Herman Miller Journal, What's Up
March 31, 2010
In 2008, only six companies in the U.S. (Microsoft, Cisco, Apple, Google, Whole Foods, and Herman Miller) made three top lists: FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and Most Admired Companies, and FastCompany’s Most Innovative Companies. In 2010, four of those six made all three lists again—Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and us. Why are we telling you about it?
For many reasons, but mainly because we think it means good things for our customers. When you work with a company—and its people noted for pioneering new approaches and advocating for a better way—the chances you’ll benefit go way up.
In any case, we’re proud to be the only company in our industry on any of these lists, and we’re humbled by the organizations we appear with.
The reality behind these rankings—at least in the case of the FORTUNE lists—comes from employee surveys. Making these lists is a sign of the health for our business and our communities. It also says something good about the relationship between our leadership and our employees. We know our customers ultimately benefit.
In the case of the FastCompany award, we were further distinguished as an “Innovation All-Star,” the only Michigan-based company on the list. We guess our selection has something to do with our award-winning Herman Miller Performance System.
We do a lot of talking around here about working for a better world around you. By “you” we mean our community of customers, employees, shareholders, and contributors of all sorts. Whatever else these awards mean, others are recognizing us for doing what we say.
March 29, 2010
Jerome Caruso could be considered the king of kitchens. In the mid-1980s, he was approached by the Sub-Zero company to help refresh the look of its refrigerators.
At the time, the young designer was better known for designing digital watches for Motorola. But when Caruso turned his hand to the humble refrigerator, he transformed Sub-Zero into an icon for high-end kitchens. Business Week wrote that his sleek, designer refrigerators were “not unlike having a Ferrari in your driveway.”
In 1998, Caruso designed the Reaction chair for Herman Miller, which won Best of NeoCon Gold. Then he tackled “the Mount Everest of fun.”
Always concerned with ergonomics, Caruso “envisioned hundreds of tiny ‘cells’—each one consisting of a pad with spring-like loops that would both support and respond to different anatomical areas.” The result was the Celle chair with a patented Cellular Suspension system that mimics the buoyancy of water.
Now with nearly 100 patents, Caruso continues to peer into the future of product design. But let’s hear it from him.
Here are 7 questions for Jerome Caruso.
Herman Miller Journal
March 26, 2010
This is the second in a series of three spring holiday recipes from Marigold Lodge. (To see the first one, check out the Steamed Halibut in Borscht with Chive-Horseradish Sauce.) Next up: Dessert!
Celery Root Puree
2 medium-sized celery roots (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
2 medium pototoes (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp. butter
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Rack of Lamb
2 French-cut racks of lamb, cut in half with 4 ribs per serving
4 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, removed from stem and chopped
½ cup olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
1½ cups reduced veal or beef stock
Salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut lengthwise into strips
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Celery Root Puree
In a medium sauce pan over high heat, add butter and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add celery root, potatoes, and chicken stock. Bring liquid to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until celery root and potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and strain.
Allow celery root mixture to cool. Place into a food processor and puree until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. May be made one day ahead of time. Reheat in sauce pan just before serving. Note that puree may stick to pan while reheating, so stir often.
Rack of Lamb
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Season lamb with salt and pepper and rub rosemary evenly on each rack. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Place lamb racks into skillet and sear each side until brown. Remove racks and place on a sheet pan; place into oven for 10-12 minutes, or until lamb reads 120 degrees F. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Remove any extra oil from skillet; add wine and stock and reduce by half. Salt and pepper to taste.
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add asparagus and sauté until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.
This dish may be served on a large platter or individual plates. Line plate with asparagus and place celery root puree over asparagus. Cut each four-rib rack into half; cross the rib bones together and place over the puree. Spoon stock reduction over lamb and serve. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.
Technology, What's Up
March 24, 2010
Social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be frivolous or useful. Frivolous: More than 724,000 kids (my son included) are Facebook fans of “Don’t complain about grading 140 essays over the weekend, you assigned it.”
Powerful: 18,000 people bypass the hype-steria surrounding the H1N1 flu by following the Center for Disease Control on Twitter. The CDC provides factual updates as information becomes available.
For most people, social media lies between the two extremes.
According to Forrester Research, almost 60% of Internet users use social media. Other research shows that a third of social media users are quite active, updating their statuses at least once a week. Their reasons vary, but 54% say they do it to stay in touch with friends and family. Less than five percent report they “regularly” use it to make buying decisions.
