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A Time for Innovation

A Time for Innovation, General Topics

T-minus one month: Making the case for the 2012 Multicultural Forum

By Sue Plaster, M.Ed., Owner, Sue Plaster Consulting

The 2012 Multicultural Forum for Workplace Diversity is now six weeks away. Have you registered, or are you still working on how you’ll approach your supervisor to ask for the money and time to attend?

I’ve worked in both corporate and nonprofit settings and know how recession and budget problems can make conference attendance seem “nice to” rather than “must do.”

Some thoughts for you if you are making your case this week for Forum attendance:

  • Make use of the Forum’s program tracks to plan your attendance. Think about your organization’s needs, as well as those of the clients and ERGs you work with. Crossing over tracks may be your best strategy, based on your needs profile.
  • Dig into not just the keynote speakers, but Institute and workshop presenters. Read their program descriptions and bios. Once you get the go-ahead to attend, you may want to contact a couple of speakers to arrange to meet them while at the Forum. Build even stronger connections in our field by seizing the opportunity.
  • Maybe you can’t attend every session you want to.:)  Find a colleague from your organization or another one, arrange which sessions you will attend, and brief one other in person afterward. Speaker handouts are often available in session or on the Forum Website.  Your supervisor will be able to see that you are getting greater value out of your ticket by “super-attending” the Forum.
  • Create your “share plan.” How will you personally ensure that what happens at the Forum doesn’t stay at the Forum?  Create your list of those with whom you can share key insights, data, tools and inspiration from the Forum. Plan how you will share so it is meaningful and timely for them. When is the next meeting of your Diversity Council or ERGs, or your HR department?  How many people can you reach? What channels will work best for them?
  • Don’t forget your supervisor. Find a way to distill a “Best of the Forum” package for your supervisor in whatever medium she or he will find most useful.  Make it easy for your supervisor to see the value of your attendance by sharing the value.  One of my staff members briefed me thoroughly, with handouts, after attending major national conference. We both gained from her attendance.
  • With your supervisor’s support, you may also prepare an “executive briefing” for leaders and diversity sponsors in your organization, to share a few key insights from the Forum and tell what impact they had on you or what they could mean for your organization.

Have I helped you prepare for your conversation about your Forum registration? Post your reactions or questions, or email me at  I am excited to be presenting at 3:30-5:00 on Thursday, March 22 in Session W6G.  Our topic is “Creating Space for That Learning ‘Moment’:  A Practicum for Diversity Educators.” Our attention will be on one of the most exciting and fulfilling aspects of diversity work:  facilitating and leading diversity education.

Can’t wait to meet you at the Forum!

Sue Plaster

Register today at

A Time for Innovation, General Topics, Leadership

Why is Innovation often “hit or miss?”

By: Dr. Greg McLaughlin, VP, Global Targeting

This question has baffled many executives for quite some time. We all recognize innovation such as Apple’s I Pad without understanding how that innovation came about. Management tries to replicate the special event or circumstances that created the innovation but often fail. Companies have created positions such as Chief Innovation Officer, innovation teams, and organizational strategies that promote innovation through diversity, team dynamics and social networking. However, failure rates of 90% are common when innovations occur due purely to chance.

So, what is the key to successful innovation? Is it more allocated funds, more opportunities for good ideas to permeate the organization or is it better leadership and management practices? Although all these strategies are helpful, it is clearly not the answer to this baffling question. What sustains innovation in an organization is clarifying the meaning of innovation and applying this comprehension within the organization.

From our research at Global Targeting, we are finding that individuals define and clarify innovation into three separate but related components. The first component, a very traditional element of innovation, is a new product or service. That is, something different that has not existed previously. The second component is innovation that comes from improvement in product (service), process or procedure. The third component is innovation through change. Change refers to replacing what has existed with something different. What is fascinating is that for whatever cultural group studied, our research validates these three dimensions of innovation.

Diversity in the workforce is certainly a change occurring in the workforce that can lead to innovation. Think of innovation as portrait that individuals view and interpret. Each person views innovation and interprets its meaning with a unique perspective. The complexity in understanding innovation, at the individual level is that different people assign different importance and significance to these unique characteristics. There is, in fact, a diversity of perception in defining innovation. This diversity of perception is one of the compelling reasons why innovation is so often “hit or miss.” Therefore, defining innovation and aligning individuals to the perceived definition and desired outcome is critical for success.

