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May 7, 2019

A Road Map for Innovation: 3 Elements of Design Thinking

In the second quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, Jon Cook, Global CEO of VMLY&R, shared a key element to the advertising agency’s record of success and innovation, design thinking. The concept of design thinking transcends the advertising world and has broader applications wherever there are people delivering products, services, and experiences. Jon distilled the complex philosophy down to a method that is both repeatable and unrestricting.

Jon distilled design thinking down to three basic elements: perspective, exploration and solution.

1. Perspective

There is no single correct perspective, but beware of limiting your focus to a single overriding principle. Jon used the example of efficiency, which can lead to a culture of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This kind of environment stifles innovation and is unlikely to produce products or experiences that exceed expectations.

2. Exploration

Exploration could also be called the research phase. Jon warns against getting caught up in competitor research, although it can be a necessary evil at times. Focusing on competitors limits your research to your own industry, full of people answering the same questions as you with the same basic tools and strategies. Instead, try looking to thought leaders, successful campaigns across all industries, and universal everyday experiences.

3. Solution

When design thinking is used successfully, the solution will do more than answer the immediate question. The solution will change the question. For example, design thinking led VMLY&R to stop asking how to influence their audience to engage with their ads and start asking if ads were the best way to reach their audience. This simple shift led to the social phenomenon that engaged Wendy’s core audience of 18-24 year old men by live streaming a Wendy’s character playing their favorite video game. Click here to learn more about Wendy’s Story.

Jon also cautioned that there is no step-by-step approach to design thinking. The path from perspective to solution is not a linear one, but circular and continuous. By focusing on reframing the question, we can begin to reshape how innovative solutions can effectively address the needs of consumers.

To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com.

May 6, 2019

This month’s showcase feature entrepreneurs that are all about making our lives easier with technology. The entrepreneurs that came in both offered resources through their software platforms to make back office tasks a thing of the past. More information on these companies can be found below:

Risk Genius

Risk Genius is a software platform that automatically reviews insurance policies. The problem most business owners face is that they have no idea what is in their policies or what to do during an emergency. This technology is working with AI to better find the policy clauses needed within the uploaded policy database system. Another cool feature of their software of the ability to go through policies with a side by side comparison and checklist of compliance requirements. Find out more about Risk Genius here.

Site 1001

Site 1001 is a software platform for building managers and owners to have a single source of data for  optimal building and operations performance. Many buildings have one system or process that handles work orders, heating, cooling, preventative maintenance, etc.. The Site 1001 software works with Carl, your virtual assistant, to determine building specs, increase the heat, and alert the user of any dated maintenance needs to keep the building in tip top shape for the tenants. In addition, Site 1001 works directly with the general contractor, owner, property manager, and third party services to house the information all in one place. Find out more about Site 1001 here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.

April 4, 2019

This month the entrepreneurial showcases featured services that offer just what businesses need to be successful. One of the entrepreneurs that came in was Bic Media. They offered insight into different media outlets that start-ups should be taking advantage of to gain new business and interact with followers. Another entrepreneur that came in was On Point. They offered opportunities to help manage backend business. More information on these companies can be found below:

Bic Media

Bic Media is a small marketing agency in the Crossroads that specializes in video production. They want their customers to see that making videos is easy. Bic Media offers customers a wide array of formats such as animation, 3-D, and virtual reality that can be paired with original music. Their videos can be displayed by streaming via television or social media. They help take an idea and create it into reality with video. Bic Media is there for every part of the experience from the initial idea to the final product. Find out more about Bic Media here.

On Point

On Point is an outsourced back office business. They are the modern back office and look at more than just typical back office tasks. On Point are the experts in outsourced operations. On point is for businesses needing to mitigate liability and have a cost effective solution to their back office. They help organize the daily stresses burdening employers and are proactive to help continue to mitigate those stresses. Find out more about On Point here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.

