with Maria Urani aired on 8/14/18

Leaders follow many paths to success – in a time of varying role models for exceptional leadership, Maria talks about how she developed over her career. She shares her values, her path to CIO, role models and the art of leadership. Many people develop visions but living them is the art. Maria talks about how she puts her values into action to create a positive workplace, great results and strong successors. She shares: 1. Her passion and how it connects to her work 2. the art of leadership 3. her path to leadership – career is lattice more than a ladder 4. her role models – actual and virtual 5. the value of inverted mentoring 6. the role of empowerment in IT transformation at NetJets She shares her insights and career journey with passion and wisdom.

Thanks for listening! 

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Organizational Complexity is a Rapidly Spreading Virus that Needs to be Eradicated

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Organizational Complexity is a Rapidly Spreading Virus that Needs to be Eradicated

This blog is a guest post provided by Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. It is the companion to the Voice America Interview with Jesse Newton focusing on his book.

The Situation: An epidemic is affecting businesses large and small. This epidemic is debilitating complexity. The disease restricts innovation, limits productivity, disengages the workforce, and eventually leads to organizational failure. Debilitating complexity takes the form of unnecessary and complicated structures, processes, systems, rules, metrics, checks and balances, and so on. Businesses traditionally add more and more of these things as they grow. There seems to be an acceptance that as a business grows, complexity and complicatedness are natural by-products. And while complexity certainly does increase as businesses mature, it does not mean that it needs to stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. The same story plays out over and over again once a company gets to a certain size: the entrepreneurial leaders decide that their juvenile business is becoming an adolescent and want to be taken seriously, so they bring in an experienced “big company” professional. The big company person then sets about installing all of the “discipline” that a serious organization requires—defined roles and responsibilities, performance metrics, committees, strict common processes, and so on, and so on. Then, all of a sudden, people begin adhering to their newfound role expectations, they start to get lost in all the processes and paperwork, they become scared to step outside of their defined role, and spontaneous rich innovation becomes a distant memory.

The Data: In a recent study 74% of respondents rated their organization as complex. In this digital age, when technology is fueling rapid changes in consumer preferences and reshaping industries, it is critical that companies innovate well and fast. Companies that are bogged down in slow decision making, risk intolerance, and siloed protectionism are destined to fail.

The Cause: The current complexity crisis is largely due to many organizations holding on to outdated and obsolete methods of organizing how work gets done. These 20th-century approaches to organizational structure and management are strangling our productive and innovative potential. They are limiting the thinking power of our people and not effectively using the resources at organizations’ disposal.

The Imperative: From an individual perspective, how we protect and allocate our time and energy is becoming increasingly paramount. The most important resource people have is their time, and we are spending far too much of it on the wrong things. We are pulled in so many directions and have to spend so much time and energy navigating through a labyrinth of processes and structures that we have lost touch with what really matters. We simply do not have the time and energy to do our best work on the most important activities.

As we are working longer and longer on increasingly low-value work, we often don’t even realize it. We have become accustomed to the four approvals we require to do anything and accustomed to going through a leader to talk to someone in a different function. We’re accustomed to navigating through three separate systems to find the information we need, and we’re accustomed to dedicating a quarter of the year to complete the budgeting process. Let’s not forget about that report one of your leaders within the matrix needs; that clearly should take precedence over everything else.

Deep down we know something is not quite right. We are not spending quality time doing the work we were hired to do. We find that it is getting harder to stay on top of everything and enjoy a good balance or even a balance at all. This results in us simply checking out. Engagement scores across companies over the past 30 years have consistently decreased. According to Gallup, only 28% of the US workforce is engaged at work, the rest are either actively disengaged or merely not engaged.

The implication: for business is that things move too slow, people think and act in silos, it’s hard to get anything done, decision making is poor, innovation is missing, risk-taking is low, and it all leads to increasing costs and being left behind by more nimble competitors. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Companies that are mired in debilitating complexity can break free of its hold. With strong leadership support and a clear approach for attacking complexity companies can re-energize their people by bringing back the laser focus, reducing the clutter and releasing the reins on innovation. The epidemic of complexity is spreading throughout the world of business and if it is not reined in, those that have managed to keep it at bay will leap ahead and those that don’t will fall by the wayside.

