Tag Archives: Risk Management

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Survey: Skills shortage forces 31% of organizations to prioritize investment in IT staff education

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The pandemic has forced many organizations to reconsider their projects for the rest of the year — and beyond. While a lot of plans have been put on hold, some companies have elevated IT training to a priority project. According to the 2020 Netwrix IT Trends Report, 38% of CIOs and IT directors now plan to invest in the education of IT staff, compared to 20% who had it on their top five list before the pandemic.

We asked Ilia Sotnikov, VP of product management at Netwrix, to discuss this and some of the other IT trends revealed in the report.

Why organizations are prioritizing investment in IT staff education

It’s no secret that IT skills are in short supply; however, with millions of additional employees now working from home, there’s been a dramatic increase in the need and shortage of these skills. “We have seen organizations moving their infrastructures to the cloud in a rush with the ultimate goal of ensuring business availability,” Sotnikov says. He notes that once the pandemic hit, IT teams had to purchase and start working with new technologies under extreme pressure.

“And they will have to continue supporting it while many organizations are in so called ‘hybrid mode’ with many of the employees still working remote.”

But most organizations won’t be able to move forward until their IT teams acquire the necessary level of skills. And there’s another factor driving companies to prioritize training. “Consider the number of breaches that were recently reported around data leaking from misconfigured cloud storage or other services.” Sotnikov says these types of incidents help IT leaders become painfully aware that a lack of knowledge can be costly.

But not all organizations are prioritizing training

Although 38% of CIOs and IT directors have IT training high on their lists, that percentage represents much less than half of the organizations surveyed. And it may not necessarily be a result of negligence. “A lot of companies are in a tough situation and IT teams are under pressure to review and reduce operational costs,” Sotnikov explains. He believes that it can be difficult for IT leaders to justify spending money in the current economy. “Also, IT education takes the time and effort of the employees, and when you combine these factors, this is not something some organizations can afford right now.”

Trends by organization size

So, was there much variance in trends depending on the size of the organization? Among companies with up to 5,000 employees, the top three IT priorities are focusing on network security, focusing on data security, and raising cybersecurity awareness among remote employees.

“Organizations with 5,001 to 10,000 employees showed the largest increase in security trainings for employees, from 33% at the end of last year to 64% right now,” Sotnikov says.

However, the trend is different among larger enterprises. “They have more complex IT projects on their radar, such as digital transformation and data privacy.” And there’s a reason why they’re focusing on these areas. “Investment in both of them could help adapt business processes to the new situation faster and prevent organizations from compliance failures.”

That’s because regardless of the pandemic, these organizations know they need to comply with privacy legislations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). “Also, larger companies likely have more legal staff, so they pay closer attention to new regulations and associated risks of non-compliance.”

U.S. trends vs. global trends

Among countries, the survey doesn’t show critical differences in the most common IT priorities. However, Sotnikov says the U.S. seems to have adapted well to remote work — more so than some other countries. “If we look at France, we see that many organizations are leaving strategic projects, such as digital transformation or IT automation in favor of employee education, cloud migration, data privacy and IT hiring.” And when looking at the priorities that have increased over the past months, he sees a sharp contrast. “We can assume that many French organizations were not ready to run their business digitally, unlike the U.S.”

Other interesting trends

The survey also reveals trends by industries. For example, in the education sector, data security, employee cybersecurity awareness, and automation of manual IT processes have decreased in importance as a result of the pandemic.

In the healthcare industry, regulatory compliance has dropped in importance.

Finance organizations have placed a lower importance on data privacy.

Government agencies have put automation of manual IT processes and cloud migration on the back burner.

Manufacturing has shifted away from data privacy and automation of IT processes.

In the retail and wholesale sector, data security has decreased slightly in importance, but it’s still in the top two priorities.

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Conducting a virtual board orientation

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Fall and winter months are prime season for board transition and orientation. Because of the pandemic, most board trainings will occur virtually.

Rather than postponing orientation, do it online with an emphasis on these areas. The 20-page Board Orientation Workbook is available free to support the process.

Entire Board: A frequent question about orientation is whether to include only new directors or the entire board. The answer is the full board. If there is resistance because they’ve already had the training, position it as “refresh and blend.” This is the time to make everyone feel confident and comfortable in their duties.

Governing Documents: Distribute the governing documents in a notebook, memory stick or through internet access such as Dropbox. Be certain to note in the minutes that all directors received the documents. The doctrine of volunteer immunity is based upon directors working within the governing documents.

