Posted by: nataliaxorozco | November 17, 2019

Fair Fight 2020: Stacey Abram’s New Power Leadership

“With your help, we will repair our broken democracy and empower the voters of America to set the direction of our nation,” these are the words of Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost Georgia’s gubernatorial race in 2018 to Republican Brian Kemp in an election marred by reports of voter suppression. Despite her position as a “rising star” in the Democratic party, Abrams chose to launch a voter rights campaign rather than join the infinity pool of Democrats vying for the presidency in 2020.

According to Heimans and Timms (2018) there are four types of leaders—castles, co-opters, cheerleaders, and crowd leaders—and three essential new power leadership capabilities: signal, structure, and shape. Throughout her bid for Governor and in her current Fair Fight 2020 campaign, Abrams has proven herself to be a crowd leader. Her campaign produced historic voter turnout among youth, women, and people of color that crossed party lines and nearly resulted in a win. 

Although Kemp “won,” Abrams empowered her base by refusing to formally concede. Instead, she signaled that while she lost according to the system, the system itself was broken. Her new Fair Fight 2020 campaign is creating structures and practices to enable participation and agency, while her choice to not run for president sets up the norms and direction of the crowd that go beyond her formal authority. In a time where so many politicians seem to be seeking the power of the presidency, Abrams is seeking power for the people.

References:

Abrams, S. (n.d.). Fair fight 2020 [organization website]. Retrieved from: https://fairfight.com/fair-fight-2020/

Abrams, S. (2018). Lead from the outside: How to build your future and make real change. New York, NY: Picador Henry Holt & Company.

Heimans, J. & Timms, H. (2018). New power: How anyone can persuade, mobilize, and succeed in our chaotic, connected age. New York, NY: Anchor Books, Penguin Random House.

Posted by: Hanna Neuschwander | November 16, 2019

The coffee variety that wasn’t

A few years ago, a new variety of coffee tree was released for farmers. It yielded eight times as many coffee cherries as older varieties (the seeds inside the cherry are what we know as “coffee beans”). It should have been a blockbuster success.

Instead, within three years, farmers were ripping the new trees out of their fields and millions worth of investment had been lost. Why?

The coffee company that created the variety had rigorously tested to make sure it worked as expected under diverse conditions, figured out how to make it accessible, and educated farmers about its improved performance. It had convinced many thousands of people to buy  and plant the new variety. They had successfully helped farmers move through the first four stages of Rogers’ theory of innovation diffusion (2003): knowledge, persuasion, decision, and implementation.

But when it was time for the first harvest of the new trees, it turned out the cherries were much smaller than farmers were used to. It was a pain to harvest them, and they had to hire more labor to pick—a substantial unexpected cost. Farmers decided it wasn’t worth it. Innovation diffusion broke down at Rogers’ “confirmation” stage, and farmers went back to the old varieties (“replacement discontinuance”).

What happened? It turned out the company hadn’t thought to solicit broad feedback from farmers upfront. As a result, the variety had low compatibility with farmers’ practices and expectations—an innovation failure with massive implications for farmer livelihoods.

References
Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovation (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.

 

Posted by: Silvia Pereida | November 11, 2019

Groupthink flaws and biases

Irving Janis developed “groupthink” as a theory to describe the process of dysfunctional thinking. Majority overrules individual thoughts, ideas, and conclusions. Chapter 8 explores the concept of groupthink, which has trickled into the realm of academia and popular culture. In group discussions people often agree with bosses, co-workers even though internally they disagree. Some of the reasons for a collective decision can be because of stressors like deadlines. Janis argues the symptoms of groupthink fit into three categories: overestimation, closed-mindedness, and pressure toward uniformity (Dainton & Zelley, 2019, p. 148).

In academia groupthink is looked at for its flaws in collective thinking and research. For example in a recent article, How groupthink is harmful in academia, it explains the flaws in scholarly research within a group of people who have the same set of world views or biases reflect in their research (Leef, 2019). An example of bias in academia happened when a Canadian professor had done a study that seemed to support his conclusion and no one disagreed. The academic assumption was that religious people are not open-minded. After reflecting on his study – the professor realized the sample group might have been skewed against religious people “No doubt it never occurred to us because not a single member of our lab had any religious inclinations at all” (Leef, 2019). To fix this, researchers and social scientists need to reach out to scholars in departments that do not hold dominant liberal views, in order to promote diverse dialogue (Leef, 2019).

Citations:

Dainton, M., & Zelley, E.D. (2019). Group Communication. In Applying communication theory for professional life: a practical introduction (4th ed., pp. 143–150). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Leef, G. (2019, November 1). How Groupthink Is Harmful in Academia. Retrieved from https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/how-groupthink-is-harmful-in-academia

 

Posted by: claudia amezcua | November 9, 2019

Step it up Walmart

In Chapter 9 of Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life (Dainton & Zelley, 2019) talks about how an organization is transparent about its mission and values to its employees.