The Opportunity: What if we could take a fresh look at our businesses, reconsider what is really important, and start to focus our time and energy on those things that matter. Imagine the positive effect it would have on your people if you told them they now have permission to do more of the work they were hired for. Imagine their sense of liberation if you removed a big chunk of the activities that soak up their time: low-value training, compliance, meetings that should be emails, expense processing, report building, budget setting, clunky performance management, and so on.
The time is right to simplify work

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. He is the founder and CEO of Simplify Work; a global management consulting firm that helps organizations throw off the shackles of debilitating complexity and reignite top performance.

jnewton@simplifywork.com

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More Women on Boards: An International Perspective

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More Women on Boards: An International Perspective

ILA-Women-on-Boards.jpg

This blog is provided by Lynne E. Devnew and Marlene Janzen Le Ber as a companion to their interview for Voice America conducted live at the International Leadership Association Conference. Their interview focuses on:  More Women on Boards, An International Perspective on Taking Action; it aired March 19, 2019.

Let’s begin with an assumption that in an ideal world gender equity, racial equity, religious equity, and cultural diversity would not be issues meriting attention.  The best candidates for positions in governments, leadership in workplaces, starring roles in film, etc. would always be chosen and these best candidates would be perfectly representative of the population.  As we all know, however, we don’t live in an ideal world.  We recently edited a book titled More Women on Boards: An International Perspective. In it, 42 authors, women and men from all over our globe, shared their research and experience related to an area where the world is far from the ideal – gender equity on Boards of Directors.  In 2017, women held only 15 percent of board seats globally.[i] There are many, many reasons for this lack of equity.  In our book, and in the work of other researchers, the challenges of reaching gender equity on boards have been explored and many suggestions for how to come closer to achieving the ideal have been offered.

One major conclusion we’ve reached, and which we believe is evident in all the work that’s been done, is that there are many ways to make some progress, or to move the needle, towards gender equity on boards of directors, but the influence of any one solution will be far from enough to reach the ideal and a “one size fits all” strategy will fail. In this article, we’ve summarized the challenges to achieving gender equity on boards and suggestions to address each of the challenges into four broad categories:  boards themselves, women themselves, culture, and laws. One more challenge relates to the argument whether this idea of gender equity on Boards of Directors is even worth pursuing.

Challenges – Boards Themselves

Boards and their current members provide challenges for increasing gender equity on boards.   First, in countries and companies without term limits for their Directors, the turnover is very limited and there may be very few board openings.  Demonstrating how important this challenge is, women were named to take 137 of the 358 vacant seats on Fortune 500 companies’ independent boards in 2017.  Thus, over 38 percent of the vacant seats went to women, a huge increase over the 28 percent in 2016.  But there were 4,747 seats on the boards of those companies.[ii]  So, even if all new board members were women, progress would remain very slow and totally excluding men as potential new board members would be unacceptable to most everyone.

Another barrier is the oft-stated requirement for board members to demonstrate an understanding of the “big picture”.  This competence is often viewed as best gained by serving as a company CEO.  However, as there are very few women who are hired as CEOs (e.g. 4.8% of CEOs of S&P 500 companies are women[iii]), few women have a resume indicating they have the CEO experience considered a prerequisite for board membership

Yet another challenge is that, in general, individuals are most comfortable working with others who share their values and their interests, people whom they both like and trust.  Thus boards have most often looked for new members among the people they know.  Sometimes they even seek people who look and act as they do.  They believe they are doing this in the interests of smooth board functioning.

Means for addressing these challenges include: board term limits; increasing the size of boards; recognizing that in today’s fast-changing, high technology, global economy CEOs aren’t the best source for the gaps in skillsets on boards; and adding women who are known and admired rather than merely “a woman” to meet a quota.  Executive recruiting firms are often used to help identify women not already known to board members and who would be a good board “fit”.

In addition to boards posing challenges to adding women members, boards can also limit women board members’ effective participation.  Some boards are run by chairs who listen only to a few most trusted members.  Adding women to a board if they are not going to have a voice on the board is meaningless, and board chairs are key to ensuring the voices of all board members are heard.  In addition, research has demonstrated that adding a “token” woman to a board means little except for an improved statistic.  Women’s voices seem to become an influence when there are at least three women on a single board.

Challenges – Women Themselves

Some evidence indicates that women themselves contribute to the equity issue because there are not enough women who aspire to board membership or who are prepared to serve on boards. As noted above, few women have served as CEOs and given that this is considered essential background experience, woman do not stand up to be included as independent directors.  “Golden skirts” in countries such as Norway highlight another problem.  Although women hold more than 40% of the board seats in Norway, many of the seats are held by a few women, the “golden skirts,” who are professional board members and participate on a large number of boards. The large percentage of undergraduate and professional degrees being earned by women, and the growing number of women in C-suite positions (even if not CEO) would suggest a larger number of qualified women for directorships.  Arguments are also made for the value of feminine relational leadership, which is more likely to be seen in women’s skill sets and backgrounds, as contributing knowledge, values, and decision-making approaches that would enrich boards; perhaps in ways that are more valuable than prior CEO experience. Today, many leading universities and professional women’s group offer programs to help women develop big picture and networking skills among others; efforts to help women who do not have CEO backgrounds prepare for board membership.