Program of Work: The budget, financials and strategic plan are ever-dynamic. Report on their status and progress.

Fiduciary Duties: Often, directors say they know their fiduciary duty is to raise money. Clarify that a fiduciary represents the interests of members through the duties of care, loyalty, and obedience.

Conflicts of Interest: The IRS queries exempt organizations if a policy exists on disclosing conflicts of interest. Use orientation to discuss conflicts and the process for disclosure.

Protections: Describe the protections afforded the board. These usually include: 1) directors’ and officers’ insurance, 2) indemnification, 3) corporate veil, and 4) volunteer immunity.

Risk Management: A role of the board is risk awareness and avoidance. Share examples of how to avoid risks related to serving alcohol, finances, copyright laws, and antitrust violations.

Meetings: Discuss the year’s calendar and meetings. Explain processes that make for more effective board meetings, whether online or in person.

Familiarization: Orientation is like a tour. Introduce directors to the organization’s structure, milestones, achievements, and mission.

Financial Acumen: Explain the process associated with budgeting and financial reports. Ensure understanding about IRS Form 990 and requests for public records.

Orientation should be a high-impact one- to three-hour session led by an executive or consultant who can communicate the importance of good governance.

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Will Amazon’s new palm recognition technology become a popular biometric tool?

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Amazon recently introduced a new biometric payment device, Amazon One, in two of its Go stores in Seattle. Shoppers can now enter and pay at cashier-free Amazon Go stores by scanning their palms.

The company opened its first Amazon Go store in Seattle to the public in January 2018. Currently, Amazon operates 21 Go stores in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, with five temporarily closed.

Unlike a typical grocery store, Amazon Go offers grab-and-go, ready-to-eat snacks, breakfast, and lunch options for shoppers. Shopping at Amazon Go can be as easy as walking in and out of the store. After consumers download the Amazon Go app and link the account with a form of payment, they can:

  • Walk into the store by scanning the Amazon Go app.
  • Grab the items wanted.
  • Walk out of the store.
  • Be charged through the Amazon Go app.

How Amazon One works

Amazon One works similarly to the Amazon Go app. To sign up, shoppers will need a credit card, a mobile number, and of course, their palm. Then, they can start using their palm as a form of identification (ID) or a form of payment where the device is available.

In Amazon Go stores, for example, shoppers can scan their palm instead of the Amazon Go app as they enter and shop inside. When they finish, they can walk out. A charge will be placed on their Amazon One account.

Amazon One’s target market

The coronavirus is primarily transmitted through direct or indirect close contacts with infected COVID-19 patients. Amazon One enables consumers to avoid touching the surfaces that others may have touched earlier. While both Amazon Go and Amazon One embrace the contactless self-service trend, the company sees broader implications for Amazon One devices.

Places with high foot traffic, such as stadiums, restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, and any gated or secured facilities, could benefit from the device. Once installed and connected to the cloud, it can provide the contactless type of service demanded by customers.

Palm recognition vs. other biometric technologies

Compared to palm recognition, facial recognition has been put into use in major airports, shopping malls, and restaurants for a few years. Many of us have been using facial recognition technology to unlock our mobile devices multiple times a day.

Some believe that palm recognition is a less-risky biometric technology because our palm is not as easily observable as our face or ear print. Likewise, people may use their fingerprints, another form of biometric data, more often in legal documents but rarely use their palm for identification purposes.

Technology-wise, palm recognition does not need to solve some of the unique challenges that facial or fingerprint recognition encounter. For instance, not all devices using facial recognition can tell the differences between identical twins. Meanwhile, it is not as easy to recognize a person’s fingerprints with a touchless device.

Privacy concerns of biometric technologies

Amazon One will store consumers’ palm data in the cloud, and they can choose to remove the data later. That creates a potential risk of exposing consumers’ biometric data to hackers. Nevertheless, storing the data in the cloud is probably the only solution because Amazon targets a broad audience who wants to use palm data as an ID or form of payment.

In such cases as Apple’s Face ID and biometric terminals in airports, consumers’ biometric data are stored locally. It is possible that hackers can still find ways to access the data in a local device or server, but people may feel more secured.

The future of palm technology

Because the unique biometric data associated with a person’s palm are not used as widely as face or fingerprints, will people feel more comfortable storing such data in the cloud? After people try palm recognition, how many of them would fall in love with the technology? Will palm recognition become the next preferred biometric technology?

