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Archive for February, 2017

Ducks In A Row: Pros And Cons Of Omada Health

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017


Companies are becoming more and more involved in their employees personal lives, especially health-wise.

That’s understandable, considering how fast costs keep rising.

Startup Omada is a good example of what’s new.

The company’s business model is unique, as it doesn’t just charge employers per customer, but it actually depends on the success of each individual to make money. Omada’s revenue is outcome based.

This means that client companies pay only when there are positive results and that’s a good thing.

Accomplishing it, however, can feel invasive.

Its flagship program, Prevent, is modeled around the National Institutes of Health study called the Diabetes Prevention Program and is designed to help participants modify their behavior and reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The client company contracts with third-party organizations to identify those most at risk for at risk of diabetes or heart disease and enrolls them for intensive personal counseling.

The digital scale that each user gets, which is connected wirelessly to their Omada account, does daily weigh-ins to track their weight loss, as that is a good indicator of blood sugar and the risk of diabetes. Omada then gets paid based on the percentage weight loss that user has seen.

However, weight is not always an accurate indicator. Based on my lifetime weight I should be diabetic, have high blood pressure and likely a heart condition.

But I don’t.

In fact, I am amazingly healthy, always have been, and require no medication, whereas 85% of people my age are taking at least one prescription drug.

While Omada’s process would work for many people it feels invasive to me and if I were an employee I’d want to opt out of it.

So the real question here is not the value of the program offered, but whether the employer forces people to do it and penalizes them if they refuse.

Image credit: Vator TV

Golden Oldies: Differences Worth Noting

Monday, February 13th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

During his time at GE, Jack Welch was lauded and crowned as a god of leadership and management— How times have changed. Welch’s success was dominantly a function of GE’s financial services and he created one of the harshest cultures around—which would have failed miserably with today’s workforce.

Immelt sold off the financial stuff, totally changed the culture from one of suspicion to one of trust,  dumped the forced rankings, just issued a directive that all new hires learn to code and has responded to the current worldwide protectionist mindset by moving from globalization to localization.

Immelt is a worthy role model.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

2185315789_e5d6af6e0d_mThere is a sizable difference between accepting positional leadership when a company is at the bottom and there is no place to go but up and taking over when its at its height—even more so when what was the growth engine and source of extraordinary profits disappears from the economic landscape.

It is one thing to maximize what you have, wringing out every last possible dollar, and investing in innovation for sustainable growth in the future.

It is one thing to create a culture where public shame and the likelihood of termination for missing your numbers rules and changing that to a culture that encourages appropriate risk-taking and never kills the messenger when the risk doesn’t pan out; a culture that understands not every innovation will be a home run, but encourages and applauds the effort anyway.

These are the differences between Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt.

Welch had taken over when the company was in the bottom of an economic cycle. He took over GE in a recession, not at the height of a bubble.

Immelt got the job right after the end of the high-flying 1990s, an era which crowned CEOs with mythical, God-like crowns, and Welch was bestowed the biggest of them all.

Immelt had known before the meltdown the company needed to wean off the leveraged risk from finance that was begun under Welch. … He admitted mistakes, as any good leader must do, and GE more quietly if not humbly went about its business in making the company a 21st century sustainable and reliable profit engine.

The differences are worth noting.

Flickr image credit: laurita13

If the Shoe Fits: Cards Against Humanity’s Great Super Bowl Ad

Friday, February 10th, 2017

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

If you don’t live in the Midwest you probably missed one of the best, not to mention apropos, super Bowl ads shown.

The ad was from Cards Against Humanity and they listed the reasons it failed on their blog.

  • We wasted time with establishment thinking.
  • Overconfidence in the model.
  • Bad luck.
  • Failure to trust our customers.
  • We were asking the wrong questions.
  • Our ad failed to connect with young people.
  • We were too early.
  • We didn’t add music.
  • We didn’t add music.

How many times have you heard founders say similar things?

Yup, it reads like a generic laundry list of the reasons “why startups fail.”

And they end the post with a fervent Valley paean to failure.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mAt Cards Against Humanity, we believe that you can only become a master by trying and failing. In this way, failure is life’s greatest teacher; failure is actually success. At Cards Against Humanity, we fail all the time. We are veterans of failure. And constant failure, plus unlimited capital, is what led us to greatness.

