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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 31 January 2013

The Creative Mind

The pathological compulsion to create.  The inability not to look behind the curtain and understand how the magic works.  The continuous doubt that smothers any chance at complacence.  The gift of innovation.
Yeah, I'm blessed to know a few people like this.

Working Tirelessly to be More Creative

Part of the widely-circulated comments by Pearl Buck (winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938) includes this: “The truly creative mind [feels] the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.”
That “inward urgency” is a common quality of accomplished creative people.
Director Kathryn Bigelow wrote in praise of her lead actress Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” :

“Talent comes in many guises, but all original talents share the same quality: They’re unique, one of a kind. Totally unlike the rest of the crowd. Jessica Chastain, at least to my mind, is one of our original talents, a rare and gifted actress.”
She adds that with her roles in “Take Shelter,” “Tree of Life” and “The Help,” Chastain “was introduced to audiences and the industry. Suddenly, she was an actress that many filmmakers wanted to work with because she has real range and she gets lost in her characters, and also because she is an overall easygoing person.
“The other side of Jessica that not as many people know is that she is an utter slave to her craft and one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met, let alone directed in a film. Jessica strives in everything she does. She works and works, tirelessly, on a range of quality projects — large films, independent films, Broadway — she does it all.”
From First Person: Bigelow praises ‘Zero Dark Thirty’s’ Chastain By Kathryn Bigelow, Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2013.
Photo of Kathryn Bigelow directing ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ from Facebook.
Creativity Coach Lisa Riley writes about this aspect of creative intensity and drive.
“In the gifted person the calling to create can frequently be a relentless yearning. Innate characteristics of the gifted individuals such as seeking a deeper meaning and purpose; immense satisfaction in problem solving; constant curiosity and viewing a creative task from different perspectives, naturally urges them towards creativity.
“It’s as if all these traits merge together and become a compelling force from within to seek out creative challenges.”
She adds quotes from Mary-Elaine Jacobsen’s book “The Gifted Adult”:
“Everyday Geniuses need to create the best that they are capable of is not something that goes away with time. It’s not something we can excise, or a job from which we can expect to happily retire.
“To be sure, the intensity of creative pressure does ebb and flow, but like the tide, it always comes back.
“Unless we are extraordinarily hindered, sooner or later we must comply with the creative spirit’s urgings, because it is more persevering than any attempt by our thinking mind to ignore our gifts. Living everyday with the need to create is like sharing a room with a hyperactive little brother who elbows you, tugs at your shirtsleeve, and tweaks your ear repeatedly until you give him your undivided attention.”
Riley adds, “Perhaps what fuels this drive is the tremendous satisfaction, the gifted person experiences during and after the creative process.”
From her post “Pressure to Create” on her site The Art of Mind.
Book: The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, PsyD.
For more about the highly talented actor, see my post Jessica Chastain on being sensitive and a loner:

That post includes comments by Jonathan Heaf, writing in GQ (U.K.): ‘While studying theater at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School [she had earned a scholarship], the actress was terrified that she’d be exposed as a talentless hack and sent home.

“It’s really why I never partied with the other students,” says Chastain.’

The Communities and Walls of Tradition

To me, traditions are meant to create communities.  They do this, but as society evolves and grows, so too must our communities.  When traditions become walls that keep people out rather than bridges that bring people together, that's when they need revisted.  We accomplish this by pulling back the curtain of ascribed meaning to the core of our traditions - like bread and candles - and building anew from there.
Thanks to the inspirational Allie Fonarve for twigging me to this article!

The Trouble With Tradition

When "Values" Trample Over Rights

by Graeme Reid, Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program
"Even if it's not possible, this is what I want." Ainigmas, a young gay man in Burundi, cannot tell his family about his sexuality and makes jewelry to express himself. © 2009 Martina Bacigalupo for Human Rights Watch

