Alex Somos

Where are you personally and professionally right now...and where do you want to be?employee engagement - look for gaps

In this article, Juice partner and facilitator Sue Krautkramer provides a list of insightful questions to ask yourself and the people around you, to help identify the “gaps” (and the extent of them) that exist between the present state, and the ideal state.

Take the quiz now!

Rick Boersma

Juice Inc - Innovation training in manufacturing

A Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC) survey on innovation recently caught my attention.

Most manufacturers clearly understand how critical innovation is to business growth. But it seems many are approaching innovation in an extremely informal way.

Consider this:

  • Only 17% say their companies have an innovation process in place with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and deliverables for stakeholders
  • 79% say their companies do not provide a specific amount of time for people to devote to innovation activities

Perhaps the above numbers explain why only 28% of companies gave a high rating to their ability to convert a new idea to a product or service.

MLC’s global VP of research and editorial director David Brousell sums up the survey’s findings by stating: “ can’t help wonder whether the application of greater management rigor to the process could accelerate and expand innovation in many companies.”

I whole-heartedly agree.

By approaching innovation willy-nilly, ideas often go nowhere. And here’s why: innovation isn’t just about idea generation. It involves multiple steps that include the assessment of ideas, creating a business case for the chosen solution, and implementation. (A structured innovation program—including training, tools and techniques—can facilitate all of these activities.)

In a nutshell, in an industry where continuous evolution is expected, it makes perfect business sense for manufacturing companies to take a more formalized approach to innovation.

Alex Somos

Employee Engagement Training - The 5 Driving NeedsYears ago, my childhood friend’s mother Pauline Steinbach said one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard.

My friend came home in tears one day to tell his mother he had been bullied. He explained it to her as “they did X, Y and Z to me.”

His mother gave him a hug, calmed him down and then said these words: “Honey, people don’t do things to you. They do things for themselves.”

Pauline was so right.

Moreover, her advice applies to all human interactions: including those in the business world.

When a person acts out on another, it’s got less to do with the target and more to do with that person dealing with their own unfulfilled needs—things they want, but are unable to attain.

And so, they act out using unskillful expressions such as bullying and backstabbing: behaviours that affect the target’s self-image and productivity.

Reframe your thinking

The next time you find yourself feeling judged or blamed, think of Pauline’s words of wisdom and ask yourself:

  • What is it that this person is really looking for?
  • What is it that they need?
  • What are they looking to fill?

Granted, it may not always be possible to uncover another person’s unmet needs. But by taking Pauline’s words to heart, you can lessen the unnecessary blame or onus we often place on ourselves as targets—and reduce the level of interference affecting our potential to be our very best selves.

Alex Somos

Juice staff love KISS!At Juice, we are greatly inspired by the story of how KISS hit the big time.

In the early to mid-1970s, KISS was determined to become famous. But despite all the band’s hard work and relentless touring, they couldn’t catch their big break.

And then...


A high school football coach in the small town of Cadillac, Michigan, used KISS music as a means to motivate his team. A KISS fan himself, he drew up a new set of plays and defensive strategies based on the theory of Keep It Simple, Stupid (K-I-S-S)—and began to play KISS records in the locker room.

The players responded. The energy from the music brought them together—and they won every game remaining in the season.

KISS loved their fans. In an unprecedented move, the band decided to play a concert—for free!—for Homecoming (makeup and all). They even spent the entire afternoon hanging out with the students. The city held a parade in honour of KISS, and the band received the key to the city.

And the proverbial crowd went wild.

National press picked up the story...and then the international media. It was just the breakthrough KISS needed. You could say the rest is history.

KISS always put its fans first. They didn’t have to play a free concert in a small town they probably had never heard of. But they did: they took that chance and it paid off big-time.

At Juice, we also put our “fans”—or customers—first. We believe that hard work, determination and going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) are the keys to great customer service.

You could say we consider ourselves KISS material (without the makeup, of course).

What everyone can take away from this story is: don’t give up. Success doesn’t come easily—and may take a long time to achieve.

But by putting your target audience first, you have the potential to become the KISS of your industry.

Alex Somos

Graduation time is the season for clichéd advice (“follow your dreams,” anyone?): which is certainly well-meaning, but not very practical for new graduates about to enter the workforce.

With that in mind, here are four tips to help you (or the new grad in your life) survive and thrive in the workplace.

  1. Regularly check your energy levels
    Once in a while, take a minute at the end of your work day to check how you’re feeling. Do you still have mental and physical energy left for family, friends, shopping, making dinner and social activities? If you do, that’s a good sign you’re working for a good manager and/or organization: one who values work/life balance.

    If you consistently feel downtrodden and exhausted, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere for work: believe it or not, there are employers out there who believe in keeping their employees energized, motivated and happy.
  2. Steer clear of negativity
    Inter-office friction can infect any workplace, depleting people’s energy levels and productivity—and making Monday through Friday unbearable for all involved.

    Instead of running toward drama, stay away. Don’t get caught up in the negativity and politicking. Especially as a new graduate, your main focus should be your job, learning how to do it well, and building your career. Trust us, your manager will appreciate it.

    Moreover, don’t listen to all the naysayers. There will always be negative folks who say certain things can’t be done. Try to approach everything in an unguarded fashion: by keeping an open mind, you are allowing for new ideas to flourish and positive change to occur.
  3. Become fluent in conversation
    Too often, people dismiss communication as a “soft skill,” less important than skills related to monetary gain like project management, computer programming or accounting. But being an efficient communicator can actually be your ticket to greater opportunities.

    It may sound easy, but communicating with others—particularly face-to-face—involves quite a bit of finesse. Choosing the right words, listening with our minds and hearts instead of simply our ears, and getting our message across clearly are critical skills that can make or break a project. Miscommunication can lead to misunderstanding and arguments—and in the workplace, that can mean the end of a decent working relationship. So take time to hone your conversation skills—every day.
  4. Appreciate diverse thinkers
    As innovation becomes increasingly critical to an organization’s ability to remain competitive, employers are beginning to appreciate the value that their employees can bring them in the way of ideas.

    There are often a few oddballs in the office—but that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute in a meaningful way. When it comes to innovative thinking, sometimes all it takes is one over-the-top idea to springboard everyone else’s ideas.

When you’re looking for ideas, consider the value of bringing together a group of diverse thinkers. They just may be your best source of inspiration.

What other practical words of advice would you have for new grads entering the workforce?

Rick Boersma

Juice Inc. Innovation TrainingWhen you hear the word “innovation,” what comes to mind?

Many people equate innovation with technology. For example, they may imagine a room full of highly technical people, writing on whiteboards to invent the latest and greatest product.

But innovation is about so much more than technology and IT wizardry.

More often, innovation is about ideas that ordinary people come up with to improve the way their organizations operate.

Those ideas may involve technology to some degree—after all, the implementation and use of technology is a critical success factor in moving a business forward—but being innovative doesn’t necessarily have to be about product development.

In fact, many of the companies that Juice works with are not in technology at all.

Our clients (who we also refer to as “performance partners”) span a range of industries including government, healthcare, training and financial services. They don’t make cool products like the iPhone—but they believe in and apply innovation to their daily business nonetheless.

Why? Because innovation is essential for achieving real improvements in any organization, ensuring customers’ needs are fully met, and remaining competitive.

As one example, the City of Mississauga has embedded innovation into its daily organizational culture. City leaders and employees have used Juice’s Innovation in a Box program to improve many of its business processes and strategies regarding business planning and budgeting, housing and transit (to name a few).

So what’s the lesson here?

  • You don’t have to create products or technology to be innovative.
  • You don’t have to be a technical genius to be innovative.
  • Any organization in any industry has the potential to be innovative—and to prosper greatly.

In other words: stop thinking innovation is for “the other guys.” It’s for everyone.

Happy innovating!


Summer is coming. Are you ready?

Every year when the weather turns warm, many organizations experience a seasonal slump in employee engagement and productivity.

In fact, a 2012 study by Captivate Network found that the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” has a significantly negative impact on the workforce:

  • Productivity drops 20%
  • Attendance dips by 19%
  • Project turnaround times increase by 13%  
  • Workers are 45% more distracted

Over a 2-3 month timeframe, can your business afford this kind of impact?

Fun in the sun

Workplaces that create a fun-friendly environment will see their employees give more effort and be more innovative.

True, having a “beach day” may sound counter-productive to your engagement efforts. But a fun event can actually give employees a chance to get to know each other better, build up levels of camaraderie and communication.

Plus, the great thing about summer is that people are normally in a more relaxed mood—so planning fun activities, or encouraging employees to come up with their own ideas, can work wonders on organizational energy—both in the short- and long-term.

Consider summertime activities like lunchtime volleyball, an afternoon outdoor barbeque, a Smores-building competition, or even taking a day to volunteer outside for a non-profit.

FREE webinar series: boost your employee engagement this summer!

Looking for more refreshing ideas to improve engagement, productivity and innovative thinking?

Sit back, relax and enjoy our Summer Webinar Series: FREE online training through June, July and August.

Brady Wilson

Generally speaking, a disengaged employee is unhappy with their work environment.

So should it not follow, then, that an engaged employee is happy?

Not necessarily.

Engaged employees often stay with an organization, do decent work and never complain. But their behaviours aren’t necessarily borne from happiness.

The reality is that people stay for a variety of reasons: often, they are simply motivated by a paycheque, fears of unemployment, or they just don’t want to change their day-to-day routine by looking elsewhere for work.

Does that sound like happiness to you?

What if you could have employees who, as the Pharell song “Happy” goes, feel like “a room without a roof,” fueled with energy to:

  • do their very best work,
  • be innovative and
  • have the ongoing desire to go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (A.B.C.D.)?

Doesn’t that sound more like a happy workforce to you? And not only happy, but the makings of a superstar workforce?

There is so much beyond traditional engagement. I know because I’ve seen it—many, many times over.

At Juice, we offer training to help organizations create the best “lived experience” for their employees: energized and positive working environments in which people can flourish and thrive, be passionate, be innovative, and have purpose.

And in return, those organizations can realize all sorts of amazing business benefits.

Want to know more about the benefits of going Beyond Engagement?


Is employee growth a natural state of affairs?

As he tends to his lovely pine tree, David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network was struck by the similarities between caring for employees and plant life.

In this blog post, David provides 7 questions to ask yourself, to see if you are setting the stage for growth in your workforce.

Alex Somos

Sometimes, sorry seems to be the hardest word—at least, to the apologizer.

But what about the recipient of the apology?

Sometimes, in our haste to get it off our chests quickly, our apologies can actually make things worse—particularly if they are perceived as simply paying lip service.

In other words, saying “sorry” is oftentimes not enough to resolve things.

How to say sorry...properly

There is an art to the apology.

Let’s say you spoke out against a colleague’s idea at a meeting. You know they are hurt and disappointed that you didn’t support them.

You’re not doing them any favours by walking up to your colleague afterwards to simply say “I’m sorry.” Why? Because you probably don’t know the extent to which they are hurt: you’re lacking context of the situation. As a result, your simple apology will likely come off as an empty, thoughtless “token sorry.”

Instead, consider doing the following:

  1. Approach the person. Ask them if they can talk with you about what happened at the meeting. The objective is to get permission to discuss it.
  2. State the issue. Acknowledge the facts of what you did.
  3. Ask the person their thoughts. By simply saying “I’d like to know where that landed for you,” you are giving that person the chance to create context and meaning for you. Your colleague probably has a back story you weren’t away of. For example, perhaps they’ve been working on that idea for three years—on their own time. Maybe they’ve reviewed dozens of peer papers in researching the idea. Perhaps they’ve compiled a list of support materials.
  4. Apologize. Now that you understand the context of your colleague’s effort and hard work, you can apologize appropriately for the impact. You still may not change your mind about your colleague’s idea—but by creating a space for conversation around what your “offense” meant to them, you can walk away, feeling like you have appropriately apologized.

Admit your mistake, and clean up quickly

Your apology loses impact with every passing second that you put it off. Not only that: holding off on making an apology can add to the damage already felt by the person you offended. This can lead to the creation of “camps” within any work environment—significantly decreasing employee engagement and positive organizational energy amongst colleagues.

So don’t let it fester or sit. When you know an apology is necessary, do it quickly—and do it well.


Once in a while, we come across a video that we find ourselves laughing and nodding our heads to.

Here are some humorous, nod and share-worthy clips about leadership, employee engagement, innovation and communication.

Month Python Video - You TubePoor Communication: Monthy Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail
Lesson learned: Everyone has their own conversation style—and sometimes, we must flex our own to meet the needs of others. By balancing directness and inquiry, people can maximize the outcome of every conversation.


SNL: Office Meeting
Lesson learned: When you bring a group of diverse people (and...sandwiches?) together to innovate, you can create group genius! Well, maybe not in this case. Another lesson learned from this clip: you can’t rush innovation.


Brainstorming with Darth Vader
Lesson learned: When it comes to innovation, every person brings with them a different way of looking at things. Fortunately, in the event that brainstorming turns into storming, there are ways to manage this kind of conflict and energize your team.

A Guide To Effective Communication
Lesson learned: Every conversation matters. Done poorly, it can hurt you. Done effectively, you can actually get the results you want.


Ellen Scares the New Staffer
Lesson learned: fun in the office is important! Of course, you want to ensure it’s appropriate. But given that Ellen Degeneres is a comedian by trade, it makes perfect sense she would inject fun into the workplace in this very way.

What other videos get you “juiced” about the workplace?


Not only is David Zinger a world-renowned expert on employee engagement: he is also now the co-author of a brand new book on the very subject.

But The Ennoblement Imperative: People Artistry at Work isn’t just your average resource. It is being promoted as a tool to help managers become “people artists”—engaging workers fully, and granting them the attention they deserve.

Artists help us see the world differently. This book will help leaders see their workforce and team members differently—and offer ways to tap into unrealized potential.

Learn more about the book and order your copy today!


When you speak to your employees, do you come off too slick, too rehearsed, too strategic?

In this article, world renowned employee engagement expert David Zinger reminds leaders that employees have an innate sense of knowing when they are being manipulated.

It’s like what we at Juice always tell executives and managers of the organizations we work with: be authentic. Why? Because when leaders are real, they get results.

Interested in discussing these issues thousands of others in an online forum devoted entirely to employee engagement? Join the Employee Engagement Network (it’s free!).

Rick Boersma

Your business may be bringing in profits and doing very well for itself.

But how can you take your organization to its next stage of evolution...not to mention beyond?

Oftentimes, it’s about changing the business model—which is, obviously, not a small feat.

One of our customers is a services company. Its core business is solving problems: simply put, their technicians visit customers on-site, identify issues, and fix them.

Now, the CEO is looking to evolve the company’s business model. How? By encouraging employees to approach problem-solving in a way that will eventually lead the company to become a product- as well as fee-for-service-based business.

This savvy CEO knows that problem-solving can only get his business so far.

And that’s because problem-solving is not the same as innovation. As I wrote in a previous blog post, problem-solving is more about reacting to a specific situation; while innovation is about being proactive — focusing on new opportunities, improving performance, raising the bar, and breaking through the status quo.

Think about it. Our customer’s technicians could simply continue doing back-to-back site visits as per usual. Or, they could create a product that allows their customers to fix problems on their own—lessening the frequent need for site visits, opening up technicians’ time to take on more clients...and, ultimately, increasing profits for the company.

To remain competitive, transformative innovation is key. Put simply, it’s about looking at things differently: not about keeping our heads down while solving problems, but looking up to see all the opportunities that exist.

Happy innovating!


You’ve got disengaged employees. You’re trying to fix the problem.

But could you be the problem? That is, could you be the unknowingly sabotaging your own engagement efforts?

In this blog article, David Zinger talks about the problems that occur when organizations ask for anonymous feedback through employee surveys.

His viewpoint bears some similarity to ours at Juice: that employee surveys (whether anonymous or not) often have the opposite effect that companies are looking for—compounding disengagement instead of fixing it.

Check it out on David’s blog—and while you’re there, be sure to sign up for the Employee Engagement Network (it’s free!). 

Alex Somos

Leaders should seek to inspire...but they can always use a little inspiration themselves!

Here are six of Juice’s favourite quotes from some of the world’s biggest proponents of effective leadership.

  1. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.—John Maxwell
  2. Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. — General Dwight Eisenhower
  3. To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. – Eleanor Roosevelt
  4. True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed…. Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection. – Sheryl Sandberg
  5. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. — Peter Drucker
  6. The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.—William Arthur Ward

What are some of your favourite leadership quotes?