Now you know why this post is called “if the shoe fits”…

Image credit: HikingArtist    
Video credit: Business Insider

Ryan’s Journal: Can Culture be Defined by One Person?

Thursday, February 9th, 2017


Have you ever been a member of a group or team that is flat out terrible? I have. I have been a member of that soccer team that never won a game, the work group that wasn’t succeeding.

Did I like it? Absolutely not. Did I learn from it? I think in some ways I did.

Have you ever seen that same team or group start to succeed with different leadership? In my case I have a very real world example of where this came to pass.

I had the pleasure of serving for five years in The United States Marine Corps. During this five year time the US was involved in several conflicts and I found myself deployed to Fallujah, Iraq.

During my deployment I served with a team of 12 other Marines, together we were known as a squad. Now this is the military, but a small group of people working together can be found within any type of organization. 

Our squad was led by a leader who, while a good guy, was not well equipped to lead a group of Marines into life or death situations.

This person had some leadership challenges that ultimately led to low morale, loss of confidence and an overall lack of guidance.

To be completely clear, the group sucked. We moped around, were not excited about our purpose and lacked vision.

After some time our higher leadership realized a change should be made and they moved our leader to a role better suited for his skill set.

I will tell you right now, that was a life changer.

We had a new leader come aboard that had the experience needed, was motivated and challenged us to be better then we were the day before.

Now overall the same 13 people were on the team, but the outcome was completely different.

We worked better as a group, shared responsibilities and were proud of our accomplishments.

I look back on this one example often when I think of how one person can shape a culture. 

Now, obviously the military has a top down culture when it comes to leadership, but it also embraces servant leadership.

In this scenario our new leader embraced servanthood. He made sure we were taken care of before his needs and that reflected in our outcome.

Have you been on a team that isn’t performing to its abilities? What is holding it back?

I had a conversation the other day with my CEO and he said something that stuck with me. He said, “leadership isn’t a title, its an action”.

Isn’t that true of culture too? You and I are the ones who will set the tone.

Do I always get it right? Absolutely not! I fail more times then I succeed. I tear down when I should build, allow emotions to dictate over data and more. At the end of the day my personal culture and that of my team is dictated by my thoughts and deeds, no one else.

Who determines yours?

Image credit: David Spinks

February 2017 Leadership Development Carnival

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

February 2017 Leadership Development Carnival

You can always tell it’s the start of a new month, because that’s when I share the newest Carnival with you. Sometimes just the link, but more often, like today, the entire post.

There’s lots of good stuff to help you grow, whether you are a positional leader or leader in the instance.

Also a good reference when you are faced with a difficult situation or just need intelligent information quickly.