“Tradition!” proclaims Tevye the milkman, in his foot-stomping opening to the musical Fiddler on the Roof. “Tradition!”
Tevye’s invocation of the familiar as a buffer against the vagaries of his hardscrabble life rings true—after all, what is more reassuring, more innocuous, than the beliefs and practices of the past?
Which is why the resolution passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in September 2012 seems, at first blush, to be so benign.
Spearheaded by Russia, it calls for “promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind.” It warns that traditions cannot be invoked to contravene rights, and even mentions such bedrock human rights instruments as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1993 Vienna Declaration, while calling for a survey of “best practices”—all in the name of “promoting and protecting human rights and upholding human dignity.”
By the sound of it, the resolution deserves a standing ovation.
But a close look at the context from which this resolution arose reveals that traditional values are often deployed as an excuse to undermine human rights. And in declaring that “all cultures and civilizations in their traditions, customs, religions and beliefs share a common set of values,” the resolution invokes a single, supposedly agreed-upon value system that steamrolls over diversity, ignores the dynamic nature of traditional practice and customary laws, and undermines decades of rights-respecting progress for women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, among others.
In countries around the world, Human Rights Watch has documented how discriminatory elements of traditions and customs have impeded, rather than enhanced, people’s social, political, civil, cultural, and economic rights.
In Saudi Arabia, authorities cite cultural norms and religious teachings in denying women and girls the right to participate in sporting activities—“steps of the devil” on the path to immorality, as one religious leader called them (Steps of the Devil, 2012). In the United States in the early 1990s, “traditional values” was the rallying cry for evangelist Pat Robertson’s “Culture War”—code for opposition to LGBT and women’s rights that he claimed undermined so-called family values. Today, it is familiar rhetoric of the US religious right, which has used the same language to oppose gay marriage and to accuse political opponents of undermining tradition and “Western civilization.” And in Kenya, the customary laws of some ethnic communities discriminate against women when it comes to property ownership and inheritance; while some traditional leaders have supported transforming these laws, many others defend them as embodying “tradition” (Double Standards, 2003). As one woman told us, “They talk about African traditions, but there is no tradition you can speak of—just double standards.”
International human rights law—including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Protocol to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa—calls for customary and traditional practices that violate human rights to be transformed to remove discriminatory elements.
United Nations treaty monitoring committees, such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Committee Against Torture (CAT), have also stated that customs and traditions cannot be put forward as a justification for violating rights. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June 2012 told the New York Human Rights Watch Film Festival, “In all regions of the world, LGBT people suffer discrimination—at work, at home, at school, in all aspects of daily life…. No custom or tradition, no cultural values or religious beliefs, can justify depriving a human being of his or her rights.”
But such authoritative statements have done little to dampen growing support among UN member states for resolutions that support “traditional values.” Not only did September’s HRC resolution pass easily—with 25 votes for, 15 against, and 7 abstentions—it was the latest in a series of efforts that Russia has championed in an effort to formalize an abstract set of universal moral values as a lodestar for human rights. In October 2009, for example, the HRC passed a resolution calling for the UN high commissioner for human rights to convene an expert workshop “on how a better understanding of traditional values of humankind … can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights.” And in March 2011, the council adopted a second resolution requesting a study of how “better understanding and appreciation of traditional values” can promote and protect these rights.
Tradition need not be out of step with international human rights norms and standards. For many people living in rural areas, such as parts of sub-Saharan Africa, traditional values interpreted in customary law may be the only recourse to any form of justice. Nor is the substance of the HRC resolution all bad. It does not, for example, necessarily indicate a global consensus (many countries, including some from the developing world, did not support it), and its text specifically states that “traditions shall not be invoked to justify practices contrary to human dignity and that violate international human rights law.”
But unfortunately, such language can seem out of touch with a reality in which “tradition” is indeed often used to justify discrimination and crackdowns on rights—especially those of women and members of the LGBT community, among others—and is easily hijacked by nations determined to flout the rights of particular groups and to quash broader social, political, and legal freedoms.
In such environments, “tradition” subordinates human rights. It should be the other way around.