Release Your People’s Brilliance: interested in more information about leadership development? Find out how Juice helps leaders engage people in partnering conversations, to find breakthrough solutions.


Engaging your employees doesn’t always have to involve a structured process or strategy.

Here are a few simple ways from David Zinger to improve engagement on a daily basis.

Are there any others you would add?

Rick Boersma

An innovation, when it’s brand new, is like a fresh loaf of bread right out of the oven.

Everyone is excited about that bread—and everyone wants a piece. Moreover, when they get some, they brag about it to everyone they know...building demand for more fresh loaves.

But eventually, the bread starts to lose its appeal...and folks begin flocking to a fresher, tastier, better-looking loaf elsewhere.

No matter how cool your innovation is, there will come a time when it’s old news—and people will move on to the next new technology, product or service provider.

The question therefore is: how can companies continue to stay ahead of the curve?

Embedding innovation

To stay ahead of the curve, companies cannot approach innovation as a simple one-off.

It’s all about infusing a culture of innovation into your workplace: one that frequently encourages and rewards creativity, strategic thinking (or “keeping curiosity alive”), and taking initiative.

In other words, companies that truly “live” innovation—think Apple, Coke, Cirque de Soleil and Amazon—are much more likely to be at the forefront of innovation in their industry. Why? Because innovative thinking is a common and natural part of their organizational fabric.

In other words, innovation must be:

  • an everyday, deep-rooted (or grass-roots) part of business operations;
  • something that everyone—not just leaders—contributes to; and
  • a key part of the organization’s internal and external identity/brand.

You can do it!

Building a sustainable culture committed to innovation will not happen overnight—but it doesn’t have to be a struggle either.

Learn how a structured process can become an integral part of your day-to-day business operations—and the many benefits your organization can reap by staying ahead of the curve.


We’d like to heartily congratulate Yum! for ranking #15 of Canada’s top 100 places to work.

What makes a Great Place to Work?

How about an abundance of employee trust—and a positive, energy and opportunity-filled corporate culture? 

If you haven’t heard of our client Yum! Restaurants International (Canada) by name, you certainly know their popular brands: Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell.

But how did they do it?

Read all about it!

Juice has been so fortunate to play a role in Yum!’s success.

Check out this case study about our work with Yum!, the company’s ongoing commitment to its employees, its initiatives to make improvements, and the many positive outcomes of Yum!’s amazing efforts.

Brady Wilson

What are the monetary and personal costs of employee engagement?

We’ve rounded up a list of interesting (and totally share-worthy) facts to help you improve your understanding of the issues around employee engagement—as well as the potential for opportunity when organizations work to improve the problem.

  1. Only a very small number of employees worldwide feel engaged. Just 13% of employees are engaged at work—that is, committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations. (Gallup)
  2. Most organizations feel ill-equipped to deal with employees. 77% of companies worldwide do not feel they have the right human resources skills to address issues including retention and engagement. (Deloitte)
  3. Very unhappy employees infuse negativity into the workplace: 63% of employees worldwide are "not engaged"—that is, they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort. Moreover, 24% are “actively disengaged”—unhappy, unproductive, and likely to spread negativity to co-workers. (Gallup)
  4. “Preventable turnover” is highly expensive: How much does preventable turnover cost employers? In Canada, the annual price tag for a business with 10,000 employees is $62 million; in the U.S., it’s a whopping $75 million. (Linkedin)
  5. Engagement levels are higher in some business sectors: In a 2011 Canadian study, employees working in not-for-profit organizations were most engaged (72%). Employees working in government reported the lowest rate of engagement among co-workers. (Psychometrics)
  6. Monkey may see, but not necessarily do: 77% of senior managers want to raise their level of employee engagement, but only 41% of them communicate personally with employees about plans and goals on a regular basis. (The Social Workplace / Chartered Institute of Public Relations)
  7. Career stage makes a difference in engagement: Generations at the beginning and approaching the end of their careers tend to be more engaged than those in the middle of their careers. (Gallup)
  8. Employees with post-secondary education are not necessarily happier: People with a college degree are less likely than less-educated people to report having a positive, engaging workplace experience (Gallup)
  9. Relationships are critical to engagement: 84% of employees in the U.S. claim their relationship with their boss is the top determining factor for whether they try to move up in the company—or find work elsewhere. (National Business Research Institute)
  10. Engaged workforces earn more—a lot more. If this stat doesn’t convince you to explore solutions to your employee engagement problem, nothing will: companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. That is not a typo. (Dale Carnegie)

Juice Inc. has helped many organizations large and small move Beyond Engagement toward cultures brimming with sustainable energy. Could yours be next?

Brady Wilson

David Zinger + Juice Inc. Engagement Pyramid

To improve employee engagement properly involves a balance of push and pull. Learn the 10 blocks of David Zinger’s “pyramid of engagement” – and how the pushing-and-pulling dynamic works.


Juice Inc Events - What are you waiting for?
What comes to mind when you see organizations promoting a “free event”?

Are you suspicious that if you attend, you’ll be pushed into something you don’t want to buy or do? (After all, who hasn’t sat through a free timeshare presentation?)

At Juice, we don’t do that.

The main reasons we hold free Juice information sessions are to:

Here are six reasons why you should take a chance and attend a free Juice session.

  1. Great content. Juice believes in creating and sharing quality content and ideas. If you have a need to improve employee engagement or workplace conversations, further develop leadership skills, or create a culture of innovation, you can be assured that you’re getting expert insight and materials. (And people who are well informed make great decisions!)
  2. Inspiration. You won’t take only actual tools and golden nuggets of knowledge away with you—our experts also infuse each session with infectious positivity. You will walk away feeling energized, motivated, and ready to see the potential for change in your organization!
  3. We don’t push. We want you to feel energized in our sessions—so we never go in for the hard sell. Put simply, it’s just not who we are.
  4. Short time investment. Our free workshops are never more than 2.5 hours. What this means: busy executives don’t have to take an entire morning or afternoon off to attend a Juice session.
  5. Networking. No doubt about it—you’re going to meet some great people at our sessions: people who are experiencing the same challenges you may be having at your own organization. We are consistently impressed by the friendliness and candour of attendees.
  6. Free food. We feed you! After all, learning can’t be done on an empty stomach.

So what are you waiting for?

Juice frequently offers free workshops in Canada and the U.S. Check out our Events page and register today! If you can’t attend, no problem: we also offer live informational web presentations, so book one today.


Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am.

Need to earn credibility for your business or brand? Become an expert in your field.

In this presentation, David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network offers 12 tips to best learn a topic, and build a solid reputation as a go-to expert.

Alex Somos

What does it take to be a good—even great—leader?Leadership Development - Juice Inc.

Much of it is based on how well managers, directors and executives understand, interact with and speak to their employees.

Here are eight ways leaders can strengthen their own leadership skills, increasing the likelihood of a higher performing workforce.

  1. Good leaders take initiative to get the answers they need
    An effective leader simply cannot sit back passively and let things work themselves out. Instead, people must step into the tension, ask questions, and get to the heart of the matter.
    Related post: How do I cut the crap at work?
  2. Good leaders know how to set the pace
    The key to successful organizational change hinges on employee buy-in. Leaders searching for the “next big thing” must refrain from quickly abandoning one initiative to endorse another—lest having the opposite desired effect on employees.
    Related post: Why “corporate A.D.D.” is bad leadership
  3. Good leaders understand the value of fun
    Workplaces that create a fun-friendly environment will see employees give more effort and be more innovative. The challenge for leaders, however, is ensuring they understand what is considered “fun” to their employees.
    Related post: Making fun: why fun should be part of every employee engagement strategy
  4. Good leaders make their team feel special and important
    There are countless ways leaders can show their appreciation—for example, by taking time frequently to recognize the positive impact their employees have on the organization.
    Related post: Making fun: why fun should be part of every employee engagement strategy
  5. Good leaders create a compelling picture of a future state for the team
    Leading into and throughout a project, people need inspiration. Good leaders prepare employees by providing context—a mental picture of what “success” will eventually look like.
    Related post: Prepare for impact: leadership tips for successful teams
  6. Good leaders understand the reality for improvisation and flexibility
    Regardless of how firmly plans are in place, projects will often go astray for any number of reasons. Good leaders can easily rebound to kinks in the system, and quickly find solutions to those problems.
    Related post: Prepare for impact: leadership tips for successful teams
  7. Good leaders create ease in the system
    Getting the best out of employees sometimes requires a leader’s guidance or facilitation. Good leaders can find effective, confidence-building ways to increase people’s overall performance.
    Related post: Prepare for impact: leadership tips for successful teams
  8. Good leaders create meaning for people
    A higher-performing work environment can be achieved when people feel a stronger sense of purpose in their work. Good leaders are able to articulate that purpose—and personalize it to each individual employee.
    Related post: Beyond tunnel vision: how building hope leads to better results

Learn about Juice’s leadership development program!

Join the Juice revolution: make every conversation count. Sign up for your Juice account for FREE access to case studies, ebooks, videos, webinars and other resources to help you significantly enhance communication across your entire organization. Reap the rewards: get your FREE Juice account today.


For many of us, the image of a treadmill is symbolic of monotony and the same old boring routine.

But not for David Zinger.

David recently applied innovative gamification practices to his fitness routine. Here’s how he used gamification to successfully climb Mount Everest (well, kind of!).

Rick Boersma

Every once in a while, we all need a little lift: something that inspires us to see things differently and take positive action.

Here are our top 10 favourite quotes about innovation in the workplace—thoughts from prominent experts that reflect our own beliefs at Juice, and drive what we do.

  1. Innovation accelerates and compounds. Each point in front of you is bigger than anything that ever happened.
    — Marc Andreessen, entrepreneur and founder of Netscape
  2. Do you know what my favorite renewable fuel is? An ecosystem for innovation.
    — Thomas Friedman, journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning author
  3. For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.
    — Margaret Heffernan, entrepreneur, CEO, keynote speaker and writer
  4. If you look at history, innovation doesn't come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.
    — Steven Johnson, writer and website creator
  5. While leaders spend considerable time and effort trying to envision markets and pushing out innovation, empathy can often generate simple, yet breakthrough ideas.
    — John Gerzema, writer and corporate consultant
  6. The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
    — Dr. Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winner, chemist/biochemist, peace activist
  7. The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances—are the primary sources of creativity.
    — Margaret J. Wheatley, organizational behaviour expert
  8. You have to train people how to be business innovators. If you don't train them, the quality of the ideas that you get in an innovation marketplace is not likely to be high.
    — Gary Hamel, business strategy expert
  9. Innovation and best practices can be sown throughout an organization - but only when they fall on fertile ground.
    — Marcus Buckingham, author, researcher, speaker, consultant
  10. Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let's all go exploring.
    — Edith Widder, oceanographer, marine biologist, CEO

What are some of your favourite innovation quotes?

Interested in more innovation information?  Join our FREE webinar on Thursday April 17th.  For more information or to register - click here.

Alex Somos

Juice expansion into the USJuice is abuzz with excited energy these days—more so than usual.

Why? Not only have we hired a few new faces: we also just opened our first office in the United States!

And we’re doing it at just the right time too.

The (sad) state of today’s workplace

In fact, a recent global Deloitte report tells us:

  • Two out of three employees feel “overwhelmed” in their jobs
  • 86% of business and HR leaders believe they do not have an adequate leadership pipeline
  • 79% believe they have a significant retention and engagement problem

And to boot: 77% do not feel they have the right human resources skills to address these issues.

That’s a lot of companies—and people—in need of help...and fast.

We believe that we have the solution with our Beyond Engagement process: a self-fuelling, managers-burden-lifting, employee-enhancing and empowering experience!

Humanizing the employee experience

Juice has always had clients in the United States—but with this move, we hope to add a refreshing new (and louder) voice to all the experts calling for significant changes in the workplace.

We know that businesses can have it all: a great employee experience, a great customer experience, and great business results. However, it’s the employee experience that really drives the other two.

That’s why we urge companies to create more “humanized” environments for their employees: environments that energize people to be innovative and do their best work.

Juice: not just a business, but a cause

Our new permanent office in Claremont, California, will be run by Michael Torrie.

Although he’s our newest recruit, Michael is certainly no stranger to Juice. We know that he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. He lives, breathes and believes in the Juice philosophy.

All of this makes our expansion even more exciting: because, like us, Michael sees Juice not just as a business, but a cause.

All of us at Juice anticipate a hectic but extremely fulfilling next few months as we—with Michael at the helm—grow our footprint in the U.S.

Stay tuned!


We at Juice are a pretty modest bunch. As a result, we don’t often toot our own horns.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not proud of our accomplishments. We very much are.

In fact, since 2003, we’ve helped countless organizations develop better leaders, improve communication, increase employee engagement, and create cultures of innovation.

Today, we’re letting our customers do the boasting for us. Here’s what they’ve had to say about Juice Inc.:

“[The] Beyond Engagement [program] gave us the tools and skills to help us describe how we feel about things—particularly things getting in the way of our energy levels and engagement....Before, we didn’t know how to put this stuff into words. Beyond Engagement has given us that language.” – The Co-operators Life

“We’ve improved work processes, reduced stress and friction, increased personal energy levels, enhanced accountability, and secured our ability to continue delivering high-quality care to our patients. I think it’s safe to say that our work with Juice was just what the doctor ordered.”Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance

“We are seeing a lot of positive energy when people are working together....The i5 [innovation] process is changing how people are working and thinking. The team is looking more closely at customer goals and asking, ‘Is this really what customers want?’”D&D Automation

“Juice confirmed that most of our sales people push, rather than pull. The training gave us some new language, and we were able to recognize where we could make improvements and apply the skills immediately.”PHH Arval

“Immediately following [sales training], there was this huge amount of energy. It felt great! There was that immediate connection between us and Juice.” – Northeast Mental Health Centre

“If you want your life changed, if you want your organizational life improved, then treat yourself and work with Juice.”City of Mississauga

Sales go up, [and] interactions are more meaningful....It’s been a very beneficial relationship for Bayer....we continue to learn new things from Juice every time they work with our organization.”Bayer Healthcare, Animal Health

“I think the greatest impact Juice has made in our workplace is teaching us how to have really healthy dialogue....The quality of the kind of conversations we’re having leads to better strategies, better integration, better liaising with my staff...and then we raise more money.”UNICEF Canada

“After working with Juice, everybody on our team improved, from our lowest to our highest performer. Juice helps people communicate much more effectively in any arena of life—not just sales.”Genzyme Canada

Learn more about our work with these organizations!

Sign up for your Juice account for FREE access to customer case studies, ebooks, videos, webinars and other resources to help you significantly enhance communication across your entire organization. Reap the rewards: get your FREE Juice account today.


David Zinger Engagement If you don’t measure engagement, can you still manage it effectively?

Many experts would respond with a resounding “No!”—but David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network believes otherwise. Check out his thought-provoking opinion piece on measurement.

Meanwhile, you may also want to read this Juice blog article from last year, when our own Brady Wilson touted the benefits of “energy checks” versus annual engagement surveys.

Brady Wilson

To say your neighbour Maria is a rose fanatic might be an understatement.

Why? Maria talks, thinks and spends all her time, money and energy…on roses.

You’re not against flowers. But inwardly, you believe Maria is a little over the edge with her rose obsession!

One day you’re having a conversation over the hedge and Maria is gushing about how beautiful her roses are. Not wanting to get drawn into a lengthy account of the latest flower show, you shut the conversation down and walk away wondering to yourself, “What is it about these roses that has her so captivated?”

A simple question

A while later, you are looking out your kitchen window. You see the back side of a few rose bushes as you peer through Maria’s hedge and again wonder, “What’s so special about those roses?”

You decide it’s time to find out.

You leave your house and make the trek to Maria’s door. You knock, wondering what you may be getting yourself into.

“Maria, I know you’re passionate about roses—but I’ve never taken the time to ask why. I’d really like to know now. Why do you love them so much?”

Entering someone else’s world

Maria instantly feels deeply honoured, and smiles.

“There are several reasons, but let me show you the main one.”

Maria leads you to her large kitchen window, which overlooks the most amazing rose garden you have ever seen—where the sights and smells hit you with equal force.

While your eyes and nostrils take in the riot of colour and fragrance, Maria begins to tell you about her earliest memories helping her mother in her rose garden back in Yugoslavia. Her mother has since passed on, and that makes those childhood memories all the more poignant.