Some suggest that women don’t want to serve on boards; the cost-benefit analysis doesn’t come out favorably for women.  This appears to conflict with evidence that women are more prepared for board meetings than the men serving on the same boards.  However, women often have major responsibilities outside of work, and home and family roles can conflict with career ambitions.

Challenges – Cultures and Laws

This challenge is closely linked to cultural values, stronger in some countries and within some religious communities than in others, that women’s primary role is as a caregiver at home.  While our shrinking globe and global media have reduced this challenge to an extent, such beliefs still have a major influence.  Many would question the assumption of the ideal world we posed at the beginning of this statement. Even in Western countries where gender equity is espoused, most of the childcare, eldercare, and home care is done by women whether they work outside of the home or not. In some countries, gender equity is increasingly codified in the law; in other countries, the laws restrict women’s participation outside the home. Countries with strong cultural support for increasing the number of women on boards have used the legal system to require reporting of women’s representation on corporate boards or to enact quota systems.  In countries where the culture is consistent with quotas and where penalties for noncompliance are included in the laws, quotas have been quite effective.  Recently France joined Norway in the elite group of countries where the percentage of women on boards exceeds 40 percent.[iv]

Challenges – The Business Case

As a final discussion point, it is worth noting that once one gets beyond the arguments that it is unfair to discriminate against women and that it is foolish to dismiss the talent of half the world’s population, the arguments for adding more women to boards become controversial also.  Women board members have been found to add new perspectives that improve decision making, encourage innovation, serve as role models for women employees, change the atmosphere at board meetings, and encourage corporate responsibility.  Yet, when researching human behavior it is almost impossible to reasonably assume that the number of women on a boards is the only variable and that “all other factors are equal”.  Perhaps that is why the results of studies measuring the benefits of adding women to boards often seem inconsistent.  Company size, board make-up, chair behavior, industry, the style and behavior of the individual women involved, and all the other topics discussed earlier might also be “not equal” leading to conflicting evidence among studies.

We believe adding women to boards is valuable and that there are many, many things boards, women, and society can do to increase the number of women on boards.  We want to make sure we’re all remembering though, that complex issues seldom have simple solutions – and board equity is a complex issue.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Authors

Lynne E. Devnew is on the associate faculty for the doctoral program, is a distinguished research fellow, and chairs the Women and Leadership Research Group at the University of Phoenix in the United States. A former senior middle manager at IBM, she has a DBA in strategy from the Questrom School, Boston University, and is a graduate of Columbia University’s Master Degree Program for Executives in New York City and Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts, all in the United States. Dr. Devnew’s research work and publications are focused on women’s leadership aspirations and leader identity development. She serves on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations.

Marlene Janzen Le Ber is Associate Professor and Chair, School of Leadership & Social Change at Canada’s only women’s university, Brescia University College and Adjunct Research Professor at the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at Ivey School of Business, Western University. Her teaching is all leadership-related. A multiple research-grant holder in the complex processes of leadership, her current research is in leader character, leader identity development in women, and impact of art-based and narrative research on policy and social change. Prior to her doctoral studies, Marlene was a health care executive within academic health sciences centers, known as a strategic leader who spearheaded numerous health system innovations. Marlene has a PhD in Strategy from Ivey Business School, MScN (Admin) and BScN from Western University.

[i] This statistic is from Deloitte’s “Women in the boardroom: A global perspective – 5th edition” published in 2017 and based on data gathered from over 60 countries.  The relevant statistic in the 4thedition, published in 2015, was 12 percent and gathered from more than 40 countries.  The report is available at https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/risk/articles/women-in-the-boardroom5th-edition.html.

[ii] The number of women filling vacant and new board seats for Fortune 500 companies is from Heidrick & Struggles 2018 “CEO & Board Practice”.  This report is available at https://www.heidrick.com/Knowledge-Center/Publication/Board_Monitor_2018.

[iii] This information is from Catalyst Research’s “Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies” on March 25, 2019.  The pyramid can be found at https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-sp-500-companies/.

[iv] The leading role of Norway is discussed many times in our book, More Women on Boards: An International Perspective.  After it was completed, France passed the 40 percent mark, as reported in Catalysts’ “Quick Take: Women on Corporate Boards” dated December 21, 2018.  This report can be found at: https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-on-corporate-boards/.

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