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Survey: Employers face potential exodus of supply chain talent

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In the face of record unemployment, many workers are staying put — and frankly, glad to still have a job. But despite the current labor market, employees in some industries are hedging their bets that the grass is greener on the other side. Those are the results of the Job Confidence Index 2020.

The annual report by DSJ Global, a logistics and supply chain recruiter, includes responses from workers in the U.S., Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. It reveals that even though 40% of employees believe it may be difficult to find a new job opportunity, only 36% plan to stay with their current employer over the next six months.

Why supply chain talent is leaving

Employees who plan to leave are actually being proactive. “The effects we’ve seen, particularly across the manufacturing market, have been concerning, with mass layoffs, countless people furloughed, etc.,” says Emily Prendergast, director at DSJ Global. She believes that these workers are open to new opportunities because they don’t have a lot of confidence that their companies will be able to keep them over the long-term. “It is much easier to put yourself out there in the market while you’re still comfortably employed versus becoming an active candidate when you’re unemployed and in a more desperate situation.”

U.S. vs. global data

The report reveals distinct differences between U.S. workers and employees in other parts of the world. For example, U.S. respondents had the most negative outlook regarding the job market (51%) versus the global figure of 43%. “However, the U.S. respondents (41%) were also the most optimistic about the future job market improving in the next 12 months,” Prendergast explains.

And there’s another stat that was also higher among U.S. workers. “Our report reveals that 46% of supply chain professionals in the U.S. did not receive a bonus this year, compared to the global figure of 33%,” she says.

Job security is another area that reveals significant differences. “Globally, half of respondents are confident or very confident in their job security, and 50% believe that they will keep their jobs over the next six months.” However, Prendergast says only 37% of U.S. respondents are confident in their job security.

“When seeking new employment, the majority of respondents globally said they would change jobs for the opportunity to progress their career (60%), to pursue a higher salary (53%), and for a new challenge (48%).” And Prendergast says these figures are similar to U.S. results: 62% would change jobs to progress their career, 56% would change jobs to pursue a higher salary, and 38% would change jobs for a new challenge.

Another interesting note about U.S. workers: The majority (69%) would move to a new region for the right opportunity, and among relocation choices, the Southeast region was the most popular destination.

U.S. workers also believe they shouldn’t solely bare the financial burden of moving. “Three-quarters (82%) expect some kind of assistance from a new employer, with 60% expecting moving expenses and 60% expecting a lump sum to use as needed,” Prendergast says.

So, what accounts for the differences between U.S. views compared to the rest of the world? Matthew Wood, another director at DSJ Global, has a few theories. “The differences in outlook from U.S. to European job markets may, in part, be related to the way they operate under normal circumstances anyway,” he says. “The U.S. labor market moves faster and is more fluid, compared to longer notice periods in Europe, a more cautious approach to changing jobs and the logistical challenges of moving across Europe (language, tax, legislation) compared to the U.S.”

What (if anything) companies can do to retain supply chain professionals?

If employers have any hope of keeping their workers from jumping ship, they’ll first need to understand the contributing factors leading to the desire to leave. “Employers need to know and address what their employees actually want — in this case, offering them the career progression and challenges they crave, in addition to adequate compensation — or risk losing them, with all the cost that entails,” Wood says.

He admits the current environment makes it a heck of a lot more difficult to offer these incentives in a timely manner. However, Wood says organizations need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do we offer a clear path for progression and is that clearly communicated to employees and candidates?
  • Are we creating a diverse and inclusive culture that supports meaning?
  • Are we continuing to challenge our people and pay them appropriately?

In addition, he recommends that companies engage with employees in three key areas:

Their mission and purpose. “There are a lot of companies doing a lot of great things in the world and if the role that the supply chain plays in enabling this is clear and communicated in an authentic way, it will appeal to the sense of purpose and challenge that is desired in a role in supply chains.”

Their own development and trajectory within the company. It’s great to contribute to the company’s mission, but the ability of employees to develop their own skills — which can open new doors and opportunities — is even more appealing. “Being able to simply and transparently bring to life the career trajectory and development available in the supply chain team will contribute massively to retention,” Wood says.

Reward according to the contribution being made. Make sure that the rewards are fair and provide transparency regarding how they can evolve. “This isn’t the factor that will keep your talent happy on its own, but it will certainly be noticed if there’s something wrong here.”

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4 change management tips for ChMS implementations

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Whether you’re starting to use church management software (ChMS) for the first time or switching from a previous vendor, there’s a lot that goes into a successful implementation. One area that people tend to overlook is how to make the change more manageable and less stressful. Even if everyone on your team hates the current software, you’ll still experience some resistance to change.