Rights Curtailed, Rights Ignored

There are potentially negative implications for many groups when traditional values trample on human rights—but they are not always the same.
For women, upon whose shoulders the burden of upholding cultural norms and values often falls, traditional values can be a tool that curtails their human rights. Human Rights Watch has shown that such “values” are sometimes used to justify forced marriages in Afghanistan, virginity testing in Indonesia, “honor crimes” in Iraq, and marital rape in Kyrgyzstan. In Yemen, the abolition of the minimum marriage age on religious grounds in 1999 means that girls as young as eight are married off to much older men, some of whom rape their pre-pubescent girl brides without legal consequence (How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?,2011). In Bangladesh, unlike in neighboring India, even the most reasonable demands of Hindu women and women’s rights activists—such as divorce on a few grounds that include cruelty and abandonment—have been stalled for decades by critics of such moves, who cite “religion” (Will I Get My Dues … Before I Die?, 2012).
While many representatives in Yemen’s parliament agree that a minimum marriage age is vital to safeguarding young girls’ rights, they have been held hostage by a small but powerful group of parliamentarians who oppose any minimum age restriction on the grounds that it would lead to “spreading of immorality” and undermine “family values.”
For LGBT people, the traditional values argument may not just be used to limit human rights, it may be used to entirely negate them. That’s because the language of traditional values tends to cast homosexuality as a moral issue, and not a rights issue—as a social blight that must be contained and even eradicated for the good of public morality.
Public morality narrowly invoked, as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognizes, may provide a legitimate reason to temporarily restrict some rights. But it should not be a smokescreen for prejudice or conflated with majority opinion, and it may never be used as an excuse to violate the covenant’s non-discrimination provisions.
It often is.
In 2008, for example, Human Rights Watch showed how vague and ill-defined “offenses against public morality” laws are used in Turkey to censor or close LGBT organizations and to harass and persecute LGBT people (We Need a Law For Liberation). A year later, the Philippine Commission on Elections invoked “morality,” “mores,” “good customs,” and “public morals” when it rejected an LGBT group’s application to register as a political organization. The Supreme Court of the Philippines rejected this argument in 2010, holding that the country’s democracy precluded “using the religious or moral views of part of the community to exclude from consideration the values of other members of the community.”
Similarly, several former British colonies, including Nigeria and Malaysia, use moral terms such as “gross indecency” and “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” in rejecting homosexuality, citing so-called traditional values embodied in laws that in fact only date to the relatively recent, and otherwise derided, colonial era. In the 2008 report This Alien Legacy, for example, Human Rights Watch highlighted the irony of foreign laws being exalted as “citadels of nationhood and cultural authenticity.” “Homosexuality, they [judges, public figures, and political leaders] now claim, comes from the colonizing West,” the report states. “They forget the West brought in the first laws enabling governments to forbid and repress it.”
In Uganda, Malaysia, Moldova, and Jamaica, where the state rejects LGBT rights, claims that homosexuality is simply “not in our culture” are ubiquitous.“All countries are ruled by principles,” Alexandru Corduneanu, the deputy mayor of Chisinau, said in 2007, after the Moldovan capital city banned a demonstration by LGBT activists for the third year running. “Moldovais ruled by Christian principles, and that is why we cannot allow you to go against morality and Christianity by permitting this parade.”

