Technology and Diversity: Building an Innovative Business Through Diversity and Collaboration

If you’ve read any of the numerous studies and business innovation bestsellers out there (here we’ll tip our hats to Intel for putting its money where its mouth is), you know that diversity drives innovation. But we don’t always grasp how to go about fostering the kind of diversity that will push innovation. Just ask Silicon Valley. Or Hollywood. Or Washington, D.C. Without the right approach, efforts at cultivating a diverse workplace will miss the mark. We’ll look at what the right approach is to growing diversity, the connection between technology and diversity, and how to manage diversity using collaborative tools like video conferencing to get innovative results.

Reimagining Diversity

Before we consider how technology can help, let’s go over the basics. Why is diversity such a complicated idea? It starts with our terminology. Diversity has become a generic and often misleading catchphrase. Think Orientalism, corporate America-style, with two categories: the default—white, male Americans—and everybody else, in the Other category. Yes, we absolutely need to get non-white, non-male and non-Americans in the room. But if your end-goal is an innovative business culture, you won’t attain it simply by hiring from the Other category. It’s going to take more than that.

To get the real benefits of workplace diversity, we have to imagine diversity differently. It’s not just a category to be checked off; rather, achieving diversity is the product of fostering a rich landscape of identities. Consider this: each one of us is made up of multiple subject positions, like points on a 3D graph. Some points are fixed, some are not. Some points are visible to others, some are not. These points include—but aren’t limited to—age, sex, sexual orientation, race, dis/ability, religion, socioeconomic status, and political views. Each one of us perceives the importance of every point differently, depending on our values, beliefs, daily lives, and circumstances. In short, much of our identity isn’t static—it’s dynamic. Adding to this landscape is our role in the workplace, our different levels of power within a group, and our unique communication preferences.

Bringing Together Diverse Identities Through Communication

So once you have a diverse workplace, how can you ensure it’s propelling your company forward? The key is inclusion, and we need great communication to get there. Let’s pretend an HR manager has composed a team of people representing the full human landscape. What’s next is building working relationships based on mutual respect. Research demonstrates that the defining trait of any successful team is teammates who treat each other respectfully, establishing the psychological safety of group members. Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School describes this safety net as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.”

Now, having a safety net doesn’t mean your team can’t or shouldn’t argue; debate and discourse are necessary components of producing innovative solutions to business problems. The goal is for team members to freely interact, share ideas, and tackle impediments.

In a diverse workplace, unconscious bias and stereotyping can obstruct this goal; the only solution is to acknowledge issues as they arise and address them head-on. Professional educator Steve Lowisz clarifies, “HR professionals need to embrace the uncomfortable conversations that might result from learning to ‘deal with differences’. People shouldn’t be ‘tolerating’ each other; you need to start accepting people. Don’t be afraid to talk about what may or may not be offensive. You need to start learning about each other and start communicating.” So what’s the best way to communicate? That’s what we’ll talk about next.

Technology and Diversity: Encouraging Innovation with the Help of Tools

According to author and Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill, a workplace leader’s goal should be to foster an “idea marketplace”—that’s what you get when you combine diversity with respectful collaboration. Cue collaborative technology as the great equalizer (but ensure the tech you choose is accessible to every member of your team). Even if everyone is working in the same office, the right software and communication tools can facilitate creative brainstorming and problem-solving.

Think of the right technology as a workplace-hierarchy workaround that can help leaders manage a diverse workplace. Video chat is one way to invite debate in multiple settings, countering workplace power differentials. Meeting in a virtual video conference room welcomes participation and appeals to diverse communication styles. Video conferencing with chat functionality is a particularly effective medium because it gives colleagues the benefit of a face-to-face exchange without the underlying in-room dynamics. Adding a chat tool facilitates engagement for those less likely to speak up during an in-person meeting. And it goes without saying that video conferencing sessions should be easy to record and even easier to share, so that everyone can access them.

In virtual shared spaces, workplace leaders should encourage and model curiosity, passion, and empathy. As Edmondson explains, a leader should “ask genuine questions and listen intently to the responses, display deep enthusiasm for achieving team goals, and show they’re attuned to everyone’s diverse perspectives no matter their position in the hierarchy.”

Managers should be prepared to argue from every side equally, providing counterpoints to challenge preconceptions and encourage balanced discussions.