New software involves learning a new program, changing processes, and the typical implementation headaches. While everyone may agree that change is necessary, they might still get frustrated along the way.

So, how do you have a successful implementation and a happy team? Here are a few tips:

Tip No. 1: Fix processes first

One trap that many people fall into is thinking that a new tool will fix all their problems. Unfortunately, even the fanciest and most expensive ChMS can’t correct a broken process. Before you evaluate potential ChMS options, examine the processes you would perform within a new tool.

Here are a few examples of the types of processes to review:

  • First-time guest follow-up
  • Baptism requests
  • Hospital visitation requests and follow-up
  • Small group signup

If these processes aren’t functioning well now, fix that issue first. Decide how you want it to work manually, then consider how a ChMS could help you automate aspects of each process.

Tip No. 2: Get buy-in from influencers

Who within your staff or key volunteers has the most influence? This isn’t always the person in charge of a department. These influencers are people that staff and volunteers listen to and whose opinion they value.

Once you’ve identified these influencers, get them involved in the ChMS selection and implementation process. Once you have their buy-in, they’ll be your best champions in getting the team to change.

Tip No. 3: Change gradually

Most ChMS tools have multiple modules you can implement separately (giving, check-in, event registration, facilities, etc.). Whenever possible, start using a single aspect of the new ChMS at a time. You’ll have to start with the core component of the ChMS, which is the member/contact database.

However, from that point, you could use childcare check-in and recording the offering at first. Too much change at once, even good change, can be overwhelming. A phased approach gives your team a chance to learn the new system gradually. This approach also gives you the flexibility to work out any “bugs” in the process one module at a time.

Tip No. 4: Request feedback at each step

Ask your staff, volunteers, and congregation to provide you with feedback about the new system. Find out what’s working, what isn’t, what they like, and what they dislike. As you receive this input, make whatever changes are appropriate (and possible).

When you implement requested changes, let everyone know you made the change due to their feedback. This communicates that you’re listening and taking action on their requests.

Changing a significant tool such as your church management software isn’t an easy endeavor, so you need your team to fully support the new direction. By fixing processes, involving key influencers early on, running a phased implementation, and inviting feedback, you should have a much smoother changeover to the new software.

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How manufacturing issues will affect the election

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Manufacturing is a crucial issue for the 2020 election. According to a Morning Consult column, this was supposed to be the year of the manufacturing election. Both Biden and Trump have revealed plans to revive the economy and the manufacturing sector. The latter is directly proportional to the well-being of the former.

However, when Morning Consult made that prediction, in February, it had a robust and running industry in mind. But then came COVID-19 and lockdowns that brought entire industries to a halt. Yet, manufacturing remains a pivotal factor.

The Morning Consult column referenced a study finding that nine in 10 voters believe manufacturing is critical to economic revival. Months after the disruption wrought by COVID-19, those views are as strong as ever.

Each presidential candidate has proclaimed to bring about political and economic stability. To do so, they will have to overcome an unprecedented pandemic, usher in an era of domestic manufacturing jobs, and establish sound international trade policies.

Some of the key election issues for manufacturers are:

  • Creating and training a skilled workforce to match the digitization of the industry
  • Encouraging companies to invest in R&D with less red tape and tax credits
  • Help manufacturers navigate the complex international trading environment
  • Incentivize companies to digitize on their own like their international counterparts
  • Bring about digital transformation and agile supply chain resiliency
  • Immigration reform and employment-based visa categories to develop a diverse and talented workforce
  • Permanent pro-growth provisions in the tax code and continual assessment of the competitiveness of the U.S. tax system

Most local manufacturers want the next president to focus on coronavirus recovery. Next, they want to bridge the skills gap, workforce development, provide better healthcare, and fix aging infrastructure.

Diversifying the talent pipeline is essential to sustain the evolving manufacturing landscape. A study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute stated that the sector would need 4.6 million workers by 2028.

Both candidates plan to spend on infrastructure during the next four years. Improving aging infrastructure would benefit manufacturing to a certain extent.

Biden’s manufacturing plan involves tax credit for businesses that bring back manufacturing jobs by revitalizing a closed or existing factory. He also mentioned a penalty tax on foreign earnings. Trump announced a tax credit for companies that bring back jobs from China. He pledged no federal contracts for companies that outsource to China.

