A Publication of WTVP

2015 Word of the Year
Each December, the Oxford Dictionaries team selects a word that best captures the mood over the past year. This year’s Word of the Year is not even a word at all, but is officially known as the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji. “Emoji culture” exploded in 2015, it says, and now embodies “a core aspect of living in a digital world that is visually driven, emotionally expressive and obsessively immediate.”

Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, explains: “You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st-century communication. It’s not surprising that a pictograph script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps—it’s flexible, immediate and infuses tone beautifully. As a result, emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistics borders.”

Innovation & the R&D Spend
In its Global Innovation 1000 studies, PwC’s Strategy& team identifies the top 20 publicly traded companies worldwide that spend the most on R&D, alongside a ranking of the world’s most innovative companies, based on a web survey of 369 senior R&D executives and innovation leaders. As in previous years, the 10 most innovative companies outperform the top R&D spenders, with five companies making both lists. Find the complete lists—and much more—at

Checking the Vitals
Approximately 3,500 babies die each year in the U.S. due to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), according to the CDC. This alarming figure was enough to push Peoria native Mollie Evans to find a way to take her newborn’s health into her own hands. Dubbed the Baby Vida Monitor, Evans’ invention is simple to use: a soft sock on your baby’s foot wirelessly transmits his or her oxygen level and heart rate through Bluetooth, while parents monitor the numbers via a free app. If it registers a reading outside of the predetermined safety range, the device sounds an alarm so you can take immediate action. Wireless, portable and easy to use, the Baby Vida Monitor offers peace of mind above all, suggests Evans. To learn more about the monitor, on sale nationwide at Walmart, visit

Time to Innovate

There’s a common thread among innovative companies: they set aside employee “free time.” Take 3M’s long-standing “15-percent rule,” which encourages researchers and engineers to spend 15 percent of their workday on their own projects. At Google, that rule is 70–20–10: 70 percent of an employee’s time should be spent on core business, 20 percent on projects related to the core and 10 percent on totally unrelated projects. At Apple, engineers get 20 percent for their own projects, while last year, Adobe publicized the details of its “Kickbox” employee innovation program, which offers $1,000 to employees to pursue side projects. Meanwhile, PayPal, GE, AT&T and American Express all have programs to encourage innovation and inspire creativity.

No matter how you do it, the concept is simple, suggests Intuit Inc. “Give employees time and freedom to explore ideas they are passionate about, and they will generate new and innovative products and services.” The software firm suggests carving out at least 10 percent of employees’ schedules for “unstructured time,” offering the following steps to make the most of that time:

  1. Batch your time. Negotiate a block of time that falls after peak projects and deadlines so you’re not distracted by daily fires. Looming projects can steal your focus; it’s better to innovate in a designated block of undistracted time, so “40 hours every 10 weeks can be much better than four hours per week.”
  2. Build a small team. Forming a mini-team of energetic people with synergistic skillsets can do wonders for the innovation process via inspiration and extra brainpower.
  3. Create structure. Innovating in a vacuum doesn’t work; “it’s vital to create some structured activity for your unstructured time project,” states Intuit. Find a way to spur teams to hit deadlines for innovation via contests; host in-house competitions or open houses to showcase new ideas.

Most importantly, make innovation part of your organization’s culture, because “unstructured time alone isn’t enough to spur innovation.” Learn more at

Mining Meeting Gold

Tired of wasting time in meetings? Though they sometimes seem futile, in fact “team meetings are a big indicator of overall team performance,” says Lawrence Polsky of the global consulting firm He and his colleague, Antoine Gerschel, offer the following tips on how you can transform wasted time and “mine gold from executive meetings”:

  1. Seven-minute watercooler wisdom. Leverage the HHAY (“Hello, how are you?”) meeting to stay on top of team issues and build strong relationships with team members.
  2. Don’t let the loudmouths dominate. Don’t allow quieter individuals to be overshadowed by their more extroverted peers.
  3. Separate catch-up, project and strategy meetings. One often bleeds into another, making meetings long and unproductive. Suggesting that “this is a good topic for the XX meeting” helps you stay on track.
  4. The meeting before the meeting. Briefing attendees on the agenda and providing discussion items in advance will keep meetings moving along.
  5. End-of-meeting huddle. End by asking questions like: “Were the meeting objectives met?” “Did everybody participate?” and “Do we have clear commitments and action items?” iBi