That will likely change. Nielsen says global consumers spent more than five hours on social networking sites in December 2009. That’s an 82% increase over December 2008. With that kind of growth, more and more companies are using social networking. They see an opportunity to build their brands and strengthen their connection with customers.
Carnival Cruise helped an unhappy customer locate the t-shirts he thought the cruise line stole from him. They only way they knew he was unhappy about it was that he tweeted about it. But companies like more than just broadcasting via social media. In fact, for the individuals who actually tweet for a company, the best part is hearing from followers.
Herman Miller uses Facebook and Twitter to share good news (such as its inclusion on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list), product information, and job openings, and to find out what’s on customers’minds.
What is on their minds? Sometimes it’s their chair’s warranty, but other times it’s a pet. Take the tweet from @stacyharmon: Apparently my cat finds my Aeron chair as comfortable as I do. http://post.ly/KL10. All of it helps “humanize the brand,” social media experts say.
Social media—especially Twitter, which doesn’t allow tweets to be longer than 140 characters—also forces companies to be clear, concise, and clever. That’s good news for consumers. If they don’t have us at hello, then we say buh-bye.
Photo via: Harmon Enterprises
Design, Healthcare, Products, What's Up
March 23, 2010
Healthcare. It’s a topic that’s vital to all of us. But some lose track of the fact that healthcare almost always gets delivered in a facility—hospital, clinic, doctor’s office. The recent 2010 ASHE-PDC International Summit on Health Facility Planning, Design and Construction in San Diego put the focus on the places where healthcare happens. As you can imagine, there was a lot to hear and see.
As to hearing, there was a lineup of buzz-worthy keynote and plenary speakers. They included former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Air Force fighter pilot Brian Shul, whose aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. They, and CEO of the American Hospital Association Richard J. Umbdenstock, tackled issues related to navigating healthcare transformation and how to respond to them.
As to seeing, a big highlight was the Gallery of Architecture for Health. It showcased cutting-edge healthcare design trends from over 200 exhibitors from around the country. Front and center in the exhibit hall, Herman Miller Healthcare displayed a range of product solutions from our family of healthcare brands:
Nemschoff—Brooklyn Lounge and Patient Chair, Bedford Casegoods, Sleepover Bench and Serenity III Treatment Chair
Brandrud—Centé and Nala Patient Chairs
Herman Miller Healthcare—Aeron Stool, Decentralized Caregiver Workstation, Mobile Technology and Procedure/Supply Carts
If you missed the Summit, you can get a look at many of these products next month at the AONE Annual Meeting and Exposition in Indianapolis, IN.
March 22, 2010
A wonderful, photo-filled coffee table book, Eames Design; The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, includes a 1969 Q & A session with Charles Eames and Madame L’Amic of the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, in conjunction with a design exhibit at the Louvre.
Here are a few choice tidbits from that session (which, by the way, was later used as the audio track for a film the Eames Office made on the design process called, “Design Q&A”).
Q: What is your definition of design?
A: A plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose.
Q: What are the boundaries of design?
A: What are the boundaries of problems?
Q: Does the creation of design admit constraint?
A: Design depends largely on constraints.
Q: What constraints?
A: The sum of all constraints. Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible (and) his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints—the constraints of price, size, strength, balance, surface, time, etc.; each problem has its own peculiar list.
Q: To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number (the masses)? The specialists…the enlightened amateur…a privileged social class?
A: To the need.
Eames also helped design Herman Miller’s Los Angeles Showroom. Check out the vintage photos Eames Office shared with us to create a slideshow on Discover.
Herman Miller Journal
March 19, 2010
As the spring holidays approach, we thought we’d share some more recipes from Marigold Lodge, perhaps to inspire you in your own planning for Passover and Easter meals.
This is the first in a series of three recipes. Visit Discover on Fridays to find out what the next two will be.
