Top 10 Tactics for Managing in an Empowered Environment

By Kurtis McBride, CEO, Miovision

When I talk about our empowered culture at Miovision, people – particularly potential hires – tend to ask essentially one question: How does one “manage” in a culture in which everyone is bright, talented, and encouraged to contribute equally?

It can be a challenge, especially during times such as these; times of rapid growth and exciting innovation.  If a manager empowers a team too much, it feels like abdication. If he or she empowers a team too little, it feels like micromanagement.

We’ve developed ten tactics to help our leaders better understand their roles and find the right balance. I shared this document with the team, but it is also summarized here:

1. Define the Purpose

Your most important role as a leader in an empowered culture is to define and continually promote Purpose. Purpose can be defined for a specific project or for the company as a whole. Without Purpose, no team can be expected to execute in any way, including an empowered way. Talk it up. Talk it up, all the time.

2. Live the Values

Your second most import role as a leader in an empowered culture is to live the Values of the company at all times. At Miovision, we have two sets of Values: Core Values and Product Values. We apply these Values dogmatically; there are no exceptions when it comes to our Values, period. One of the more critical parts of a leader’s job is the interpretation and application of the Values to everyday decisions.

3. Use Emergent Planning

In an empowered company, staff stakeholder buy-in is vital. Your staff has to be on board with your goals and actions. At Miovision, we use Emergent Planning. It requires three tools that can be found in any office: sticky note pads, pens and a whiteboard. It’s a simple process:

  1. Pick a topic that you are trying to set goals for
  2. Determine the stakeholders who need to be part of setting the goal for it to succeed
  3. Have stakeholders come to a meeting with specific actions they believe are part of the goal
  4. Have everyone independently write down the specific actions – one per sticky note
  5. Take turns sticking the notes on the whiteboard, grouping them with similar sticky notes as you go
  6. Collaboratively devise common phrasing for each group of actions that stakeholders agree to.

At this end of this process, you will have developed a goal that all stakeholders are aligned with.

4. Use the 3-Decisions Rule

In a truly empowered environment, differences in opinion can lead to deadlocks. Enter the 3-Decisions Rule. As its name would suggest, this tactic allows each leader to break with Empowerment and unblock deadlocks three times a year. The 3-Decisions Rule achieves three things:

  1. It sends a message that while leaders can disempower on occasion, it is a scarce commodity that they reserve for only the most critical of situations.
  2. It creates a space in an empowered culture where teams know that if a leader uses as decision, he must have a good reason, because he just used 1/3 of his annual capacity.
  3. More often than not, it creates a culture where teams work hard to build consensus so their leaders do not have to use one of their three decisions.

5. Drop Breadcrumbs

In a fast-growth environment, a company must embrace constant change – and as we all know, companies and individuals tend to be change-resistant. In a traditional hierarchical business, a leader can “force” change into the organization. In an empowered organization, though, we must build constituencies to create change. One way for leaders to do this is to “drop breadcrumbs.

A leader seeds the benefit of the change with the stakeholders who would benefit from it and encourages the stakeholders to share the seeded idea with individuals who need to change their process or behaviour. Over a short period of time, several stakeholders will approach the individual, each with their positive perspective on the required change. This will often result in the individual coming to a conclusion that the change being advocated is not only required but also in their own and the company’s best interest.

6. Create a Vortex

Sometimes breadcrumbs take too long and a high-growth company needs to ramp up to maximum velocity. On rare occasion, a leader may need to create a “vortex.” Danger: it’s disruptive and can lead to feelings of short-term disempowerment, so should only last a week or two. An example of a vortex might be the creation of a small, focused team with an intense meeting schedule. The goal of the vortex is to create a new normal (new process, new team, new culture, new project, etc.) in a compressed timeframe.

7. Be a Woodpecker

Like the Vortex, being a woodpecker should not be overused. Being a woodpecker can be combined with other tactics or used on its own. Being a woodpecker means that at regular and deliberate intervals, perhaps every morning, you check in on the status of a project, priority or task. It’s repetitive and you can feel like you’re being annoying, but it demonstrates to everyone the importance of what you’re asking about.

8. Use Tribal Accountability

The most effective way we have found to drive accountability in an empowered organization is to use the power of “tribal accountability.” Here, a leader does not drive accountability using traditional top-down tactics. Here, we use daily stand-up meetings, open team presentations of progress, and weekly/monthly company meeting formats. These meetings create public discussion and commitments, break down silos, and distribute accountability through a team.

