Monday, June 29, 2015

Innovation in San Diego Creates Investment Opportunities

2014 has come and gone, but the benefits of a growth year are likely to carry on for some time in San Diego. According to Connect, a non-profit group that supports innovation, they counted 446 technology and life science start-ups in 2014 up from 426 companies in 2013 (1). Of these firms, Bio-tech got 62% of the $805 million investment capital dollars while software and medical devices got a third and fourth place in total investment influx.

What does this say about San Diego? It says that San Diego has a budding bio-tech and software industry that should be supported by city policies, higher education, corporate training, and international promotion. Encouraging investment funds to find receptive companies seeking those investments for expansions puts money where it has the quickest and most efficient economic contribution.

The Economic contribution comes from using the investment money to expand operations, hire new people, and create additional contractual deals that grow not only the parent business but also smaller suppliers. Money invested into one company makes its way to other firms and the overall tax base of the city.

It is important for decision makers to look at their growing industries and find a connection between what their local competencies and resources offer to determine places to generate higher levels of investment growth. Making sure that the public is aware of these investments through various mediums that reach motivated investment entities helps in speeding up this growth process.

Economic expansion comes with the development of better city policies that further the growth of the area and better capitalizes on its local resources. Biotechnology and technology have significant international interest and is a field that is expected to grow in the future. Local military stakeholders may strengthen this industry, but the global market will determine the innovative value of its outputs. Getting companies and government to focus in the same area can mean higher levels of synergy.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Benefits of Mobile Online Military Training

Our military can be called to any place on the earth within a few minutes notice. They leave behind their lives to trek across the globe to protect American interests. With online military training service members can continue to advance their military careers from anyplace and at any time to ensure they continue to be the most advanced armed force in the world.

According to a 2011 pamphlet issued by Department of the Army,”The U.S. Army’s competitive advantage directly relates to its capacity to learn faster and adapt more quickly than its adversaries. In the highly competitive global learning environment where technology provides all players to nearly ubiquitous access to information, the Army cannot risk failure through complacency, lack of imagination, or resistance to change (p. 5).”

This learning must be as mobile as the military itself, or the force will not be its best when needed. Online education is mobile and versatile making learning possible from devices as small as a cell phone; perhaps someday as small as an Apple Smart Watch. Uninterrupted knowledge updating and training saves time and money while improving effectiveness.

The design of the model of that training mirrors current online education while updating delivery methods as technology emerges. Developing military training and educational courses is possible if you have the right personnel and substantial communication with military leadership. Student management can mirror current military practices through the use of cohorts.

Such training is based on the need and often includes critical thinking, military theory, leadership, management, military history, tactics, supply-chain management, etc. The possibilities are endless and limited by the knowledge itself; a great place to blend theory and practice. A few ideas are as follows:

-Hiring Ex-Military Doctors, Specialists and Employees: Hiring veterans not only helps the military retain its knowledgeable staff as a self-developing system but also allows military members a responsible place to work where they can capitalize on their military background for the benefit of the nation. Faculty that has experience in the forces and has advanced knowledge on the main subjects creates a superior product from which other military units may learn.

-Learning Cohorts: Using cohorts that allow for a team of learners, much like a platoon, allows members to work together and create an online group of students. This support network keeps military personnel engaged and connected throughout their development process. It is possible to consider using different skilled genres (MOS) and/or military branches to develop cross-functional leadership teams.

-Training and Credit: Courses in leadership, management, history, homeland security, etc. not only have military applications but can also be degree bearing. Helping military personnel enhance their effectiveness while in the service and obtain a degree faster after discharge makes a big difference in socializing seasoned soldiers back to civilian life through a connected medium that bridges two worlds.

-Military, Business, and Academic Innovation: Putting the polished practicality of military minds, business strategy, and academic theory into the same entity creates an incubator of knowledge and innovation for service stakeholders. Academic theories can be established, matched with business practicality, and tested in the field.