Economists agree the next administration has a crucial role to play in the future of U.S. manufacturing. Biden’s plans also include investing in vocational training. He is encouraging partnerships between employers and community colleges. The Trump administration is creating incentives for private-level apprenticeships.

One thing both candidates agree upon is the difficulty of maintaining a trade relationship with China. They are equally concerned about the rise of China as a formidable rival in trade. However, their approach to international trade is vastly different.

Trump likes to make discrete trade deals between smaller parties. Biden favors trade agreements where a coalition between the U.S. and a larger group of countries can be built. This would lead to more comprehensive trade rules. Economists feel that the coalition-based trade philosophy improves access for small manufacturers. They can bypass the complex web of trade relationships with each country this way.

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How to recover after a corporate scandal

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As a business leader, you know that not everything will go according to plan. Sometimes circumstances will arise that will reveal that, despite your best efforts, members of your staff have acted unethically. This is not only a blow against your values as an entrepreneur and your trust as an employer, but it can also be damaging to your business.

Recovering from a scandal is not an easy process. And in today’s connected environment, the news can spread globally via the internet in an instant. It’s also the case that even in the years after the core problem, details of your ethical issues will be just a quick search away. Any scandal has the potential to leave your online reputation in tatters if handled without due care.

How should you approach your recovery from a corporate scandal? What strategies and tools can you implement to improve both your reputation and toxic company culture? Let’s take a closer look at some key areas of focus.

Addressing the Problem

Some of the major mistakes that companies make in the wake of a scandal are in their initial response. Reacting too sluggishly, or in a lackluster fashion can be disastrous. A prime example of this is the 2009 Domino’s Pizza scandal, in which employees posted YouTube videos of themselves breaching food preparation laws. The company waited two days to respond, and when they did so it was little more than a simple apology.

Your reaction to a scandal needs to be both swift and well-considered. This is a difficult balancing act. Depending on the severity of the scandal, there may be a need to take legal advice before fully addressing consumers and staff. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t acknowledge the issue, however.

Work with your public relations department to produce an honest and direct initial press release. Inform the public that the company is aware of the problem and its severity, and that there is a need to investigate the matter fully. Set expectations as to what the next steps are, and when you intend to follow up.

Release this across all channels — your email list, press departments, website, and don’t ignore social media. This blanket coverage handles the need to vocalize the event to the public and doesn’t give the impression you’re ignoring the matter. It also provides you with time to make the necessary inquiries and planning to fully address the problem that resulted in the scandal.

However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that because you have made an announcement your responsibilities for communication are complete. Provide regular updates on progress and keep a dialogue open to reassure stakeholders that you and the company take the matter seriously.

No Quick Fix

For many of us, once a scandal has hit, we want to be able to just fix the situation. However, scandals are generally not that easy to repair. The issues that have a significant impact are ethical, social, and even legal and therefore require long term effort to put right — if they can be put right at all.

The Uber scandal in 2017, which revealed a culture of sexist and abusive behavior, resulted in the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick. However, the simple resignation of a CEO is often not enough to repair the damage; you need to put in the work.

Businesses must be demonstrative in their efforts to get to the root cause of the scandal, along with the actions they take to make retributions and prevent further incidents. If, as in the Uber case, there is a culture of abusive or discriminatory behavior, this points to a systemic issue. As a result, it’s often wise to bring in independent experts to assess practices and create improvement plans. These findings should be made public, alongside your reparation plans.

The behaviors that lead to a scandal are often already addressed in the employee handbook or company policies. Few businesses don’t have guidelines regarding sexual harassment and other unethical or illegal behaviors. If there is a culture that allows this behavior to thrive, this suggests that enforcement of these policies is somewhat lax.

One of the key ways to restore consumer confidence then is to enact a stricter approach to these rules and regulations. Conduct training exercises to reinforce their importance and demonstrate their application. Review the violation policy and make any disciplinary consequences clear — and enforce them.

Moving Forward

The dust has settled somewhat, you’ve taken what you feel might be the worst of the hits, and made plans to improve the overall culture of your business. So, now what? Your time must now be spent rebuilding the trust and respect of consumers and staff. It’ll be a long road, but by taking the patient and thorough approach, your business is likely to be stronger in the long run.

Moving forward, there needs to be a commitment to transparency and accountability. This must be a top-to-bottom policy; be open about how your business runs, your financial operations, and the partner companies you have relationships with. Invite staff members of all levels to attend key company meetings, seek their input on policy changes, diversity, and ethical operations. Invite the public to highlight when they feel you’re falling down in your obligations and make it easy for them to engage in a dialogue with company leaders. This not only encourages a culture of honesty throughout the company, it shows the public that it is a core aspect of your business operations.

