Two Heads Are Better Than One. Thousands - Even Millions - Are Infinitely Better!
There are a wide range of tools that leaders can use to boost inclusion in their organizations. Some have existed for some time; others have emerged through technological advances and demographic demands. Inclusive leaders can effectively leverage these tools to ensure they are capturing inputs from all areas, and all members, of their organizations. Here’s a look at some tools you can readily implement in your organization:
Crowdsourcing is a term that has sprung up in the Web 2.0 age to refer to the process of actively soliciting ideas from a large group of people. Inclusive leaders can crowdsource by actively seeking input from employees, for instance, through the use of online forums, live chats or other technology-enabled media. The same process can be used externally. Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign, for instance, turned to the public to solicit ads that competed to appear during the Super Bowl broadcast and had a long and successful run over several years. The campaign has been running for a number of years and has resulted in both PR buzz and sales.
Two heads are better than one. Thousands—even millions—are infinitely better!
Celebration of Great Ideas
Celebrating great ideas may seem obvious; however, celebrating ideas is something that needs to be actively incorporated into a company’s culture, whether these celebrations include tangible benefits such as bonuses, raises and promotions or more subtle perks like public or private recognition. Foursquare and other innovative 21st century companies are finding creative ways to engage employees through celebration and recognition. Foursquare, for example, has used what it calls “Demo Days” to allow staff to show off what they’re working on and gather fresh insights from others. Formulated like venture capital pitches, Demo Days are held almost weekly and employees are recognized for their innovations.
The IT world has popularized the concept of hackathons—events where programmers come together for intense collaboration around a particular project. These events could last anywhere from a day to a week in length. The concept has caught on. Today the concept is used by innovative leaders in many industries as a means of bringing people together to focus their efforts on a specific issue or innovation. Doubt whether the concept can work? Twitter was created via hackathon by a group of employees working at a company called Odeo, Inc., in San Francisco. The company still uses the concept to fuel innovation, as does Facebook, which believes that hackathons “serve as the foundation for some great (and not so great) ideas.”
Internal communities, often called Business Resource Groups (BRGs) or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), are groups of employees with shared backgrounds, interests or characteristics that come together to share perspectives, and gain insights about each other and about their workplaces. But, while ERGs may by their nature seem exclusive, that is far from the case. They are a rich source of information, insight and understanding that others within the organization can benefit from on both personal and professional levels.
Kaizen is a Sino-Japanese word which means good (zen) change (kai). It’s a philosophy that was picked up by companies like Toyota for use in work related to quality management and continuous improvement. For inclusive leaders, the use of Kaizen is tied directly to the value of leveraging employee insights and inputs to make positive change. These are typically not “big ideas,” but small, incremental improvements. Every employee in an organization participates in kaizen and all are encouraged to come up with small improvement suggestions.
A skunkworks project is an initiative in which a department is created or is tasked with working independently on a specialized project typically geared toward innovation. The idea is to allow the loosely organized team to escape the strictures and cumbersome bureaucracies of the larger organization in order to more efficiently and creatively innovate. Lockheed Martin takes credit for the origination of the term Skunk Works.
Inclusive Leadership Training
While some leaders certainly have a greater propensity for exhibiting inclusive leadership behaviors than others, it can’t be assumed that even these “naturally inclusive” leaders will be able to successfully lead their teams toward desired outcomes. Leadership training is required to ensure that leaders’ actions are aligned with the desired corporate culture and that they have the tools to serve effectively in their roles.
Yes, it takes time to nurture inclusive leaders. But the effort is well worth it. As the organization’s numbers of inclusive leaders grow, so do both internal and external benefits.
Here’s Why Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold So Easily
What a week it was.
First and foremost, I’d like to acknowledge the horrific mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern American history. On behalf of everyone at U.S. Global Investors, I extend my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.
The memory of the shooting was still fresh in people’s minds during last Tuesday’s Hollywood premiere of Blade Runner 2049, which nixed the usual red carpet and other glitz in light of the tragedy. Before the film, producers shared poignant words, saying that in times such as these, the arts are crucial now more than ever.
I had the distinct privilege to attend the premiere. My good friend Frank Giustra, whose production company Thunderbird Entertainment owns a stake in the Blade Runner franchise, was kind enough to invite me along. Despite the somber mood—a pivotal scene in the film even takes place in an irradiated Las Vegas—I thought Blade Runner 2049 was spectacular. Even if you’re not a fan of the original 1982 film, it’s still worth experiencing in theaters. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s synth-heavy score is especially haunting.