Department of the Army. (2011). The U.S. Army learning concept for 2015. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-2. Fort Monroe, VA: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Understanding Differences as a Sign of Intelligent and Scientific Thinking

The ability to understand differences between similar objects has always been a sign of intelligence. Science itself is based on the idea of investigating the differences and similarities of objects to create a full picture of a phenomenon. When done well, we can create hypotheses, models and theories that help to explain and predict our environment. Our adaptation and full development as a person is based on recognizing and appreciating differences.

Simplicity and definiteness make for great followers but hardly constitutes leadership. Intelligent people look deeper at issues to see if they can find differences or similarities that help them understand and create working models to use in other places. Persons who lack the will to put forward effort, or the faculty of intelligence, to understand complex ideas jump to quick conclusions.

The issue of categorization is a significant problem. Broad categories are simple and easy to use. Examples of simplicity include discrimination, racism, bigotry, etc. that cannot differentiate between members of a general category. They are not able to understand that sometimes the general category doesn’t represent anything but what is going on in the perceivers head.

Intelligent people rarely say, “All people are like this….or “Those people all do this….). Then have the insight and intellectual faculty to see differences between people and events by looking beyond the obvious. They are not easily fooled into believing false information or opinion without some proof to back up the claims. They are societies intellectuals and thinkers.

Maslow and Rogers described the fully functioning person as extensional. Rogers wrote in his paper Towards a Theory of Creativity, “The creative person, instead of perceiving in predetermined categories is aware of the existential moment as it is, and therefore he is alive to many experiences that fall outside the usual categories (As cited in Hayakawa, 1958, pp. 62).”

In essence, intelligent people are more scientific in their thoughts and avoid putting items into quick heuristic categories. They think about differences, view the multiple ways in which a thing or event can be categorized, and then are open to the possibility they are wrong. Beliefs and rules are adjustable based upon new information.

Such people are aware that the world around them is not so simple, and they become accustomed to ambiguity and using their cognitive fluidity to adjust their understandings. As a fully developed individual, they can use science as an enhancement to discriminate among different elements in their environment while understanding that scientific findings are always in flux. What we believe today may be different than what we think tomorrow.

The next time you are SURE you know something…..consider re-evaluating the facts from a different perspective. Jumping to conclusions is almost never beneficial as simplicity of thought limits what we see in any particular situation.

Hayakawa, S. (1958) Symbol, Status and Personality. pp. 62 New York:HBJ

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What Your Car Says About You?

Cars have personalities in the same way we have personalities. Cars are designed to appeal to particular demographics and seek to emulate the characters of their target market in their design. This is one reason your personal image becomes associated with the type of car you drive and the items you buy. To the outside world, your car becomes an extension of yourself.

There is brand personality and consumer personality. Brand personalities are those values a brand image symbolizes. Brand personalities revolve around personas of excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence and sophistication.  When there is mutuality between consumer personality and brand personality the car is said to “suit you."

People with particular personalities are attracted to products with similar personalities (Seimiene, 2012). If you see yourself as a cowboy chances are you will walk past the smart cars and head straight over to the 4X4s. Your idea of fun may look more like “mudding” with Garth Brooks blasting than having a glass of wine with Beethoven playing in the background.

As consumers, most purchased beyond that which is necessary to sustain life are personality driven. If you are a beach going hippie you may just get yourself a VW Bus while if you are seeking status you could option for a sparkling Lamborghini. Of course, if you are more sophisticated with a refined sense of taste there is Mercedes S-Class Sedan with its polished design.

Practicality and finances mitigate this need to enhance our persona. For example, if you are on a budget you might consider your neighbors $500 1990 Ford Escort that leaks oil and has a mammoth dent on the side. An excellent deal if you don’t care about status!

