Incredibly Small Steps (think small) Can Achieve Gigantic Results—The Kaizen Way (“continuous improvement … change for better”)

  “About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends” ~ Herbert Hoover

How can “think small” be an effective strategy for significant change? “Small Steps” are actions or initiatives that require few resources or little energy, and can be done quickly by one, or just a few people… However, the long-term cumulative impact of many small steps – and occasionally of just one small step – can be huge. However, a small step for one person can be a big step for another.

We are more likely to have a large-scale, cost-effective, and significant impact through the cumulative effects of modest incremental changes – small steps – than by leaping from one bold unfulfilled promise to the next. There are many pressures in sales that encourage grandiose proposals, large-scale programs, and projects that claim to produce major improvements and significant results…  Many big promises have been broken while there have been thousands of small improvements that gain little publicity and little reward but have contributed mightily…

In the article “Theory of Small Wins” by  Karl Weick, he proposed that to tackle big social issues; “to recast larger problems into smaller, less arousing problems, [so] people can identify a series of smaller controllable opportunities of modest size that produce visible results.” For example: Telling someone to tackle the ozone problem is pointless. Telling someone to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 pounds of CO2 is a little better.

But telling someone to replace their incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents…now we’ve got something we can wrap our heads around. Applying a small-wins strategy can give you the psychological boost needed to get a big goal accomplished. Always break down big goals into concrete outcomes of moderate importance: Big goals are worthy, but not doable. It’s the dozens of small wins that lead up to the big goal that our brains can tackle…

In the blog “The Magic of Small Steps” by Scott Young writes: Contrary to popular opinion, most great achievements did not start out with a master plan or moment of inspiration. They began as small steps. Each step was ordinary, but they accumulated into something more. Consistently applying small, boring steps towards a direction is worth more than hours spent over-thinking the problem.

By boring steps I mean action that doesn’t appear daunting or extraordinary, not that it is lacking in creativity or interest. Consistency is the glue that holds small steps together. Most failures towards a goal are not the result of a lack of will-power or courage, but a lack of consistency. Consistency of action doesn’t necessarily mean consistency of direction. The best way to consistently take steps is to build new behavior. Behavior is the psychological wand that performs the magic contained in small steps. Consistently apply small steps towards the goal, even if you don’t understand fully how you are going to get there…

In the book “One Small Step Can Change Your Life – The Kaizen Way to Success” by Dr. Robert Maurer writes: Focus on the personal, inner world of ambitions, fears, hopes, and accomplishment and “think small”: Ask Small Questions; Think Small Thoughts; Take Small Actions; Solve Small Problems; Bestow Small Rewards; Identify Small Moments.

What is fascinating is that Dr. Maurer makes clear how gigantic personal accomplishments actually come from incredibly small steps. Whether you want to lose 30 pounds, run a marathon, or make sales quota, you must take the actions which will lead to that result. Trouble is, our human emotions often get in the way: We’re afraid  or, not afraid enough, and we fail when we should have known better.

This kind of reality-based approach (refering to Dr. Maurer) is extremely relevant to sales organizations, for two critical reasons. First, selling is a performance art; salespeople must learn to consciously take control of  communications and behavior to match requirements of the situation. This can’t be done alone, it requires reflective feedback from a support system of people, colleagues, managers, customers, family, friends, and skilled sales advisors. Salespeople must commit to the personal effort necessary to improve their own skills and abilities.

This is best done in a kaizen-style approach; through doable, bite-sized steps that are actually implemented with continuously improving goals. The ideas of personal kaizen directly apply to leading and managing salespeople. Second, this is where most organizations fail miserably; salespeople live within a system (or process), and management’s job is to improve the performance of that process through a well conceived strategy. 

Salespeople naturally bump up against the constraints of the process and the daily sales activities, such as, finding qualified prospects, preparing customer presentations, or follow up with decision-makers. Salespeople cannot control those constraints, they can only try to work around them.

Most sales organizations fail miserably because their managements ignore the job of examining and improving their competitive strategy which is “about being different.” “It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.” In short, strategy is about competitive position,  differentiating yourself in the eyes of the customer, about adding value through a mix of activities different (not just better) from those used by competitors.

Competitive strategy is “a combination of the ends (goals) for which the firm is striving and the means (process) by which it is seeking to get there.” Sales kaizen deals with these strategic and systemic issues. It incorporates the scientific method to help the team clarify their work, identify the facts, and understand causes and effects. In essence, you ask small questions, think small thoughts, take small actions, solve small problems, and receive Big Results

 “Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets” ~ Henry Ford

There are three types of people; those that make thing happen; those that watch them happen; and those that wonder what happened.  Which are you?  More important which would you like to be? When confronted with a problem don’t merely rely on how things have traditionally been done, but focus instead on how the organization can most effectively tackle the problem utilizing its best intellectual resources.

Leaders cannot rely entirely or exclusively on intuition and experience, they must foster an environment that encourages the organization (the people) to come forward with their ideas, perspectives, and opinions on solving problems.

People generally get a lot more chances in life than they realize and everyone struggles with challenges and problems, but the trick is take the small steps and look beyond the surface appearance to the huge opportunities that may be hidden underneath.

Sales Process Mapping, Work-Flow, Roadmap, Playbook… Essentials for Effective Sales Management and Funnel Staging…

“A sales team’s fundamental job is to move a greater number of larger deals through the sales process in less time.” “ There should be no reason that the principles of process engineering would not work in the sales process”. ~ Joseph Juran, process expert.

Sales process mapping is a proven analytical and communication tool intended to help improve existing processes or to implement a new process-driven structure in order to improve sales.  Documenting the sales process; literally creating a graphic and textual representation of the steps being used to create and support the sales organization.

For companies who have repeatable processes in place, process mapping can be used to analyze the proposed solution; as conditions, customers, or markets change. Sales process mapping is the documentation of discrete activities involved in completing the sales cycle; from point-of-customer contact through information-gathering to closure and fulfillment.

Beyond sales and marketing there are many more layers of support and customer service people whose roles create touch-points within the sales process.  If sales roles throughout the organization are not well understood these supporting roles suffer… 

In the article “Why Have A Sales Process?” by Andrew Rowe writes: A sales process is something that every company needs to be able to define and master in order to boost their sales performance and accelerate their overall top-line growth. Sales processes, by definition, are repeatable and scaleable sequence of events that yields consistent sales results. Sales process is broken down into a number of different aspects, including the business selling model: Is it transactional? Is it enterprise? Is in consultative?