So, without further ado…

leadership-carnival-5-300x134Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided How to Say No Graciously. Beth recaps, “Beth Beutler refreshes us on an important leadership skill—saying ‘no’ with grace.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: Make Values as Important as Results. In this post, Chris charges leaders to elevate values to the same level of importance as performance results. Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided 6 Essential Characteristics for Leading Simplification. Dan recaps, “This guest post by Lisa Bodell explores the concept of “simplification” and the leadership characteristics required to succeed.” Find Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed 5 Leadership Lessons From The Worst Bosses I’ve Ever Had. Dana writes, “I’ve had some pretty terrible bosses. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only did I learn a ton, but I began to claim my personal power by deciding I was done with being treated that way.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted 9 Ways to Motivate Employees When You Don’t Set the Goals. David summarizes, “Whether you are a team leader, a mid-manager, or even the President, CEO, or Executive Director there will be times in your career where you are asked to meet goals that you did not speak into or, in some cases, even disagree with. David shares how you and your team can still thrive in these situations.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared What Great Teams are Made Of (It’s Not What You Might Expect). David writes, “Google was fascinated by the question of what makes for an effective work team, and recently studied hundreds of its own teams to determine why some performed better than others. They thought the answer would be the obvious – teams made up of the best and brightest people – but it wasn’t. The answer may surprise you…” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared Do team values unite your team or divide it?. Jesse Lyn recaps, “ Identifying team values are a great way to create team cohesion. But if it’s not done right, it can actually create discord, as this short story shows. This article also includes 6 questions to ensure your team values unite your team and create a foundation of trust.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed Build Your Self-Confidence as an Anchor During Change. Jill shares, “Good leaders understand that self-confidence helps employees be more productive, but they can ignore their own confidence and its importance to personal development. Here are some easy tips to ensure you don’t get discouraged.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Be Open to Outcome: The Leaderly Approach. Jim shares, “I chose this particular post because it’s about personal leadership and ordinary people stepping up to do good for society with no expectation of any form of remuneration. The setting happens to be the United States for my post, from the perspective of a Canadian. Given all the negativity in the media, we need to reflect on the good acts that people do each and every day.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Jim Thomas of Development Dimensions International (DDI) shared The Dirty Little Secret About Expat Failure. Jim wrote, “An expat assignment can be a growth opportunity and a great adventure. But is it a smart career choice? In this post, I discuss the ways expat assignments can go wrong, and how many organizations don’t even bother to measure the ROI in their employee mobility programs.” Find Jim at @ddiworld.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted Don’t Let Your Work Speak For Itself: 3 Ways to Increase Your Visibility. Joel recaps: “Don’t just let your work speak for itself. It’s time you actively increased your visibility. Here are 3 ways to make that happen.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Cater to Customers’ Desires to Achieve Customer Delight. John summarizes, “Customer delight requires understanding your customers needs and desires. Often even your customers don’t understand these well. Businesses that have a deep appreciation for what their customers, and potential customers, desire and that create systems to deliver solutions that delight those customers benefit greatly from that effort.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Less Talk, More Action: Where Do You Fall?. Jon asks, “What have you done lately to lend a hand and lead change? We cannot afford just small talk or empty talking heads. We need more doing. It’s time to act upon the change we wish to see.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided Want to Institutionalize Career Development? Look for (or Cultivate) these Cultural Markers Julie recaps, “Does your organization have the cultural markers that enable authentic, sustainable career development? Julie’s article and the assessment it contains helps you answer this question.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed Stop this Terrible Habit You Don’t Even Know You Have. In the post, Karin points out a terrible habit many leaders have—and why you should stop it right away if you have it too. Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided How Can You Develop Your Personal Positive Power at Work?. Marcella recaps, “How can you develop your personal positive power at work? There are four levels to work on, starting with yourself: ME. Here’s the overview of the book that I am blogging! I hope you like it – in this era, we need as many positive agents as possible to make change happen.” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Are Your Goals Comfortable, Delusional or Somewhere in Between?. She recaps, “Throughout January, Mary Ila has been talking about methods for goal setting to set us all up for a successful 2017. In this post Mary Ila looks at how we should step outside our goal comfort zones to achieve peak performance in 2017. ” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Michael Lee Stallard of Connection Culture provided What Disengaged Employees Would Say to the Boss (If They Could Be Honest). Michael recaps, “What if you could hear the honest truth about things disengaged employees wish you would do? Michael Stallard shares 6 ways that leaders can boost employee engagement.” Find Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed 3 Steps to Being a Great Boss. Miki writes, “Being a great boss has a lot to do with being a great worker, then fulfilling your own desires after you are promoted.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Being an Inspired Leader. Neal recaps, “Inspired leaders know how to their employees well enough to inspire them to create and produce great work. Employees who are inspired by leaders contribute significantly than those who are not inspired.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed 5 Reasons To Keep Recruiting When Fully Staffed. Paul summarizes, “If you have a full complement of people on your team, you may want to see the wisdom in staying in recruiting mode. The reasons may surprise you, but the benefits are tremendous.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen submitted The Gift of the Present Moment: A Book Excerpt. Paula summarizes, “In this excerpt from The Five Thieves of Leadership by John Izzo, leaders are encouraged to learn how to center themselves in the present moment and, by doing so, to deter the happiness thief of control.” Follow Paula on Twitter at @biggreenpen.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared The Strategy Every Leader Can Use to Develop High-Performing Employees. Randy writes, “The performance of your employees is a reflection of your leadership. What does your team’s performance say about you? Randy shares new research from The Ken Blanchard Companies that points to the strategy any leader can use to develop high-performing employees.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Robyn McLeod of Chatsworth Consulting shared Slow It Down and Keep It Real. In this post, Robyn shares why being thoughtful, being present, focusing on the quality of our interactions not the quantity, and spending face-to-face time with others, helps us to slow down and put our relationships back in the center of our communications. Find Robyn at @ThoughtfulLdrs.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted The Number One Way to Show Respect at Work. In this piece, Shelley reminds us of “a simple, but often neglected way to show respect to one another at work.”  Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided 5 Ideas to Help You Cultivate Leadership. Susan explains, “The ultimate sign of an effective leader is that they are cultivating leadership in others. Sometimes this happens naturally. Yet, more often than not, if you want to cultivate leadership, you need to be intentional.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted How Would You Answer This Question About Your Leadership? . Tanveer explains this piece shares, “A question every leader should be asking themselves in order to figure out how successful their leadership will ultimately be.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Thom Pirone of Stronghold Training shared Thoughts on the Death of a Leader. In this memorial post to a revered mentor, Thom reflects on the three marks of a genuine leader, including how the impact they leave will be personal and profound. Follow Thom on Twitter at @strongholdthom.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted 3 Ways Excellent Leaders Keep Getting Better. Wally recaps, “Great leaders keep getting better. Here are three ways.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