A Tool of Repression

Traditional values need not be at odds with human rights; indeed, they may even bolster them.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, for example, where tradition, custom, morality, and Islam have been invoked to justify continuing female genital mutilation (FGM) from one generation to the next, the highest Muslim authority issued afatwa in July 2012, signed by 33 imams and scholars, saying that Islam does not require FGM (They Took Me and Told Me Nothing, June 2010). Disappointingly, implementation of the Family Violence Law that went into effect on August 11, 2011, and includes several provisions to eradicate FGM, has been lackluster.
There has also been some progress in adapting or banning “traditional” practices that fail to respect human rights. The 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women Law in Afghanistan, for example, outlawed baad—the practice by which disputes are settled in the community by giving up women or girls as compensation for crimes—although implementation of the law has been poor. Several countries have also amended their laws related to family—the conduit of many traditions—to different degrees, illustrating the space for negotiation and constant change to improve women’s rights rather than place them within a static framework of unchanging “traditional values.”
Several recent legal cases, including in South Africa, Kenya, and Botswana (which voted against the HRC resolution), also show that rights-limiting traditional practices need not hold sway over inclusive, rights-respecting national law.
In 2008, for example, South Africa’s Constitutional Court found in favor of a daughter inheriting her father’s chieftaincy—in line with the country’s constitution and against a male rival’s claim that the Valoyi people’s tradition of male leadership meant he was the rightful hosi, or chief, of the 70,000-strong group. In issuing its ruling, the court noted that tradition is never static, and should adhere to human rights standards laid out in a rights-based constitution.
Kenyan courts ruled in 2005 and 2008 that, despite customary laws of particular ethnic groups favoring sons for inheritance purposes, daughters must have an equal right to inherit a father’s property. The courts noted that where discrimination is at stake, human rights must prevail. Kenya has since amended its constitution, enshrining women’s equal rights to land and property.
Meanwhile, Botswana’s High Court in October 2012 ruled in favor of four sisters who had fought a five-year battle with a nephew who claimed rightful ownership of the family home. The court ruled that the customary law upon which the nephew based his case contravened constitutional guarantees of equality for men and women. The attorney general had reportedly agreed that customary law was discriminatory, but argued that Botswana was not ready to change it.“Culture changes with time,” the court observed
But such examples are rare.
Too often, “traditional values” are corrupted, serving as a handy tool for governments in the business of repression. For Russia, which spearheaded the HRC resolution, the insertion of traditional values into the realm of human rights comes amid intensifying government repression of civil society and the media, and is part of a concerted effort to roll back the gains made by women and LGBT people in Russia.
In 2012, St. Petersburg became one of nine Russian regions to date to adopt so-called homosexual propaganda laws that outlaw creating “distorted perceptions” about the “social equality of traditional and non-traditional family relationships.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov justified the laws—which Russia’s Supreme Court upheld in restricted form in October—by arguing that LGBT human rights were merely an “appendage” to universal values. There is active debate about introducing similar legislation that cynically links homosexuality and child abuse, in Moscow and on a federal level.
And in 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation upheld the conviction of lesbian activist Irina Fedotova for an administrative offense under provincial law after she displayed posters near a school in the city of Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, declaring, “Homosexuality is normal” and “I am proud of my homosexuality.” The court ruled that the “homosexual propaganda law,” which the city adopted in 2006, did not interfere with Fedotova’s freedom of expression, since “traditional understandings of family, motherhood and childhood” were values necessitating “special protection from the State.”
The UN Human Rights Committee, the international expert body that monitors implementation of the ICCPR, begged to differ, ruling in November 2012 that the federation was in violation of the covenant’s freedom of expression provisions. “[T]he purpose of protecting morals,” the committee stated, “must be based on principles not deriving exclusively from a single tradition.”

A Comforting Ideal

It’s no coincidence that traditional values—and the related push against LGBT rights—are finding an eager and broadening international audience at this time.
In some cases there’s a specific context, as in Russia with President Vladimir Putin’s broader clampdown on civil society and Russia’s efforts to roll back the mandates of the international human rights machinery while encouraging like-minded allies to do the same. In sub-Saharan countries, such as Zimbabwe and Uganda, the devastation of AIDS, economic crisis, and political instability have lawmakers scrambling to pass increasingly repressive legislation against homosexuality on the grounds that doing so is necessary to protect African culture and tradition in the face of encroaching foreign values.
More broadly, the current climate of political uncertainty, social upheaval, and economic crisis in much of the world has enhanced the appeal of the timeless universal essence that tradition is claimed to embody. In Uganda, as Human Rights Watch showed in 2012 (Curtailing Criticism), the government’s clampdown on civil society organizations is in part justified by an appeal to homophobia, amid increased political tension, escalating public criticism, and President Yoweri Museveni’s own political ambitions to serve another term after the 2016 elections.
Blaming one group for the ills befalling society is easy and appealing in the face of such instability. Gays and lesbians, who often live in secret due to laws and social prohibitions against homosexuality, are particularly easy targets for the moral panics that can erupt at a time of social crisis. In Jamaica, gay men in particular are seen as harbingers of moral decay, leading to public vitriol which often ends in violence, including a June 2004 mob attack on a man perceived to be gay in Montego Bay. The mob chased and reportedly “chopped, stabbed and stoned” him to death with the encouragement of the police (Hated to Death, 2004).
In Zimbabwe, where gays and lesbians frequently find themselves playing the role of “folk devils,” gay-bashing follows the election cycle all too predictably, with President Robert Mugabe raising the specter of homosexuality as a way to deflect attention from the country’s more pressing social, political, and economic problems. In 1995, as his regional stature was diminishing, Mugabe unleashed a vitriolic attack on gays, whom he said “offend against the law of nature and the morals of religious beliefs espoused by our society.” In 2012, Mulikat Akande-Adeola, the majority leader of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, was equally unequivocal when she supported a sweeping anti-LGBT bill when it passed its second reading: “It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported,” she said. “Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it.”