Is it customer-centric? … In addition, the sales process typically defines the actual sales work-flow as it relates to movement of prospects through the sales pipeline; from prospects to being qualified to being fully developed and then to closing the sale. A sales process will typically provide a work-flow which includes a process map and a break down of the different stages of the sales process as it relates to sales forecasting and probabilities.

A sales process map is a logic diagram to show exactly how the work-flow looks. Without a well defined sales process the selling method is left up to individuals without having to follow any particular set of rules or disciplines. This ad-hoc method of selling leads to stunted growth, stagnant sales, and too much dependency on the individual. Whereas, a sales process is well documented and defined, and allows the business to easily hire, train, and accelerate a salesperson’s selling productivity.

In the article “What is a Process Map?” by Chris Anderson writes: A “process map” visually describes the flow of activities of a process. A process flow can be defined as the sequence and interactions of related process steps, activities or tasks that make up an individual process, from beginning to end. Process maps are used to develop a better understanding of a process, to generate ideas for process improvement or stimulate discussion, build stronger communication, and — of course — to document a process.

Often times a process map will highlight problems and identify bottlenecks, backflows, waste, duplication, delays, or gaps. Process maps can help to clarify process boundaries, ownership, responsibilities, and effectiveness measures or metrics. Process maps can be very effective at increasing understanding during training. Most important, process mapping is about communicating your process to others, so you can achieve your objectives.

In the article “Sales Process” by Wikipedia writes:  A sales process is a systematic approach to selling a product or service. Reasons for having a well thought-out sales process include seller and buyer risk management, standardized customer interaction in sales, and scalable revenue generation. An effective sales process can be described through steps that walk a salesperson from meeting the prospect all the way through closing the sale.

Often a bad sales experience can be analyzed and shown to have skipped key steps. This is where an effective sales process mitigates risk for both buyer and seller. A solid sales process also has the dramatic impact of forecasting accuracy and predictability in revenue results.

Mapping a sales process provides a starting point for careful analysis and continuous improvement. Diagramming a process flow is considered to be one of the seven basic quality improvement tools. From a seller’s point of view, a sales process mitigates risk by stage-gating deals based on collection of information or execution of procedures that gate movement to the next step.

This controls seller resource expenditure on non-performing deals. A formalized sales process is generally more common for companies that either have complex sales cycles, large revenue risks that require systematic assurance of revenue generation, and/or those that choose to use a more consultative or customer-centric sales approach.

In the article “How to Apply a Strategy Map to the Sales Process” by Adam Tavangaran writes: A strategy map could be one way to make sure that you stay on track and your team knows what it is doing, Making a strategy map for your sales plans could help you achieve success. It  brings your sales team together to discuss the different ways in which you think you can improve targeting customers and selling products. Talk about the sales strategies that you already have in place and figure out ways in which you can improve the tactics you are employing.

The better that you are able to improve on what you’re already using, the more successful your sales team. Build your strategy map around the customer…discuss with your team all of the ways that you can move product or service closer to the customer. Build the connections on your strategy map between your sales team and the customer, such that there is convergence with the customer … the quicker the mapping shows convergence between sales and customer, the greater the probability for success…

In the blog “How to Avoid the Four Most Common Mistakes of Sales Process Mapping” by Michael J. Webb writes:  Process mapping is a well-known technique for creating a common vision and shared language for improving business results. For example, it helped one firm realize that people within their sales department had been working at cross purposes, and crucial executive-level discussions with customers were not taking place.

Based on sales process mapping, the leaders reorganized their sales operations so that job descriptions and performance measures focused more on the customer. In six months, they reversed a five-year slump and earned big bonuses for team members. In another case, sales process mapping helped a national account teams discover a powerful new way to coordinate with field salespeople, yielding far more new business opportunities than expected.  

Sales process mapping, accomplished through team collaboration, with clear focus on customer value at every stage is a power tool for blowing away roadblocks and constraints. In sum, sales process mapping provides mission-critical benefits to any customer-facing organization…sales process mapping works…

In the article Is Your Sales Process Flawed?” writes: The holy grail of selling is to find the perfect sales process, but all sales processes are fundamentally flawed and fail to produce predictable results. To predict the outcome from any process, including a sales process, you must control all the variables. Unfortunately, a key variable in all sales processes is the buyer, and we can’t control them, nor should we want to.

This explains why attempts to use a sales process will produce unreliable results and just don’t work. However, a buyer-centric approach does work and unlike a conventional sales process, it requires salespeople to how the buyer wants to buy. It is non-manipulative, ethical, and straightforward. And unlike traditional sales processes, it is effective.

Salespeople must know how to identify the buying stages and inflection points that their prospects go through on the way to a decision. The buying process is central and a key essential is to visually map the buyer’s process…

In the article The Selling Process is a Sales Map to Success” by Steve Martinez writes: Salespeople get lost in sales because they don’t have a map. I have to confess, there was a time when I didn’t have a sales map. It was a challenge, not knowing where I was or where the prospect was in the sales process. The routine of making sales calls and doing the sales activities just didn’t get the results…

It would be years later that I would fine tune my sales process and develop the GPS (Global Positioning System) or mapping system for selling. If sales process and sales map are foreign to you, or you can’t tell where you are with each prospect, there are ways to calculate your position. No, the answer isn’t in the stars. Once you understand the sales process and mapping, selling gets easier…  

The Sales Playbook – What is it? What is the right way to sell your solution?  Is there a specific approach, a set of experiences that if shared among the sales team would make everyone more successful?  Sports teams use playbooks to diagram and map out the exact steps to advance the ball and achieve a win. Sales organizations can benefit from the same type of planning and strategy by using a sales playbook.

A sales playbook is a documented guide containing information and experiences on the most successful ways to sell your product.  The sales playbook is the accumulated wisdom of reps, managers, marketing staff and others who have had experience selling to your customers. It is not a static document, but an ever growing repository of experiences, successes, tactics and strategies.  Why should the latest sales rep you hire make the same mistakes as your first?  With a sales playbook, new reps can learn from all who have sold before them, and can add what they learn to benefit future hires.

In the article “Sales Process” writes: Companies that deploy a formal sales process, when compared to the mean, win 48% more, have sales cycles 37% shorter, and generate 2x the revenue per salesperson. The reason they have been able to consistently produce above average results is due, in part, to a formal sales methodology that’s followed to manage their opportunities.

A sales process facilitates a focus on having a clear understanding of the customers buying process, mapping the company’s sales process directly to it, defining the needed work flows, and managing to the mission critical process of accelerating the opportunity from one stage to the next. A sales process produces results: Increase sales close ratios, shorten sales cycles, increase revenues, improve sales funnel management, and more transparency for better sales forecasting…

In the article “But We Have a Sales Process” by David Brock writes: One reason sales people and managers don’t use a sales process is because it may have become/or is irrelevant.  Over time, the way customers buy products changes, as well as, markets, competition, and solutions change.  What may have been a great sales process 5 years ago may be irrelevant today.  If your sales people aren’t following the sales process, but consistently winning business; reassess and update your sales process. 