Willy Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts provided 8 “Whats” to Engage and Mentor. Willy explains, “Key challenges for leaders to retain the best talent are to keep their staff engaged with the enterprise and to provide effective mentoring to help them grow and develop.  This post suggest 8 key “WHAT…” questions to support your staff in each area. Discover Willy on Twitter at @coachforexecs.

Ducks In A Row: Are We Going Backwards?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Whether you were alive in 1984 or not, you’ve probably seen Apple’s Super bowl ad. It’s reshown almost every year and has been consistently voted the top-rated Super Bowl ad ever made, which is saying a lot.

When the ad was made women were on an upward trend and were respected members of the tech community — unlike now.

Watching the ad again last week I got to wondering.

If that ad were made today would the person throwing the hammer be a woman?

Or would it be the proverbial “twenty-something guy in a hoodie?”

Video credit: antisubliminal

Golden Oldies: Bullies And Performance

Monday, February 6th, 2017

https://twitter.com/goldenoldiesbnnIt’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I hate bullies. The biggest changes in the decade since I wrote this post are that there are more bullies, many using the anonymity of the internet to morph into trolls, more hand-wringing, that accomplishes nothing, and a rising tide less willing to be bullied that responds loudly and displays its disgust actively with its wit and its feet. Hopefully that tide will turn into a tsunami.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

Does your newspaper carry The Born Loser by Chip Sansom? Actually, I don’t find Brutus, the main character, to be a loser—just a slightly naive guy who works for an arrogant bully who constantly belittles him.

In the July 26 panel the dialog is as follows:

Boss: I am looking for a unique spin to put on our new ad campaign—do you have any ideas?

Brutus: Gee, Chief, I’m not sure—are there any ideas you think I should think of?

Boss: Brutus Thornapple, master of thinking inside the box.

It reminded me of managers I’ve known, who, no matter what happened or what feedback they received, never could understand that it was their MAP and their actions, not their people’s, that was the root cause of their under-performing groups.

After all, if you

  • ask for input and ridicule those who offer it, why be surprised when you stop receiving input;
  • claim that you want to solve problems while they’re still molehills, yet kill the messengers who bring the news, you should expect to grapple with mountainous problems requiring substantially more resources;
  • tell people their ideas are stupid, whether directly or circumspectly, or, worse, that they are for thinking of them, why should they offer themselves up for another smack with the verbal two-by-four?

So, before you start ranting or whining about your group’s lack of initiative and innovation, try really listening to yourself and the feedback you get and then look in the mirror—chances are the real culprit will be looking straight back at you.

Fight Hate: Take Action NOW

Friday, February 3rd, 2017


Today is (or should be) the first day of the rest of your life speaking out and actively working for the world in which you want to live. To do everything you can to quell the rise of hate and change the direction of your world.

If you care it’s time to act — not wait for the other guy to do it.

I’m sure that some of my readers are happy with its direction and will be very unhappy with this post. They may even unsubscribe (it’s happened in the past), but that is their right and I respect that.

But hopefully the rest of you will heed this call to action, take time to read the links and time to think about the world you want — not just for yourself, but for you current/future kids and their kids, etc.

Last December I wrote about a pledge by techs not to build a Muslim registery and I quoted the words of Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor and rabid anti-Nazi, who spent seven years in a concentration camp.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This resonates with me because I am Jewish, granted I’m a sectarian Jew, but bigots don’t make that distinction.

My father’s family had the choice of emigrating from Russia or dying by the had of the Cossacks.

My Romanian grandmother was lucky. Her sister’s husband had only enough money to bring one sister to the US and she drew the short straw. The rest of the family died in the Holocaust.