What you’ve learned is this: Maria’s fondest memories of her entire life are infused with those lush moments in her mother’s rose garden.

Making sense of others

Now that you see and feel Maria’s reality the way she sees it, her rose obsession makes sense to you.

Your views about how she spends her time and what she talks about have undergone a big shift as a result of your newfound understanding.

But what did it take to gain this understanding?

Understanding involves effort

Before you asked Maria about her rose fascination, there were several actions you first had to take:

  1. Leave your house
  2. Walk out your driveway
  3. Walk down the sidewalk toward Maria’s house
  4. Walk up her driveway
  5. Climb her steps
  6. Knock on her door
  7. Ask if you could come in
  8. Walk into her house

Stepping out, stepping in

All the actions above—to see and feel Maria’s reality—boil down to two main ones:

  1. Step out of your world.
  2. Step into Maria’s world.

When you step into Maria’s world, it is relatively easy to see her reality the way she sees it.

However, to effectively step into another person’s world, you must first step out of your own. 

For most people, leaving our own world is brutally difficult. Why? We’re used to the feeling of security, comfort and safety.

But consider what you’re missing.

Smell the roses

Look for an opportunity to step out of your own world and into someone else’s—a colleague, an employee, one of your children, a spouse or a friend.

You’ll not only walk away with a profoundly deeper understanding of that person, but a deeper relationship with them—because you took the time to show you cared.

Alex Somos

In the employee engagement field, there are many folks out there who refer to themselves as “evangelists.”

In this article, David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network criticizes this naming convention, instead encouraging leaders to prove they can make a difference.

Brady Wilson

Looking for educational, informative and entertaining videos on employee engagement?

Look no further.

The Employee Engagement Network recently created a list of almost 600 videos in its viewing library. Simply access the list for free here, scan the titles, and click on whatever appeals to you.

Brady Wilson

Not Quite Fully Engaged by John Junson

Working in employee engagement can be difficult and frustrating—but it certainly offers some laughable moments.

For a limited time, John Junson—resident designer of the Employee Engagement Network—is offering a dozen creative cartoons that you can use in your work or communications.

Did we mention that they’re free to use?

Check out this fun booklet—and let us know which cartoon is your favourite!

Alex Somos

At Juice, we know we’re a rather different breed in the business community.

But why?

Our business has never just been about business: since 2003, we have always been focused on bringing fresh and innovative perspectives to the business community—and at the same time, trying to enhance people’s working experiences.

Here’s what we do—and don’t do—that makes us different from the rest.

We DON’T talk to leaders or
employees about…

Instead, we DO talk about…

Doing more with less.

Identifying interference to create more energy and capacity in people.

Working harder.

Finding ways to create more ease and simplicity in their business.

Improving their engagement scores.

Improving people’s lived work experience, in order to create more energy and momentum among employees.

How to have Fierce, Courageous or even Crucial conversations.

Making the everyday conversations better. We encourage people to have preventative vs. repairing conversations.

How to wring out more “discretionary effort” from their people.

Creating the conditions where it feels good to work—and where it is easier to get results.

How to play political games.

Bringing a level of reality and honesty to the workplace that people find refreshing and energizing—even when the facts are hard.

Buzzwords or the newest, latest and
greatest flavor of the month.

How we need to “show up” to be more successful in life.

Being more competitive.

Giving organizations the will, skill and tools to be more successful.

Canned prescriptive outcomes.

The need for leaders to step into the everyday tensions and release inherent energy in a positive way.

How to manage people better.

The need to create partnering relationships: where the right things happen for the right reasons.

How to brainstorm new ideas that
don’t go anywhere.

An innovation process to generate and implement new and innovative solutions that solve problems and create value.

There are many voices out there, calling for change to humanize our working experiences.

I want to add Juice’s voice to that roster.

At Juice, we believe in the need to create a sustainable environment that will actually create change in organizations: where the possibility exists to get better results and have people flourish. It is the only way we are going to be able to sew together the generational chasms that exist; and the only way we can reduce cynicism and apathy.

Will you join the Juice revolution?

Join the Juice revolution: make every conversation count.
Sign up for your Juice account for FREE access to case studies, ebooks, videos, webinars and other resources to help you significantly enhance communication across your entire organization. Reap the rewards: get your FREE Juice account today.

Alex Somos

Juice Conversation QuotationsAre you worried about losing your best employees?

Some time ago, the CEO of a hospital in the U.S. came to us with that very concern.

Feeling threatened by two shiny new hospitals being built nearby, the CEO asked Juice to “build a moat around my people”—or, in other words, to keep employees from leaving the organization.

Juice immediately went to work to identify people’s intent to leave, surveying them using the Juice Check, and conducting interviews and focus groups to create a plan to retain the hospital’s top talent.

What did we find? According to employees, the most common stumbling blocks in their workplace involved conversation, connection and closing the communication loop.

Building the moat
Over the next year we worked with the hospital’s senior team, managers and supervisors—giving them the necessary skills and tools to:

  • communicate more effectively,
  • reduce friction,
  • avoid having repair conversations and
  • learn to connect with people in a more “human” way using our 5 Drivers of Engagement (now evolved into Juice’s 6 Drivers of Energy).

The following year, employees rated communication as 12% improved—and their intent to leave dropped by a whopping 22%!

Conversation…an investment that really works!
When surveys or focus groups cite “communication” as a needed improvement, we sometimes get “eye-rolling” from leaders—or the ever-popular “I have tried everything; there is nothing we can do about it” comment.

But I can tell you with certainty that if you improve communication—particularly conversation—it can have a positive and powerful domino effect that impacts many Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) including innovation, customer experience and systemic issues.

Simply put, retaining your best talent requires an investment in conversation: one that improves communication and understanding between leaders and teams.

In return, you will see your people not only flourish and want to stay with the organization, but aim to consistently improve business results.      

Join the Juice revolution: make every conversation count.
Sign up for your Juice account for FREE access to case studies, ebooks, videos, webinars and other resources to help you significantly enhance communication across your entire organization. Reap the rewards: get your FREE Juice account today.

Alex Somos

At Juice, we are constantly talking about “love at work”—that is, how leaders can use emotional engagement techniques to create a high-performing, profitable organization.

So imagine my delight when I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal!

A recent University of Pennsylvania study proves exactly what we’ve been saying all along: that “compassionate love” can help businesses lower employee absenteeism and increase employee satisfaction.

Through small acts of kindness—even something as simple as bringing a cup of coffee to an employee who has been working late—leaders can cultivate a warm and caring environment where employees are inspired to do their absolute best work.

Studies like this only serve to reinforce what we at Juice have firmly believed for more than a decade: that tapping into people’s emotional needs is the key to energizing them, and reaping all kinds of business benefits.

Get your FREE copy of Love At Work!

February is Love Month at Juice Inc.! Create an online account with Juice through the end of February, and receive your own FREE web version of Brady Wilson’s Love At Work: Why Passion Drives Performance In The Feelings Economy. This free offer is a value of $23.95. This offer is only available until February 28: get your copy today!

Alex Somos

Employee engagement is about every single person taking responsibility and accountability for his or her actions.

So why is there no “I” in “employee engagement”?

In this article, David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network shares just how important the “I” is to ensuring a positive, happy and productive workplace.

Brady Wilson

Juice_The_Power_of_ConversationImagine your friend comes to you, lauding the amazing results she’s getting from a wonder drug she takes every morning.

She used to have difficulty connecting with people. Now, she establishes an easy rapport within minutes; and receives people’s trust, information and commitment without question.

Do such wonder drugs exist? Yes—but not in pill form.

In fact, they’re already stored inside your body.

All of us come equipped with hormones that—when triggered and released—have a remarkable effect on our ability to create trust in and fascinate people.

The limbic system of your brain—also known as the emotional centre—is an open-loop system. What does this mean? Emotions can be contagious.

Think about it: someone’s tears or a smile can trigger an involuntary sympathetic reaction in you. Similarly:

  • One team member’s strong, buoyant mood may affect one person after another, until the whole team is feeling upbeat; or
  • Another member’s critical, negative mood can equally infect an entire team in destructive ways.

Face-to-face conversation

The book Primal Leadership discusses this “open-loop phenomenon”—specifically, how emotions spread between people when they communicate face-to-face.

Interestingly, studies show that during a good conversation, the heart rates of two people can actually begin to mirror each other.

What does this mean? If you want to regulate another person’s emotions, speak to them face-to-face.

Of course, today’s business world doesn’t always allow for in-person communications. Stay tuned for a future post, when I will offer tips on how to compensate for lack of face-to-face communication—and still reap the benefits.

Alex Somos

Cooks who can’t stand the heat. Florists who fail to bloom. Photographers who lose their focus.

No single industry is immune to employee disengagement—which provides opportunities for some great word-play activities.

Check out this fun list from David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network. Got anything to add? (We would like to mention writers who are blocked.) Share with us!

Brady Wilson

Why do managers treat their employees like children—and what impact do their actions have on the day-to-day actions of those employees?

Without even realizing it, business leaders often exhibit one of two “parenting” approaches: being overbearing and authoritative, or taking the load off other people’s shoulders. But neither approach works—not when employees desire challenge and a sense of accomplishment. As a result, those employees simply won’t be able to do their best work.

In this Lightning Lesson, David Zinger and I discuss how managers can stop parenting and instead focus on partnering with their employees—and reap the business benefits of doing so.

To access Lightning Lessons, create a FREE Juice account.  You will also gain access to other resources, including white papers, webinars, ebooks and more!

Brady Wilson

My 2 Cents - David Zinger The approach to employee engagement has evolved over the last few decades, yet some organizations continue to cling to and rely on antiquated concepts and tools.

David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network lists 19 outdated approaches that simply no longer work—and makes a solid argument for changing our mindset where engagement is concerned.

Brady Wilson

Emotional Tank - How to be understood in half the timeTwenty years ago, someone gave me and my wife a gift that shaped the destiny of our children. 

It was a book that contained one simple principle we've been using for the past two decades: every child has an emotional tank. When their tank is full, children have a great capacity for being happy, understanding you and obedient. But when their tank is low, they tend to be unhappy, find it difficult to understand, and are inclined to disobey.

But how does this apply to business?

Every adult has an emotional tank too. And when adults’ emotional needs are met, they seem to understand things much more quickly.

I first discovered this myself when I was learning a new procedure:

  • When I felt respected and understood by others, my capacity to understand shot through the roof; but
  • When I felt put down and patronized, it was almost as if a dark curtain was drawn over my eyes. I just couldn't get it!

Then, I realized it wasn't my fault.

As I double-checked myself, I recognized that I was bringing an eager desire to learn, an open mind and a willingness to understand.

But it wasn’t about me—I eventually saw that others were also having difficulties understanding the same “teachers” I was struggling with.

The problem lay with the messenger.

Fill that tank!

If you are trying to communicate something with the objective of getting a task done, there are four tank-filling steps you can do to produce quick understanding.

  1. Connection
    Connection is a hard commodity to analyze, but it's made up of a mixture of credibility, openness, empathy and genuine caring for people.

    You know when you feel it, and you know when you don't—and others sure know when you're connecting with them. In my work as a professional trainer, I spend a lot of upfront time getting inside the frame of reference of the people I'm going to be presenting to. Somehow, knowing and feeling what they're dealing with and going through helps me create a quick spark of connection.
  2. Framing
    Frame your message in a way that appeals to your people’s interests. For example:

    “I was sitting at my desk the other day, Gail, and I was thinking about you. I was remembering how busy you usually are, how many urgent last minute phone calls you get, how many responsibilities you have to juggle from day to day and all of a sudden I got an idea that I think would save you a lot of time. Would you like to hear about it?”

    If I was Gail, I'd be pretty open to understanding what this idea was all about. You framed your proposal in the context of my daily reality. That makes you a little bit credible—and a little bit of trust starts to flow.
  3. Word pictures and stories
    A senior executive once invited me and two others to a meeting, and began introducing us to each other.

    “Marilyn is here because she is a coach who's had a proven history of coaching senior executives in our organization. Bill is a long-time friend who brings extensive expertise in the areas of strategic planning and dealing with executives. And Brady? Well, I don't really know Brady, but he's here because we connected for five minutes in my office one day, and then he wrote this funky story about me that told me he really got it. Besides that, Carol recommended him—and when Carol recommends someone you take notice.”

    The story I had written was about a female knight who chose to fight without armor. It told of her wisdom of getting her fellow knights on board without creating needless resistance. The story caught the executive’s attention because it captured some of the real-world struggle she was facing. I took time to put myself in her frame of reference and write the story—and I believe it filled her tank a bit. I think it created some understanding about my philosophy and values in a very short time-span.
  4. Inquire into others’ conclusions
    My credo is that “people will tolerate your conclusions, and act on their own.” 

    When you are seeking to be understood quickly, it is tempting to dump the whole load without stopping to see how you and your message are being perceived.

    One simple question can help you sidestep unnecessary resistance: “how does this sit with you so far?” Asking this tells the other person something important: that you care what they think, and you're willing to stop and let them catch up.

Don’t skip a step!

Remember: when you feel resistance, do not try to bulldoze ahead. Why? It will take you twice as long to achieve understanding.

The next time you need to get understanding across quickly to a listener, connect with them, frame your message to appeal to their interests, use word pictures and stories, and inquire into their conclusions. If there is resistance, reflect back the essence of the feeling in your own words.

Doing this will help you become understood in half the time—and let you get back to your work.

Alex Somos

Do you employees know that they are an integral part of your team or business—that is, that they are needed?

In this article, David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network explains how doing something so basic—simply letting people know their value to your organization—can be a powerful motivator, and even improve engagement.

Alex Somos

My colleague Rick Boersma discussed our knowledge partner David Zinger’s innovative approach to crowdsourcing.

Here is an example of what David often does when he asks for feedback from his more than 6,000 followers: he creates an ebook.

So what’s your four-letter word for work? Mine would be Ease.  I believe that if we can create more ease in our environments and our systems, people would have more capacity and energy to get the important work done.

Join the Employee Engagement Network! Get FREE access to videos, forums, discussion groups, articles and ebooks written and contributed to by engagement experts worldwide. More than 6,000 experts are members—join now to get in on the conversation!

Alex Somos

Employee Engagement Network Award 2013We are very proud to announce that Juice has received the 2013 Special Engagement Recognition Award from the Employee Engagement Network.

Juice has been recognized for contributing to initiating and fostering knowledge partnership in employee engagement, and supporting the ongoing development and growth of the network.

As the EEN’s first knowledge partner, we have helped to recruit new members to the network, published blog posts and initiated dialogue with a 50-word case study, and offered “Lightning Lessons” to professionals interested in employee engagement.

According to the awards announcement, “Because of Juice’s support, the network will be moving forward into being a top education and recognition site for engagement in 2014.”

Sounds good to us! Thanks to David Zinger of the EEN for this special honour.

For a list of other award recipients, click here.


Alex Somos

Christmas 2013 Juice Inc.It’s here again: the bustling, beautiful, blessings-filled holiday season.

This is always a favourite time of year for many—myself included! It’s a time of goodwill, sharing with others, and giving thanks for the many amazing things we experienced and people we came to know over the last year.

As much as possible, the Juice team tries to “do good” in the local and larger-world community. We decided this year that, in lieu of sending holiday cards to clients, we will share our own blessings by donating money to the following two charities:

  • Kiva: An international non-profit micro-financing organization that connects lenders with borrowers, with the objective of alleviating poverty.
  • Guelph Vineyard: Over the last eight years, my local church has been going down to Mexico—supported by many other churches and volunteers who not only donate their time, but also pay their own way! Through people’s generosity of time and finances, we have built 16 homes, three school buildings and one pre-school! Juice’s donation will go toward the future building of a school or home in Baja, Mexico.

    On behalf of Juice, I want to send all our best wishes for this festive period and, more importantly, for the New Year.
Brady Wilson

Juice & EEN: Lightning Lessons on Work - TensionTension in the workplace can be scary, frustrating and stressful. No wonder so many managers avoid it!

But within tension hides a latent treasure that many people are unaware of—and that treasure is energy.

In this Lightning Lesson, David Zinger and I explain how tension can be a good thing, and how managers can actually use and adapt it to improving business practices and relationships.

To access Lightning Lessons, create a FREE Juice account.  You will also gain access to other resources, including white papers, webinars, ebooks and more!

Brady Wilson

Half a century ago, organizations thought it was important to measure employee satisfaction. Then retention became the rage. Then businesses shifted their gaze to engagement.