The only thing worse than not using a sales process is using an irrelevant sales process and experiencing plummeting win rates, long sales cycles, and loss of competitiveness.  Organizations that don’t have a sales process or map need to have one.  Organizations that have a sales process or map but are not using it are fooling themselves. Make certain your sales process and map reflects the current best practices for winning business.  Everything else is a waste of time…

Management is about achieving results and doing so consistently…. understand the how and why. Elements that you can monitor, act upon, refine and correct. Achieving results is an outcome of doing the right things right… this is where your sales process and mapping helps. Key principles are; logical flow, easy to breakdown into its component parts, able to be monitored, adaptable to different selling situations, and changed to allow for market conditions…

“When you give your customers, peers, constituents and family what they want, when they want it, and how they want it- you win them over- over and over again!” ~ Barry Libert, business executive.

Unethical, Deceptive, Dishonest, Illegal, Misleading, Unfair…: Is There Need for “Code of Conduct” in Business?

“I have always recognized that the object of business is to make money in an honorable manner. I have endeavored to remember that the object of life is to do good.” – Peter Cooper; Inventor, Manufacturer, and Philanthropist.

Business ethics is one of the most debated topics of our times. The difference between right and wrong business practices and their outcome is crucial for economic development. Business ethics are moral values and principles that determine our conduct in the business world. It refers to the commercial activities, either with other businesses or with a single customer.

They can be applied to all aspects of business; from concept of an idea to its sale. Business uses society for its resources and functioning, thereby obligating it to the welfare of society. While the objective of all business is to make profits, it should contribute to the interest of society by ensuring fair practices. However, greed has led the present business scenario towards unethical business practices, legal complications, and general mistrust.

In the article “Business Ethics” by Khushnuma Irani writes:  It’s very important to understand that each person has their own impression of ethics. What may be wrong for one person may be right for another and vice versa.  From a businessman’s point of view, it is important to gauge a person’s understanding of ethics and their sense of ‘what is ethical’ so as to be compatible with your business standards. The basic frameworks for business ethics or ‘code of conduct’ can be exemplified by:

  • Criminal behavior and legal framework – every business needs to have a code of ethics pertaining to criminal behavior and legal issues.
  • Human values and personal behavior – every business needs to have an ethical framework or policy for human values and behavior.
  • Corporate and business ethics – ethical policies for business and actions need to be in compliance with legal framework and standards.

There is much talk about right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, principles and protocol; all this pertains to ethics. But, at the end of it all, remember that ethics have a lot to do with perception, which can be modified but never completely changed. Ethics is an important part of life, and running a successful business is no exception. For a business to prosper and maintain its wealth, it must be founded and sustained on strong ethical principles…

In the article “Ethics Important in Business” by Manali Oak writes: Trustworthiness of a business, its customer service, its customer care, its way of dealing with customers, and its need to retain its customer base, is a part of business ethics. Ethics is a far-reaching concept and goes beyond the idea of just making money legally.

Ethics is about earning long-lasting relationships in business and an integral part of running a business, hence ethical values accompany business by default. Success without a foundation of strong ethics is bound to be short-lived. A business cannot continue to prosper without an ethical base. A few successes can be coincidences or flukes but persistent success can only be a result of a strong foundation of ethics…

The use of company resources for personal gain and taking an undue advantage of business resources is completely unethical. A thoughtful and a careful utilization of company resources is a part of business ethics. A vigilant and prudent use of resources is an essential component of ethics in business. Accepting bribes, pleasing the so-called ‘important’ clients, favoring some customers while being unfair towards others is against business ethics. The primary aim of business is not just to maximize profits, but to contribute to the needs of society and work towards benefiting the masses…

In the article “Why Management Needs a Code of Conduct by Ángel Cabrera writes: The financial meltdown of 2008 and the ensuing global economic crisis have ignited a vigorous debate on the responsibilities of businesses and those who manage them. The question raised is whether managers ought to be required to adopt the equivalent of a “Hippocratic oath (business code of conduct)”.

The pressure is indeed mounting, as public trust towards business leaders has hit historically low levels and questions about business ethics have become a central topic in the media. Even the leaders of the “Group of 20 Nations” singled out “reckless behavior and a lack of responsibility” among the root causes of the crisis.

The idea that business managers should be held to the same standards of professional conduct that are expected of other professions is at least as old as business schools. Yet, practitioners and academics have stubbornly refused to explicitly accept any other responsibility for managers other than maximizing shareholder returns or any code of conduct beyond simply obeying the law.

However, as the world began to reexamine the causes leading up to the financial crisis, the finger of blame turned, in part, to business schools who were accused of perpetuating a narrow view of value creation and managerial responsibility. And, as influential thought leaders such as “World Economic Forum” founder Klaus Schwab and Harvard professors Rakesh Khurana and Nitin Nohria who continue to argue for the need to establish a “Hippocratic oath” for business – a business code of conduct

What is misleading or deceptive conduct? Legendary entrepreneur Warren Buffet put it this way: “Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices: Manage your business on ethical principles”. Put the right things in place to build an ethical corporate culture: Mission, values, clear and accessible policies and processes, corporate citizenship and philanthropy.

The first step is to be a model of ethical behavior yourself, “If your employees see you cutting corners and consistently working in gray areas, then they are probably going to do the same thing regardless of what your code of ethics says. It’s a monkey-see, monkey-do world we live in, and like it or not, if you’re the big monkey everyone looks up to you in your company.” Begin with a firm statement of convictions and principles — these are the cornerstones of how organizations should operate in present and into the future.

In the article “Truth, Lies & Unicorns: Cost of Dishonesty in Business” by Charles Green and Andrea Howe write: What is lying? On a conversational level, we take “lying” to mean speaking an untruth, overtly saying something that is not the case. Webster’s first definition is, “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.” “To lie” is an active verb, with a connotation of intent.

But Webster’s second definition is far broader: “to create a false or misleading impression.” That definition includes lies of omission; it even extends beyond speech. It’s that second definition we’d like to explore. By that definition, business advisors (or, for that matter, most people) who don’t lie are like unicorns: not inconceivable, but pretty infrequent. In the same sense, ‘Diogenes (Diogenes the Cynic, a Greek philosopher)’ said; “society is corrupt and he never found an honest man”. Yet we say trust is critical to develop meaningful customer-advisor relationships. How do we reconcile these two “truths”?