I doubt it was an accident that the executive order was issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I’m also a nobody and MAPping Company Success is barely a gnat in the blogsphere, but I’m adding my voice to Fred Wilson’s Make America Hate Again, Mark Suster’s Never Let Anybody Tell You to Shut Up and many others.

The hate being shown to this wave of refugees echoes the hate shown to past waves, but this time it’s far more hysterical and fraught.  

As for the argument that the Muslim ban fights terrorism, what really are the odds that you might die in a terrorist attack in the US, especially compared to all the other ways to die? Take a look at the hard data.

odds of dying

Yes, ISIS is real, but terrorism on our soil is an excellent cover for one of the truly ugly underlying reasons today’s refugees are so violently rejected — they are black.

Anand Sanwal provided an insightful comment in his typically irreverent style.

So I landed in India with my daughter on Saturday and saw the news about immigration changes in the USA.
I don’t think American citizens of Indian descent are banned from re-entering the USA yet, but let me know if anything changes as I got another 5 days here and things appear to be changing quickly.
For the time being, I believe my type of brown person is still considered ok so that’s a relief. But definitely let me know if that changes. Thanks.

From Trump to Tea Party you are seeing the second coming of WASP thinking.

If this isn’t who you are then you need to speak out.

Not only speak out, but get active NOW.


By getting involved in Swing Left, an organized effort to take back the House in 2018 or go directly to the Swing Left website.

The operative word is NOW.

Image credit: Dave Mosher/Business Insider

Ryan’s Journal: How Does Time Affect Culture?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017


I had an interesting conversation today with a Director of IT Security from a large healthcare provider in Delaware who is a customer of mine.

The conversation was mostly to do with what his daily responsibilities were, how he balanced competing priorities and to gain a better understanding of his particular challenges.

I went into this meeting with my only desire to better understand him as a person and see how I could be of better value to him as my customer.

I did not expect to come away from the conversation with real world cases of how culture within an organization can change over time, but I have found when you keep your ears open it is surprising what people will say.

Some of you may have experience with healthcare providers, either as a patient or perhaps in a business relationship. I am sure that one thing we can all agree upon is that as a rule they can be slow to adopt, adapt and mature.

This may be hardwired into the DNA of the organization. I know that when I break my leg a doctor will put a cast in it because that has been proven to work through millions of previous experiences.

This can be the desired outcome versus the doctor that decides to try a different remedy for every broken leg. 

As I was speaking with my customer he said one thing that struck me. He said, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

He was saying this in reference to his desire to shape the culture to be more security conscience. However, he understood that if radical changes were made overnight he would lose the support of the organization. Instead he was implementing incremental changes over time to affect change.

Isn’t this the desired outcome?

As I think through this, there are times when radical change is needed, but typically it’s at the personal level that it is achieved.

Obvious examples being taking up exercise, limiting the amount of alcohol or taking up a new routine.

Try and push that on your friends or family overnight and good luck!

It takes time and buy-in from the group to effect lasting change.

That leaves us with a question that I do not yet have the answer to.

How do we achieve the change that is desired?

Image credit: becosky

Retail DIS-Service

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017


I am a frequent Home Depot shopper, other than during the Nardelli regime, mainly because my Amex points a good conversion rate to dollars for HD gift cards.

Now it seems I only have to deal with corporate purchasing stupidity.

Let me explain.

I live in Washington State, just across the Columbia River about 20 minutes from Portland, Oregon, an area known locally for it’s dozens of micro-climates, multiple rivers and fast elevation changes.

This means that when it’s cold and rainy by me, it’s probably cold and snowy at my friend’s who lives about 15 minutes and 800 feet away.

But in general, we don’t get a lot of freezing weather — but we do get it.

A couple of weeks ago the entire area got walloped with the worst storm in 16 years and it stayed cold, with temperatures in the 20s.

So I wasn’t surprised when I finally got to HD to buy ice melt they were sold out.

However, I was flabbergasted when I went back this week and was told that they wouldn’t have more until October.

A very chagrined manager explained that they had sold out their year’s allotment and had no way of ordering more.

When pushed, he said that central purchasing decided how much of a given product would sell annually and if a store sold out tough luck.

So, based on the weather forecast, it was back to Lowe’s, where I shopped when Nardelli was in power.

Retail DIS-service; better know as retail stupidity.

Image credit: Mike Mozart

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