Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?

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Our democratic form of government relies on the accuracy of our elections, but how reliable are they?  What are the dangers of the technologies we are using?  In a fascinating new book Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?, Douglas Jones and Barbara Simons take readers on a journey through historical issues with voting technologies to modern day issues and the finally ending with recommendations for today.

Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent or a member of another party, the integrity of the process is critical.  As elections are now decided by a smaller and smaller number of votes, the perfection we expect will perhaps be scrutinized like never before.

My interview with Barbara Simons:

Your book Broken Ballots is a comprehensive review of the process of counting votes.  It begins with a sweeping view of the use of ballot technology.

I was fascinated to read so many examples of election issues throughout our nation’s history.  Share with us one or two of the more memorable events you outlined in the book.

Unfortunately, there are many examples of machine melt-downs and failures to choose from.  Two that I think are illustrative of the problems of paperless voting occurred in Cartaret County, NC in 2004 and Sarasota, FL in 2006.

Which Creative Style Are You?

Photo by lumaxart on flickr.

As readers of this blog know, I’ve long been interested in innovation.  Is there a creative gene?  Are you able to develop it like a skill?  How can company culture be changed to improve the odds in favor of creative teams?

The International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University offers programs in creativity.  Chris Grivas and Gerrard Puccio wrote The Innovative Team to make fifty years of research at the institution available outside of the academic institution.  Gerard Puccio is department chair and professor at Buffalo State University, and Chris Grivas is an organizational and leadership development consultant.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Chris about the book and his observations on innovation.

What first started your interest in innovation?

Back in the days when I was in college, I had what can best be described as a “grunt” job.  It was long days with people vying to work the weekends where they would get extra pay.  Most of my colleagues did not have college degrees and few could have hoped for a better job.  They seem resigned to accept this state of life rather than work on improving their options.  Why would people settle for a life like this?  What would inspire them to do something more and find a way to make it work?  I talked with friends and professors about it, and one answer that came up made a lot of sense to me – it’s about how they use their creativity.  If they were confident in their ability to create new alternatives, they may become inspired to innovate their way to a better life.  Now that was a topic that got me excited, so I went on to explore it in graduate school.

You decided to write this book in story form.  Why?

7 Customer Service Strategies for an Amazing Customer Experience

It’s Customer Service Week making it an ideal time to review your customer service strategy.

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the world’s authorities on the customer experience.  Shep Hyken is an author, speaker, and consultant to some of the world’s largest companies.  He is a member of the National Speakers Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement and is a member of the distinguished Speaker’s Roundtable.  His books include The Loyal Customer, Moments of Magic, and the bestselling books The Cult of the Customer and his latest The Amazement Revolution.

In The Amazement Revolution, Shep outlines seven powerful strategies to increase customer and employee loyalty.  As Shep says, the Amazement Revolution is, “The strategic decision to remake your organization or your team based on the principle of amazement.”

It seems simple, but it’s profound.  What if you and your organization really remade everything in your company around creating an AMAZING customer experience?  What would happen?

7 Lessons of Extraordinary Resilience from Lee Woodruff

“When bad things happen, we all dream of rewinding the tape…but we can’t so we do the only thing we can:  we take those bad things and turn them into situations we can learn from.  It’s human nature to try to pan for gold, to find a positive slant in something so negative because anything less would feel like defeat.”  Lee Woodruff, Perfectly Imperfect

Lee Woodruff dropped into my life unexpectedly.  We were both speakers at an event raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Within minutes of meeting her, we were sharing stories, laughing, and exchanging email addresses.  Some people have that incredible gift to connect with people in an authentic way that makes you feel you’ve known them all your life.

If you were to read only about Lee’s successes, you would think she never had a problem in the world:

 

  • Contributing editor for CBS This Morning
  • Author of three books
  • Mother of four beautiful children
  • Married to one of the world’s top journalists
  • Author of numerous articles published in magazines such as Redbook, Prevention, Country Living and Health
  • Co-founder of a foundation to help wounded servicemen

 

We so often read about people who are wildly successful, and think they are somehow different.  In some way, the world only showers good things on them.

That’s not the case with Lee.  We all remember when her husband, talented news anchor Bob Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq.  Only a month after succeeding Peter Jennings at ABC, it changed the Woodruff’s lives.

Harvard’s Cynthia Montgomery Asks: Are You A Strategist?

Photo by Konstantin Lazorkin on flickr.

Cynthia Montgomery’s new book, The Strategist, will challenge you to rethink your approach to business strategy.  For over twenty years Professor Montgomery has taught at Harvard Business School.  For six of those years she led the strategy track at Harvard Business School’s executive program for owner-managers, personally helping business leaders around the world with strategy formation.  Her experience is that rare blend of the academic with the practical, and her new book offers business leaders the benefit of her extensive experience.

Every year, I read numerous business books and can say that this is one that won’t be relegated to a shelf.  It’s a blueprint, a guide to leading your company with greater success.  Nothing is spared, and you will question not only your company strategy but also your personal leadership of the strategic process.  See if you can answer with clarity the following questions:

Are you a strategist?

Why does your company matter?

Are you the leader your business needs?

Is your strategy filled with generic statements and empty clichés?

Do you know where your company is going and why?

After reading the book, I was personally challenged to rethink strategy.  I recently had the opportunity to ask Cynthia about her work and her vast experience in strategy formulation and leadership.