9. Organizational Structure = Intersection of Passion, Skill, Need, Values

Our organizational structure is optimal when each individual is working on something that he or she is passionate about and uniquely skilled at. Leaders here must be able to answer which of the five states below each of the team members is in:

  1. Someone fits the values, is working on something he is good at, that the company needs, that he is passionate about it.
  2. Someone fits the values, is working on something he is good at, that the company needs, but he is not passionate about it.
  3. Someone fits the values, is working on something he is passionate about, that he is not good at, or that the company does not need.
  4. No one is working on something that the company needs because no one is passionate about it or good at it.
  5. Someone does not fit the values.

Number 1 is the ideal state for an individual in an empowered culture. Numbers 2 and 3 should result in the leader and the individual working together to get to Number 1. Number 4 should trigger a new hire to be added to the team. Number 5 should result in coaching from the leader and/or a transition for the individual.

10. It’s Better to Multiply than Divide

The key enabler of growth for an empowered organization is the capacity of leadership to increase its own capacity. Culture is the culmination of values, purpose and the daily experiences created through the nine tactics above. The role of leaders at Miovision is not only to use the tactics, but also to teach the tactics to emerging and newly hired leaders.

And that’s the key thing: If you work for Miovision, we’ll show you how to put the “power” in “empowerment.” We are committed to it.

How to work a room at an important networking event

Clinging to the same person can cause missed opportunities.

by Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify.

In the long list of all of the things we have to do to be successful in our careers, networking is one of those activities that can evoke feelings of reluctance, awkwardness, embarrassment and the general sentiment of “Ugh, do I really have to do this?”

Figuring out how to walk into a room full of strangers and have a meaningful, natural, productive conversation can be challenging. All too often, we shrink back to the comfort of furtively searching the room for familiar faces and gravitating to the friendlies we recognize. Before we know it, an hour or two has elapsed, and we’ve accomplished nothing more than showing up and shooting the breeze.

While I’m a people person at heart, networking will never be something I look forward to. But I also understand that it’s a necessary and important part of the job, so I developed five tips to help you make the most of every opportunity:

1. Pick your events carefully
I could easily attend an event 10 nights out of every month if I wanted to — from CEO dinners to local tech events, investor cocktail parties and monthly startup volleyball, among others. I used to attend everything I could until it dawned on me that half of the events weren’t meeting personal needs (e.g. to have fun) or furthering my business, and I was seeing many of the same people over and over again.

I’m much more discerning and strategic now about how I spend my time and who I spend it with. Consciously think about what the event is going to get you and whether or not it’s worth it for you to be there.

2. Plan ahead
Is it an event or activity geared to making connections with potential customers, investors or someone else relevant to your business? If so, do your homework first. Try to find out who’s going to be there. Reach out ahead of time and see if you can lay a soft foundation for meeting one to three new people. Making a connection in advance completely eliminates the awkwardness of starting from ground zero when you get there. I’ll bet it helps the other person, too.

3. Set a goal
Here are a few potential goals to think about achieving: Meet a minimum number of new people; practice your sales elevator pitch two times; practice an opening greeting or two to see what works; and be on the receiving end of someone else’s pitch. Figuring out even one meaningful takeaway will make your goals worth the time. Give yourself a networking challenge like talking to three people who are wearing blue at an event.

4. Show up early and look your best
It’s much easier to engage with someone new when there aren’t many people in the room. And once you’ve had one conversation, it’s easier to move onto the next. Dress for success. People like to speak to other people who look confident and put together.

5. Don’t be a cling-on
We all know the type, and we’ve all been there. After working up the courage to speak to someone who looks equally uncomfortable, it isn’t wise to cling to each other for the rest of the night. Force yourself to move on. In fact, if you start a conversation that quickly seems like it won’t prove to be of value, end it politely with, “It’s been lovely talking to you, but I don’t want to monopolize your evening.” Then catch the eye of another person. In fact, catching the eye of anyone within spitting distance gives you the immediate opening to say, “Hi, there. Have we met before?” Don’t let that opportunity slip away.

The trick to networking is doing it with purpose. Have a plan, and even if you don’t come away with a new prospective customer or investor, you hopefully would have left a lasting and positive impression that pays dividends down the road.

How Will Humans Work with Robots?

Clearpath Robotics co-founder Ryan Gariepy was recently featured on Bloomberg Business to discuss how robot makers are designing machines to interact with humans.

Miovision a Canadian tech exporting success story

“Congestion, traffic, it’s a global problem….”

Tony+Brijpaul+-+Miovision+2“…It’s not specific to North America or Europe or any particular country or city,” says Kitchener, Ont.-based Miovision Technologies Inc.’s chief operating officer Tony Brijpaul. “When we started Miovision, we always knew we would become an export-focused business.”

Founded in 2005, Miovision was conceived by Mr. Brijpaul and co-founders Kurtis McBride and Kevin Madill after Mr. McBride had spent summers as a University of Waterloo student at a job sitting on a lawn chair, holding a clipboard and counting cars.