It can also be wise to put some work into rebranding. This essentially acknowledges that the business has made mistakes in the past, but you’re also taking a concrete approach to be a better, different, more positive business moving forward. One of the key elements in creating a new brand is understanding your goals.

One of your new goals is obviously a stronger culture that eliminates recurrences of the incidence that got you here in the first place. You can then start to tell an effective story through the visual and marketing aspects of your new brand. After a scandal, this story is likely to be about change, trust, and responsibility. Create brand values that reflect the new approach of your business and demonstrate these frequently.


Recovering from a corporate scandal isn’t a quick and easy process — and neither should it be. By correctly acknowledging the problems, working to make meaningful change in the company, and moving forward with patience you can help rebuild consumer and staff confidence in your brand.

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What you should know about the virtual strategic planning process

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Virtual strategic planning should be as effective and comfortable as an in-person retreat. As associations consider their position and value to members, communicating a strong plan is critical. Members want to know a strategy for recovering and rebound exists.

The plan has multiple purposes:

  • Guide for successive boards for 3 to 5 years.
  • Empowerment of staff to advance the vision set by the board.
  • Careful alignment of the committees and task forces with goals and projects.
  • Communicate value to members.
  • Distinguish the organization for similar entities, for example the chamber of commerce is not the economic development council, or the beef and cattle association is not the beef check-off board.

60- to 90-Day Process

Working virtually, the steps are a little different than an in-person meeting. Ideally, through research, input, and analysis, up to 70% of the work will be done before the online retreat. (It is possible for a hybrid retreat with some directors attending in-person and others preferring to join online.)

Success comes from breaking the process into steps. With webinar fatigue, it is not likely that the board wants to sit in on lengthy Zoom calls.

Reverse Engineering

If the board sets a deadline for when the strategic planning process should be completed, it is possible to reverse engineer the process.

Reverse engineering sounds like a term from NASA sending a manned spacecraft to the moon. The concept is to set a desired outcome and work backwards. Thus, the need for a strategic plan is to present to the membership on a specific date and would walk backwards to schedule all the necessary steps.

The aim is to instill confidence in the process.

Data Gathering and Study

It has been said if you can read a budget, you can identify the priorities. That’s a start, but there are more clues in the bylaws, committee roster, org charts, meeting minutes disclosing recent board discussions, IRS Form 990, and the prior strategic plan. Gather the documents, often in the format of the board’s Leadership Manual, and analyze organizational strengths and structure.


Member surveys should be a regular practice to gauge satisfaction and needs. The more targeted survey is of the board of directors. Ask them three questions about priorities, goals, and if anything should be dropped from the program of work. The input of the board, and invitation to the senior staff, will help populate the first draft of the plan.

First Draft

The study of documents and input of the board is vital information for creating a framework for a new strategic plan. Create an outline or template to be shared by officers and senior staff of should be included in the plan based on initial findings.

Comfort and Confidence

Circulate the draft outline or plan template to ensure officers and senior staff are comfortable with the process. Ask if they have additional input. Facilitate opportunities for further collaborate as recommended.

Brand Strength: Mission, Vision and Values

Every exempt organization has a purpose or mission statement. Vision and value statements are at the preference of the board. Acquire feedback about the mission to affirm or offer alternative drafts. Most mission statements are easy to understand and articulate in a single sentence.

Additional Input — Strategy Development

Keep the board and staff fully engaged in the process. Circulate updates and drafts. Encourage more input on the direction and findings thus far. The board may want to conduct focus groups, hold caucuses, or survey stakeholders for maximum input.

Circulate Draft

As the date for the virtual retreat draws near, share information with the board. Familiarize them with the agenda, desired outcomes, terminology of planning, process to date and the outline or template based on all the study and input. In advance of the retreat, introduce the full board to the draft mission, goals, and recommended strategies.


Plan a retreat that is effective with detail to audio and camera needs. There is little use to a retreat if people cannot hear each other or see the subject matter on screen. Allocate about three hours to review details of the draft outline or template, asking for input, omissions and understanding. The board is affirming the mission, goals, and priorities. They are not making a to-do list for staff or delving into committee work.

Final Report

Within a week following the retreat, a comprehensive report of process and board input should be shared. The directors have a final opportunity for input before it will be on the agenda at an upcoming board meeting for a motion to approve.