Steamed Halibut in Borscht with Chive-Horseradish Sauce (Dairy and Pareve)
2 Tbsp. olive oil or corn oil
1 medium onion, julienned
1 cup fennel, julienned
2 Tbsp. sliced garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh flatleaf parsley
1 cup chopped savoy cabbage, plus 3 of the darker outer leaves, finely julienned
1 quart well-seasoned chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups peeled fresh beets, julienned (about 1 ½ bunches)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
¼ cup prepared white horseradish
½ tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
8 halibut steaks or fillets, each 4 to 6 ounces
Heat oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Add onions and fennel; cook slowly about 5 minutes, until softened. Tie garlic, thyme, parsley, and chopped cabbage in a double thickness of cheesecloth and add it to saucepan along with stock and beets. Simmer 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove form heat. Discard cheesecloth and its contents. To serve the dish chilled, refrigerate beet mixture at least 4 hours or overnight.
Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add julienned cabbage leaves, cook just until bright green, then drain. Set leaves aside, covered, to keep warm; for a cold dish, refrigerate.
Mix crème fraiche or sour cream with horseradish, sugar, and chives. This sauce can be gently warmed in a small saucepan or chilled to serve cold.
To serve, steam halibut until fully cooked outside and just warm inside, 6 to 8 minutes. Keep warm. Reheat beet mixture, spoon into warmed shallow soup bowl, sprinkle with julienned cabbage and top with fish. Serve horseradish sauce, warm or chilled, on the side.
Better World, What's Up
March 18, 2010
Photo via: Just Means Future of Sustainability Communications & Practice
This Friday, March 19, I’ll be networking with global peers at the Just Means Social Media and CSR conference in London. The conference is an opportunity to share stories and best practices as participants begin to fully grasp the power of the converging forces of social media and corporate social responsibility, which are totally in line with our “Better World” values here at Herman Miller.
In an era where anyone can be a global reporter, businesses have moved to increase their level of corporate transparency; the days of making a statement and hiding behind press releases are long gone. That this idea is catching on in the mainstream is reflected in the speaker roster: representatives from Unilever, Dell, Royal Dutch Shell, software giant SAP, and The Guardian newspaper. Others are on the agenda and participants include representatives ranging from corporate giants like Coca-Cola and Arcelor Mittal, to media agencies such as BSkyB, and international development organizations such as Care International UK.
For more information on the conference visit the Just Means website. And if you want to follow me at the event, I plan to tweet live from the event at @HermanMiller. Watch for hashtag #BetterWorld.
Herman Miller Journal
March 17, 2010
On March 10, Herman Miller’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) hosted a conference for employees called “Get Noticed, Get Networked, Get Ahead!” which focused on increasing presence and widening networks.
WIN is one of seven Inclusiveness Resource Teams (IRTs) at Herman Miller that represent the diversity of our employees and our market. The IRTs’ mission is to work toward implementation of business recommendations, with many successes to date—including policy changes and education—to build awareness and celebrate the diversity of individuals. The teams are volunteer-based and each is supported by an executive sponsor. Besides the Women’s team, the other IRTs are Asian, Black, Employees with Disabilities, GLBT, Hispanic, and Male.
This year, the WIN team’s mission is “Growing Future Female Leaders.” To work towards this goal we have focused on initiatives around flexible work arrangements and mentoring programs for office and production workers. We have also sponsored webinars and discussion groups, and the “Get Noticed, Get Networked, Get Ahead!” conference.
The 2-hour conference was attended by approximately 75 people and featured Herman Miller leaders discussing these topics: Building Your Personal Brand, Creating Your Development Plan, and The Importance of Networking. At the end of the conference, attendees were invited to stay and participate in a networking exercise to put to practice the techniques they learned.
I was grateful to have had the opportunity to attend both the conference and the networking event. It was so beneficial to learn that a personal brand is one that consistently reflects my values, shows how others view me, and showcases my skill set. I also discovered that informal development opportunities, such as participating in special projects, are very likely the ones that will have the most impact on my growth and development. And, I learned that in all my interactions with people, truly listening to others is the best way to make a real connection with them. In fact, during the exercise, I made a connection with someone I plan to collaborate with in the future.
Better World, Technology, What's Up
March 16, 2010
The faster the network connections, the better people can work at home and on the move. Google thinks more speed for more people is the answer. It’s planning to test a network that will deliver the Internet over 1 gigabit per second fiber connections “in one or more trial locations across the country.”
Holland, Michigan, where our Design Yard facility is located, is one of the communities vying to be chosen. From now until March 26, residents can nominate the city and make the case for why it should be chosen. All you need is a Gmail account. Here’s hoping that Holland will be chosen (and that you’ll help by nominating the city).