While it was a cushy summer job, it was a crude way to gather data for smart cities of the future, says Mr. McBride: “[It’s] a manual and time-intensive process, not to mention frequently inaccurate. Cities would make road construction decisions with 30-year implications based on potentially bad data.”

A decade later, Miovision has about 600 customers in about 50 countries, with a sales satellite office in Cologne, Germany. “We’re in every continent except Antarctica,” Mr. Brijpaul says.

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail.

The intellijoint HIP is now available across Canada

Intellijoint Surgical Inc., a privately held Canadian medical technology company committed to developing low-cost, miniaturized surgical smart tools, announced today the commercial launch of its flagship product, intellijoint HIP™, for use by orthopaedic surgeons across Canada.

intellijoint HIP is simple, easy to use and provides surgeons with vital intra-operative measurements enabling proper cup position, equalization of leg length and restoration of hip offset. These critical measurements can assist in the prevention of recurrent instability, hip dislocation and leg length discrepancy. intellijoint HIP benefits from the company’s proprietary core technology, a miniaturized surgical grade tracking system placed in the sterile field.

“intellijoint HIP is a revolutionary smart tool that will make a significant impact on patient outcomes in hip replacement surgery and health care system costs worldwide,” said Armen Bakirtzian, Co-Founder and CEO of Intellijoint Surgical. “Use of our device will reduce costly readmissions and unnecessary revision surgeries while improving clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. We are extremely excited for this milestone and the next steps in our company’s growth.”

The company has successfully conducted a limited launch of intellijoint HIP with 200+ live surgeries in the U.S. and Canada performed by select key opinion leading orthopaedic surgeons. The commercial launch will commence in Ontario, and expand to the rest of the country.

To read more, click here.

How SmartAd is Turning Science Fiction into Reality

Why facial recognition means a better customer experience

In the movie Minority Report, Tom Cruise walks through a mall, past a series of translucent screens all displaying highly targeted ads, personalized specifically for him.


Of course, targeted ads aren’t new; personalized mailers have existed for decades and targeting is becoming increasingly prevalent online. But so far, it’s something that has remained outside of public spaces, like malls, banks, and retailers.

Hamzeh Al Fuqha, CEO of SmartAd, wants to change that. His company, a recent recipient of funding through AC JumpStart, has developed facial recognition software that can identify factors like the age, gender, and even emotional response of viewers, allowing advertising to dynamically adjust to suit the viewer.

But unlike the advertisers in Minority Report, SmartAd doesn’t want to know who you are, but simply to analyze a few details to help ensure the content you see is relevant to you. The data is anonymous, but the impact is big: viewers get a more relevant experience and advertisers get a better sense of what’s working for different demographics.

Al Fuqha was recently interviewed on CBC Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast and learn more about this incredible technology.

Magnet Forensics wins two forensic 4Cast Awards

Magnet IEF was named Computer Forensic Software of the Year, and Phone Forensic Software of the Year at the 2015 Forensic 4cast Awards. The awards were presented last night at the SANS DFIR Summit in Austin, TX.

This is the third consecutive year that Magnet IEF has taken home the award for Computer Forensic Software of the Year. As we continue to further develop our software and expand our mobile capabilities, we are also thrilled to be named Phone Forensic Software of the Year, for the first time ever.

Congratulations Magnet Forensics!

Read the full press release here.

AC Client Konectera launches new equine wearable SeeHorse

In a world where everything is becoming connected and quantified, dogs, cats and even horses won’t be spared. Connecting and quantifying animals isn’t new for Kitchener-Waterloo startup Konectera. The company launched CLEO Collar back in 2013 to keep tabs on smaller animals like dogs and cats and have recently introduced a new product, SeeHorse, to monitor and track horses.

Konectera is not structured like your typical startup. The company oversees multiple startups holding the IP, legal rights and equity across all of them. CEO Peter Mankowski calls it the “mothership” and both CLEO Collar and SeeHorse are the first of two startups under the corporation. For now, the mothership is focused on wearable technology for pets, but Mankowski told BetaKit that human wearables are being considered. The Konectera website positions the company as an “industry leader in machine to machine communication” using cloud-based sensor management platforms to service the pet, medical, first responder and other industrial applications. In March of this year, Konectera became one of seventeen companies accepted in the first Accelerator Centre (AC) JumpStart cohort, receiving $30,000 in seed capital and mentorship.

Mankowski’s second startup, SeeHorse, on the other hand, is already selling its product to the public, being much further along than CLEO Collar despite only being launched a couple of months ago. Mankowski told us that SeeHorse’s traction is due to work already done with CLEO Collar, along with an undisclosed round of investment received by Konectera provided specifically to get SeeHorse into the market.

To read the full article, click here.