 Organizational communication was made evident in an article by Bryce Covert (Time Magazine) on the countless lawsuits against Walmart due to gender inequality. The response by Walmart was to launch a Women’s Resource Council and a Walmart Academies is geared to help anyone interested in moving up the ranks noting that 60 percent of those individuals are women. Walmart also noted that they have been using a culture, diversity and inclusion scorecard since 2016 that helps provide biannual reports on managers. They have added anyone who feels that they were treated unfairly deserve to have their claims heard in court, but the company plans to defend themselves against those claims.

Essentially, for an organization to thrive they must evolve with the times. What worked then may not be socially acceptable tomorrow especially with the current social political climate. 

Covert, B. (2019, May 9). Years Later, Women Still Fight Walmart Over Discrimination. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from https://time.com/5586423/walmart-gender-discrimination/.

Sainato, M. (2019, February 18). Walmart facing gender discrimination lawsuits from female employees. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/18/walmart-gender-discrimination-supreme-court.

Posted by: adrianawollney | November 4, 2019

Fundraising Tactics: The Good, The Bad, and Theranos

Chapter 7 of New Power discusses what motivates people to give to a cause, also known as crowdfunding. As evidenced by the Star Citizen example, one of the most powerful ways to spark donations is to combine altruistic and economic reasons – those who donate get something (recognition, an item, etc.) in return as well as knowing they have done something beneficial for society. However, more impactful is offering the chance to participate in the organization/item development process.

Some “new power” companies are viewed with a lens of irony: “almost-a-million bosses ended up imposing less oversight than the old power construct of a handful of key financial backers …” (133).

The lack of supervision, in some instances, can also lead to transparency issues within new power companies. One example includes Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. Holmes founded Theranos intending to increase accessibility and affordability of medical care through blood-testing machines that could supposedly diagnose diseases through a couple of drops of blood (Bilton). She raised nearly $1 billion from investors – note: her fundraising methods align more directly with old power funding skills; however from my research, Theranos maintained a combination of old and new power. Holmes committed one of the most significant cases of fraud to-date. She refused to disclose the company’s difficulty in designing functional blood machines, sent false test results to customers and forced secrecy throughout operations. Theranos encapsulates the challenge to balance philanthropy and business and makes a case for keeping some traditional oversight in place.

References

Heimans, J., & Timms, Henry. (2018). New power: How power works in our hyperconnected world –and how to make it work for you (First ed.).

Bilton, N. (2019, February 21). “She never looks back”: inside Elizabeth Holmes’s chilling final months at Theranos. Vanity Fair. Retrieved fromhttps://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/02/inside-elizabeth-holmess-final-months-at-theranos

News broke today of Gert Boyle passing away at the age of 95 years. The pioneering woman etched her name in Oregon and the sportswear industry, her quick wit, and fearless attitude carried her far in a male-dominated industry.

Gert Boyle immigrated to the U.S. from Germany escaping as Adolf Hitler came into power. She even foiled her attempted kidnapping during an invasion in her West Linn home at the age of 87 in 2010! According to the Oregonian Boyle ended up bruised up and when an officer asked her if she was alright she replied, “Everything was okay until you came in with that North Face Jacket.” Love that even in a horrible and scary situation she found the humor in life.

In chapter six of the textbook, we learned about cultural dimensions, as researched by Geert Hofstede who developed the theory. For this purpose, we are focusing on the fourth dimension that looks at “the relationship between biological sex and what is considered to be sex-appropriate behavior” (Dainton & Zelley, 2019, pp. 100-101). Masculine cultures use “the reality of biological sex” to create distinctions in roles for men and women. The U.S. is a masculine culture, as distinguished by the wage gap and the number of CEOs at the top being men. In an article by the Oregonian Gert Boyle pivoted Columbia Sportswear out of a bad place, reporting that after her husband died the company net sales rose to $2.47 billion in 2017. Boyle’s shares alone in the company were worth nearly $900 million in 2018, making her one of the wealthiest Oregonians (Duin, 2019).

Duin 2019:

“The world might never have known her talents but for the fact that her husband died so young,” Brown says. “She never gave up. She represents what I think when I think about Oregon: We are mavericks, innovators, creators.” (Duin, “Gert Boyle, ‘One Tough Mother’ who led Columbia Sportswear, dies at 95”, 2019)

Boyle went on to become the first woman inducted into the Sporting Goods Association of Fame (Duin,2019). She was also part of a campaign for the company – emulating the tough masculine persona in a male-dominated business world, something that she wasn’t an early fan of according to the Oregonian “she wasn’t convinced a male-dominated audience would appreciate glamour shots and such taglines”(Duin,2019).