Whatever your role in the workplace, contributing to a healthy working environment should be your priority. And since communication plays such a big part in a workplace, you’ll want to make use of all every tool available, including video conferencing. Just keep in mind the ultimate goal: we should all believe that we belong. As former President George W. Bush recently said, “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” It’s long past time that we do better.

 

 

*** Repost from VCC Daily article by Kelly Kincaid on January 5, 2018

***Image source: Flickr CC user Axiom News

Three Arizona Students Hope a Video Conferencing App for Musicians Can Change Cities

Music can change the world. Music has a healing power. Music is life itself. Or, if you’re Prince: music is music, if it makes you feel good, cool.

Perhaps only the word love inspires as many sweeping claims to magic as the word music. Search the internet for quotes about music, or poems about music, and you’ll find a lot of very big statements from some very popular people letting you know music can change everything but the weather.

What those famous folks rarely claim is that music can encourage sustainability, or contribute to creating smarter cities of the future. For an ambition like that, you must look to a trio of Paradise Valley high school students in Arizona. They’ve helped create a video conferencing app for musicians that mixes art and technology in an effort to win a global prize, and, of course, change the world.

A Video Conferencing App for Musicians Using Superfast Internet

The three students named their creation the World Symphony App and entered it in the Phoenix leg of the international Smart City Hack 2017 competition (update: they didn’t win the Phoenix competition, but they did qualify as finalists). Behind the hyperbole that the app will spark creativity and higher-level thinking and will unify the community, World Symphony is an attempt to make the high-speed internet network currently being used by some of America’s leading music conservatories public.

Organizations such as the Manhattan School of Music have been using the private network, called Internet 2, to create video calling connections with the smallest amount of lag currently possible–40 milliseconds. This private network generates enormous bandwidth speeds of 800 megabits per second that allow musicians to play together online with almost the same precision they’d get by standing in the same room.

The problem is that Internet 2 is a private highway only a select group of colleges and non-profits can access. What the Paradise Valley girls are proposing is to open that superfast lane to the public by delivering it to civic spaces such as libraries, art centers, and concert halls.

It is hoped that with this new power to jam with musicians the world over, Phoenix will become a more sustainable and technologically-advanced place.

Equal Opportunity Video Conferencing

We’ve written before about the difficulties you run into when trying to perform music online. The lags and glitches that are considered a nuisance during a friendly Skype video call are death to a musical act trying to keep the same beat. Most virtual bands that create together tend to do so by exchanging pre-recorded parts online and layering them using digital recording software.

If the World Symphony app can put an end to that it’d certainly make a difference in the lives of musicians, budding and experienced alike. It would make it easier to find peers who share musical taste, and to establish mentoring partnerships that draw on differing cultures and local music scenes.

Of course, for this to work there would have to be sister centers set up in other towns that could share the same high-speed broadband. This makes the project a little more complex. Perhaps the centers could become a form of musical speed dating, with random musicians being placed together from around the world every time someone books a rehearsal space.

Whether it can unify communities and develop high-level thought beyond that musical circle is debatable, though. Video conferencing definitely has a role to play in making future cities smarter by being better connected to, and through, the internet, but playing and creating music seems too specific a use to make an enormous difference.

But if the breakneck speeds of Internet 2 were to be made publicly available throughout a city the size of Phoenix, there are all kinds of things video calling could do.

Video Calling for Smarter Cities

Some U.S. communities are already starting down the smart city path with video conferencing. Newport Beach, California, for example, has deployed public computer tablets around town equipped with dedicated links to sign language interpreters to make life easier for its deaf citizens. In that town, video conferencing is helping the deaf live a more normal life.

 

When I think about smart cities, those are the kind of broad innovations I want to envisage. The Newport Beach idea could be expanded out to dozens of information portals, each providing a public service such as maps and timetables, with more detailed interactions supplied by video conferencing operators. They could provide historical information, access to emergency services, tourist information, and an answer to any question that needs a quick solution.

That sort of mass installation of technology would appear a better way to make a city smarter, rather than focusing on a specific set of people. Maybe, again, we’re getting a little carried away with the power music has to change things.

 

 

***Repost from VC Daily article on January 3, 2018

*** Photos from Rhodes School of Music and Destination 360

Lifesize Partner Newsletter – December 2016

 

 

 

How Does Lifesize Use Lifesize?

