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Water Cooler

Information and insight about your career and the workplace at large
February 2006

News and Views

The best way to predict the future is to invent it yourself. That's what Alan C. Kay told the 20th annual meeting of the Stanford Computing Forum in 1989, and his advice still stands today. Kay, visionary, veteran of Arpanet (now Internet) and Apple Computers, and most recently, inventor of the $100 laptop, had other gems for his listeners, including this one: "Point of view" is worth 80 IQ points. Details

A management breakthrough can yield strong advantages to innovating companies and produce new industry leaders. But most companies don't have a formal structure for encouraging managerial innovation. Further, existing management procedures may themselves stifle or block innovative problem solving. Gary Hamel, in this month's Harvard Business Review, takes on this issue and suggests four components to generating really new ideas, and three conditions for creating long-lasting innovation advantages. More (registration required)

Fifty-seven percent of dissatisfied employees say they want to leave their jobs because they are underpaid. But are these unhappy workers actually underpaid? Salary.com's 2005/2006 Employee Job Satisfaction and Retention Survey found some surprising facts. Find out more

Might your company want to give back to the community? One of the best ways is to offer employees time off to volunteer and use their skills to aid nonprofit organizations locally or globally. A toolkit in downloadable PDF format from Winning Workplace Ideas discusses the benefits and recommends how-to tips for organizing a "Time Off to Volunteer Program." To check it out, go to page 6 of the file


Toolbox

Get people to pay better attention to you—by becoming a better speaker. Below, seven tips from Communciation Briefings, which sourced them from Investor's Business Daily:

1. Think "louder, bigger." Most people should speak a little louder than normal, a little more slowly than normal, and use larger gestures than they might in one-to-one conversation.

2. Know your audience. Then be sure to tell them something they don't already know.

3. Don't read a speech "word for word." Instead, talk from an outline or a set of index cards on which you've written key words. It's more natural, and your eyes are focused on the audience instead of on the lectern.

4. Be approachable. Move away from the lectern and into the audience where possible. This helps establish rapport.

5. Rehearse, and videotape your rehearsal. Improve what you can.

6. When you look at the audience, meet their eyes for at least five or six seconds. Shorter, and people perceive you as scared.

7. Instead of saying "um" or "you know," pause, collect your thoughts, and move on.

And here's one more, based on my personal experience: Warm up the audience by greeting each individual with a smile and a handshake, if possible, as s/he walks into the room. It makes audience members feel welcome AND more receptive to your message.


NEW: Last Chance to Weigh In: To Blog, or Not to Blog?

Results are trickling in—thanks! So far, 50% of responders said "Yes," 25% said "No," and 25% said "I don't know." So, I'm continuing the dialogue -if you haven't responded, now's your chance. I'll let you know the final outcome in the March issue of WaterCooler.

Here's the gist, in case you missed last month's issue:

I'm thinking of turning WaterCooler into a blog.This would give you a chance to share YOUR news and views, rather than just hear about mine. It would also be an opportunity for networking—you could post comments to WaterCooler content, or link to your own blog, if you have one.

Please let me know: Is this something you'd find interesting?

It's easy: just send me an email and write "Yes" in the header if you'd find the blog a nice change of pace, or "No" if you'd like WaterCooler to continue the way it is. And feel free to add additional comments or ideas in your email.

I really want to hear from you—so write me!