Here is a link to the campaign video:

https://youtu.be/VwDs5q-YzDA

Besides saving Columbia Sportswear from the pits – Gert Boyle was also a mother as quoted in the Oregonian “some of the skills I learned as a mother and running a household were very transferable to the workplace – skills like urging people to get along with each other, and not spending money unless you have it” (Dui, 2019).

Cheers to a pioneer woman who knocked down the glass ceiling made a name for herself and took no crap from anyone. All while raising a family.

Citations:

Duin, S. (2019, November 3). Gert Boyle, ‘One Tough Mother’ who led Columbia Sportswear, dies at 95. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2019/11/gert-boyle-longtime-columbia-sportswear-chairwoman-dies-at-95.html.

Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2019). Culture. In Applying communication theory for professional life (4th ed., pp. 100–101). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Posted by: alysonlmorris | November 4, 2019

Powerful Persuasion – Youth taking action on Climate Change

The article, Greta Thunberg: Meeting With Trump Would Be ‘A Waste Of Time, Really’ released by Huffpost discusses Greta Thunberg’s interview with Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen begins by thanking Greta for all her work around climate change. Ellen believes much of Greta’s success in rallying so many followers stems from her passion that people see as raw and real. The way Greta speaks and her youthful energy is resonating with people, as is evident by the more than 11 million people that have now participated in climate strikes. Greta goes on to explain how she sees her Asperger’s as a gift. She explains that in a society where everyone thinks the same, those that maybe think a bit differently, like many on the autism spectrum, ought to be seen as a resource for new way of thinking (Wong, 2019).

Greta’s ambition reflects a sense self-efficacy. In Chapter 6 of Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life, Dainton and Zelley see self-efficacy as the belief in oneself to perform a certain behavior. Attitudes as learned evaluations can change and Greta’s persistence is evidence of that evolution (2019).

Additionally, Dainton and Zelley describe persuasion to be “human communication that is designed to influence others by modifying their beliefs, values or attitudes” (2019). Greta’s plan of persuasion seems to be aimed at putting pressure on people in power. This tactic is making strides, particularly in youth, a population that could be charging the way for the sake of their own future.

|References:

Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2019). Applying communication theory for professional life: a practical introduction (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Wong, C. M. (2019, November 1). Greta Thunberg: Meeting With Trump Would Be ‘A Waste Of Time, Really’. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/greta-thunberg-trump-ellen-degeneres-show_n_5dbc3717e4b09d8f9799e185.

Posted by: dridgeway | November 3, 2019

Breaking the Brand Guide – Building a New Power Brand

A key element in many corporate marketing and communication departments is the infamous brand guide, better known as the “do and do not” manual. In this guide, the typography, colors, logo layout, and corporate voice examples are a resource to ensure a compelling brand allowing for quick identification for external and internal stakeholders. It is the governing tool of the brand.

I have this tool sitting next to my laptop and refer to it daily – what logo to use, the RGB color code for a PowerPoint, logo placement on company vehicles, approved taglines, and professional photography requirements. Utilizing these tools has been hammered into many marketing and communication professionals, that “where is the guide?”, is one of the first questions new hires ask.

In New Power, Heimans and Timms introduce five steps to Build a New Power Crowd in chapter 4. These steps include: Step 1 Find your connected connectors; Step 2 Build a New Power Brand; Step 3 lower the barrier, flatten the path; Step 4 move people up the participation scale, and Step 5 harness the three storms (Heimans & Timmis, 2018). Step 2 is what caught my attention in building a brand that embraces new power because the beloved brand guide is an element of old power. However, to adopt new power ideals, it needs to be broken.

Ditching the strict guide is to build a community that rallies behind and uplifts organizations. An example in the book is Airbnb. In 2014, the firm need to find its original roots and connect with their community members, they needed a brand that resonated with anyone in any location. They developed a new logo but put power in the hands of hosts on color, texture, and add-ons. According to the logo design firm, DesignStudio, “community members to truly participate into the visual element of the brand” (https://design.studio/work/airbnb) and over 750,000 logo variations have been created. In old power organizations, the example logo below would draw critique and discussion with the employee that created it on why it’s off-brand. However, community members have transformed Airbnb into an influencer within the hospitality industry.

Step 2 also discusses Ownerless Brands, like #GivingTuesday. The non-profit encourages individuals to volunteer and donate to local non-profits in communities on the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, in its infancy, the logo was highly debated on including elements of the organization’s brainchild firm. The fear of incorporating elements beyond #GivingTuesday was that it would be challenging for other non-profit ease of using the logo. The result would create confusion for potential volunteers and donors. New power brand building has allowed the campaign to spread rapidly from coast to coast. #GivingTuesday in 2019 is on December 3rd. Be sure to get out in your community to donate an hour or two, or give a few dollars to our favorite charity and become a new power brand user and post the hashtag on your social media. I know that I’ll be participating this year!