We use it for everything. It’s easy for meetings in huddle rooms and conference rooms, and it scales to let us broadcast company-wide all-hands calls. We even use it to check the line at the food truck that stops by the office every day. Watch our new trailer.

New Partner Program Guide

Learn about the latest program details, including the increased standard discount rate on all renewals of cloud subscription services, new revenue opportunities, refreshed training courses and more. View the guide.

All Things Channel Cheat Sheet

Favorite this file for quick links to all the sales and marketing resources you need. Lifesize Channel Cheat Sheet.

New Cobrandable Assets!

Check out the new campaign-in-a-box assets for the “Own Your Meetings” campaign. Assets include an email, banner ads and new white paper. Learn more.

Enhanced Interoperability with Skype for Business

Lifesize continues to lead the way in interoperability. Check out our enhanced integration, including direct calling with Skype for Business! Learn more.

Added Calendar Integration Support for Microsoft® Exchange Server 2013

You can now pair your Lifesize® Icon™ systems to your Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 calendar in addition to Office 365® and Google Apps for Work™. Calendar integration lets you view upcoming meetings booked in the room and gives you on-screen prompts to join meetings in progress. Learn more.

New Training Opportunities

New 30-minute user training sessions now available in the Lifesize Events and Training calendar. Check the calendar.

2017 New Year’s Resolution Generator

Need a little help coming up with a New Year’s resolution you can stick with this year? We’ve got you covered with our 2017 New Year’s Resolution Generator. Generate resolution.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Tips to Make Your Mobile Video Collaboration Effective

Re-post article from android-apps.com

Video conferencing has made both personal and professional life easy. According to Pew Research Center, one in five Americans make video calls. Researchers have found that seven percent of cell phone users and 23 percent of Internet users had participated in video calls. Video conferencing can save time and money for IT departments as well if an organization trains their employees to use the video conferencing smartly.

Many people think it is easy to video conference, but the reality is different. If people don’t understand few basics, the way they use could affect the quality of video conferencing compromising the video and audio aspects. If the quality of the video and audio is not good, then the advantage of video conferencing is lost, and employees will stop using it. To make use of the video conferencing using mobiles the following tips should be kept in mind.

Tips to Make Mobile Video Collaboration A Success

Though video conferencing was done on desktops for almost a decade, the use of mobile devices for video conferencing is a recent phenomenon. As recorded by Wainhouse Research over 50 percent of workers use mobile devices at work instead of getting stuck in front of their desks. The participation in video conference through a mobile device is not same as desktops. You need to keep in mind certain aspects for effective video conferencing while using mobile devices.

Prepare Your Environment

Video conference becomes successful only in the right environment. Unless background noise and internet speed, and other aspects are taken care, it cannot be a success. Setting up a favorable environment is a standard procedure that you have to consider to start a video conference. You need to be aware of the situation especially when using mobile devices. It is true that you can video conference from anywhere with mobile devices, but ensure sufficient lighting for clear visuals.

  • Using natural light is best. If not, use bright overhead light for perfect visuals
  • Modern mobile devices can capture wider screen area, unlike webcam so you should adjust accordingly
  • Avoid distracting backgrounds for productive conferencing
  • You can test the visuals in a “selfie mode” and change color and light as needed
  • It is best to avoid backlighting and focus light on the face to ensure better visibility
  • It is a good etiquette to sit upright in the chair while video conferencing rather than be on the bed or slouching on a table.
  • You should always get ready in advance with all the reference materials if needed instead of running around during the conference. It will save time and bandwidth which saves money in the process.
Make Use of Technology to Save Money

There is no doubt that video conferencing saves money. However, use of the right hardware and software can increase savings and make video conference an affordable experience.

You have to choose the right tools and set the configuration to make video conferencing smooth. These tools should be readily compatible with the existing hardware and software available on the mobile devices. According to Blue Jeans, making use of android video conferencing for IT is one of the best things you can do for quicker reach as most professionals today – in the IT sector and otherwise – would like to use a mobile device rather than a desktop or laptop. It becomes all the more necessary when individuals travel frequently. Choose professional services and research all the options before making a choice to invest on a video conferencing device. It is the best thing to do to save money.

Placement of Mobile Device

A simple tactic for smooth video conferencing while using a mobile device is to keep it in a stable area. It makes a huge difference for your video conferencing presentation. It is not right to hold the device in your hand while conferencing, although most make the mistake of holding it in their hands.