As you know, we at Juice believe that employees can be engaged but not energized. That’s why we focus on energy—and why we see Beyond Engagement as the “next generation” of employee engagement.

But we’re not the only ones predicting what’s next. Check out this article by global employee engagement expert David Zinger, to see where others in the industry see the trend going.

Join the Employee Engagement Network! Get FREE access to videos, forums, discussion groups, articles and ebooks written and contributed to by engagement experts worldwide. More than 6,000 experts are members—join now to get in on the conversation!

Alex Somos

A few weeks ago, Rick Boersma told you about an innovative crowdsourcing activity, in which our own Brady Wilson posted the following “conundrum” on the Employee Engagement Network:

The Case: Engaging the Project Team

Bethany, the team leader, felt the diffuse and daily corrosive tension. Ron, her project sponsor, was fretting about the numbers, Sally and Danica were locked in constant conflict, and Andy’s mind was more on coaching his son’s team than work. How can Bethany engage a team with this much tension?

Check out the just-released ebook (it’s free!), which incorporates the “best of the best” responses from professionals working and interested in employee engagement issues.

Join the Employee Engagement Network! Get FREE access to videos, forums, discussion groups, articles and ebooks written and contributed to by engagement experts worldwide. More than 6,000 experts are members—join now to get in on the conversation!

Alex Somos

What could you possibly invest 87,600 hours into, which leaves not just you but thousands of others feeling energized?

How about an amazing company?

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Juice Inc. And as I consider the last decade, I can honestly say those 10 years (or 87,600 hours) have been some of the most difficult times in my life—but also some of the absolute richest.

As I let the last decade sift through my fingers, I reflect on all the amazing people Juice has had the privilege of working with. We discovered over the years that there is one common trait among just about all of our customers. It’s not common industries or market segments or the size or age of the company, nor of the individuals: it is something more profound, and ultimately this characteristic gives me hope.

The one shared trait is this: they want to make a difference!

The folks we have worked with are passionately committed to the betterment of their people and their organizations. They know that nothing great is ever achieved without significant effort. They believe they can achieve great business results and create energized work environments. They choose to stand in the tension of those competing priorities in order to create something meaningful and empowering. Many times, they have been able to challenge “Corporate ADD” and sound the trumpet charge towards a healthier, happier and more productive culture.

The Juice team is extremely driven to support change agents. We receive cards, emails and calls from some of our clients and workshop participants, which fuel our burning passion to continue to be better every day. We never forget the success stories people tell us of their personal and professional lives: we hold those up as the masterpieces that we have had the privilege to help paint!

In the last 10 years, Juice has printed over 10,000 copies of our books. That is 10,000 lives potentially impacted by our work. But in reality, the number may be closer to 30,000 (!) when you think of all the events and learning sessions, keynotes and conferences that we have attended where books were not even distributed.

When Brady Wilson and I founded Juice, it was with a deep belief and conviction that we needed to do this, to help our world be a better place; and to champion the skills, knowledge and heart required to move people and businesses from where they are to where they need or want to go.

Very few organizations in our field share Juice’s vision, which is to sit amidst the tension to see employees achieve great business results and go home at the end of the day with more energy to contribute to their families, significant others and community. Sometimes I think we are crazy: we want to eat our cake, but we don’t want to get fat!

And now, I earnestly believe we are at the cusp of a new chapter for Juice: a coming of age, if you will. I have a sense of anticipation about what the future looks like for us, and I continue to hold the longing and anticipation of making a greater contribution in the next 87,600 hours!

Again, to those who have journeyed with us over the last decade: I give you my heartfelt gratitude and challenge you to not falter but be stronger and better!

Brady Wilson

We at Juice are so excited to be the inaugural knowledge partner with the Employee Engagement Network. EEN founder David Zinger’s Lightning Lessons on Work are short, to-the-point and informative interviews about engagement that you can integrate into your daily work life.  We are thrilled to participate in these Lightning Lessons and hope you will have some “a-ha!” learning moments as we take you through them. 

Today's Lightning Lesson is about interference, flow and work.

Things like bullying, too much bureaucracy or too many distractions can interfere with employees’ ability to give all they have. How can managers create the conditions where such interferences are lessened, giving employees a chance to be more productive and successful?

In this Lightning Lesson, I share how managers can build environments that encourage “state of flow,” allowing people to do their best work.

To access Lightning Lessons, create a FREE Juice account.  You will also gain access to other resources, including white papers, webinars, ebooks and more!

Rick Boersma

Employee Enagement NetworkAs Juice’s innovation practice leader I’m always looking for new ideas—particularly new ways of doing things.

So, I was extremely impressed when Juice co-founder Brady Wilson paired with our knowledge partner David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network, to ask forum members for engagement-related case  50 words or less.

If you’ve read case studies, you know that they are NEVER 50 words or less. But this is an exception.

Taking innovation even further, David also frequently gathers feedback stemming from these types of crowdsourcing questions, and creates ebooks reflecting their insights.

Take a look at the conversation that Brady got going—the final ebook will be posted December 9th!

Join the Employee Engagement Network! Get FREE access to videos, forums, discussion groups, articles and ebooks written and contributed to by engagement experts worldwide. More than 6,000 experts are members—join now to get in on the conversation!

Alex Somos

Yeah, but...Are you a naysayer?

I’m talking about people who immediately poke holes in any great idea, rather than first consider the idea’s potential for greatness.

I was recently at a conference where naysayers were in abundance: business leaders struggling to improve employee engagement, but who wouldn’t embrace the options and strategies presented to help solve their problems.

Part of their issue may have been them feeling like something was being done to them, or that they were “change-fatigued” and could not embrace the opportunity. All that said, we all do have a choice…

Among their arguments to the presenters:

“Yeah, but you don’t have so-and-so to deal with...”

“Yeah, but you don’t work where I do...”

“Yeah, but...”

It was a frustrating exercise in futility.

Rather than being open and truly examining possibility, the majority of attending leaders instantly closed themselves off—instead accepting impossibility from the get-go.

How can change and innovation ever happen when the people in charge only look at reasons not to?

Instead, “unguarded openness” is what leaders must aspire to: an open mind that allows for new ideas to flourish and positive change to occur (such as dramatically improving employee engagement).

The next time your gut reaction to an idea is “Yeah, but...,” stop yourself and take time to truly consider it. You may eventually decide it’s not the best option; but at least you approached it with an open mind and heart.

And who knows: by changing your attitude to look at things with unguarded openness, you just may stumble across something amazing someday—something that will make a significant difference in the evolution of your organization.

Brady Wilson

Juice Knowledge Partner - Employee Engagement Network
David Zinger and I recently recorded a conversation for all EEN members. We discussed how Juice is the EEN’s inaugural knowledge partner, and David gave me an opportunity to introduce Juice as an “energy company” to engagement employee experts worldwide.

Check out this video to learn more about Juice, the organizations we’ve been privileged to help, and my (unscripted!) comments about how each Juice team member affects my own energy.

Join the Employee Engagement Network! Get FREE access to videos, forums, discussion groups, articles and ebooks written and contributed to by engagement experts worldwide. More than 6,000 experts are members—join now to get in on the conversation!

Brady Wilson

This is it: the final tenet of the Beyond Engagement philosophy!Juice Inc - Conversation

Since April, I’ve shared many reasons why organizations must begin looking beyond traditional engagement efforts—as well as how people can begin to make that critical mind shift.

But now, you may be thinking, “How the heck can I fit all these (fabulous) ideas into my already jam-packed day?”

Breathe! Beyond Engagement is simply an “operating system” (O/S) to create ease in every single people-managing activity.

And that operating system is conversation.

How so? Conversation drives every “app” in your workplace: sales, customer service, innovation and problem-solving, to name a few—all powerful apps that can quickly unravel if conversation isn’t operating properly.

This is where all the ideas from previous Beyond Engagement articles (see below for a list!) begin to converge to make your life easier.

Simply put, by applying tenets 1 through 9 (and now 10) to performance evaluations, coaching, mentoring and the like—that is, engagement initiatives you are already doing—you can effectively deepen relationships, produce better results, and create more energy in your work environment.

Join the conversation!

Of course, we’ve only scratched the surface of all things Beyond Engagement. I encourage you to join in on the conversation below, share your thoughts and experiences, and learn more about the program.

Juice has helped many organizations large and small move beyond engagement toward cultures brimming with sustainable energy. Could yours be next?

Missed any of the exciting Beyond Engagement blog series?

Bookmark this page for future reference!

#1: Manage energy, not engagement

#2: Minimize surveys; maximize energy checks

#3: Switch from parenting to partnering

#4: Move toward tension

#5: Tap into what matters most

#6: Remove interference

#7: Create felt support

#8: Unlock emotional engagement

#9: Release innovation 

Rick Boersma

Juice Innovation - Identification
As I’ve discussed in previous blog articles, the Juice i5 Process is a strategic five-stage process and toolkit that fuels innovative thinking.

That process begins with the first “i” – the Identification of problems and needs, reframing them as opportunities to achieve maximum potential.

But wait! Before your group gets excited coming up with ideas, it is critical that everyone agrees on something first:  what will eventually constitute the “best” innovation possible. (or, “how will we know which idea is the best?”)

And that is where filter criteria come in.

Happy housing hunting

Think of it this way: if you and your spouse are buying a house, you must be on the same page as to what makes the best house—or, the home that will make you most happy.

For example, your top criteria may be cost, acreage, and whether there is a finished basement.

But to ensure all parties are content with the eventual purchase decision, everyone needs to be applying the same filter criteria. Why? Because:

  • Doing so helps to narrow your focus in the search for a home (or coming up with an idea); and
  • When faced with several options, agreed-upon criteria will help evaluate the better ones...and, eventually, the best one.

Innovation criteria

The same philosophy applies to innovation. Before your organization begins coming up with ideas, you need to ensure everyone is doing so based on the same agreed-upon criteria.

Such standards may include:

  • Cost—to build a prototype and/or implement an idea
  • Originality—of an idea to help distinguish from the competition
  • Ease of execution
  • Scope
  • Customer centricity
  • Impact
  • Ability to build and/or implement the innovation internally; and/or
  • Alignment with strategic priorities

Establishing and agreeing upon criteria from the very beginning has two very important business benefits:

Getting started: prioritizing criteria

Bear in mind that some people may place more importance on certain criteria than others. For example, one person may perceive “cost” as more critical than “impact” in determining a successful innovation.

This is where prioritization and open discussion come in.

Bring all parties together and give them five Post-it notes each. Ask every person to individually write down one criterion on
each piece of paper (totalling five criteria). Then, ask them to stick their ideas on a wall.

Each criterion serves as a discussion point for establishing your top criteria. Talk candidly with your team about what is most important in determining a successful innovation. Then, arrange your top three (or more) in order of priority.

Congratulations! You’ve now got a list of criteria to work from—and revisit, again and again throughout the entire innovation process.

Happy innovating!

Want to know more about innovation? Sign up (for FREE) for Rick Boersma's Graphic Innovation Guide.  Receive chapters as they are produced until the book is complete. In exchange, we seek your feedback to make the final product the best it can be. Click here for more information about the Graphic Innovation Guide.

Brady Wilson

RU Smarter Survey, Juice Inc - Beyond Engagement, Releasing InnovationIf you’re like the majority, you (and your employees) are probably “smarter” around some people than around others.

At Juice, we’ve asked clients why this is so—and what others do to “dumb them down.” Here are the most common responses we’ve heard:

  • “They shoot me down before I can develop my thoughts”
  • “They dismiss or discount my point of view”
  • “They interrupt or talk over me”
  • “They check out and disengage while I’m talking”

Another question we’ve asked clients is “If the people who make you feel smart get 100% of you, what percentage do the people get who dumb you down?” In most cases, respondents estimate between 30% and 60%.  (To participate in the "R U Smarter Survey?", click here.)

What does that mean? 40% to 70% of their brain power is being left on the table.

When it comes to innovation, that’s a problem. Why? Because it’s that unused brain power that fuels people’s ability not only to come up with breakthrough ideas, but to implement them.

Innovative effort

Consider what happens when a customer complains:

  • The satisfied employee will meet the customer’s need.
  • The engaged employee will meet the need, uncover the root cause, identify the inadequacies of the process, and share them with the manager.
  • The energized employee will do all of the above—then come up with an innovation that gets to the root cause of the issue, and use their influence skills to get the innovation implemented.

It’s energy—innovative effort—that transforms ideas into results, by unlocking and implementing breakthrough ideas.

But the only way you can achieve that is by creating the conditions in which people feel smart.

Interest, openness, understanding

Managers can set the tone for an “I.O.U.” culture in their team by showing employees intense Interest, unguarded Openness, and deep Understanding.

Such a culture can have a profound effect on people for two reasons:

  • It can eliminate the threat out of conversations—removing interference that shuts people down.
  • It can unlock the feel-good hormones that make people smarter—including dopamine and serotonin.

In short, when your team sits around the meeting room table, are comfortable, stress-free and focus-filled, it’s not a stretch to believe that innovation, collaboration and breakthrough solutions will easily flow.

Alex Somos

In a previous blog article, I wrote about looking at unfulfillment as a motivator.

But what if you’re the type of person who waits for motivation to just...happen?

Reality check: unlike what they say, good things don’t generally come to those who wait.

When you’re in a vacuum, it’s hard to feel motivated. But the only way to leave that vacuum is to take a step out of it, and do something.

Big or small, that metaphorical step is a positive move forward. Why? Because it creates a sense of momentum which, compounded with a surge in energy, can go on indefinitely.

If you’re feeling stuck, unproductive and lacking in that motivational energy, consider doing one or both of the following things:

  1. Create a to-do list
    It may sound incredibly simple...because it is! Creating and updating your own to-do list is a great way to give you a sense of accomplishment. With each item you cross out, you not only get things done: you consequently become more optimistic about the likelihood of things going your way (versus waiting for things to happen). And that is a powerful motivator.
  2. Begin managing your time differently
    At the beginning of the year and for three months, I began documenting in 15-minute increments the things I was spending my time on. This wasn’t a make-work project: I simply wanted to prioritize my responsibilities and ensure my time was reflecting my personal values (such as giving back to my community locally and internationally).When I looked at the results, I felt a sense of accomplishment, alignment and also identified opportunities to manage my time more efficiently, thereby becoming more effective.
  3. Create a group or find an accountability partner
    To move forward purposely, I find it invaluable to work with an accountability partner who can encourage and keep me motivated.
  4. Find a professional coach
    It may cost you some money, but timely support and advice will help you identify the way forward and you get there faster.

Motivational quotes about…motivation

Still feeling stuck? I’ll leave the last word to some of the experts: successful people and organizations that never waited for motivation to just “hit” them:

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.—William B. Sprague

Get going. Move forward. Aim High. Plan a takeoff. Don't just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won't happen. Change your attitude and gain some altitude. Believe me, you'll love it up here.—Donald Trump

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.—Walt Disney Company

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.—Henry Ford

Little by little, one walks far.—Peruvian proverb

Now, get moving!

Rick Boersma

Are you the type of person that sees something through to the very end?

That is, are you an implementer?

If not, don’t feel too bad: most people aren’t natural project managers.

And that’s become very clear to us as Juice has worked with companies seeking to be more innovative, as they go through the i5 Innovation Process. Organizations often embrace and dive right into the first four steps of the i5 with vigor. It’s just that last step—Implementation—that continues to be the runt of the litter, so to speak.

As a result, we’ve seen organizations have great ideas eroded for reasons including:

  • Lack of support, because a business case for the solution hasn’t been made properly;
  • Not aligning the resources required for implementation;
  • Getting mired in the paralysis of conventional project planning; and/or
  • Failing to achieve (and demonstrate) incremental progress. 

In other words, without the ability to set your project into motion—that is, to implement it—your great idea can’t go anywhere.

But here’s the good news: you don’t have to be a savvy project manager to get things done. In fact, there are many easy-to-use and effective tools that can help real teams bring their innovations to fruition—provided someone owns and takes responsibility for that last step of the innovation process.

Let’s explore each of those tools, shall we?