John F. Lawhon in his book The Selling Bible wrote: “Enthusiasm is the greatest secret in selling.” How often have you read or heard of a firm or individual that has been caught in controversy for some form of unethical sales conduct? What is the current scope or magnitude of the ethics problem in the sales profession?

Robert F. Kelleher described the severity of the problem in his book “Marketing and Sales in the Computer Age” when he wrote: “Within the vast sea of opportunity for any business or person to get in trouble lurks the sales function. Probably no other profession is so cursed with the potential to destroy a company or individual’s career.” For another prospective: Review theories in Dave Colcord’s “Developing Sales Technique and Sales Personality”….

In the article “Ethics in Business: Focusing Values for Success” by Mark S. Putnam writes: Ethics in business is fundamentally about fair play. We call someone who plays by the rules, “ethical.” However, we need to face the reality of moral absolutes and reject the ethical relativism that creeps in to undermine them. Imagine ethics in the business world where ethical codes are devoid of moral absolutes. What remains, are only good intentions, hollow expectations, and nice sounding ideas.

There must be a balance between the ethical expectations of the employer and the character of the individual. When both have their ethical foundations built on absolute principles, they are in sync and they will counter the problem of ethical relativism. Good business ethics in the workplace are a matter of getting back to business ethics basics… Be convinced that there are moral absolutes and close the door on ethical relativism. Believe it or not, there is a place for ethics in the workplace, but we’ve been too busy to notice…

More often than anything, business ethics is a matter of dealing with dilemmas that have no clear indication of what is right or wrong. The moral mazes of management are the numerous ethical problems that managers must deal with on a daily basis. Such problems are potential conflicts of interest, mismanagement of contracts and agreements, wrongful use of resources, and so on.

Many businesses do have ethics codes to follow: “Ethical codes are standards of conduct or rules of behavior adopted by institutions, organizations or professions.” A moral or ethical dilemma is “a situation in which a person can choose between at least two different courses of action that appear to be equally justified (or unjustified) from an ethical or moral point of view”. Different choices may be supported by different principles, and the conflicts of these principles give rise to the dilemma. Businesses are often confronted with ethical dilemmas, but the true ethical test is how these dilemmas are resolved…

We need to come to terms with the fact that management of business is indeed a true profession. A profession that, like the most honorable of professions, exists to improve the lives of our fellow human beings through the creative application of technical knowledge and personal skill to complex problems. It is time for the business community and business schools worldwide to step up and work collaboratively to develop and adopt a ‘code of conduct’ that will help restore the management profession to the respect and recognition it deserves.

A Buddhist religious principle says “Bahujana Hitaya, Bahujana Sukhaya”, which literally means “Of the greatest good, of the greatest number”. This is what business ethics must actually be all about: Making great strides in improving the prosperity of the business, but also being socially and ethically responsible to the world community at large…

Gender Pay Inequity – The 24-cents Pay-Gap: Myth or Reality? (Do women make less than men?)

The 76-cent myth: Do women make less than men? The wage-gap ratio isn’t best gauge for pay discrimination, and overemphasizing it can undermine an important issue. Then it comes to pay discrimination, the one statistic you hear over and over is that women make only 76-cents for every one dollar a man earns.

To the average person, that ratio gives the false impression that any woman working is at risk of being paid 24 cents less per dollar than a man in the same position. However, this wage-gap ratio reflects a comparison of the median earnings of all working women and men who work at least 35 hours a week on the job, any job. That’s it. It doesn’t compare those with equal work, equal training, equal education or equal tenure. Nor does it take into account the hours of overtime worked.

The wage gap, in short, “is a good measure of inequality, not necessarily a measure of discrimination,” said Heidi Hartmann, president of the “Institute for Women’s Policy Research”. Unequal doesn’t always mean unfair. Much depends on the reasons for disparity…

Factors may include: more women choose lower-paying professions than men; they move in and out of the workforce more frequently; and they work fewer paid hours on average. The fact is that women are still society’s primary caregivers, that some higher-paying professions require either too much time away from home or are still less hospitable to women than they should be.

However, while those factors account for a good portion of the wage gap, actual pay discrimination likely accounts for the balance, experts say. Hartmann believes discrimination accounts for between 25% and 33% of wage gap. Compensation specialist Gary Thornton, HR management consulting, figures at least 10% to 15% does. Whatever the breakout, there certainly are numerous studies that show discrimination — however unconscious — still exists.

In the article Hiding the Truth About the Pay Gap Between Men and Women by Michael J. Eastman writes: The first bill signed into law by President Obama, was the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”, overturning a U.S. Supreme Court decision and vastly expands the opportunity to file pay and other discrimination cases. Paying someone less because of their sex is illegal and two federal laws, the “Equal Pay Act of 1963” and “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”, provide the framework whereby victims of pay discrimination can seek redress. However, some argue that these two laws are not effective at eradicating pay discrimination and that the laws must be changed. Central to their argument is the so-called “pay gap,” the difference between the average earnings of men and women.

The argument that the pay gap must be closed rests on the assumption that the pay gap is largely attributable to employer discrimination. However, if the pay gap is to be used to justify such significant changes in the law, it seems entirely appropriate to examine the pay gap itself. Does it really measure employer discrimination? Do other factors play a greater or lesser role?

Economists who have studied the pay gap have observed that numerous factors other than discrimination contribute to the wage gap, such as hours worked, experience, and education. Recognizing the importance of unbiased research on the pay gap, the Labor Department contracted with “CONSAD Research Corporation” for a review of more than 50 existing studies as well as a new economic and statistical analysis of the pay gap. CONSAD’s Report, which was finalized on January 12, 2009, found that the vast majority of the pay gap is due to several identifiable factors and that the remainder may be due to other specific factors they were not able to measure.

CONSAD found that controlling for career interruption and other factors reduced the pay gap from about 20% to about 5%. Data limitations prevented it from considering many other factors. For example, data did not permit an examination of total compensation, which would examine health insurance and other benefits, and instead focused solely on wages paid. The data were also limited with respect to work experience, job tenure, and other factors.

The Labor Department’s conclusion was that the gender pay gap was the result of a multitude of factors and that the “raw wage gap should not be used as the basis for [legislative] correction. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of individual choices being made by both male and female workers.”

In the articleThe Myth of the Wage Gap by Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes: Focus on individuals rather than averages, and apply the “Civil Rights Act” and the “Equal Pay Act” to eradicate cases of discrimination as they occur. How much less do equally-qualified women make? Surprisingly, given all the misused statistics to the contrary, they make about the same. Economists have long known that the adjusted wage gap between men and women-the difference in wages adjusted for occupation, age, experience, education, and time in the workforce-is far smaller than the average wage gap.