Transformation, Not Rejection

The human rights movement is not opposed to the existence of customary law, religious law, and tradition; it is opposed to those aspects of them that violate rights.
As a result, the task at hand is one of transformation, not rejection—as reflected in international human rights law that calls for customary and traditional practices that violate human rights to develop in order to remove discriminatory elements. As the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women stipulates, states should “modify” the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women to eliminate “prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”
“Culture changes with time,” Botswana’s High Court stated in itsOctober 2012 ruling in favor of the four sisters battling for their family home in the face of customary law. And that is precisely the point. Culture does change with time.
Evoking a static and vague concept of “tradition” not only fails to account for these shifts, it fossilizes society. The risk is that instead of advancing human rights and basic freedoms, the HRC resolution and its call for a “better understanding of traditional values” could be used as an excuse to bury rights under a mound of cultural relativism—threatening to roll back women’s rights and exclude LGBT people from a human rights framework in the process.
Graeme Reid is director of the LGBT Rights division

Wednesday 30 January 2013

A Thank You Letter From Gerard Kennedy

I am very proud of the campaign effort that you helped to make possible.

My name was on the banners and the ballot, but our campaign was fuelled by a shared commitment to change, and by volunteer ideas and efforts. The personal sacrifices that so many made, taking precious time from family, holidays and work made a difference.

The change we stood for over 76 days mattered. Change to increase meaningful political engagement of Party members and of residents. Change toward a new culture of enterprising action to transform government and challenge our other sectors. Change to deliver labour peace, equality for women and new Canadians, an economy that would reduce youth unemployment and increase people’s individual potential, as well as an expressly stronger voice for youth in our Party.

The Kennedy Team delegates and volunteers in attendance were a vibrant presence at the Convention, impressing observers and other campaigns alike with your extraordinary passion and high level of organization. We did earn a possible path to victory and the fact it did not emerge was no reflection on your efforts.

Our caucus “huddle” with everyone after 2nd ballot to discuss not only my fate as candidate, but that of the convention, surprised many. It was entirely consistent with the spirit of genuine democratic participation that marked our campaign and I was very glad to be able to submit my recommendation to our group discussion. That both the reaction in the room and in the subsequent ballot showed nearly unanimous support takes nothing away from the ownership that was exercised by all.

There can only be one Leader, and I know you will join with me in fully supporting our wonderful Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne in her leadership of the party and the province going forward. There are many winners, however, in a process that infuses the party with new outlooks and hopes and ambitions. The renewal we advanced will no doubt be evident in the weeks and months ahead. I encourage you to stay involved to help.

Thank you for all your tremendous support for me and for a better Ontario. It was a privilege to be your candidate. Personally, I greatly appreciate the faith and trust you placed in me. It gives me new enthusiasm to contribute in some way in future. For now, I relish the chance to make up time with my kids and enjoy what is an unusual role for me as private citizen.

Best regards,
Gerard Kennedy

Obi Wynne Kenobi


More experienced political pundits than I would say this is a tactical error on Wynne's part, not stepping on her opponent's throat while she has the chance.  I say, that sort of short-sighted thinking is what's gotten us into our polarized partisan predicament in the first place. 

By giving Horwath a safe exit, hinting that the initial overture might be nothing more than partisan posturing (which I'm inclined to believe it is) and starting to define the options available, Wynne isn't showing who's boss in an aggressive way - she's demonstrating she's thoroughly in command. 
You can only hold this line effectively and confidently when you're starting from a point of sincerity.
It's an effective approach, one that I doubt either Opposition Leader, but Hudak in particular, is prepared for.
"This little one's not worth the effort. Come, let me get you something..."
If not, there'll be someone else among your ranks who we will be able to work with.  Your choice.

UPDATE:  Kathleen Wynne picks Charles Sousa as finance minister after Sandra Pupatello declines

Why does that remind me of this?

With great calm, Sun Tzu said, “This King is only fond of words and cannot carry them into deeds.”

 Finance Minister is the most influential position in Cabinet, after Premier.  If one is committed to the vision, it's an excellent place to effect change.  Which brings us right back to the opening quote.

Again - brilliant. 