  1. Van Gundy’s implementation checklist. This classic logical checklist identifies all the obstacles you are likely to face as your team begins implementation—things including policies, financial constraints, personnel, technological weaknesses and the like.
  2. Strategic Gameplan. To have your innovation Floworks - Strategic Gameplan Innovation Toolrealized, you’re going to need support. The Strategic Gameplan is a large graphical template that helps you create and present a high-level business case to stakeholders. It allows you to address:
    1. Your solution, and the problem that it will solve
    2. Measurement—that is, how you will measure and track success
    3. Resources needed
    4. Steps for implementation – in other words, how you’re going to get it done.
  3. Scrum. No, I’m not talking about the daily Q&A media sessions at Parliament Hill!  Scrum is an agile software tool that breaks down large projects into small “bursts.” The software is “agile” in that it can address and adapt to unpredictable challenges throughout the course of an implementation. It’s also useful because it feeds team momentum, and concretely shows success.
  4. Prototyping. There are various types of prototypes, and here we’re specifically talking about “rapid prototyping.”This is a tool for testing out ideas and learning from low-cost failures. In concert with the Strategic Gameplan and Scrum, prototyping allows you to not only gain support and move your idea forward, but to improve it in the process.

Don’t spend all that time and effort on an innovation, only to hit a dead-end once implementation time rolls around. Take control of implementation—and reap the rewards of your breakthrough idea.

Happy innovating!

Want to know more about innovation? Sign up (for FREE) for Rick Boersma's Graphic Innovation Guide.  Receive chapters as they are produced until the book is complete. In exchange, we seek your feedback to make the final product the best it can be. Click here for more information about the Graphic Innovation Guide.

Brady Wilson

Welcome to the Feelings Economy: where emotions—not rational thoughts—are linked to employee performance.

Science shows us that people make decisions based on their emotions (and then often justify them with rational thinking). Consequently, our behaviours can best be understood as an attempt to get our emotional needs met.

Therefore, the most important thing leaders in the workplace can do is create an environment that fulfils their employees’ driving needs.

But how can leaders build these conditions, let alone understand what those driving needs are?

The answer is simple: ask them.

Unlocking needs through quick conversations

f you had 60 discretionary minutes you weren’t counting on, what would you do with them?

That one-hour timeframe could be used to engage six employees in simple, systematic engagement conversations—essentially, six 10-minute discussions where you can ask them “What do you need to feel energized in your role?” (Note: this isn’t quite the same as an energy check, but a less structured way to check-in with your employees.)

Unfortunately, I see far too many managers use their time unwisely. Many would use that one-hour timeframe to dive into the pile on their desk and/or do something that would make them 10% more productive.

Conversely, by conducting those six 10-minute chats, you could make each employee 10% more productive for the day.

Managers need to stop defining themselves by how much stuff they can clear off their desk—and focus more on building the conditions that release the energy of their employees. In other words, leaders need to turn the corner from individual contributor to one who contributes through others.

And a short chat to ask employees about their driving needs is just one way to do it.

The employee experience

Keep in mind: it doesn’t matter to employees whether their organization is making a meaningful contribution, achieving great results, or taking efforts to value its workers.

What matters to employees is their own experience: that is, whether they themselves are making a meaningful contribution, achieving great results, and/or being valued.

We call this the employee experience—and it’s what fuels everything that makes your organization sustainable including the customer experience, breakthrough innovations, quality of products and services, and financial health.

By engaging employees on an emotional level—that is, simply asking them what motivates and drives them—you are effectively energizing them to make better decisions and behaviours that produce great results.

Want to learn more about Beyond Engagement? Check out this video.

Alex Somos

Communication is the most important skill in life. We spend most of our waking hours communicating.—Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Throughout our entire lives, communication—or more specifically, conversation—is essential to getting our point across to others:  whether it’s asking for another cookie (as children), a test re-write (as students), a promotion (as employees); or making a big business transaction (as leaders).

Yet, despite its importance, people generally refer to communication and conversation as “soft skills” in the workplace—undermining its rank below “hard skills” related to monetary gain like project management, computer skills and accounting.

Granted, the link between conversation and profit isn’t quite as clear or tangible. Moreover, conversation—as well as people’s actions—is about feelings, which may also contribute to it being viewed as a soft skill.

But feelings have great—even dire—consequences in the business world, depending on how they are managed through conversation.

Not everyone has the ability to effectively communicate what matters most to them, nor to understand or appropriately respond to other people’s needs and thoughts. And this lack of skill—on the part of employees and leaders—can lead to an unenergized, less innovative and productive workplace.

Leaders need to understand the need to pay attention to and help employees walk through their feelings, because feelings draw conclusions: oftentimes, the wrong conclusions. Why? Because feelings create a filter through which we see events and make choices, thereby driving results.

This case study is positive proof of the true power of conversation on the bottom line. By honing conversational skills to effectively draw information out of employees and see others’ points of view, a financial organization saw a 90% improvement, leading to an increase of:

  • 4% in management performance
  • 4% in internal recognition
  • 5% in employee engagement

As leaders, we need to pay more attention to understanding how people are driven, how their emotions play a part in that, and how to respond to it appropriately. Consequently, we can learn to truly energize them to get their best stuff, and positively impact the bottom line.

Alex Somos


The word “unfulfilled” isn’t a pretty one: it can speak to an internal emptiness, or an itch that just cannot be scratched. In other words, it’s often looked at as something negative.

But, if you think about it in a more positive light, you could also look at being unfulfilled as an intense and powerful motivator.

Here’s what I mean. If you are at all in touch with your feelings and aware of a longing inside of you, being unfulfilled can actually drive you to:

  • look around you,
  • take stock of your situation, and
  • measure yourself against whatever you wish to accomplish, but haven’t (yet).

You may be wondering: “How can feeling unfulfilled do anything but overwhelm me and bring me down?”

The trick is to balance any feelings of unfulfillment with appreciation and gratitude: to contextualize yourself inside a larger story, see what you have already done, and consider what you have already accomplished.

If you are wise, you can sit in middle of the tension between unfulfillment and gratitude, and marshal the energy of both feelings towards your greater good.

I have found in my life that as I lean into the word and feeling of being unfulfilled, many positive changes have occurred—both personal and professional.

As an example, we have just reached a milestone at Juice: our 10-year anniversary! And as I thought about that, I realized that I was feeling unfulfilled with the scope and magnitude of the impact I had hoped we could have had on the world.

That said, we are insanely passionate about our mission and vision at Juice. I recognized that our dream is a big dream, one that cannot be easily attained. I then began to think about the real-life impact we have had on people—and I was filled with a sense of gratitude for the privilege it has been to see those personal and business transformations.

I am now more motivated than before to reach again for that dream, and over the next ten years make it more of a reality.

The next time you feel powerless to attain your dreams, look at your feelings not as a deterrent, but a powerful force to drive you there.

Who knows: by turning negative emotions on their head, you just may be able to change the very definition of unfulfilled!

Rick Boersma

What if the ability to build an innovative ethos was as easy as 1, 2, 3?

Okay, it’s not necessarily that simple...but there are three steps you can take to begin moving your organization in that direction.

Check out this article I wrote, recently published in the Institute of Professional Management’s quarterly newsletter.

Live in the Toronto area?  Want to know more about how to create a culture brimming with breakthrough ideas? I’m speaking at an IPM full-day event on November 5, 2013 about this very topic. Learn more here about it here—and I hope to see you there.

Lara Hall

Canadian Society of Training and Development

Celebrate Workplace Learning with the Nation! September 23-27, 2013

Juice is a proud supporter of Learn @ Work Week 2013 and a committed connector and partner of people.

Learn @ Work Week is an annual celebration recognizing the value of workplace learning and development in Canada.

Workplace learning has a positive impact on employee performance and productivity and is crucial to a healthy Canadian economy. Join Canada’s workforce as it engages in learning activities and professional development events this September 23-27, 2013 and power up your workplace!

Click to view all Learn @ Work Week supporters.

Brady Wilson

felt supportAs humans, we can be incredibly compassionate toward others.

We can say and do things to make people know we’re thinking of them, to help them feel better, and to let them know we care.

But when it comes to how others perceive the support we’re offering, that’s a different story.

Consider this story about how a Juice client invested time and lots of money into a hockey game outing, to recognize employees for a job well done. Despite the manager’s intentions to show his appreciation, the support he was trying to communicate was not really felt by his individual team members.

Welcome to the “feelings economy,” where what’s felt counts. It’s not enough to declare support verbally: in today’s workplace, the only way to truly offer support is if your employees can feel it.

What matters most to each person?

“Drew” is a senior leader Juice worked with over several years, who had to learn to transform his support from declared to felt. His director “Celeste” was experiencing stress at home. Every time they met, Drew would suggest offloading some of her work. But the conversations felt unfulfilling and always devolved into an exercise in frustration.

Drew decided to take a different tack: he began asking her what mattered most to her. And what he discovered shocked him: Celeste didn’t want things taken off her plate...she wanted more challenges. She needed to feel productive at work, particularly because she didn’t feel so productive at home.

By stepping into Celeste’s world and partnering instead of parenting, Drew went from offering declared support to producing felt support. As a result, he released energy in three intelligent ways:

  • Celeste’s productivity increased;
  • Drew’s mind-space was not wasted delegating her tasks to others; and
  • Celeste’s co-workers weren’t unnecessarily saddled with extra work.

Using felt support to address engagement issues

The skill of stepping into your employees’ worlds and seeing through their eyes can also help you better respond to organizational engagement scores.

Generally speaking, organizations that respond to survey results without understanding the back-story behind the data tend to produce fixes that come across as declared rather than felt support.

If engagement survey data is not translated into conversations, attempts to fix problems will most often result in a lower response rate next time, and more eye rolls from cynical employees.

Conversation and understanding what matters most to your employees is an incredibly effective way to show your compassion and support for others. This is how we move Beyond Engagement.

Rick Boersma

Municipal World Magazine - August 2013That’s what the City of Mississauga came up with at its annual City Managers Leadership Conference in 2009

Since then, the City has consistently used a structured process as part of its innovation approach—and has never looked back.

I wrote about this success story for Municipal World over the summer. Check out the article to learn more about the City of Mississauga and how it turned itself into a hub of innovative thinking. Who knows—you may even be inspired!

Jean-Francois (JF) Hivon

Got employee engagement on the brain?Employee Engagement Network Knowledge Partner

If so, you’re not alone—in fact, far from it.

At this very moment, there are about 6,000 other folks like you—people from all over the world—participating in an online community dedicated to the very topic of employee engagement.

It’s called the Employee Engagement Network. And Juice Inc. is proud to announce that we are the EEN’s inaugural knowledge partner.

Created and moderated by global employee engagement expert David Zinger, the EEN is a free online resource for anyone interested in this fascinating business management concept.

David calls the EEN “employee engagement for all”—in other words, it’s an inclusive network for thousands of:

  • Directors, managers and executives in human resources
  • HR-related companies or consultancies like Juice Inc.
  • Managers and employees in non-HR related departments and organizations

In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you work in human resources or not: if you want to expand your knowledge and awareness of employee engagement via a global network of peers (versus a commercial network), you can become an EEN member.

And did we mention it’s FREE to join?

Here are all the engagement resources you get access to when you become a member:

  • More than 540 videos—many of which cannot be found elsewhere online
  • Forums to discuss anything and everything related to engagement
  • Location- and topic-specific discussion groups
  • Original blog articles and ebooks written and contributed to by engagement experts from around the world
  • Global listings of upcoming employee engagement events

Over time, you’ll see more and more content on the EEN from Juice Inc. We want you to be part of this exciting growing community committed to improving employee engagement!

Become a member of the EEN today...and then let us know what you think in the comments below.

Rick Boersma

What is an idea?

Well, the definition depends on where you are in the innovation lifecycle—or, as we at Juice Inc. call it, the i5 process.

Essentially, an idea can be a goal, a product or a catalyst:

  • born in response to problems and opportunities (identification);
  • articulated through analysis (investigation);
  • developed, strengthened and tweaked through prototyping (ideation);
  • evaluated and chosen for development (impact); and
  • delivered to your customers (implementation).

If you’ve been following my blog articles for the last little while (and hopefully you have), you will know that being innovative isn’t just about coming up with ideas: there are many, many steps one must take in order to produce real results.

Unfortunately, many organizations are often so harried—pulled away constantly and distracted by the latest crisis—that even when innovation does get prioritized, it can play out something like this:

Unfortunately, a few hours is extremely unlikely to result in your next business breakthrough. In fact, research shows that it takes about 3,000 raw ideas to generate just one breakthrough solution!

This 3000:1 ratio is not an absolute, but it does hint at a lesson with more than a few grains of truth.

Innovation—true innovation—doesn’t occur without some real work. Moreover, it’s not just about brainstorming (or ideation)—without a plan to implement, for example, your ideas are just that: ideas with no place to go.

Ultimately, innovation should be approached as an ongoing business commitment. Organizations must integrate a structured innovation process into their overall corporate strategies, and then ensure employees have time to be innovative—not just once in a while, but on a regular basis.

Happy innovating!

Alex Somos

authenticity imageOne of the things people long for these days is authenticity in others.

That longing exists in every area of life: especially the business world.

In our conversations with hundreds of organizations, we at Juice Inc. know firsthand that employees want their leaders to be authentic. That means leaders must demonstrate their corporate values not only in front of the customer, but within the office environment as well.

At one organization we recently worked with, we learned by talking with employees and stakeholders that they felt authenticity was lacking internally across its leadership. For example, during town hall meetings, they felt presentations were too “slick,” as though they were being “marketed to.”

Employees aren’t dumb. They know a carefully orchestrated message designed to look like a tailored suit when they see it. And this can lead to mistrust, ultimately having the opposite effect of what leaders are looking for: results.

Authenticity is about having direct—and oftentimes difficult—conversations. It’s not always easy. But employees appreciate it, even if you don’t come across as “perfect.

The reality is that when leaders address issues in a real, authentic way, it can actually give employees a sense of optimism for the future.

And that optimism is what you need to fuel energy, improve engagement, and get outstanding results.

My encouragement to any leader is to take the risk and be their real and authentic self. People will connect with that in a much more meaningful way that builds trust—and ultimately it can positively impact your business results.

Brady Wilson

Juice Inc.:  The Performance Equation

Are your best hires—that is, the most talented, knowledgeable and experienced of your employees—not applying enough effort to their work?

Here’s a little secret: their behaviour is likely not about lack of effort. There’s something else in the way.

And it’s called interference.

The biggest forms of employee interference at work are psychological, including but not limited to:

  • working in a state of fear, due to the threat of being bullied,
  • self-doubt stemming from feeling judged or evaluated, and
  • unresolved conflict and team tension.

The amount of human energy depleted by interference is difficult to calculate, but one thing is certain: it’s not small.

Ultimately, interference leads people to work below capacity.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your employee usually is: when interference hits, they cannot do what they normally can do, or be what they normally can be. In this state, he or she is unable to access their knowledge, experience, skills or strengths.

Remove interference, release energy

But by meeting the needs of employees, leaders can remove interference and bring people back to their ability to operate at capacity—equal to the task, function at their actual ability to perform, and able to access all of their knowledge, experience, skills and strengths.

That said, there’s no need to stop “at capacity.”

There are also methods to motivate your team members to operate beyond capacity: at a level beyond what they ever believed was possible—tapping into their unrealized, latent, inherent abilities. This state is practically magical!

There is a name for the place just beyond what an employee believes he or she can achieve: the state of flow.

At Juice, we help managers and leaders partner with employees to co-create the conditions of flow. Such an environment is:

  • challenge-healthy,
  • goal-fuelled,
  • distraction-free,
  • rich in feedback, and
  • infused with meaning.

Every one of these elements uses the tension of unmet needs to multiply energy.  Learn more by watching this short video clip.  What can you do today to remove interference and multiply energy?

Brady Wilson

My neighbour Jim invests many hours a month sweeping the sidewalk in front of his house, keeping it immaculate.

And he’s always smiling!

But why does he do it? After all, the sidewalk doesn’t belong to him—yet he keeps it in pristine condition, never expecting a dime from the city for his efforts.

In other words, why does Jim go A.B.C.D. (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty)?

It’s all about psychological ownership: in Jim’s mind, the sidewalk is his.

The transfer of ownership from the city to Jim occurred not because of any contractual arrangement; it was triggered because of Jim’s driving (or “felt”) needs for significance and belonging.

Felt needs cannot be created. People come fully equipped with them. Take Jim as an example:

  • Need for significance: Jim receives respect and comments of admiration from the rest of us because of how he keeps his yard and his sidewalk.
  • Need for belonging: Jim doesn’t want to be “that guy”—like Bob, the neighbour everybody else looks down upon because of the way his yard tarnishes the street’s reputation.

So, while Jim doesn’t receive a financial reward for his work, he does get an emotional one from his neighbours.