Adjusting for age removes a lot of the gap: according to data published in “Employment and Earnings” by the Department of Labor; women aged 16 to 24 made 91 percent of what men made. The wage gap shrinks dramatically when multiple factors are considered. Women with similar levels of education and experience earn as much as their male counterparts. Using data from the “National Longitudinal Survey of Youth”, economics professor June O’Neill found that, among people ages twenty-seven to thirty-three who have never had a child, women’s earnings are close to 98 percent of men’s. Professor O’Neill notes that “when earnings comparisons are restricted to men and women more similar in their experience and life situations, the measured earnings differentials arc typically quite small.”

In the blogThe Gender Pay Gap is a Complete Myth by Steve Tobak writes: “The data is clear that for the same work men and women are paid roughly the same. The media need to look beyond the claims of feminist organizations”, says Marty Nemko.  He forcefully debunked that ultimate myth that women make less than men by explaining why; when you compare apples to apples, it simply isn’t true. And he gives 8 reasons why the widely accepted and reported concept that women are paid less than men is a myth.

The timing couldn’t be better – on “International Women’s Day 2011”. What better time to empower women with the truth instead of treating them like victims. And, in case you’re wondering, Nemko’s source of information is primarily the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – rock solid.  It’s hard to argue with Nemko’s position which, simply put, is this: When women make the same career choices as men, they earn the same amount as men. “As far as I’m concerned, this is one myth that has been officially and completely busted”.

In the article Face the Facts: Gender Pay Gap Is Real by Catherine Hill writes: Is the gender pay gap a “complete myth”? That’s what blogger Steve Tobak contends in a recent post, relying on the arguments of Marty Nemko, the co-president of the “National Organization for Men”. Tobak’s take-home message is this: “When women make the same career choices as men, they earn the same amount as men.” The “American Association of University Women (AAUW)” would agree this is a very empowering message for women, and one that we would love to promote–if only it were true.

Unfortunately, study after study, including AAUW’s own “Behind the Pay Gap”, shows that even when women make the same choices as men, they earn less. Tobak is correct in saying that some of the pay gap between men and women is due to career choices. Men and women still tend to work in different occupations, and traditionally male occupations such as engineering and home appliance repair pay more, on average, than traditionally female occupations like teaching and child care.

Whether the work of an engineer is more important or valuable than the work of a teacher is certainly debatable, but the fact is that work traditionally done by women is valued less in the marketplace than work traditionally done by men, and this accounts for part of the pay gap.

In the articlePerpetuating Wage Gap Myth For Trial Lawyers by Dana Loesch writes: According to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women lawyers are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making about 20% more. This squares with earlier research from Queens College, New York, that had suggested that this was happening in major metropolises.

But the new study suggests that the gap is bigger than previously thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers, respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small areas like the Raleigh-Durham region and Charlotte in North Carolina (both 14% more), and Jacksonville, Fla. (6%). What? Yes! Here’s the slightly deflating caveat: this reverse gender gap, as its known, applies only to unmarried, childless women under 30 who live in cities. The rest of working women — even those of the same age, but who are married or don’t live in a major metropolitan area — are still on the less scenic side of the wage divide.

In the articleWomen In Tech Make More Money And Land Better Jobs Than Men by Alyson Shontell writes: According to a study by CNBC, 91% of males who are computer science majors and find jobs within six months of graduation and earn an average starting salary of $60K. In contrast, 95% of women who find jobs within that same time frame are paid an average salary of $62K. Neumont University, which teaches a 2.5-year computer science program, says their women are extremely valuable within the industry, getting placed better, and faster, than males.  But only one out of every twenty students is female. Tech companies are looking for diversity, they say, and research has shown that women coders are actually better communicators.

In the article Why the Wage Gap?” writes: The reality is that discrimination is not a significant reason why women earn less than men on average. Yes, there are bad employers out there who still might discriminate against women. But in the aggregate women are outperforming men in terms of college-graduation rates, advanced degrees, purchasing power, and even higher earnings in some areas. So what, then, explains the difference in pay between men and women? It comes down to choices. Even Warren Farrell, who has served three times on the board of directors of the National Organization for Women, explains in his book “Why Men Earn More” that choices largely account for the differences in earnings between men and women.

While more women than men are earning bachelor’s degrees, for instance, women are choosing to major in less competitive disciplines. A study produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2009 considered what factors male and female students use to choose a major. While it’s hard to pinpoint just one reason for their decision, the author found that men and women alike made their choice based on potential outcomes.

The difference is that female students on average cared more about “non-pecuniary” issues like parental approval and enjoyment of future work, while male students were concerned with just the opposite — “pecuniary” issues such as likelihood of finding a job, earning potential and social status of future jobs.

Similarly, more than three-quarters of American teachers are women. So while nearly half the nation’s workforce is composed of women, many are choosing fields that are less lucrative than the ones many men are choosing. Some of these differences may be explained by biology and may reflect innate aptitudes and preferences, while others may be a function of society and culture.

Of course, nature and nurture can be difficult to separate — individuals with a natural talent may find they are driven by their environment toward disciplines that make use of that talent. A recent Harvard economics study found that while women have made tremendous strides in terms of gaining access to careers in business — females now make up 40 percent of MBA classes nationwide — some of these careers are more challenging for women (and men) who want to have families.

In fact, the study found that at the time of their 15th college reunion, fewer than half of the female MBAs reported having children and working, compared to two-thirds of the female MDs. Top jobs in finance still require longer hours — for both sexes — than even other highly skilled professions like medicine and law.  The choices women make have costs — salary must be weighed against time spent with family, time for other personal activities, etc. But the costs, according to some, are the result of a woman’s free choice, not an injustice imposed on her by society.

Business War Gaming: Key to Winning Business Strategy – is it the Future?

Business is about strategy – how to move from point-A to point-B. This is influenced by: Objectives: What the business is trying to achieve… Knowledge: What the business knows about its environment.. Assumptions: What the business assumes about itself and other players… Capability: Business’ ability to implement its strategy and therefore achieve its objectives…

Once a business is clear about its strategic direction, it’s able to develop activity plans to implement the strategy and therefore achieve its commercial objectives. Competitors also develop strategies based on these principles – so if you can understand the key influences on a competitor’s business, you can begin to understand its strategies and probable course of action and how this will affect your business.

War-gaming is an effective business tool which can help you understand your competitors and their likely reactions to different situations. It allows you to test different scenarios in a low-risk, realistic situation – as much as is possible. The end objective is to develop action plans before the scenario happens, so that you know in advance what you should do and what your competitor is likely to do.

