My favorite new acronym: JEDI

I am used to using the term “DEI” to describe the kinds of work I do now in facilitating teams and helping them implement inclusion into their teams. This stands for diversity, equity and inclusion for those of you not into the alphabet soup of this field.

Photo credit link

Recently I discovered a new term that I absolutely LOVE because it incorporates justice into the mix!

JEDI: justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

I realize this is not going to go over well with corporations. Justice has never been a strong suit of that particular area of the economy. For for small and medium sized businesses or nonprofits I believe it works well. So from now and until a better term floats into public purview I am embracing the “JEDI practitioner” moniker…

Oh hell yeah…



P.S. Thank you, Princess Leia, for always showing us how it is done.

Saturday Share: Want to See a More Diverse WordPress Contributor Community? So Do We.

More diverse speakers at WordCamps means a more diverse community contributing to WordPress — and that results in better software for everyone.

via Want to See a More Diverse WordPress Contributor Community? So Do We. — The Blog

This struck me as really fascinating, so I wanted to put it out there for the Saturday share. It kinda goes along with my theme of wanting to see more women, and other under-represented people writing, whether it is people with disabilities, people of color or just people with diverse viewpoints.

This weekend I’m running Grandma’s Half Marathon in Duluth, MN. SO under-trained for this year! Oh well, it’s more about the ability to get together with friends and enjoy a fun event.  Happy official start to summer solstice!

Values mini-manifesto

Hi Readers,

I received some excellent feedback from a few people who received my draft consulting values “manifesto” so this is actually a revised version of the draft. Thank you to all who commented on the Core Values write-up I posted on Friday. I am refining that as I go to hone in on those particular areas of practice where I can add the most value.

Let journalism thrive!

Consulting Values mini-manifesto

  1. Diversity drives innovation. Period. We have been shown this again and again in the research. There are countless examples of this in business, design, education, customer service, engineering, etc. See the book The Medici Effect if you want to learn more about this principle. Diversity can broadly include gender, age, culture, discipline, expertise, interests, skills, strengths, orientation, and many other dimensions. Your team is enhanced by how inclusive you can be about bringing full engagement of your diverse players.
  2. Women are leaders. This is true in families, communities, business, nonprofits, government and all sectors. One problem is that we have widely associated leadership with a lot of “masculine” qualities. We do not always see the value of collaboration, influencing, building genuine connections and flexibility in thinking. I believe that women already have most of these skills already, and they are skills that can be coached and developed. We have undervalued the skills of half our workforce in encouraging women “act like men” in their leadership styles. Instead we must develop confidence and assurance in our own voices and our own ways of getting work done. Leadership is going to look different than the models we have seen. And that is a GOOD thing! We need that now, more than ever. 
  3. Teams are made of individuals with far more talent than we typically use or optimize in their current work roles. While that is a challenge, we can build in better ways to tap that talent, help design workplaces and teams that fully utilize our strengths while maximizing the overall productivity of the team. There is an art to doing this, and there are mindsets which allow us to fully utilize talents. When we think someone is too “junior” to have an impact, we miss the freshness in perspective that person can bring to the work. When we think that we or someone else is too “senior” to have something to learn, we sell ourselves short. This principle is based on the “growth mindset” pioneered by Carol Dweck. It is also based on years and years of research I have done in my own workplaces, witnessing growth of so many people, when given the right conditions and encouragement. I aim to help you maximize the wealth you already have, which already exists within your team.

This is intended to describe the values I bring to my consulting work. Of course I am adding more detail to the consulting “program” and practices I intend to offer. I have time to work that out before I actually will start marketing my time and effort in these areas. But it helps me to write and focus in the places where I feel most passionate and committed. I think the above areas describe that well for now.

Cheers & have a great week! As always, I am happy to receive your comments and feedback.


The Medici Effect

Today I will get to hear a keynote speech from Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics can Teach Us About Innovation. This is part of our our company’s annual Science and Technology conference, a three-day event that brings together our scientists and technical experts to share their work with each other. I am excited because I read the book only a year ago at the recommendation of our VP for Corporate Science and Technology (my director’s boss). It is about how the best, most ground-breaking ideas come from people working at the “intersection” of diverse fields. He presents some compelling examples of cases where new knowledge or new inventions or new concepts were born based on combining frameworks from different disciplines.

Medici Effect

Yesterday I gave a presentation at a “Lunch and Learn” session on Meaningful Innovation. A colleague and I had worked together to design and organize an “Innovation Jam” for our clinical research colleagues around the globe in order to solve problems in geographies outside the U.S. We had perceived a disconnect between a very Minnesota-centric and top-down approach to our global evidence summit, and really wanted to turn that on its head. All of that effort culminated into a 1.5 day event a year ago just after Labor Day, when we pulled together this Medici-like gathering of people from 7 different geographies and many disciplines across the company. We applied the Design Thinking methodology in order to get some of the best ideas and best thinking around solving problem identified by our geography customers.

That turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences in my professional career. We had received sponsorship and support from the VP for Clinical and Technical Communications, along with my Director. By the end of the event, we had come up with 7 different solutions to problems faced by our geographies, along with some simple prototypes for how to design those solutions. In the months that followed, we narrowed down to one project to work on, with limited budget available. Employees that were passionate about the idea rallied around it, we recruited a project leader, and in only 5 months from the idea selection, we had a “product” in beta testing in India, the geography that prompted the solution.

What we did was an example of the Medici Effect – taking advantage of that intersection of geographies, disciplines, diverse fields and ideas. There were about 55 very smart people involved in the 1.5 day event, and they had an intense but rewarding experience of coming together to address needs that had previously been neglected. This is what people mean when they say “Diversity drives innovation.” It is true – if we all stayed in our same, homogeneous groups, without talking with people different from us, we might never conceive of that new idea, that new inspiration that moves us forward technologically. This is why Trump’s notion of the “good old days” by which I understand he means white dominance, will never be the key to keeping America economically vital.

It is through uniting diverse voices, experiences and backgrounds that we are strong as a nation. While it is true that sometimes this is challenging, and creates discomfort, we are better for it. Neuroscience has shown that people produce the best results and make the best decisions not when they are in an atmosphere of total comfort, but rather when they are slightly outside their comfort zone. I will write more about this phenomenon in a future post, because there is great research I would love to delve into further.

I think this is one reason that blogs and the internet provide the next great intersection of ideas, and have already generated a sort of Medici Effect in terms of innovation. By interacting, sharing ideas, different “takes” on what we read and observe and think about we bring the best out of each other. We also can inflame the worst intentions. But it is a matter of selection, and I believe those great ideas will continue to bubble to the top, because that is what we ultimately seek as humans: better solutions to our problems. We know we are in this together, on this small planet. So let’s get together and bring our best thinking to whatever we are most passionate to solve. Thanks for reading, and for contributing in your own way to this ongoing conversation about what is most meaningful to us.