Felt needs and ownership

As a leader, it’s critical to understand this linkage between felt needs and ownership. And here’s why: the discretionary effort of your employees is unlocked through emotional ownership—and emotional ownership is triggered by felt needs.

In fact, meeting other people’s felt needs unlocks 400% more discretionary effort than rational engagement!

In short, your employees go A.B.C.D. to build the success of your company because they feel they own it. They own the success of your company because doing so meets their felt needs for belonging, significance or meaning.

Remember, energizing employees is an inside job that focuses first on the inner architecture of felt needs (or, the emotional payoffs that cause employees to own the success of your company).

These intrinsic motivators have been and always will be what drives extraordinary effort:  people going A.B.C.D.

Rick Boersma

Looking for an innovative solution to a big problem?

Stimulus response is one way to come up with fabulous, innovative, fresh ideas. That said, this type of brainstorming tool typically appeals to people who are comfortable with less structure.

Today, we’re going to focus on an ideation tool for folks who are more comfortable with a more linear, structured approach.

It’s called value chain analysis.

Value chain analysis is a four-step process that allows you to think through the ways in which you deliver value to your customers.

It allows you to take a big problem (or opportunity), and slice it into bite-sized, manageable pieces.

Take a look at the accompanying graphic. You’ll see that value chain analysis is:

  • User-centric:  it looks at each element of the problem or opportunity from the customer’s perspective
  • Brainstorming-friendly:  using related and random stimulus to get your creative juices flowing
  • An investigative and an impact evaluation tool:  to help you assess your current reality and your solutions
  • Structured:  it’s got steps, rows, and columns - linear attributes that nevertheless facilitate free-range ideation and stimulus response.

As such, “value chaining” is a tool that anyone—or everyone—can use, because it works for a wide range of thinking preferences.

Consider a big problem or opportunity in your work environment, and use the graphic example as a guide for coming up with your own solution (or solutions).

Happy innovating!

Want to know more about innovation? Sign up (for FREE) for Rick Boersma's Graphic Innovation Guide.  Receive chapters as they are produced until the book is complete. In exchange, we seek your feedback to make the final product the best it can be. Click here for more information about the Graphic Innovation Guide.

Brady Wilson

Let’s backtrack a little.

Over the last few weeks on this blog, we’ve learned three very important things:

  1. Workplace tension is often the result of competing needs;
  2. Employees are driven by five needs of varying importance to them; and
  3. When those needs are unmet, employees will act out using “unskillful expressions.”

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at each of those needs: because by understanding what matters most to your employees, you are one step closer to creating sustainable energy in your organization.

The 5 Driving NeedsThe five driving (or “felt”) needs

At Juice, we believe there are five driving needs that are like oxygen to employees: if deprived of any of them, people will act out swiftly and decisively.

Do you recognize any of these needs in your workplace, amongst your workforce?


Research shows that a sense of belonging in strong social relationships is a greater predictor of one’s physical health than whether they smoke, how much their exercise, or the quality of their diet. In other words, isolation and loneliness will kill you faster than cigarettes.

Employees seeking a sense of belonging want acceptance and inclusion, identification and “insiderness,” relatedness and intimacy, and/or a connection or “fit” with others.


Every human being has a need to feel secure. When we feel threatened, our brain instantly switches off complex thought processes and sends us into protection mode.

In the workplace, a “need for security” may also refer to one’s need for safety and protection, predictability and control, consistency and clarity, and/or order and structure.


Consider freedom in the context of the uprisings we have seen in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. You can only suppress people’s freedom for so long before they will take unbelievable risks.

In a work environment, employees need autonomy and independence, mind-space and psychological “space,” decision latitude and support, and variety and change.


Every person needs to feel a sense of significance—that is, to feel respected and valued; to be affirmed and acknowledged; to feel success and achievement, and challenge and growth; to experience efficiency and productivity, and power and status.


Likewise, employees need to feel a sense of meaning. They want to have purpose in their jobs and feel they are making a difference. They need to understand and connect the dots. They need a just and fair environment.

What’s the unmet need?

How do you know which needs drive your employees, and whether or not those needs are being met?

  • A good gauge is to look at scores on an engagement survey (or energy check).
  • Or take a different perspective when you consider people’s behaviours. Is the micro-manager doing so because she is so buttoned down and organized? Or is it because she has a legitimate human need for security?
  • When people “act out” using unskilled expressions, ask yourself “What’s the unmet need?”

What matters most?

By having a stronger sense of what matters most to your employees, you should be able to have better, more fruitful and effective conversation—helping improve the environment in which you work, and ultimately leading to better business results.

Rick Boersma

5 Whys Graphic Innovation Guide by Rick Boersma“Why can’t I stay up late?”

“Why can’t I have another cookie?”

“Why are you leaving me at Grandma’s for a week?”

From the moment we learn to ask “why,” we are all investigators.

Investigation—or, more simply put, asking questions—is a critical component in the innovation process. It helps us to:

  • understand the context of a situation,
  • take time to analyze, step back, and think things through; and
  • drill down to root cause.

Essentially, investigation is about looking at the big-picture trends and underlying root causes of a problem; and considering all the factors—political, economic, environmental, social, technological and otherwise—at play.

All about the questions

The first step in Investigation is not about generating answers, but identifying the right questions.

Why are questions important in innovation? Because there is plenty of information out there that we know we don’t know (including stuff we don’t know that we don’t know...I know, it’s confusing!).

Investigation tools help you slow down, think, and organize your thoughts. In doing so, you can actually increase the range, originality and impact of your questions.

And those breakthrough questions may eventually lead to breakthrough answers.

Investigation tools

There are many tools out there to assist you in with investigation—each one structured differently to appeal to different thinking preferences.

One such tool is The 5 Whys, which basically allows you to act like an inquisitive toddler. The way to get started: simply ask “why?”

The graphic provides a step-by-step rundown of The 5 Whys—using an example of a hotel where staff turnover is high.

Don’t skip investigation!

Insights and eureka moments don’t occur in a vacuum, but are the product of research and hard work.

In a rush to “find a solution now!,” many organizations skip investigation when faced with a problem. As a result, their good intentions may result in only band-aid solutions.

If you take time to investigate, you greatly improve the chances of coming up with something truly innovative.

Happy innovating!

Want to know more about innovation? Sign up (for FREE) for Rick Boersma's Graphic Innovation Guide.  Receive chapters as they are produced until the book is complete. In exchange, we seek your feedback to make the final product the best it can be. Click here for more information about the Graphic Innovation Guide.

Alex Somos

The question of “how do I cut the crap at work?” is a sentiment expressed to us over and over by employees (sometimes worded even more forcefully).

Time and again, Juice clients turn to us to help eliminate the inter-office negativity that permeates—and infects—their work environment.

When they approach us, business leaders are fed up with all the inter-personal friction in their workplace.

They don’t want a culture where people talk behind each other’s backs. They want people to get along and focus on their work.

But despite leaders’ efforts, silos and cliques prevail.

Unskillful expressions

When people or groups are at odds with each other, it is often because they feel their needs are not being met.

At Juice, we refer to this behaviour as an “unskillful expression of an unmet or driving need.”

In the work environment, people are driven by five needs: for security, belonging, freedom, significance, and purpose.

Not every one of these needs is of equal importance to every person. As a result, these kinds of competing needs can create powerful tensions.

For example, people may use an unskillful expression such as forming cliques, excluding others and gossiping to acquire acceptance or a sense of belonging.

Don’t play the game

If you are trying to “cut the crap at work”, leaders as well as employees need to observe what’s really going on, and be willing to step into potentially difficult conversations.

Rather than be the silent third party, you must be willing to speak up. For example, if someone is trashing a co-worker behind their back, you may say something along the lines of:

  • “You know what? I think this conversation would be better with the person you’re talking about than with me. Could I ask you to have that conversation?” or
  • “I recognize this is a difficult issue for you; but the best person for you to deal with this is the person who created it.”

In the workplace, every conversation matters. Our ability to step into those tension-filled moments is critical.

Uncover unmet needs

If employees’ needs are met, energy is released inside of us—and that can be critical to the success of your organization.

Now, it’s all about uncovering those unmet needs.

Good leaders take the initiative to get the answers they need, versus being passive.

Take this example: Recently a client talked to us about an employee he inherited, who had an absenteeism problem. When the manager approached the conversation and stepped into the tension without judgement or criticism, he discovered that the employee’s stress was not caused by work/life balance issues as originally believed: what surfaced was that she felt unsupported and not valued as a person. There had been some conflict with others in the department, and her previous managers had not supported the resolution of the problem.

The next time you hear whisperings or experience office politics, don’t grit your teeth or plot revenge:  take time to learn and understand what those people’s unmet needs are.

It just may be the key to unlocking a much improved, shiny and new culture.

Brady Wilson


No matter the industry, tension can reign supreme in the workplace.

Essentially, epic tension arises over the things that matter most to people. It exists between departments, between people and tasks, and between budgets and deadlines.

To make matters worse, if you add in remote teams, diverse cultural/generational views and a need for speed, you’ve got a recipe for ongoing conflict—and extreme emotional strain—throughout your entire workforce.

It’s up to leaders to deal with tension. But unfortunately, one of the most common leadership responses to tension is to avoid it.

Let’s get real here: tension cannot sort itself out on its own. In fact, left to fester, it will often turn into an emergent situation.

That’s why it’s critical that leaders take measures to step into those uncomfortable tension-filled conversations—not just once, but on a regular basis.

Turning tension around

No doubt about it: tension can be scary. But believe it or not, there is treasure in the tension.

And that treasure is energy.

As a leader, you get to decide whether the tension will be destructive or creative energy (by the way: you want creative energy!).

The challenge is to move not away from tension, but toward it.

And here’s why: when you approach tension strategically as a source of creative energy, it can actually become a driver of opportunity, innovation and personal connection.

Fight, flight and partner mode

The key is in the ability to step into tension-filled moments in a skillful way.

Tension can provoke your flight/fight wiring:

  • If your default is “fight,” you go into push mode—and employees feel the only options before them are “now or never” or “all or nothing.”
  • If your default pattern is flight, you go into comply mode—over-empathizing and accommodating employees’ concerns, often at the expense of the business.

Neither of these approaches is effective. Luckily, there is one other option: partner mode.

Leaders can achieve partner mode by employing a few proven emotional intelligence skills that allow them to stand in the middle of tension, harmonize the competing needs of each party, and draw out a solution that serves the employee experience as well as the global goals of the business.

When employees see their managers bravely stepping into tension, they begin to model that same behaviour.

Imagine all the benefits of a tension-less work environment: less time worrying about the small stuff, and more time to focus on all the real things related to the business.

Approach tension differently. Don’t run away from it: move toward tension—and reap the rewards.

Alex Somos

Leadership - Good Corporate Will

One of the most difficult things a leader must do is to model the behaviour they ask of their employees. But it’s necessary.

If employees don’t see their leaders stand up and lead by example, they will feel less engaged—and be less willing to do their best work.

At Juice, we often hear the same complaint from organizational leaders we work with: “My team needs to be more teamwork-oriented.” But at least half the time, we find it’s the leaders—not the employees—who create the challenges and barriers to having a stronger team.

In fact, when Juice does training sessions, employees often ask us if the senior team is going to receive training as well—because “they really need it.”

What’s the corporate will?

When Juice first meets with organizations, we always ask them the same question—“what’s the corporate will?”

In other words, we want to know the overall willingness of leaders to:

  • model the behaviours they want,
  • humble themselves to go through training,
  • display some vulnerability to others, and
  • practice and apply what they’ve learned to their everyday jobs.

No cherry-picking

An organization open to leading by example is willing to do all the bullets listed above. That means no cherry-picking.

As an example: Juice was once hired to offer GREAT Coaching training to an organization. During session planning, the VP of Human Resources assured us that corporate will was high, and the CEO himself would attend the training along with employees.

The CEO did attend—which was fantastic! Unfortunately, he sat at the back of the room, doing paperwork and checking his BlackBerry the entire time. You can imagine what kind of silent message he sent to his workforce about the importance of coaching and training.

When I asked the CEO for his impressions of the importance of coaching his leaders, he told me that he was “not paid to coach, and neither are my VPs.”

Unbeknownst to him, many of his direct reports had highly recommended the CEO do the training: they felt he had a blind spot that could be mended if he could just take the time to open himself up to it.

In other words, it’s not enough to just pay lip service to corporate will. If you don’t want to change—or put the effort into it—nobody else will either.

Perfection not necessary

Leaders are often fearful of walking the talk, simply because they are afraid of looking less leader-like. But the great thing is that you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to try.

When people see you trying to model the behaviour you ask of them, they will give you points for your intent and effort.

The fact that you initiate a change in your own behaviour, reflect on it and show some vulnerability to your team will create a sense of “we’re trying to be better together.”

Rick Boersma

Graphic Innovation Guide - Chapter 4 ImageThe ability to problem solve is critical to success in today’s business world.

But to stay ahead of the competition, innovation is equally—if not more—important.

Not everybody recognizes the difference between problem solving and innovation. In business-speak, many people interchange one term with the other.

But in reality, these two approaches to thinking are quite different.

Problem solving is more about reacting to a specific situation, such as a crisis. Its goal is to make up lost ground and restore the status quo.

In contrast, innovation is about being proactive, focusing on new opportunities, improving performance, raising the bar…and breaking through the status quo.

Reframing the question

Let’s say you work for a mid-range hotel that is experiencing 100% high turnover of frontline staff.

If you’re trying to solve the problem, you might ask yourself: How do we decrease turnover? This question narrows your focus and seems to address the immediate concern.

If you want to be innovative, you might reframe the question as an opportunity. Consider taking a more positive approach, such as: How do we increase retention?

Rewritten a few other ways, you may come up with:

  • How do we create a great workplace?
  • How do we become an employer of choice?
  • How do we become the best hotel to work at in the city?

Essentially, by reframing a problem so it focuses on opportunities, you can:

  • drive different responses;
  • think more expansively;
  • increase the number, range and originality of your ideas; and
  • be more innovative.

Happy innovating!

Want to know more about innovation? Sign up (for FREE) for Rick Boersma's Graphic Innovation Guide.  Receive chapters as they are produced until the book is complete. In exchange, we seek your feedback to make the final product the best it can be. Click here for more information about the Graphic Innovation Guide.

Brady Wilson

This post is an updated version of Brady's article posted in January 2013.

Partnering vs Parenting

Do your employees feel like engagement is something done to them, rather than done with them?

If so, it may be that your organization’s leadership has unwittingly slipped into the role of “parent” to create engagement.

This slippage fails to recognize two elemental realities: that leaders and employees are in a partnership; and partnering is the respectful way to engage employees.

The perils of parenting

Caught between “improve results” and “reduce expenses”, managers need employees to engage and give more than they ever have before.

As a result—and even though it’s not their intention—managers may assume the one mindset that will sink any engagement initiative: parenting.

These managers resort to classic strategies that get the job done, such as:

  • offering incentives to people for simply doing the right thing;
  • creating recognition programs that devolve into what have wryly become known as “TYFDYJ” (“Thank You For Doing Your Job”);
  • using subtle forms of psychological control, like dropping a comment that pits one employee against another in the quest for the manager’s affirmation or favor; and/or
  • using motivational messages that come across as “selling” the benefits of engagement.

But all of these strategies leave a toxic residue. They come across as paternalistic, and communicate an underlying meaning to employees: there’s something you’re missing that I need you supply.

Under these conditions, why would any employee want to offer their discretionary effort?

Power partnering

Employees already have what “parenting” leaders think is missing: the desire to make a difference; the pride of doing a great job; and their own forms of self-determinism including work ethic, values, and character.

Managers who partner do just that:  they partner with their employees to help create the conditions that allow them to flourish, so they feel energized to fuel great customer experiences and better business results.

In this light, the manager’s job is not to get people to go the extra mile, but to build the conditions in which the employee could naturally, instinctively do so.

It’s all about shifting focus from trying to engage people, to helping them feel energized. In the process, you unlock the one strange attractor that drives business success: innovation.

When managers engage employees as partners, co-creating the conditions for each other’s success, you will see your organization brim with vigour, intensity, optimism, passion and creativity.

Making the shift

So, how do you upload an ethos of partnering in your organization?

It’s all about helping employees see that, above anything else, their primary identity is that of a partner, standing for the highest good of their co-workers and manager by giving a rich stream of feedback: affirming what works, and nudging what doesn’t.

With an elegantly simple coaching tool, anybody can coach anybody, anywhere in the organization. Uploading this one partnering capability is the only way a high-performance, high-energy culture can be sustained.