Also, it’s an excellent way to fine-tune existing strategies.  War-gaming is not a brainstorming session: It’s a clearly defined activity that leads to clearly defined action plans to give you a genuine competitive advantage.

Business war-gaming is an adaptation of the art of simulating moves and counter-moves in a commercial setting. Unlike military war games, or fantasy war games which go back hundreds of years to the days of Prussia and H.G. Wells, business war-gaming is a relatively recent development, and the concept is growing rapidly.

Business war-gaming is of particular use when the competitive environment is undergoing a process of change and it helps decision-makers develop strategies on how their organization can react to specific change(s). Richard Clark, CEO of Merck and Co., discribed it this way:

“I am a strong believer in ‘business war-gaming’ if it develops a vision or a strategic plan for the future of a company and engages the organization in doing that…it can’t be just the CEO or top 10 executives sitting in a sterile conference room”

Business war-gaming uses state-of-the-art competitor analysis techniques and real life competitive intelligence to generate an in-depth profiling of competitors through role-playing. The goal is predicting most likely moves by the most significant competitor(s) or other third parties (i.e., customers, regulators,…) so that strategy can be pressure–tested in a most realistic setting.

Employing role-playing and analytical techniques are most effective for strategy at the business unit, markets, brands, product, and project levels. This method has been applied with great success to new product launches, offensive and defensive moves against specific competitors, organizational development (i.e., training the next generation executive cadre,…), assessing competitive-landscape, brand revival, and new market entry situations. According to participants, business war-gaming provides reality-based challenge to strategies and plans that help companies cope with uncertainty….

In the article “Securing Corporate Value–Business War-Gaming” by Daniel F. Oriesek and Jan Oliver Schwarz write: Business war-gaming is the kind of exercise in which you are asked to optimize the resources of a company; for example; deciding how much you want to invest in advertising vs. production capacity or whether you should produce widgets type-A instead of type-B and at what price you will sell them.

Business war-gaming, generates new knowledge through the social interaction of its participants (Fuller and Loogma 2007). Each simulation is put together around a specific set of questions to which the business is seeking answers, such as: “Our industry is consolidating — what should we do?” “Is the business model in our industry changing? Does this mean that we will lose control over our market?” “Should we embrace new models, or defend the status quo or both?”…

Prominent examples for these types of situations are; the airline industry in the early 1990s, which moved quite suddenly from a competition of national carriers to a competition of alliances, or the mega-mergers in the automotive industry, or the ongoing quest in many industries to find suitable acquisition targets that would ultimately create value… or the music industry and the threat from legal and illegal online models; the pharmaceutical industry and the threat from generic drugs; or incumbent telecommunications or energy providers in liberalized markets…

Other examples include more politically flavored simulations, such as; how shifts in global power will develop, the impact of terrorist actions on economies… All of these type situations are too complex to answer with conventional forms of analysis and war-gaming is a suitable means to explore them through the combined elements of human decision making and a set of quantitative measures that allow you to gauge “what happens if.”

The methodology allows managers to test existing or newly conceived strategies in a dynamic, yet safe, environment. In doing so, they can save time, money and grief, gaining confidence in their plans via a relatively inexpensive simulation when compared to the cost of executing a potentially flawed strategy in the real world…

In the article ‘‘Business War-Gaming Simulations Guide Crucial Strategy Decisions” by Jay Kurtz writes: Business has increasingly recognized that war-gaming can be a valuable process to support planning and decision making and to help top executive deal with a particularly difficult strategic situation. Business war-gaming is a role-playing simulation of a dynamic business issue and it involves assigning teams to assume the identity of an entity having a stake in the situation.

Typical war-gaming will usually involve several ‘‘rounds’’ that might represent different time periods, such as months, quarters or years. Or, they might represent different phases in the life of a product launch, a plan to make an acquisition, to win a major order, or some other venture. War-gaming involves intensive ‘‘competition’’ among teams, each representing distinct stakeholders such as, key customers, suppliers, strategic partners, different competitors, channels and regulators.

Team role-playing allows cultural issues, egos and other subjective factors to be reflected in the development and assessment of strategies. The war-gaming process forces a rigorous examination of a situation from several different perspectives, not just the view seen by the organization sponsoring it. By attending to alternative perspectives, some of them hostile, the company learns to recognize opportunities and threats that would never have been noticed using an ‘‘inside out’’ approach. Although business war-gaming may be computer-supported, they are not computer-driven…

In the article “War Gaming” by Richard Vanderveer, Ph.D., and James Heasley II, Ph.D., write:  Among the many harsh realities of today’s pharmaceutical environment is the fact that products have become increasingly commoditized. That is, in any given therapeutic area there is a glut of products with similar features and benefits. Under these circumstances, pharmaceutical marketers must now work harder and smarter than ever before to differentiate their products while actively remaining “on guard” against the competition.

Smart marketers who do not want to be “blindsided” are preparing for battle with competing products by leveraging a highly effective and strategic process called “war-gaming” to aid pharmaceutical marketers in better differentiating their products from those of the competition. There are three general reasons for a product team to consider deploying this methodology:

  • Launching a new product where there is a need to understand how the new brand’s positioning and messages will play within the current competitive marketplace.
  • Fundamental change in the market that may impact an “in-line” product.
  • Explore options for repositioning its brand where there is a need to understand current perceptions of the product within the overall competitive milieu.

The intended outcome of the war-gaming process varies by type, but ultimately it provides the marketing team with enough information to make decisions on how best to communicate the brand. This methodology is geared toward helping a brand team to both fully understand the competition and inculcate non-core team members with the realities of the marketplace. These sessions may or may not include testing the output with a target audience (i.e., physicians…).

The process is extremely useful when a brand team is struggling with the need to synchronize the views of all team members and can be especially helpful as companies go about “globalizing” their brands. It brings into focus both the advantages and challenges associated with selling the product, and it provides the overall team with an opportunity to consider a variety of selling strategies and tactics for the brand, along with a critical evaluation of their efforts.

In the article “Challenging Corporate Taboos Through War-Gaming” by outwardinsights write:  Effective war-gaming accomplish two things.  First, provide a structured approach to evaluating a company’s strengths and weaknesses compared to competitors and competitive positioning.  Second, role-playing the competitors with in-depth research of competitors’ capabilities, market positioning, and objectives; provides a better understanding of competitor behavior and intent, from the competitors’ prospective.

These two war-gaming characteristics help challenge what might be sacrosanct beliefs about an organization’s capabilities and advantages, and confront internal weaknesses that heretofore had gone unchallenged.  Participants in war-gaming use analytic methodologies to evaluate their company against the competition, and in some cases finds meaningful disadvantages that needed to be addressed. 