In conclusion, for innovation to be successful beyond a “hit or miss” rate, leaders must accept the diversity of perception regarding innovation and find the tools that align individuals to desired outcome. Otherwise, chaos will persist and innovation is more a discrete event than a planned and managed function.

Come visit with Dr. Vinny Caraballo, Tony Bynum, Lino Carrillo, and myself on Wednesday afternoon at session W3-H, Beyond Diversity: Selecting Individuals/Teams to Maximize Innovation, so that we can share our insights with you. To get you ready for the session, look for some of our team members to post a few tidbits in this site. In the meantime, visit this site to read some more of our work. See you at the Forum.

A Time for Innovation, General Topics, Leadership

Beyond Diversity: Managing for Innovation Success

By Dr. Vinny Caraballo, CEO, Global Targeting

In the 21st century all business has the potential to be conducted on a global scale. Advances in Information Communications Technology (ICT) have created an environment where companies can reach markets in remote locations and deliver through a network of partners and alliances that add value along the supply chain. This meshing of organizational capabilities enables many firms to achieve parity on several fronts. In this environment companies must differentiate themselves to offset the advantages that a global communications infrastructure enables. Developing successful innovation programs and outcomes is how companies will differentiate themselves. “A Time for Innovation,” is more than a conference theme. It is also an opportunity for D&I Managers to take their skills to the next level, broaden their perspective, and learn new solutions.

Innovation is a complex concept that most firms treat as an event rather than an on-going and integral part of their business. Some companies also tend to focus on innovation process rather than focusing on the human aspect of innovation. Innovation emanates from human beings that are shaped by their cultural environment. Consequently, cultures will view and define innovation differently. Understanding attitudes, opinions, and disposition towards innovation is key to integrating resources and aligning them to produce successful innovation outcomes. It is this drive to understand how culture impacts innovation that drives the efforts of Global Targeting.

Operating in a global economy means you already have a diversified workforce. The concept of diversity and inclusion is predominantly a US construct, but more global firms have found that understanding diverse cultures will yield improved business performance. Integrating diverse ideas will also add to a collective body of knowledge. This same thought process has been applied to the concept of innovation, because many managers believe that diversity will automatically lead to innovation. But this approach is too simplistic and can lead to disappointing results if organizing teams for innovation is based on diversity alone. It goes beyond diversity.

Innovation success is based on understanding how cultures define innovation and selecting individual team members that are similar in their goal alignments. At the Forum, Global Targeting will share the results of our Project Impact research showing how innovation is defined and how to use our tools to select teams for individual success. Our study brings results from Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South America, and the USA. Diversity managers can benefit from our insights and exposure to our tools and methodologies, because our research is:

·         Global in scale

·         Empirically based

·         Application driven

Come visit with Dr. Greg McLaughlin, Tony Bynum, Lino Carrillo, and myself on Wednesday afternoon at session W3-H, Beyond Diversity: Selecting Individuals/Teams to Maximize Innovation, so that we can share our insights with you. To get you ready for the session, look for some of our team members to post a few tidbits in this site. In the meantime, visit this site to read some more of our work. See you at the Forum.

A Time for Innovation, General Topics

Announcing the 2012 Conference Theme

I am excited to announce this year’s conference theme, A Time for Innovation. Diversity is largely a U.S. construct. But much of the innovation that will shape the future of diversity and inclusion (D&I) may come from outside the U.S. The Multicultural Forum will explore these ideas throughout the three-day conference.

Carol Evans will explore the need to be prepared for the challenges ahead in her opening keynote, The New Paradigm of Diversity and Inclusion Innovation.  Forbes Insights will present (W1-E) on the direct link between D&I and innovation while that link is challenged in the session titled, Beyond Diversity: Selecting Individuals and Teams to Maximize Innovation (W3-H). In that session, speakers will argue that the issue is much more nuanced than “diversity = innovation.” Finally, Cargill will demonstrate their D&I policy (W4-H) and how it plays out in cultures around the world.

I hope you will join us for these insightful and challenging presentations on the D&I innovations coming our way.

Steve Humerickhouse