The ability of partnership to solve engagement issues is the very thing that lifts the manager’s burden—freeing them from their unsustainable parenting roles. In doing so, energy at work will undoubtedly surge.

Alex Somos

Fun is one of the things most, if not all employees wish they could have more of in a job. I define fun as having enjoyable human moments.

And here’s the upshot: there’s a pretty big payoff for organizations that take time to inject fun into the workplace.

In fact, we have seen employees give more effort, work harder, and come up with more innovative ideas when they are in such an environment.

Good leaders understand the value of fun. That said, leaders need to also understand that not all fun is regarded equally.

We recently learned of a young leader who decided to reward his team for their hard work by taking them to a hockey game.

Sounds nice, right? It was—but not for the employees. Most of them were women of various ethnic backgrounds who had no interest in hockey. When Juice chatted with the women later, we learned they would have much preferred going to dinner and a play. And so, rather than coming back to work energized, the employees returned feeling like the reward was less about them and more about making the manager feel good.

The young leader’s intentions were honourable, but his actions demonstrated that he didn’t really know his team members.

The lesson is this: when trying to infuse fun into the workplace, ensure it is an appropriate reward based on who your employees are.

That said, bringing fun into the workplace doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money or holding events. Small “human moments” are equally important.

For example, at Juice, we have impromptu Thankfulness Thursdays when the team is around. We get together at the end of the day to talk about all the good and meaningful things that happened in the week. We discuss the impact we’ve had on customers, and generally appreciate everybody’s contributions that week. We leave feeling energized, appreciated, and with a bit of a lighter step.

Good leaders have the ability to make their team feel special and important. By creating an environment that is a combination of appropriate fun and human moments, you do just that.

In return, you increase the likelihood your employees will go back to work energized, with clearer focus, and a much higher motivation.

Rick Boersma

In my last article, I offered tips to help you build your own innovation “dream team.”

But remember: there’s still a “me” in “team.” Every individual brings with them a different way of looking at things.

As a result, even the most well-intentioned teams can experience conflict.

But don’t despair: conflict is a part of life that will always be there. The trick is in dealing with it so that you energize—instead of deplete—your team.

When building and bringing your team together, consider applying the I.O.U. filter. It helps teams:

  • reap the benefits of an innovation dialogue, and
  • avoid the arguments and emotional tension that can be an unanticipated by-product of diversity.

This diagram shows how the I.O.U. (which stands for Interest, Openness, Understanding) filter works. Print it out and keep it on hand when your team meets to brainstorm!

Happy innovating!

Want to know more about innovation? Sign up (for FREE) for Rick Boersma's Graphic Innovation Guide.Receive chapters as they are produced until the book is complete. In exchange, we seek your feedback to make the final product the best it can be. Click here for more information about the guide.

Brady Wilson

“This job is killing me.”

“My manager plays favourites.”

“My spouse tells me I should quit.”

Over 20 years of reading employee engagement reports, I have never gotten used to reading thousands of comments like these.

When organizations ask their employees to fill out an engagement survey, there is an:

  • implicit understanding that the organization cares about the well-being of its workforce, and
  • expectation that the organization will make changes based on survey results.

And so, employees pour out their lived work experience in poignant language—some of it optimistic, but much of it devastatingly painful.

So imagine the deeper pain these people feel when they don’t see their concerns addressed.

The hard truth

Here’s the hard truth: employees don’t care about engagement scores. They care about their “lived work experience,” namely whether:

  • Things are fair,
  • They can find meaning at work,
  • They can take pride in what they do, and
  • They have enough energy left over at the end of the day for “life.”

The problem is that leaders don’t often step into business tensions and address ongoing concerns that arise from engagement surveys.

If employees don’t see visible, concrete actions that impact their day-to-day energy level, doing yet another engagement survey will only produce deep cynicism inside them—and lead them to believe that their employer’s so-called “engagement” efforts are something of a con game.

How to get Beyond Engagement

Beyond Engagement is all about approaching engagement differently. When it comes to surveys, the strategy is to do the following two things:

  1. Survey less
    Only do organization-wide surveys at a rate that matches your ability to take meaningful action. For the first few years of your engagement journey, that could be annually, but after four to five years, move to an every other year approach. Why? It takes 18-24 months to implement organization-wide energy strategies and demonstrate concrete, visible action to employees. So spend less of your resources surveying engagement and more responding in ways that are concrete and meaningful to your employees.
  2. Do energy-checks
    In-between surveys, do simple energy-checks with your workforce. The energy-check is essentially a conversation tool, designed to quickly and simply measure individual and team energy levels, and pinpoint the issues that need to be addressed.

The upshot of all of this is simple but powerful: managers and employees manage energy as partners, jointing caring for the ecosystem in the only way that is truly sustainable.

Learn more about energy-checks!

Want to learn more about Beyond Engagement?  Check out this video.

Alex Somos

What is a great training experience?

As we at Juice have learned from clients, the answer depends on whom you ask:

  • Buyers—that is, people who sponsor training—define a great training experience as one that aims to improve efficiencies, customer service and/or employee performance.
  • But participants/users (generally speaking, employees) define “great training” as meaningful and relevant to their abilities, capabilities and growth—not only within the organization, but also in their personal lives.

Unfortunately, most organizations’ training programs put much more emphasis on meeting business objectives than participants’ needs.

As a result, participants:

  • attend training not because they want to, but because they have to; and
  • are unlikely to adopt the behaviours and changes that organizations wish to implement.

Shifting focus to participants

Here are three things to help increase the likelihood that your training will effect actual change:

  1. Create meaning for people
    Your training initiatives should cover topics that are meaningful to the individual—not just to the organization. These topics may include time management, project management, and/or interpersonal skills (yes, these are business topics that can also help you meet your overall business objectives!).

    The trick is to contextualize the information so the employee knows how to apply it—and apply it easily—to work, as well as to their personal lives. After training, the end result will be people feeling confident and excited about what they’ve learned.
  2. Give it heart
    Research shows that people aren’t changed by what you say or the information you share; they change based on how you make them feel.

    Training is often perceived as a ton of content shared within a short period of time. After a day or two of training, most people don’t feel anything but overwhelmed!

    In other words, training is generally geared toward the head. But to be effective, training must also reach participants in an emotional way. Learn more about emotional engagement here.
  3. Make participants feel special and important
    To create momentum for your training, organizations must first do their due diligence to understand what participants’ lives are really like.

    Juice worked with a hospital where upper management’s objectives were to improve morale, reduce complaints in the system, and decrease patient errors. But when we talked to nursing staff, we realized something critical: as important as the corporate objectives were, they weren’t what employees wanted or needed at that time. Employees felt overwhelmed, being asked to do too much with too little. There was no way they could work toward those business objectives without the hospital first addressing the stress they felt.

    This understanding allowed Juice to create training that both addressed the needs of upper management (reduced errors and friction) and the needs of the nursing staff (more ease in their world). Our training was framed carefully so it spoke to employees. We talked about how to create more ease in their lives, and created understanding so they could see the value of using the skills we taught them.

The lesson here is: never assume you know the people you are training. Find ways to understand the needs of your participants, and then craft your content around those needs. Until you address those basic needs, you can’t address your own business objectives.

Striking a balance

Of course, in addressing the needs of participants, we can’t simply forget about the needs of the organization.

The secret to effecting actual change is simply in shifting the focus of the training so it’s appropriately balanced between the needs of the organization and its participants.

A small shift can make a huge difference. Try it—and share your success stories in the comments below!

Rick Boersma

Need to come up with a breakthrough idea for your organization?

Don’t go it alone. Be collaborative.

Why? Because flying solo can limit the number, range and originality of ideas generated, as opposed to working in a group.

In other words, you’re not doing yourself any favours by brainstorming alone.

2 (or more) heads are better than 1

According to the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, not all people are created equal when it comes to innovation.

We as humans are diverse: not only in appearance, age, gender and the like, but in the way we think. And the way we think drives how we communicate, make decisions, solve problems...and innovate.

Moreover, people generally find it difficult to “think outside the box.”  That’s because they’ve spent a lifetime operating, getting comfortable and being effective in their own box.

So imagine if you bring a bunch of different thinkers together—and everyone is asked to think outside of their box.

Each person’s idea has the potential to “springboard” someone else’s thinking.

Suddenly, you’ve got a huge number and range of original ideas.

And one of those ideas could lead to the promise of a breakthrough innovation.

That is the power of collaboration.

Build your dream innovation team!

Building a “dream team” is one way to help people think outside of their boxes.

To be successful, the team should have a diverse profile, but members must also share key character traits: 

  1. A diversity of styles 
    Include people who are logical thinkers, others who think creatively; and people who are process-oriented as well as people-oriented.
  2. Varied levels of experience
    Of course, you want people who are experts in their field. But don’t forget the rookies—less experienced, oftentimes younger folks can bring a fresh perspective to the innovation process.
  3. Shared character traits
    You want your team to feel comfortable with each other. So, ensure each team member has similar character traits including trustworthiness as well as an ability to trust, open-mindedness, and passion for the task at hand.

There is collective strength in collaboration. By working in a team, you can create “group genius.”

Stay tuned for my next post, when I’ll share how you can reduce friction on your dream team.

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Alex Somos

One of the beautiful things about time is this: what was once future becomes the present, and then moves into the past.

Forty-two of us now have the gift of hindsight and reflection as we bask in the glow of accomplishment:

  • the building of three large school rooms for grades 2 to 6; and
  • helping to provide better education for these children, instilling hope, and creating a renewed sense of purpose for the community.

This endeavour was by far our largest and most aggressive yet, and in some of the toughest conditions I have ever encountered.

Mexico ChildrenPutting up 22-foot long walls and roof panels was an all-hands-on-deck event! The first three days, we had a very strong wind that whipped up the sandy dry earth. At the end of those days, we all looked like raccoons, our faces outlined by the red earth—except for where we wore our sunglasses, or smiled (we did a lot of that!).

Despite the challenges, we could not have hoped for a better build team. From the moment we arrived at the airport until our return, our team was marked by servanthood, humour and affection, with no complaining or arguing. I am also particularly proud of the youth team, which rose to the occasion in a very significant way!

When we were not building, our group also headed into impoverished areas to do outreach and give away clothing and food staples. Many team members were touched by what they saw; and some are haunted (in a good way) still by the memory of one camp in particular.

At that camp, I saw a man sitting with his blanket-wrapped baby in front of a 12-by-12-foot room where he, his spouse and three children live. This man had grit! He gets up at 4 a.m. every day and works until sundown, earning a very small salary of about $9 a day. He told me that once he had entered the US illegally because he could not find work—and walked for five days through Arizona, eventually finding his way to Oregon, all to care for his family.

Stories like this create indelible marks on your heart: marks that motivate you to do more and care more; and that enlarge your heart and make you big*.

Whether it was time, energy, prayer or money, all were needed to do this build! I look back on the generosity of all the people who invested in this venture, and I am so thankful.

Until the next build…!

*Definition: What makes you big? from Brady Wilson's book, Love at Work (pg 52) "M. Scott Peck unpacks the concept of human enlargement in his book The Road Less Traveled. Peck writes of the psychological concept called cathexis: 'When we are attracted to, invest in and commit to an object outside ourselves' we actually cathect it. That is, 'we psychologically incorporate a representation of that object into ourselves.' In the process of cathexis, we extend the boundaries of our personhood by stretching out toward the object of our love, 'whose growth we wish to nurture.'

Those of us who are parents have experienced this first-hand. For example, I am not just a man: I am a man with children and grandchildren living inside me. Through cathexis—being attracted to, investing in, and committing to the objects of my love—I have become a bigger person.")

Alex Somos

There’s nothing wrong with introducing employees to the “next big thing.”

After all, a new business strategy, program or technology can make organizations more competitive, high performing and profitable.

But if your leaders are the type to quickly abandon and endorse one initiative over another—that is, they have “corporate A.D.D.”—this strategy can have the exact opposite effect of positive change on your workforce.

That’s because the success of your organizational change initiatives hinges on employee buy-in.

And, unfortunately, corporate A.D.D. is not conducive to securing employee endorsement.

More, more, more!

Leaders with corporate A.D.D. believe that the more changes they make, the more high performing their employees will be.

But employees can only take so much of back-to-back (or concurrent) initiatives like:

  • implementing new software enterprise-wide;
  • making customer service the number-one corporate priority; and/or
  • executing a new employee performance management system.

If your organization tends to jump from one “latest, greatest thing” to another, your employees will react negatively.

Why? Because, after a while, employees will dismiss everything you do as the newest flavour-of-the-month. Rather than fully embracing it, they will give your initiative lip service.

Some may even take on behaviours to sabotage its success.

In other words, corporate A.D.D. doesn’t lead to a higher-performing business, but to wasted resources and a jaded workforce.

Combat corporate A.D.D.

Here are some things leaders can do to combat corporate A.D.D.—and increase the likelihood of getting employees on board with their initiatives.

  • Make your strategy relevant. Leaders need to tie each initiative to the day-to-day world of their employees. They simply will not get support if employees cannot understand how an initiative—be it a new technology, strategy or process—relates to their job. It’s not enough to tie the initiative to the overall objectives of the organization: leaders must find a way to make it meaningful to everyone.
  • Demonstrate “corporate will.” Good leaders model the behaviour they desire. If they want their employees to embrace a new initiative for the long-term, upper management cannot “jump ship” whenever a new trend comes along. This makes it more difficult to get buy-in of the next initiative. Leaders also need to make time in their busy schedules to support the initiative, and recognize and positively reward the changes in behaviour that they want.
  • Stay the course. Most initiatives take longer than you expect. Contrary to popular belief, change takes time—particularly if you are asking for behavioural change.
  • Over-communicate. Business environments are full of information and competing messages. If you want people to fully “get” what it is you want, you must be incredibly intentional and repeat the message in multiple forms at multiple times.

Good leaders know how to set the pace and can resist the gravitational pull of “the next new thing”. Ensure that next big organizational initiative is the right one and avoid the pitfalls of corporate A.D.D. Doing so will go a long way toward positive change.

Rick Boersma

I’m about to go all “meta” on you.

At Juice Inc., my job is to be innovative about innovation (or, find new ways to talk to people about ideation, product development, creativity and creative problem solving).

So, when I wanted to write a training book to help organizations be more innovative, I realized the regular format of a book wasn’t innovative in and of itself.

That’s when I decided to create something that people had never seen before: the Innovation-in-a-Box Graphic Guide.  I have been working on this book, chapter by chapter and I’m on the home stretch.

Based on Juice’s Innovation-in-a-Box program, I have designed this graphic guide as a hybrid:

  • comic book,
  • textbook, and
  • workbook.

Ultimately, the intent of the graphic guide is to help organizations be more innovative by:

  • making learning about business-innovation engaging,
  • providing organizations with innovation training tools to energize their employees, and
  • dramatically improving the team brainstorming process.

Over the next several weeks, I’m going to blog about several strategic concepts explored in the graphic guide. Keep your eye out for more posts.


Get your free graphic guide!


I already have six chapters drafted, and four more to go.

And I’m offering them all to you—free.

All I ask is that you provide me feedbackto help me make this guide the best it can be.

Call this crowd-sourcing...or simply being innovative about the editing process.

And, for your participation, you’ll also get the final e-version of the book—free.

Want a sneak peek?  Check it out.

How to get the Innovation in a Box Graphic Guide, sign up here!

Alex Somos
Cheryl Rayfield

Day 3 Highlights
The finished product is in site!  Continue to follow the Mexico School Build 2013:

Alex Somos
Cheryl Rayfield

Mexico School Build 2013 - Day 2Mexico School Build 2013 - Day 2







Day 2 Highlights
For more pictures and to follow the progress:


Brady Wilson

Q: Are you smarter around some people than you are around others?

Take 1 minute to answer the survey - yes, only 1 minute!
A: Click here to do the survey!
All participants (that include an email address) will receive a report of the findings!

We need your help!  We are looking for 1000 responses to this survey, so please forward to your friends and colleagues!

Brady Wilson

Managing Energy Not Engagement ImageHere’s the brutal truth: in today’s competitive business world, an engaged workforce is no longer enough.

But it’s hard to think beyond engagement when it’s what we’ve always focused on.

Half a century ago, organizations thought it was important to measure employee satisfaction. Then retention became the rage. Then we shifted our gaze to engagement.

And look where we are now.

For years, I have met countless senior leaders all at a similar crossroads: staring at their hundred-page engagement reports and asking themselves “What now?”