Instead of expressing opinions about how the company was inferior to its competitors, war-gaming participants are able to express stronger judgments backed by the rigor of the comparative competitor analysis they conduct.  What once were unsupported observations and opinions becomes well-founded judgments…

In the article “Corporate Game Theory” by Pete Swabey writes: Business is often compared to military warfare. Indeed, Sun Tzu’s 6th-century military strategy treatise “The Art of War” has for long been required reading for ambitious corporate executives.  War-gaming is a crucial tool for testing and evaluating new strategies that had mostly been made with a combination of historical data and gut feeling.

War-gaming methodology is applied to business strategies in order to test the validity of real stakeholders and all the various parties involved in a given business situation: internal departments, business partners, lawyers, even government.  Role-playing simulates unforeseen consequences, instead of having stakeholders just talked through all the possible implications of a given strategy. It’s the unpredictability that gives war-gaming its power.

Simply put, war-gaming is realistic role-playing simulation of a competitive business situation. It is designed to help uncover competing messages that could threaten your business’ strategic position and lessen the effectiveness of your tactical executions. It provides decision-makers with a clear understanding of offensive and defensive positioning by pitting their business issues against those of the competition.

It is essential for a business team to honestly evaluate their weaknesses (and strengths) and build credible defense against them (or an effective offense leveraging them), while proactively seeking ways to take advantage of the competition’s weaknesses and anticipate worst-case competitive attacks…

The Innovation GAP: U.S. vs. Europe, Japan, China, India, Russia,…

What is Innovation? – Innovation is one of those words that can mean different things to different people… may be defined as exploiting new ideas leading to the creation of a new product, process or service. It is not just the invention of a new idea that is important, but it is actually “bringing it to market”, putting into practice and exploiting it in a manner that leads to new products, services or systems that add value or improve quality.

Innovation is a new way of doing something that result in improved value or quality. It employs “out-of-the-box” thinking to generate positive changes in thinking, products, processes, organizations, and society. It makes creative thinking a useful reality. The future of many systems—educational, entrepreneurial, industrial and governmental—depends upon their ability to move beyond incremental improvements to innovation.

“Innovation emerges when different bodies of knowledge, perspectives, and disciplines are brought together.” Kao describes the process as a “blending of the intuitive and the practical, of the optimistic and the pragmatic.” His blueprint for a national innovation strategy calls for a major rejuvenation—from early educational systems to public policy—to drive social and economic development” ~ John Kao, Innovation Nation

In the article “Is America Losing Its Mojo?” by Fareed Zakaria writes:  By most measures, America remains the world leader in technological achievement. Consider the 2009 Nobel Prizes: of the 13 people honored, nine were American. Once you take out the economics, literature, and peace prizes, the United States, with 5 percent of the world’s population, still won close to 70 percent of the awards.

The World Economic Forum routinely cites America as having the most competitive economy on the planet… When decision makers are asked to rank countries on innovation, the United States always comes first by a large margin. That might be true today. But could it be that American achievements reflect the past more than predicting the future?

It’s important to remember that many of the metrics that place the United States so far ahead are actually lagging indicators. There are two studies on global innovation, both comprehensive, and both rely entirely on government statistics and other hard data: one produced by the Boston Consulting Group, the other by Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, and the United States does considerably worse, coming in eighth in BCG and sixth in ITIF…

America is not producing the kinds of workers needed in a knowledge-based economy….The wide gap between the United States and the rest of the world is closing…For the past three decades, funding for science research has slipped, the education system has continued to decline, and immigration policy has become less and less rational.

Tax and regulatory policies have been made with more thought to domestic special interests than America’s long-term competition. The seed capital from past decades was strong enough to carry us for decades. We got talent from abroad to mask the erosion at home. We used financial engineering to substitute for the real thing. We borrowed to the hilt and sold each other our homes in an ascending spiral that made us all feel rich.

And we kicked all the real problems we face down the road, hoping that someone else would solve them. This too has become part of American culture, a culture that desperately needs to change if we are to preserve American innovation and rekindle the real American Dream…

In the article “European Innovation Lags US and Japan, as China Surges Warns EU” writes: European Union members’ attempts to make their economies as innovative as the United States and Japan has stalled and they could be overtaken by China in 10 years, an EU study warned… The 27-member bloc is currently trying to find ways to make its economy both more competitive, high-technology and creative amidst fears that other world powers will soon leave it behind.

“Catching up in the innovation gap with the US and Japan has ceased, or even reversed … According to the study, based on data collected in 2007 and 2008, both the US and Japan remain much better at turning scientific research into money-making projects than the EU, spending more on research, employing more scientists and registering more patents.

The EU, which represents the world’s largest economic grouping, does still perform markedly better than major developing economies such as Brazil, China, India and Russia, the report said. But China is catching up fast, spending far more on information technology than the EU and making huge strides in boosting its number of patents and trademarks…

An extrapolation of China’s improvements “indicates that the gap is rapidly closing”, the report says, whilst warning that it only an indication. India is also improving its innovation performance, but much more slowly. “Given the current performance lead for the EU, it is not expected that India will close its gap within the foreseeable future,” the report says. The EU remains well ahead of Brazil and Russia.

In the article “Responding to China’s Innovation and Competitiveness Policies” writes: China is now investing in many of the building blocks of innovation-driven economic growth that the United States has all but abandoned over the past several decades. Pick your sector and you’ll find China spends more on a per capita basis, and sometimes in total amounts, on public investments in basic science and education, research and development, or R&D, infrastructure development, and workforce training.

What’s more, China’s leaders have crafted coherent policies and programs in support of domestic manufacturing and services for export abroad and to ensure Chinese companies have the prime positions in China’s rapidly growing domestic economy. China, in short, is actively and methodically building up the basic foundations for future economic growth while also ensuring a market for its current and future products and services at home and abroad.

The country’s leaders understand completely the message driven home by The World Economic Forum, in its monumental Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, which underscores the importance of innovation as the basis for long-term economic growth:

Although substantial gains can be obtained by improving institutions, building infrastructure, reducing macroeconomic instability, or improving human capital, all these factors eventually seem to run into diminishing returns. The same is true for the efficiency of the labor, financial, and goods markets. In the long run, standards of living can be enhanced only by technological innovation. Innovation is particularly important for economies as they approach the frontiers of knowledge and the possibility of integrating and adapting exogenous, [or imported,] technologies tends to disappear.