Many firms might be unwilling to allow a full new power approach, but taking small steps can help these brands reach an innovative group of community members who develop a new passion for an organization when they feel they have the ability to be involved or interact in a meaningful way, beyond being a consumer.

References:

Heimans, J., & Timmis, H. (2018). Chapter 4 How to Build a Crowd. In J. Heimans, & H. Timmis, New Power (pp. 54-80). New York, New York: Doubleday.

https://design.studio/work/airbnb

https://www.givingtuesday.org/

First of all, what is the “culture” in the so-called cultural differences?

The meaning of culture is broadly defined. Geert Hofstede, the founder of the theory of cultural dimensions, mentioned: “Culture is the software of the mind.” Does cultural difference exist only within countries? Culture is always labeled as one of the important gaps between “countries”, so that many people take it for granted that they “have a lot of difference” when people divide themselves as a foreigner. However, is “country” really the most significant factor contributing to cultural differences? With the flattening of the world, the rapid spread of information globalization shrinks he cultural differences. In an article from Harvard Business Review, three scholars conducted “re-investigation” and “re-analysis” of 558 surveys in 32 countries covering the past 35 years, including the United States, Brazil, France, South Africa, and China. They chose four dimensions of measurement culture that are of great concern to the world:

  1. Individuals vs. groups
  2. Hierarchy and status in organizations
  3. Having as much certainty as possible at work
  4. Material wealth, assertiveness, and competition vs. societal welfare and harmony in relationships

The result shows that 80% of the differences in the recognition of these values ​​exist in the same country, only 20% of the differences exist in different countries!

So what are the other factors except “countries?” The research surveyed 17 factors including personal characteristics, such as gender, age, age, education, occupation, socioeconomic status, and environmental characteristics, such as civil and political freedom, economic freedom, GDP, and human development, globalization, long-term unemployment, urbanization, income inequality, corruption, crime rate and agricultural employment. The result shows that gender, age and country are the elements that have the least impact on cultural differences, while the cultural differences caused by occupational and socioeconomic status are the most significant. Excessive interpretation of cultural differences leads to the selective collection of information to verify their understanding of cultural differences. If this is the case, then knowing the cultural differences is worse than not knowing it!

Reference: Kirkman, Bradley., Taras, Vas., Steel, Piers. (2016, May 18). Research: The Biggest Culture Gaps Are Within Countries, Not Between Them. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/05/research-the-biggest-culture-gaps-are-within-countries-not-between-them

Posted by: ollycnguyen | November 1, 2019

No Way, WNBA?!

The Huffington Post published an article regarding WNBA Dallas Wings and 4-Time All Star player, Skylar Diggins-Smith and her unfair treatment of her two-month absence from the court for postpartum depression. Diggins-Smith played the whole last months of the 2018 season pregnant kept it a secret in fear of backlash and her WNBA contract. The Twitterverse slammed her for “not a team player” for taking care of her mental health and child. 

On the topic of Gender Bias covered in chapter 4 of the textbook, Diggins-Smith and other WNBA players mentioned in the article, are faced with scarce resources for expecting mother — WNBA players do not qualify for FMLA or assistance for maternity leave. Current contract negotiations states that any players who are expecting will receive 50% of their salary and full medical insurance to cover their maternity care expenses (Voepel, 2017). However, I discovered that NBA players also currently have no paternity leave for their contracts but do have a mandatory 18 days off policy (Garcia, 2017) in which they are free to do anything that does not involve NBA work activities. 

So it’s clear that Gender Bias is honey-glazed, and dripping with discrepancies between WNBA and NBA players and I hope that with the current political climate of gender equality, that these players can get more support from their respective associations. Especially since the Nike article New York Times dropped in May 2019. It raised a lot of suspicion and attention to the unfair treatment of Nike female athletes who want to start a family and I think it ties in really went to this article. I’m interested in seeing how female athlete equality pans out in the height of Japan 2020 Olympics.

Citations:

Garcia, A. (2017, July 5). The weird rules in the fine print of sports. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://money.cnn.com/2017/06/30/news/companies/contracts-nba-nfl-mlb-terms-cba/index.html.

Papenfuss, M. (2019, October 20). Dallas Wings Women’s Basketball Star Skylar Diggins-Smith Played Entire Season Pregnant. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/wnba-tyler-diggins-smith-pregnant-dallas-wings_n_5daba27fe4b0422422c607d8.

Voepel, M. (2017, May 12). WNBA moms grateful for a lot — but there is more to be done. Retrieved from  https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/19367118/wnba-moms-getting-more-help-ever-face-challenges.

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