Before you can make appropriate purchases understand what the car says about you. If you are practical and educated, go with a Honda Civic while if you have some money to burn soup up your drive with a Camaro. Keeping your brand image consistent will help others formalize an opinion. The next time you get attracted to this car or that car, stop and ask yourself “why”? You might just find something out about yourself.

Seimiene, E. (2012). Emotional connection of consumer personality traits with brand personality traits: theoretical considerations. Economics & Management, 17 (4).

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Bounce Your Business Off the Bottom

Businesses can decline over the years until they no longer have enough working capital to maintain their current course of action. Without drastic change, the business will either be sold or liquidated in bankruptcy court. Change requires a new way of thinking about things, taking risks and making better strategic choices that lead to higher outcomes.

Organizations operate on processes & procedures. The culture of an organization will determine its overall communication and work patterns. When processes & procedures and culture are aligned to market needs it becomes more likely that the business will be able to pull out of its current predicament.

Consider a company that produces a single product that once brought in a lot of money but over the years alternative products have been developed by competitors that are eating away at a shrinking market. Continuing to do the same thing over and over without adjusting course is likely to end in a complete disaster.

Companies usually wait too long to make changes like many of us wait too long to adjust a bad habit. It is a human problem that we avoid change until it is necessary. By being proactive and watching for trends and opportunities it is possible to make smaller and easier to handle changes to keep a company focused on market relevancy.

If your company’s market is dwindling, competition is increasing, and your adjustment capital is dwindling consider a few helpful hints in developing a more sustainable business. Bounce your business off the bottom by answering a few questions

1. Are you in the right market? Take a hard look at your capacities and market need to ensure your business is still relevant.

2. Are your processes & procedures focused on outcomes? Adjusting processes & procedures can create better outcomes, at lower cost, and more efficiency.

3. Do you have the right people? Ensure you have the right intellectual and skilled capital to transform your company.

4. Are there new markets? It is a global world out there. Companies can open up new markets and reach more customers.

5. Are you giving your customers what they want? Make sure that your business is focused on what the customers need and want.

6. Can you find more value? Take a look at your products/services and see if you can enhance their value.

7. Should you diversify? There are times when it is necessary to add new products and services to ensure that you are not overcapitalized into a single risk.

8. Should you Collaborate? Your product/service might match well with another product/service from another company that can raise the value of both.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Is Your Best Performer Pathological or "Driven"?

High performers are welcome in any business and people who consistently meet their performance objectives are likely to be promoted over those who don’t. Some employees are so "driven" they spend every waking moment accomplishing their career goals and soon become budding stars. Is your best performer "driven" or is there something else going on?

Driven people are highly motivated and focused on their goals. They make compromises in their life to reach those goals. There are times when they make mistakes and make a wrong choice, but ultimately they continue on the right path. They believe that through persistence and hard work they can obtain what is important to them.

Pathological workers may also show high drive toward their goals and similarly make mistakes. However, they also carry with them other traits such as hostility, risk-taking, deceitfulness, callousness, grandiosity, irresponsibility, impulsivity and manipulativeness (De Caluwei, Decuyper & De Clercq, 2013). The value of the goal succeeds other considerations in much the same was as a gambling addict can't stop gambling.

Employees who are goal driven are an asset to any organization and create high expectations for others to achieve. They raise company performance and are a positive contributor to workplace culture. They do not neglect their needs, and they concern themselves with how they achieve those goals. High ethical standards and performance can work hand-in-hand.

Workers who show pathological behavior are outside the normal and seem to put an inappropriate weight on the achievement of a particular goal. Its obtainment appears to be more of an extension of the self, and its importance is artificially raised until few things else seem to matter. People become a nuisance in the process and their input can be discarded.

“Win at all costspathological behavior should be discouraged in the workplace. I have seen organizations where individuals achieve their goals at the expense of the entire company. Pathological employees get promoted because they create results but also damage their teams and departments in the process. They are the chaos creators that lower departmental performance, develop toxic work environments, and increase turnover rates

Well rounded employees can put their goals in perspective of the rest of their lives and the needs of others. They understand that while their objectives are essential they must also raise the status of the group and fulfill the needs of the company. Pathological employees are incapable of such reasoning and are only loyal to themselves. Higher human performance comes with focus and drive. To those with a conscious the ends is not the only justification of the means.