Performance Metrics Added

The plan has little traction if metrics are not set. While the board may suggest KPIs at the retreat, where metrics were not offered, the senior staff can suggest performance, accountability, and timelines. The annual budget may need adjustment based on strategic plan opportunities for revenue generation or spending.


Members and stakeholders should be informed of the new strategic plan or “Vision 2025.” Committees will work to advance elements of the new plan. Staff may create their program of work based on board plans. The plan should always be on the board table to guide board discussions and decisions.

Plan Champions

To track progress on the plan, appoint a “Strategic Plan Champion” or assign directors to be responsible for tracking program as “Goal Monitors.”

Annual Updates and Tweaks

At least annually, review progress on the plan, and external influences and achievements to make adjustments. Most plans are updated every three years.

The steps will differ for every organization, some wanting to hold focus groups while others want an in-depth survey of members. Use these steps to stay on track and maintain confidence in the process.

A free, two-page Guide to Strategic Planning is available here.

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3 simple workarounds for when you feel overwhelmed

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Many people these days are feeling disillusioned, shocked, vulnerable, depressed and full of dread. Any one of those feelings can be difficult to handle, but when you’re feeling a mix of those feelings, it’s overwhelming.

Although some people are responding to personal circumstances, the majority of those feelings are triggered by the global events unfolding each day. None of us knows what we will face when we wake up in the morning. Nor do we see a clear resolution in front of us. Therefore, we must find a way to navigate the overwhelming feelings.

The first step is to reduce the intensity and power of what we’re experiencing by simplifying it. We can do that by recognizing that the common thread through all of those overwhelming feelings list above is fear. Once we’ve identified that fear is behind all difficult emotions, then we can remedy it with some simple workarounds.

Here are three workarounds (based on decades on working with clients and students) to help you cultivate more peace (and less fear) in your life:

1. Being Present

On a practical level, fear is about the past and the future. We fear that what has happened in the past will happen again in the future. We also worry about the future, sometimes sinking into feelings of dread about it. Fear is usually associated with the belief we may lose something — our health, our job, our money or our relationships. Or if we don’t have one or more of those things, we’re afraid we’re not going to ever find them.

The pathway to peace is to become present. Being present means being fully being aware of what’s happening right in front of you. One of the easiest ways to do this is to become aware of how you’re feeling in your body. You start by tuning into your five senses and also noticing your surroundings.

Ask yourself these questions: “Where am I?” “What am I feeling?” “Am I OK right now?” Then pay attention to everything that is happening within and around you in the present moment.

2. Taking a Time Out

About 10 years ago, I started spending time every morning praying, meditating, reading and writing. I now spend at least two hours doing this, which may seem like a lot, but it’s my favorite time of day.

For a brief period, when I worked full time and had to be at work by eight in the morning, I woke up at five so that I had at least two hours of quiet time before entering the chaos of the world. It is a break from texts, emails and interactions with others that allows me to establish a peaceful, grounded flow for my day.

Taking a time out can be a morning routine as I described above, or it can be a nightly bath, time spent in nature, working on a creative project, dancing to some uplifting music, doing something with your hands, etc. The key is to find something that takes you away from the news, from social media and from conversations about what’s happening in the world. To work well, it needs to be something you do regularly and consistently. If not daily, then at least several times per week.

3. Reach Out

The root of fear is the belief that we are all alone, that we must take matters into our own hands and take care of our problems all by ourselves. We live as if we have no help whatsoever. We tell ourselves, “I have to figure everything out. I have to solve all of my problems. I have to fight to survive.”

This is not true.

As someone I know recently said, you can be “pathologically independent,” meaning so self-sufficient that you cause yourself untold suffering. As h ard as it may be, the answer is to ask for help. This can mean reaching out to friends and family or a professional coach, counselor or healing practitioner. Joining a Meetup group or an online Facebook group can also help diffuse overwhelming feelings because you can connect with others who share your experience. In addition, many group members offer tips, tools and resources that have helped them.

John Lennon wrote, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

May we all find a way to embrace life again.

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5 data protection trends of 2020 that will define security next year

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As more businesses move online, the field of cybersecurity has grown in importance. Workplace digitalization has led to many changes, including a move to new platforms and strategies. Many companies are adopting a cloud-first strategy, requiring new methods of protecting data.

Consumers are more empowered than ever — and they demand transparency and security in how their data is stored and used. Data protection will become vital to an organization’s success.