They tell us, “The first year was easy—we just addressed the ‘low-hanging fruit’ issues and our employees were thrilled.”

But, each additional year, responding with visible, concrete action has become more difficult for these companies. At some point, employee engagement scores hit a plateau—and leaders begin to see growing cynicism in the workplace.

Sound familiar?

We’re still evolving

Employees don’t care about engagement scores—they care about their lived experience. They want what makes work enjoyable: connection, laughing, creativity, moments of fun and joy…all the products of energy.

In other words, employees want an environment in which they can flourish and thrive, be passionate, innovative, and have purpose.

So, as organizational culture evolves, so too must its leaders.

Doing so requires a bit of a mind shift from the “old ways” of doing things. But it’s not as hard as it sounds.

What leaders need to do now is move away from managing engagement—and move toward managing energy.

So…where do you start?

Energy already exists in your organization
Your work environment probably has a few superstar employees who appear to have limitless energy. Wouldn’t it be great if you could clone them?

You can.

And here’s why: an engaged but un-energized team still has energy within them!

You may see occasional glimpses of it. For example, you may be sitting in a meeting, and someone makes a comment that seems to hold the germ of a viable idea. As the team begins to nudge and coax it—leap-frogging off each other’s ideas—an innovation emerges within 30 minutes.

An innovation that could be the promise of a breakthrough for your organization.

In the space of a half-hour, you’ve seen your employees go from being engaged to being energized—and if the innovation is big enough, that energy can surge for days.

Harnessing sustainable energy from the unenergized

But the reality is you don’t need 30 minutes to elicit the occasional burst of energy from your employees.

Take another look around. Do certain managers have more than their fair share of those desirable energized superstars?

If so, you should ask yourself what they’re doing differently. Or, more specifically: “Has this leader figured out how to build the conditions where most employees can be highly energized?”

Going beyond engagement necessitates the ongoing nurturing of other peoples’ energy through simple things like:

  • Recognizing a coworker’s contribution in a way that makes a lasting imprint
  • Taking time to show interest in someone’s personal life
  • Launching an employee into a new project that’s a perfect fit for her passions
  • Asking the powerful questions that help a colleague rediscover meaning at work

So, while figuring out how to harness and maintain energy may sound daunting, the reality is actually much more accessible.

Build a legacy

By shifting from managing engagement to a culture that nurtures energy, you can make a monumental difference in the lives of your employees.

Imagine employees who reflect back on the years they worked with you and say, “Those were the best years of my life. I became a better person by working there.”

That might just be the biggest reason to look for something beyond engagement.

Alex Somos

Follow our journey this week through the Facebook group - Mexico School Build 2013


(This was the final project from the 2012 build.)

Alex Somos

During my time in Mexico building homes and schools for the needy, I’ve heard many stories from locals about similar construction projects gone wrong.

I even heard of a team that, not long after arriving in Mexico, threw in the towel and left a house half-built.

It’s made me contemplate what has made my own construction team—or any team in the business world—successful, while other well-intentioned groups have failed.

And I’ve come to this conclusion: the key is not only preparation, but self-confidence.

Put another way, if team members feel mentally and physically prepared for the task at hand, their confidence is elevated (in themselves, as well as the project)—and that significantly increases the odds that the impact will be a successful one.

Obviously, leaders play a major role in the ultimate outcome of their teams. Here are three ways leaders can ensure team members are prepared for any project

1.  Good leaders create a compelling picture of a future state for their team.

Before travelling to Mexico, my team always holds pre-meetings to discuss what the project will mean to the community. We also give team members a visual of what they can expect, by sharing videos of our previous work.

It’s all about creating meaning for your team. Give them glimpses of what “success” looks like—for example, by explaining who benefits from your initiative, and what it means to them. Inspiration can go a long way toward energizing your team and raising their level of confidence. Now, they have an end-picture in mind.

2.  Good leaders understand the reality for improvisation and flexibility.

In Mexico, we work long, oftentimes grueling days in the heat.  Many times we have to improvise or wait as the systems and processes there beat to their own drum. It may not sound like a big deal, but it can be extremely frustrating to a group who is trying to get the job done.

Good leaders prepare teams in advance by listing examples of things that may go awry during the project. This helps to:

  • decrease the shock factor;
  • pave the way for your team to develop contingencies on the fly; and
  • retain your team’s confidence in the project—their belief in all their work will not be shaken as hard if they are mentally prepared for the occasional unplanned issue.

3.  Good leaders create ease in the system.

Many people who come with us to Mexico are not handy—in fact, many have never even swung a hammer. To help them prepare, we show them how different pieces of equipment work. We’ll let them use  a table saw, show them how to pry apart a nail from a piece of wood—essentially, show them what simple construction looks like. That way, when they get to Mexico, they will have some sense of confidence to do the job at hand.

In the business world, leaders simply cannot get the best out of their team if members aren’t confident in their own abilities. One way to build confidence is to ensure they have the skills they need—and make the complex (or what appears to be complex) simple.

Invest in preparation

In the hyperactive business world, it is often the preparation and planning that goes out the window when there is pressure to get a job done. It can take time and planning to ensure teams are fully prepared prior to the launch of a project. I have learned by experience that if you want to go fast, you have to be willing to be slow at the beginning and not forgo or underestimate the power of preparing your team to win!

Rick Boersma

Is your workplace completely out of fresh, innovative ideas?

If so, you’re probably not the only one who dreads brainstorming sessions.

After all, when people are stressed out and completely unenergized, it’s difficult to “think harder.”

Did you ever consider, though, that the problem might not be the people doing the brainstorming, but the brainstorming process itself?

Here’s why.

Put simple, the human brain is not a blank slate: it comes pre-loaded with data, experiences and emotions.

So, to be truly innovative, it’s not enough to rely on the usual brainstorming methods (which generally involve sitting around a conference table and waiting for inspiration to just happen).

What you need is something to jump-start the brain and make people see a problem—or, put more positively, an opportunity—in a completely different light.

And that can be done with related and unrelated stimuli.

How to integrate stimuli into your brainstorming process
Let’s say your workplace has a problem with a specific business process.

For example, your customers aren’t paying their invoices as quickly as you’d like—which means employees aren’t getting paid on time.

1.  Look at the problem from afar

Start by looking at the problem in broad terms. How can you improve the customer invoicing process, to ensure your business gets paid more promptly? You may come up with ideas like:

  • calling your customers at the end of every month; or
  • creating a marketing-communications campaign to remind them of the importance of paying on time; or
  • threatening to sue (just kidding).

But these aren’t innovative ideas—they’re not specific objectives, and they don’t really push the boundaries at all. 

2.  Push your idea further...with related stimuli

Related stimuli are related to your problem. Consider interesting features of things you’ve heard or seen about:

  • invoicing best practices in your industry; or
  • stories of other companies with highly successful invoicing programs; or
  • invoices you’ve received yourself, which have caught your attention.

What is novel about these best practices or programs? Does anything stand out to you, that you could integrate into and help improve your own business invoicing processes?

3.  Now, push your idea even further...with unrelated stimuli

Here’s where the fun really starts.

Look around you for a random object completely unrelated to your problem.

Let’s say you’re at your desk, and you notice that banana you set aside for mid-afternoon snack. Consider, and then list, the characteristics of that banana, such as:

  • Yellow
  • Biodegradable
  • Edible
  • Curved
  • Slippery (the peel, that is)

The challenge now is to use some of those attributes as prompts to brainstorm new, innovative ideas.

Remember: you need customers to pay their invoices more promptly. Here are a couple examples where you could apply the banana’s attributes to that problem:

  • Make your invoicing process more “slippery”—or, help invoices move through the system faster. An idea may be to take your current process and convert it into a Google Doc that everyone (your business and customers alike) can access simultaneously, regardless of location.
  • Make your invoice “yellow”—well, not necessarily yellow, but make it jump out more visually. Consider different colours, formatting, and other ways to make it more vibrant and fun. If you can make your invoice stand out among all the others your customer receives, you may be able to make payment more front-of-mind.

I cannot overemphasize how important related and unrelated stimuli are to coming up with innovative ideas for your business.

And not only is it a practical method—but it can be a lot of fun too!

Want to know more about innovation? Sign up now for Rick Boersma's Graphic Innovation Guide. We will send you a FREE chapter every month until the book is complete. In exchange, we will ask for your feedback to make the final product the best it can be!

Brady Wilson

For many years, “employee engagement” has been touted as the go-to solution for improving business results.

After all, logic dictates that an engaged employee is a more effective employee...right?

Not necessarily.

Senior leaders tell us they are seeing troubling signs: increasing numbers of employees and managers who are engaged, but not energized. They are committed and loyal, come to work regularly, don’t complain, stay many years, and consistently strive to do a good job.

But—despite being engaged in their organization—these employees aren’t being innovative. They’re overwhelmed by having to do “less with less.” As a result, they’re not coming forward with new ideas. They’re not going above and beyond the call of duty. They’re not passionate about their work.

And that’s a problem.

To that end, organizations now face a new challenge: how to move employees beyond engagement to a culture where their workforce can release bottled-up innovative thinking, and consistently create breakthrough business results.

The key lies in energy.

At Juice, we believe the personal energy level of your people is the leading indicator of success.

I’m not referring so much to physical energy as to what scientists call “state of flow”—the ability to focus one’s attention on the value-adding aspects of their day, such as:

  • Prioritizing, planning and strategizing
  • Enlisting people and aligning their actions toward a common purpose
  • Having difficult conversations when a project begins to falter
  • Bringing things through to a logical conclusion, to see a project fully completed

Creating a culture that harnesses and fosters sustainable organizational energy is not easy—but it is possible.

That’s where our new program, Beyond Engagement, comes in.

Beyond Engagement is exactly as it sounds: it’s all about transforming your engaged employees into more consistently productive, passionate, innovative contributors—and reaping the business benefits of a higher-performing work environment.

Over the next several blog posts, I will discuss the benefits of making a shift from managing engagement to managing energy, and offer strategic advice to help you:

  • identify the elements of engagement that are currently working,
  • get you a provocative glimpse of something beyond engagement, and
  • build the conditions to ignite sustainable energy in your employees.

I hope you will join me on this exciting journey as we explore the transformative power of Beyond Engagement. Follow the journey!

How much Juice does your organization have? Try out the Juice Check Employee Energy Tool!"

Alex Somos

Where there is no vision, there is no hope. – George Washington Carver

In a previous blog post, I wrote about my experiences while building schools and homes for the poor in Vincente Guerrero, Mexico.

During my time there, I learned that life in poverty is solely about survival. Many of the  locals don’t have time to dream or aspire to greater things - not when their main concerns centre around where and how to get their next meal. They don’t have the luxury to act, let alone think, beyond the day-to-day. Many of them feel hopeless because they cannot see a different future for themselves and their families.

You can actually see this lack of hope in how they care for their home space or in the demeanour of their children. You can have two homes exactly the same in size and location and one looks well tended and neat (even when it is made with scraps of things) and the other is disorderly and worn from a lack of care.

Tunnel vision in the business world

But this inability to “look beyond” isn’t limited to just one pocket of the world. It’s also prevalent in business.Think about it: employees bogged down by work are often so focused on the day-to-day rigamarole that they:

  • lose perspective of the bigger picture, and
  • forget how their role fits into the organization’s overall purpose and growth, or vision.

Without a sense of purpose, employees have no reason to be emotionally invested in your organization. So, while they may be present in body, this may not be the case in mind or spirit.

Ultimately, this is detrimental to running a successful business. And here’s why: because when employees only have tunnel vision, it’s impossible to draw the best out of them.

Building hope

In Vincente Guerrero, I saw first-hand that building a school or home isn’t just about providing a physical structure - it’s also about providing hope.

The very existence of a new school - something the community had never had before - gave locals something to aspire to. They saw all the potential outcomes of having a school: for example, education, jobs, and being able to afford better shelter and food.

With a vision of what the future could be, that school will help the locals look beyond the survival of day-to-day.

Motivated by hope, the community has begun to transform itself. One of my fondest memories was on day two of the school build when many of the mothers came to the lot we were building on, each brought one or two plants. They put the plants in the area that was the school border, marking its dimensions. I realized in that moment that they where making it theirs, adding their touch, bringing more life to the school. The plants spoke loudly of their hope for their community by beautifying it. (The picture above is the first row of plants for the school.)

Good leaders create meaning for people

Similarly, in the corporate world, generating hope can reap all sorts of rewards for business including:

More simply put, hope within an organization can lead to a much higher-performing work environment.  Good leaders can achieve this by creating meaning for their employees. This entails:  

  • communicating a compelling picture of what the future could be,
  • ensuring employees understand their role in it, and
  • helping employees establish a deeper sense of connection within the organization.

Armed with a stronger sense of purpose, people are able to see not only the end of the tunnel, but far beyond it.

It just takes the right leadership to get things going.

Alex Somos

Last September we went to Vincente Guerrero, Mexico and built a pre-school for the kids in a needy neighbourhood. I have built many houses for families in that area and as wonderful as that is, impacting a community and those beautiful children was just something to relish. Check out the video...

We want to do more! During the first week of April, I am joining a team of volunteers from Guelph Ont. headed for Vicente Guerrero, to build a school for 63 children who currently are all under one roof. The existing school is 18 ft x 25 ft equaling 450 sq ft. in size and has just a tarp roof, cardboard walls and the desert dust filtering in on the children's heads. You can imagine just how difficult it is for the students to really focus and apply themselves. We want to build them 3 buildings sized 22ft x 24ft or 1584 sq ft. No more dirt floors, windows they can open, doors they can close, a real roof over their heads! Can you tell I'm excited? and a bit nervous! We have never undertaken anything this large and only a week to do it in. Stay tuned for updates....


What is life without conflict? Is it really living?

Every story or Hollywood movie has conflict at its core. Remember in English class where we learned there are three kinds of conflict? Man against man, man against himself and man against nature? We live in a world meant for tension which challenges and forces us to grow.

There are two choices when we are confronted with conflict: step in or walk away. How often are we seduced by a lame reason to jump in when we shouldn’t?  And how much more often do we walk away when the called-for action is to articulate need, speak truth or voice thinking?

Navigating what we’re called to do requires intention. What outcome do you seek? Your current way of getting there is probably based on how you learned conflict in your upbringing. How did the adults in your life deal with conflict? With outrageous quarrels, or painful silence? How did you handle conflict with your siblings? Did you take control or acquiesce? Do you still use some of these practices today, with your spouse or kids?

I once read that you can never truly love another until you understand their grief.  A simple concept, but one I’ve found to be true. From grief comes sadness and fear, and from those, reactive behaviors that protect one’s own spirit, and sometimes hurt another’s.

Without trying to understand where someone is coming from, and what they carry in their baggage, it can be easy to assume that other people’s actions and behaviors are a direct assault on you. Sometimes – often - it really is about them, and their need to get love, lose fear or work out their own inner turmoil. Making it about you personalizes the situation, and only makes it worse. But isn’t this what we do? And instead of defaulting to compassion for the other person, we get ticked off!

We can have disagreements about opinions, ideas or ways of doing things – this is called substantive conflict and serves a purpose in creating growth and moving things forward.  By introducing diverse views, opinions, beliefs or experiences, we gain the benefit of creativity and innovation, as long as we remain open. It’s when we introduce emotion, feelings and perceived character assassinations that substantive conflict becomes personalized, creating heightened tension and reduced capacity to solve problems.  The bad news about personalized conflict is that it’s often our own thinking or meaning we attach to others’ words or behaviors that create the conflict. The good news about personalized conflict is that it’s often our own thinking or meaning we attach to others’ words or behaviors that create the conflict – which means it is within our own control to stop it! Is the other person truly acting with cruel intent? If you perceive they are, what could be causing this behavior? Sometimes you may not know. Whatever you do, get curious. Asking internal questions about the situation will trigger the rational side of your brain, allowing you to stay more “emotionally intelligent” and protecting you from personalizing the situation.

Sort by Author

Alex Somos

Alex Somos

Co-Founder of Juice Inc.

Brady Wilson

Brady Wilson

Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Author, Trainer and Speaker

Rick Boersma

Rick Boersma

Co-Founder Floworks Training; Design & Innovation, Juice Inc.

Jean-Francois (JF) Hivon

Jean-Francois (JF) Hivon

Business Development

Michael Torrie

Michael Torrie

Vice President, Juice USA

Lara Hall

Lara Hall

Director of Marketing, Juice Inc.