The widespread recognition of these principles has sparked a global race to the top in innovation, science, and technology policy. But judging from the state of our innovation policy, the United States seems to have missed the memo. Other nations see innovation and competitiveness as two sides of the same economic coin. And not surprisingly, as John Podesta, Sarah Wartell, and Jitinder Kohli point out in CAP’s recent report, “A Focus on Competitiveness,”…other countries organize their economic policy apparatus more explicitly around the question of how to effectively compete.”

China in particular does this very well. China’s so called “import/ assimilate/re-innovate” model of technology development, for example, actively drives foreign companies to share their technologies with Chinese joint venture partners in exchange for access to the cheap Chinese workforce and burgeoning domestic marketplace. This strategy poses a direct challenge to U.S. competitiveness because it enables Chinese (often state-owned) companies to gain access to cutting-edge technologies but also build upon them incrementally to create a Chinese innovation ecosystem…

In the article “Chinese Innovation – China can Rekindle its Great Innovative Past, Though Some Reforms May be Needed First” by Eveline Danubrata, Reuters, writes: The great 20th century sinologist, Joseph Needham, once drew up a list of 24 technical innovations brought from China to the West. They ranged from gunpowder and the wheelbarrow to printing, cast iron, the magnetic compass and the chain suspension bridge.

By 1600 the torch of innovation had passed to the West. Could it now be returning? China is one of the world’s largest investors in research and development. Spending on R&D has climbed by 19% per year since 1995 putting China sixth in world ranking, and if adjusted for purchasing power parity between different countries, then China would rank third!

However, according to a new report examining Chinese innovation, some of this progress flatters to deceive: R&D spending is still low as a share of GDP per capita and far lower than the OECD average. Consider also the number of researchers in China, which while second in the world only to the US, is still very low for China compared to OECD countries, given the size of the country’s labor force. More fundamentally, there is a difference between being a leader in R&D and leading a truly innovative, modern society.

It is a gap China must now bridge. The reasons are simple. China’s remarkable economic resurgence has made it one of largest economies in world, but its momentum cannot be sustained without destabilizing the “harmonious society” promulgated by the nation’s leaders. Already there are signs of strain on natural resources and massive migration to cities, with deep inequalities between the provinces and between urban and rural populations.

It is largely because of such pressures that the Chinese authorities are turning towards innovation, both to address the problems that rapid economic progress generates and to raise the economy higher up the value chain towards a more sustainable growth model. China needs innovation more than ever…

In the article “In India, a Developing Case of Innovation Envy” writes:  While innovation is hard to measure, academics who study it say India has the potential to create great products but is not yet doing so. Indians are granted about half as many American patents for inventions as people and firms in Israel and China. The country’s corporate and government spending on research and development significantly lags behind that of other nations. And venture capitalists finance far fewer companies here than they do elsewhere.  “The same idea, if it’s born in Silicon Valley it goes the distance,” said Nadathur S. Raghavan, an investor in startups. “If it’s born in India it does not go the distance.” 

In the United States, Israel and elsewhere, the initial, or seed, capital for many startups comes from rich individuals known as angel investors. But most rich Indians prefer to invest with family members or close friends because it is considered safer and provides assurance that the lender will be able to borrow from relatives in the future. Still, India has its advantages. ..engineers and biologists are plentiful… There may yet be hope for Indian innovation. In the last eight years, the size of the Indian economy has roughly doubled along with the importance of global trade. There could still be something to envy and fear…

In the article “Getting the Numbers Right: International Engineering Education in the United States, China, and India” by Gary Gereffi, Vivek Wadhwa, Ben Rissing, Ryan Ong write: The United States, China, and India each believe that educating the engineering and scientific workforce is an essential ingredient for economic development and technological competitiveness.

Regardless of the exact numbers, India and China are increasing their engineering graduates at a more accelerated pace than the United States. The debate among U.S. engineering educators is increasingly focused on how to improve the quality of its engineering graduates, since innovation is based on leadership, communication skills, and business acumen, as well as technical prowess. In this respect, a new generation of dynamic engineers is needed, but there is still no consensus on how best to attain this goal…

A topic of particular importance to the United States is whether the prominent role played by foreign-born engineers, especially in U.S. master’s and doctoral degree programs, will diminish, and whether the incentives provided to undergraduate engineering students are sufficient to attract enough talented individuals…

In the article “Russia’s Innovation Gap” by Itzhak Goldberg writes:  Russian manufacturing productivity is about 40 percent of Brazil’s and only one-third of South Africa’s. Productivity in Poland is twice as high as in Russia. Although labor productivity in Russia is slightly higher than that of India and China, Chinese wages in manufacturing are 30 percent lower than in Russia.

And low labor costs in these two countries give Russia a competitive disadvantage: for each dollar of wages, a Russian worker produces about half the output of an Indian or Chinese worker. The Russian economy lags behind other large OECD and middle-income economies in terms of R&D-based outputs. Based on the number of researchers, Russia’s productivity should be among the highest—on par with Germany and South Korea…

According to international standards, the Russian workforce is highly educated. The average Russian citizen (25 and older), dedicates 10.5 years of his/her life to schooling. This is among the highest indicators in the world, ahead of Brazil, India, China, South Africa, other transition countries, as well as Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Russia also had one of the highest shares of population with tertiary education (over 50 percent). In spite of this, the Russian workforce lacks the requisite skills for firms to compete on the global market.

With regard to innovation, the intellectual property rights (IPRs) regime remains one of the primary weaknesses. First, the assignment of IPRs remains unclear, specifically if they should belong to the inventor, the inventor’s employer, or to the state that may have paid R&D costs.

These uncertainties complicate collaboration between private firms and public institutes, inhibit technology transfer, and impair the development of spin-off companies into independent and growing businesses. Second, registered IPRs are weakly protected due to inability of public authorities to police producers or importers of pirated goods…

 “The world leaders in innovation and creativity will also be world leaders in everything else” ~ Harold R. McAlindon

While methods of measuring innovation and competitiveness may vary, there is little debate over their importance to a healthy economy. And hard economic times can provide just the right environment for innovation, especially the sort that can turn an industry on its head, according to Wharton experts and author of the article titled, “Why an Economic Crisis Could Be the Right Time for Companies to Engage in ‘Disruptive Innovation.”

In this article Paul J.H. Schoemaker, research director for Wharton’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation, suggested that for some companies, the economic crisis can actually provide an innovation platform. There is a growing worry about America’s commitment to innovation, a report from the National Academies titled, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” found that leading scientists, research and development experts, and other leaders had “expressed concern that a weakening of science and technology in the United States would inevitably degrade its social and economic conditions and in particular erode the ability of its citizens to compete for high-quality jobs.”                                                                                        

         “Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity”~ Michael Porter