Tuesday 29 January 2013

3 Ways to Create Organizational Strength and Talent Resiliency (Rob Garcia)

Promoting cognitive labourharnessing the potential of diversity, redeployment instead of canning - all themes I've been writing about for some time.  It's encouraging to see how many others are doing the same.

Intentional diversity: 3 ways to create organizational strength and talent resiliency

Published by Rob Garcia under HR News & Views
Jan 29, 2013
I know what you’re thinking: yet another post about how having diversity in the workplace through variety of gender, race, religion and other protected classes is not only the legal thing to do but good for your organization. Well, no; I’m no legal expert. What I do know after working with many organizations with progressive cultures is that they invest in talent diversity beyond the legal compliance requirements. Here are three ways these innovative companies use intentional diversity to create organizational strength and talent resiliency.
Set out to hire employees with diverse backgrounds
For a recent “60 Minutes” segment, Charlie Rose interviews David Kelly, founder of the Silicon Valley global design studio IDEO. Kelly attributes the success of IDEO to one simple practice: Hire smart people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Long gone are the days where Qualifications was a list on a board with boxes next to each.
For Kelly, the only way to come up with breakthrough ideas is to throw a bunch of people with different backgrounds into a room and give them enough time and the right tools to solve difficult problems. Collaboration alone is not enough, though; diversity in talent is a must. In a typical IDEO team, you may find an anthropologist, a journalist, a software engineer and an aerospace engineer in additional to the usual designers and architects. Why does it work? Diversity in talent encourages innovative solutions by allowing individuals to contribute and become experts at expanding on one another’s ideas until a solution is found.
Another company that became a poster child of a diverse and caring company culture is Zappos. Through a non-traditional interviewing process, it weeds out the cookie-cutter candidates so it can focus on potential employees who can add to its diverse culture. This company actually wants the unusual or unexpected candidate. Zappos then gives new employees a “$2,000 quitting bonus” to leave the company at the end of their onboarding week. How unusual is that? These practices have helped Zappos focus on making the work environment interesting and exciting when other call centers have become boring and undifferentiated. The result is an unprecedented focus on customer satisfaction that has led to their undeniable business success.
Enable an internal project economy
Technology and talent trends like globalization and the move to a knowledge-based economy have forced what is called a global project economy, where work is done by contractors, consultants and other associates on a part-time basis and on-demand. The surge and success of web-based solutions and communities such as oDesk, TaskRabbit and ThumbTack have made it incredibly easy to access and hire crowd-sourced labor.
But what about the talent you already have? How do you draw the best out of your existing workforce? It is no secret that happy employees are more passionate and productive. But the jury is out as to what HR can do to make people happy, and no, throwing money and perks at people is only temporary. What if we created organizational cultures in which people could volunteer to work on any project for which they have passion and skills? This is what I mean by an internal project economy.
Companies like IBM, Intuit and Google have pioneered this concept, allowing people to volunteer ideas and sign up to help out with a project without worrying about the formal reporting structure. In a typical organization, employees are segregated by division and tend to focus on tasks only within the confines of their defined expertise. In an internal project economy, employees are free to roam the organization, explore other positions temporarily and leverage their skills in different projects and teams. Diversity comes in the fluidity of team structures, adding excitement to the workday and igniting passion from existing employees who are eager to contribute to the overall success of the company.
Don’t lay off, redeploy
RiseSmart has made a name by disrupting the outplacement space and combining the latest cloud-based technology, social networking and proven methodologies to help laid-off employees to find jobs faster and get their careers back on track. The vast majority of the people we help are smart, skilled and accomplished individuals who found themselves in an unfortunate situation. Plenty of companies would be proud to have them in their employee ranks. The HR managers at their old companies likely would have preferred to keep them. HR usually works to keep talent in house. But with layoffs, talent (and organizational knowledge) go out the door.
Many organizations are realizing that employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences are more resilient because they can find other places in the organization to leverage their skills. Redeployed employees will in turn grow their diverse backgrounds, making them even more resilient and translating into talent acquisition and outplacement savings.
Want to hear more? Tune in today at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET to listen to TalentCulture’s #Tchat radio show where we’ll be covering this interesting topic in even more detail.

Feburary Is Mental Health Month

When we get to a point where posts like the one below by my courage friend Barry Strader aren't necessary, we'll have succeeded.