CNET recently published an interesting piece examining the accuracy of future tech as depicted in the original Blade Runner, from androids to flying cars to off-world travel read the article here.
Still in the Early Innings of Cryptocurrencies
Speaking of the future, I spoke on the topic of the blockchain last week at the Subscriber Investment Summit in Vancouver. My presentation focused on the future of mining—not just of gold and precious metals but also cryptocurrencies.
Believe it or not, there are upwards of 2,100 digital currencies being traded in the world right now, with a combined market cap of nearly $150 billion, according to Coinranking.com.
Obviously not all of these cryptos will survive. We’re still in the early innings. Last month I compared this exciting new digital world to the earliest days of the dotcom era, and just as there were winners and losers then, so too will there be winners and losers today. Although bitcoin and Ethereum appear to be the frontrunners right now, recall that only 20 years ago AOL and Yahoo! were poised to dominate the internet. How times have changed!
It will be interesting to see which coins emerge as the “Amazon” and “Google” of cryptocurrencies.
For now, Ethereum has some huge backers. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), according to its website, seeks to “learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production—Ethereum.” The EEA includes several big-name financial and tech firms such as Credit Suisse, Intel, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, whose own CEO, Jamie Dimon, knocked cryptos a couple of weeks ago.
To learn more about the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, watch this engaging two-minute video.
Will Bitcoin Replace Gold?
Lately I’ve been seeing more and more headlines asking whether cryptos are “killing” gold. Would the gold price be higher today if massive amounts of money weren’t flowing into bitcoin? Both assets, after all, are sometimes favored as safe havens. They’re decentralized and accepted all over the world, 24 hours a day. Transactions are anonymous. Supply is limited.
But I don’t think for a second that cryptocurrencies will ever replace gold, for a number of reasons. For one, cryptos are strictly forms of currency, whereas gold has many other time-tested applications, from jewelry to dentistry to electronics.
Unlike cryptos, gold doesn’t require electricity to trade. This makes it especially useful in situations such as hurricane-ravished Puerto Rico, where 95 percent of people are reportedly still without power. Right now the island’s economy is cash-only. If you have gold jewelry or coins, they can be converted into cash—all without electricity or WiFi.
Finally, gold remains one of the most liquid assets, traded daily in well-established exchanges all around the globe. Every day, some £13.8 billion, or $18 billion, worth of physical gold are traded in London alone, according to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). The cryptocurrency market, although expanding rapidly, is not quite there yet.
I will admit, though, that bitcoin is energizing some investors, especially millennials, in ways that gold might have a hard time doing. The proof is all over the internet. You can find a number of TED Talks on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, but to my knowledge, none is available on gold investing. YouTube is likewise bursting at the seams with videos on cryptos.
Bitcoin is up 350 percent for the year, Ethereum an unbelievable 3,600 percent. Gold, meanwhile, is up around 10 percent. Producers, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, have gained 11.5 percent in 2017, 23 percent since its 52-week low in December 2016.
Look Past the Negativity to Find the Good News
The news is filled with negative headlines, and sometimes it’s challenging to stay positive. Take Friday’s jobs report. It showed that the U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first month in seven years that this happened. A weak report was expected because of Hurricane Irma, but no one could have guessed the losses would be this deep.
The jobs report wasn’t all bad news, however. For one, the decline is very likely temporary. Beyond that, a record 4.88 million Americans who were previously sitting out of the labor force found work last month. This helped the unemployment rate fall to 4.2 percent, a 16-year low.
There’s more that supports a stronger U.S. economy. As I shared with you last week, the Manufacturing ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a 13-year high in September, indicating rapid expansion in the manufacturing industry. Factory orders were up during the month. Auto sales were up. Oil has stayed in the relatively low $50-a-barrel range, which is good for transportation and industrials, especially airlines. Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, continue to climb above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages as excitement over tax reform intensifies.
These are among the reasons why I remain bullish.
One final note: Speaking on tax reform, Warren Buffett told CNBC last week that he’s waiting to sell assets until he knows the plan will go through. “I would feel kind of silly if I realized $1 billion worth of gains and paid $350 million in tax on it if I just waited a few months and would have paid $250 million,” he said.
It’s a fair comment, and I imagine other like-minded, forward-thinking investors, buyers and sellers will also wait to make huge transactions if they can help it. Tax reform isn’t a done deal, but I think it has a much better chance of being signed into law than a health care overhaul.
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