You can make use of convertible cradles that often come with mobile devices. It helps to keep the device at an angle and also avoid shaking during the presentations. Always place the mobile device to show the viewers a visual from your shoulders up. The more the body language viewers see, the more efficient the video conferencing can be. If you need some height, then you can use necessary tools to increase the height.

A significant advantage of video conferencing through mobile devices is the ability to attend IT meetings from anywhere. The mobile makes it transportable and provides opportunities to work and solve IT issues even when you are on the move. It is one of the significant advances in business technology as it increases productivity while cutting costs. You need to be aware of the importance of setting up your mobile device for productive meetings. If you use the mobile device in the right way, participating in a video conferencing can become a smooth and enjoyable activity.

Why You Should Have Online Video Conferencing Regularly

Re-post article by Business World from businessworld.ie

Online video conferencing has taken organizations by storm. Many companies are exploiting this technology to their advantage. There are still many businesses unaware of the potential of video conferencing. Here’s why your IT department should conduct online conferencing for IT regularly using services like Blue Jeans.

Flexible Workplace

Online video conferencing improves workplace flexibility. A study done by global workplace analytics as reported on PC mag shows that there is 3.7 million U.S. workforce working from home half the time. Video conference has changed the traditional office and provides the flexible work timings where employees can spend time with their families and children and yet grow professionally. This trend allows employers to employ professional people outside the geographical boundaries. Working remotely allows businesses to connect quickly with their IT employees to seek professional advice from anywhere in the world.

Increased Engagement

Research shows that people usually multi-task during a phone call rather than a video call. Video conference is more engaging and offers visuals allowing companies to understand their customers and employees better. Businesses can also ensure that employees are paying attention during the conference. As majority of the people are visual learners, it is a compelling case for video conferencing.

Increased Productivity

One of the ways to increase productivity is to share a screen. It helps you save time rather than sending huge files over emails. Screen sharing keeps the team engaged as it allows everyone to be in sync. There is no chance for miscommunication and loss of details. As the entire team is participating, listening, and contributing, it helps increased productivity.

Improved Communication

Online video conferencing fosters better communication and team experience as the meetings can be conducted any time and anywhere with various tools to improve communication. People can share their progress real-time and keep the current status of the project updated. They can also discuss projects, get training to upgrade their skills, and go through performance reviews and have group study circles.

The collaborative notes, video streaming, and other advanced technologies provide a wealth of experience and take collaboration to a new height which no other communication mode can match.

Quality Leads

Having regular meetings with customers help them to understand your products better, and your presentation will stay on top of their mind. It will help generate more leads and also assist in increasing the lead quality. As people attend your meetings since they express interest in your product, you will be readily getting more information about their contacts, demographic data, psychographic information since the customers have committed their time to learn. You can convert these prospective customers into fans by taking this chance and providing value.

Content Marketing

Video conferencing can be used to deliver content as visual, and an interactive material is the trend of the content marketing. Utilizing webinars and recordings to distribute valuable content can be the best way to attract customers. According to the Institute of content marketing, 66 percent of B2B marketers was of the opinion that webinars are successful form of content marketing while 62 percent said that videos are the most efficient method of content creation.

Establish As a Thought Leader

It provides an opportunity for you to establish as a leader in that category. With informative and unique webinars, you can create a buzz in the marketplace with your unique IT concepts and establish yourself as a brand where people want to listen to you. Once people find value in the content you deliver, more people will start listening to you on a regular basis and start converting giving you more business.

New Opportunities

You can use it for bringing in new guests as your partners to promote your services and products. It can have high effect in building a good relationship with the audience. You can also have a strategic partnership with them, which can help you increase number of customers. It will help you to bring new content to the public and increase your brand exposure, which will ultimately lead to more business.

Fine Tune Your Message

Due to real-time feedback visually from the audience on the level of the engagement, your message can be customized and improved to resonate with the public. It helps you deliver the better message and adapt to the circumstances. You can quickly figure out working system. You can assess yourself and your presentation skills, which will give you scope to improve, making yourself better with each passing conference.

In conclusion, it is now a necessity to hold regular video conferences with employees and customers to stay on top of people’s minds and drive organization’s goals and services in this competitive market. It is the best technology that can help you grow by keeping in touch with all the stakeholders of your business all the time.