We've got a long, long way to go, but we can get there.

"I'm posting this because recently I have been mocked and laughed at for things beyond my control... I have one of these illnesses as does some of my friends.... Not one of my facebook friends will copy and paste (but I am counting on a true family member or friend to do it). If you would be there for me no matter what then copy and paste this. I'm doing this to prove a friend wrong that someone is... always listening. I care. Hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It's a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least 1 hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (IBS, Crohn's, PTSD, Anxiety, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, Bipolar, Depression, Anorexia, Bulimia Diabetes, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, MS, AS, ME, COPD, Epilepsy, Autism, Borderline personality disorder, M.D.,D.D.D., CFS, Histiocytosis, RSD, PBC,RLS etc.) February is mental health month....Never judge what you don't understand..."

Sunday 27 January 2013

Thank You, Team GK

Jeff Jedras@jeffjedras
is rockin-out to A-Ha at the moment. All the other camps seem a little subdued.
While we were unsuccessful in our bid to see Gerard Kennedy become Ontario's next Premier, Team GK - now happily part of Team Wynne, also known as the Ontario Liberal Party - is proud of our candidate and our campaign.  We're equally of the woman who is now our leader.  We're optimistic about the future, too, as were all Ontario Liberals I spoke with last night.  It didn't matter who they had supported, originally - it was clear Kathleen Wynne would represent each and every one of us.
There's good reason for this.  More than just a ground-breaking Premier in terms of demographics, Kathleen Wynne presents an historic opportunity for growth, both for the Party and for Ontario.  Perhaps a bit more pragmatic than Kennedy, Wynne is just as much a consensus builder with a knack for active listening and developing shared solutions, an approach sorely needed right now. 
As Gerard is one of those who engages in politics because he actually believes that the whole can be more than the sum of its parts; there is still a role for him to play in provincial politics.
The same, I hope, holds true for the amazing team assembled by Gerard's Campaign Manager, Suzanne van Bommel.  CMs and campaign teams tend to reflect a bit of the candidate's personality, which was certainly the case with us.  Every single member of the team dedicated 120% of themselves to the cause.  We made the best use of new technology but rocked it old-school, too.  We made dirty hobo chic trendy
Along the way this team developed, under the guidance and direction of Gerard himself, some amazing ideas for political and social service renewal.  The ideas never stopped flowing, really; we were flexible enough to reinvent ourselves to maximize the potential of our ever-growing team but focused enough to never lose sight of the prize - seeing Gerard's vision made real.  We also had the most convoluted inside jokes of any campaign I have ever worked on.  Despite the overall pressure to engage in cynical political tricks on any political trail, we worked hard to keep to the high road, following the example set by Gerard himself.  Plus, we had crazy fun doing so. 

While I'm flattered that Jeff Jadras notices how much we enjoyed ourselves, the quote above doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.  What other team could have turned last night's late-night Convention Clean-Up into the After Party at the Holiday Wynne, including a DJ and a push-up contest?  Check out our Tumblr page for just a hint at the fun we had along the journey.  Work hard, work creatively, work ethically, leave no stone unturned and live in the moment.  That's how Team GK rolled. 

I want to thank the team, some who were there from day one and others who brought their talents to the gang throughout the campaign.  In no particular order, thanks to Melissa, Allie, Jay, Tamer, D-Love, Chelios, Krystyna, Debra, TorDan, Calgary Grit, Jason, Gaby, Chris, Tom, Matthew, Bennett, Sarah, Matt, Vince, Jill, Grahame, Michelle, Kathleen, Denise, Kira, Luke, the other Sarah, any missing Dans, Dagny, Greta, Amanda, Mary, Dave, Mark, Salma, Carolyn, Ryan, Nicholas, Was It Andrew?, Priti Kriti, Kuttimol, Kim, Brad, Kristin, Rachel, Jenny, Ted, Ruth, Jeremy - and anyone I missed, please know it's due to fatigue, not a reflection of your impact.  Team GK was truly a team, in every sense of the word.
Special thanks goes Suzanne for the invitation to join Team GK and the opportunity to be part of something so special. 
Above all, though, I have to thank Gerard and Jeanette for creating this amazing opportunity in the first place.

Now that the campaign is over, let the renewal begin.