1. Data Protection in the Cloud

The cloud is becoming an increasingly common platform for both storage and communication. From a hosted contact center to cloud-based digital asset management, the peace of mind and ease of use of these technologies make them ideal for businesses.

In order to use these technologies, you need to consider:

  • Data protection regulations
  • Privacy standards
  • Risk management

In 2018, the Bitglass Cloud Adoption report showed that over 81% of organizations used the cloud in some form. The problem with the cloud is the varying measures businesses use to protect online data stored within it. For instance, there are different standards on password strengths, how widely passwords are distributed, and where they’re stored.

Luckily, one major trend in 2020 was an increased focus on data protection. Going forward, you should expect to see a shift in company policy and government regulation to protect data in the coming year. The shift to online operations will see companies on the lookout for the best e-commerce platforms and data protection and storage services.

2. Continued Rise in Regulations

Commerce and business activities are increasingly digital-based. This means governments are stepping in to regulate the use and protection of data. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates data protection and data privacy within the EU and European Economic Area.

The GDPR also applies to any organization processing data of EU and EEA citizens and residents. These regulations have created a precedent for other governments. Moving forward, it’s likely government legislation will focus more on creating increased data quality and governance.

Image: Gartner

These regulations have provided increased security on cloud services and increased the attention on third-party risk management. Businesses will need to be vigilant on how they use and protect data. The potential financial burden of breaking government regulations can be detrimental to your business. France fined Google over $50 million for GDPR violations. Overall, the GDPR fines have amounted to over $126 million and continue to increase.

This means that companies have begun to create frameworks to take responsibility for how they protect data. One component of this includes increased monitoring of third parties who have access to consumer data. Certifying third parties means that their use of data and practices meet legal standards and your organization’s privacy policy.

3. Increased Privacy Standards and Transparency

This year we saw an increased awareness of how companies process, store, manage and secure data.

While data storage is important for tracking your customer lifecycle, there is such a thing as unnecessary data. Data graveyards — repositories of unused data — will continue to be increasingly undesirable. This unused data jeopardizes database utilization and creates an unnecessary financial burden. Storage not only costs money but also unnecessarily increases the scope of a potential data breach.

The coming year will see businesses attempt to limit the amount of unnecessary data they store. It will also revolutionize how they manage automated systems of obtaining user data. We saw companies, like Google, commit to a cookie-less future. Cookies store information to provide consistency as users navigate through pages and sites.

The way companies manage this data can violate trust. The unnecessary holding, selling, and use of data collected by cookies can lead to legal and public relation nightmares. In the event of a data breach, the information stored from cookies can also lead to problems for the organization collecting this data.

Even matters of telecommunication, such as inbound call center solutions, demand transparency in order to maintain consumer confidence and trust. B2C companies need to take extra care with transparency. It can be detrimental to a business when a data breach occurs, or if customers find companies not managing their data responsibly.

4. Job Creation and Shifts in Responsibility

This emphasis on data protection has increased the need for oversight of digital operations. The move towards remote working has already made IT staff essential for business operations. Data Protection Officers (DPO) now have more responsibility than ever.

However, DPOs cannot single-handedly manage all aspects of cybersecurity. They are responsible for supervising and the implementation of data protection laws and policies. This means that human resources, marketing, and legal departments must also be involved in data protection.

Workplace digitalization has also created new positions within companies. New roles like Chief Data Officers (CDO) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) need to communicate with their IT teams in order to work together, align priorities, and build value-based recommendations. In many companies, this will require finding software to enable video conferencing for small business.

As we shift to more online operations, jobs will be created within HR, Marketing, and Sales departments to manage digital operations. It will require more than just IT to ensure organizations are running smoothly and efficiently.

5. Training

New jobs mean increased training. With people working from home and online activities on the rise, remote training will be an essential aspect of business operations.

Responsibility for data protection should not fall solely on your IT staff but should be spread throughout your operation. Knowledge is power. Staff who interact with data at any level should be informed about company policies and practices.

Some questions that should guide your training are:

  • What data do you need?
  • How long do you need to store it?
  • Who should have access to data?
  • What security parameters are in place?

Throughout the rest of 2020, and continuing into the next few years, we should expect to see data protection become a key part of all employees’ responsibilities, not just IT.

These five key trends for data protection seen in 2020 will define how we store, manage, and disseminate information next year and for years to come. The use of cloud-based systems can ensure business continuity and create greater protection of digital data. It is important for your business to be aware of regulations and trends within cybersecurity to protect your business, your employees, your customers, and your reputation.

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