De Caluwe, E. Decuyper, M. & De Clercq, B. (2013). The child behavior checklist dysregulation profile predicts adolescent DSM-% pathological personality traits in 4 years. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 22 (7).

Burritos or Bust? Eating Mexican and Eating Healthy

Burritos are one of America’s favorite foods and are part of our Mexican-American heritage. So popular, we spend $39 billion a year at 54,000 Mexican restaurants (2). The style of food is served in multiple venues like fast-food or gourmet. One can order a burrito with almost anything on it, making it versatile for different palates. Buyers beware as most restaurants serve their tasty burritos loaded with calories and saturated fat.

The typical burrito contains rice, beans, meat and sour cream that calculates to over 1,000 calories and 14-18 grams of saturated fat(2). A vegetarian one I tried a few months ago had over 1200 calories. With such high calorie and saturated fat count, fitness minded people should concern themselves with the type and kind of burrito they are ordering.

Last weekend I went out to eat with family and friends to a local Mexican establishment known for its vegan and vegetarian options. My eating habits are not vegetarian or vegan by nature, but I do believe in limiting meat consumption while increasing vegetable and fruit intake. Burritos can be tough in finding the right balance.

As everyone ordered their choice of a burrito at Rancho Cocinas in North Park, I went with a healthy burrito selection. It was made of black bean, vegetarian, little cheese, and lettuce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. The massive burrito was less than 600 calories. That is up to half the calories of the large standard burrito.

I have always had this impression that great taste and health food simply don’t go well together. In this case, I was wrong. After sharing pieces of our burritos, it was unanimous at our table that the healthy wrap burrito was the best tasting. This shows it is possible to eat out while still maintaining your fitness goals. Simply choosing the best alternative can make a large difference between in meeting your goals or falling back into bad habits.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Online Learning Has Earned its Permanent Place in Higher Education

Online learning is now a permanent part of higher education and will continue to expand its market. The ease and convenience of online education is changing the face of colleges across the country. As a modality of learning, it allows students to connect to their class and professor at times that are more convenient for them.

Traditional education is face-to-face and requires the student to be present in order learn. This leaves out many people who balance families and careers. Besides, those who live in rural areas, or out of a university’s geographical area, will be cut off from higher education.

A selection process not based on actual skill or ability is bad news for the economy. Employers require highly skilled employees who continually update their knowledge to stay competitive with the market. Those who are most likely to capitalize on higher education are left out of the mix.

Online education will likely continue to grow and become a standard, possibly superseding tradition modalities, as a delivery channel for teaching and learning. Professors and students are becoming familiar with online education and are likely to adopt more of it in the future, (Mbuva, 2014).

There is also an additional cost benefit. State budgets are getting squeezed and colleges are running in the red. Online education may continue to become a popular method of reducing campus costs and lowering overall operating costs.

Universities will continue to look toward for-profit, online models, to cut costs; even if they continue to lobby against competitive higher education ideologies. They don’t really have much of a choice. Most avenues of increasing wealth have dried up and cutting heavily will lower the quality of programs.

Virtual classrooms lower costs and expand a university's customer base. Land based colleges will maintain their prestige but will need to augment with hybrid, and/or fully online programs. They will seek to expand their offerings to support a growing need for higher education.

Online education is here to stay and it will continue to be adopted by institutions. It reduces costs and fits the needs of students. Professors and students are becoming accustomed to the online process and will seek its convenience in selecting future programs. As market factors adjust, online education may find itself a hot commodity.

Mbuva, J. (2014). Online education: progress and prospects.   Journal of Business & Educational Leadership, 5 (1).