MEDFORD

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Sunday, April 01, 2007
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MEDFORD — Gift-basket powerhouse Harry and David earned a record $115.4 million during the second quarter of the 2007 fiscal year. Oft-delayed plans to take the company public with an IPO have been put off again until June at the earliest, according to company executives. Harry and David employs about 1,300 people year-round but depending on the season the number of employees can swell to around 10,000, making the company the largest employer in Southern Oregon. Harry and David owns about 130 stores throughout the country.

MEDFORD — For 15 years the eight-person staff at the Southern Oregon Women’s Access to Credit (SOWAC) helped new and existing business owners establish their companies. About 700 people per year came through the center’s doors before it was forced to close in mid-February along with the Medford and Grants Pass offices due to a lack of funding. David Tally, an instructor and consultant with SOWAC, says that as the center’s funding decreased after the 2005 death of executive director Helen Wallace, former trainers and consultants began to form a consortium to offer the same types of services as SOWAC. The consortium, The Business Center at Tally Media Group, will function like a Rolodex, using the pool of consultants who worked with SOWAC to assist small businesses with a specific problem.


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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

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This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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