March 6, 2019

This month’s showcase has been tasty and techy. City Barrel Brewing came to visit the CBIZ office this month and brought along a tasty treat for the audience. RPI Creative also visited CBIZ this month and brought along someone to help him record the showcase. More information on these companies can be found below:

City Barrel Brewing

City Barrel Brewing is a new local KC brewery found in the Crossroad’s District. They specialize in sour, hoppy and wild beers with a twist, incorporating fruit and other adjunct flavors to differentiate their beers from their top competitors. City Barrel has a variety of foods that pair well with their craft beers from their full restaurant. Community and giving back is important to the brewery and its owners. To help give back to the community where they live and work, City Barrel partners with local charities to create a special beer where a portion of the proceeds are gifted to the charity.

Find out more about City Barrel Brewery here.

RPI Creative

RPI Creative is a marketing firm that specializes in social media platform management. They help build a personal brand for business and individuals to maximize their reach and bring a voice to their business. To do this RPI creates relatable content that people want to see and share. Likes, views, shares, and comments increases engagement and attract more potential customers or followers to the businesses social media pages. RPI Creative is not your average marketing firm, in addition to social media management, they offer a wide range of marketing services from podcasts to video creation. The more collaboration between them and the business or individual, the more authentic the content feels to the audience. Find out more about RPI Creative here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.

February 11, 2019

In our first CBIZ Executive Advantage Series of 2019, Dr. Roy Jensen and Jeff Wright from the University of Kansas Cancer Center described the impressive growth the KU Cancer Center has undergone in the last 15 years, and how they continue to change the landscape of cancer care. Here are the top four things you need to know about the KU Cancer Center and the innovative ways they are striving for a solution to a disease that affects everyone.


Dr. Jensen returned to his home in Kansas City in 2004 to take the job as the Director of the KU Cancer Center. At this time, the center had been under the leadership of 18 different deans in a span of 18 years. As a result, the center was having a hard time maintaining talent and thriving as an organization. However, Dr. Jensen saw the potential within the center, and recognized that with some hard work and strategic decisions, the center had the chance to become one of the best.

With both local and regional collaborations, Dr. Jensen was able to leverage his expertise and began to build a program with the right resources and the right people. These advancements gained the KU Cancer Center the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation in 2012. With this NCI designation, KU Cancer Center is the only center with this designation in the state of Kansas, and is one of only seventy in the United States.  This designation allows the center to have the resources to continue to innovate and also provide excellent care to Kansas Citians without having to travel far.


Both Dr. Jensen and Jeff Wright are extremely excited for the future and hope to leverage the momentum KU is experiencing. Dr. Jensen stated that Dr. Joesph McGuirk is doing ground-breaking work for blood and marrow transplants. However, Dr. McGuirk is just one of over a dozen specialized doctors doing amazing work in this field. It is not just the work of these doctors; the Cancer Center itself immediately steps in to help guide patients with a cancer diagnosis. Their Nurse Navigator program enlists the help of a team of nurses whose job is to ensure that the patient is seen by the right doctor as soon as possible. This team is present throughout the patient’s diagnosis journey until a survivorship treatment plan is in place. This programming is a stepping stone for the future of patient cancer care and the holistic view of a patient’s cancer journey.

Jeff Wright also believes that immunotherapy will be the future of how we attack cancer. Both he and Dr. Jensen agree that the next five to ten years will bring dramatic changes, and that technology will continue to make a difference. KU Cancer Center will also continue to work hard in their efforts to achieve the NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation that is currently only given to 47 other centers in the country. This designation is a goal for the Cancer Center and would further enhance the current programs and research taking place.


Simply put, Jeff said prevention. He further explained that employers can help their employees by promoting annual preventative examinations, as these exams can be the key to an early cancer diagnosis. He also believes that employers should consider coverage for screenings. Lastly, he brought up the importance of employers ensuring that there is an NCI designated hospital in their medical plan network. Statistically, patients who receive care at an NCI designated hospital have 25% better outcomes.

As individuals, there are day to day behaviors that we can engage in to lower our chances of a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Jensen mentioned engaging in a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating habits, maintaining an active routine, and avoiding excess consumption of alcohol and tobacco. He said that thirty-one percent of cancer cases are linked to tobacco. Finally, he emphasized that everyone should be getting vaccinated, specifically for HPV – over 40,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year if everyone received this vaccination.


Both Dr. Jensen and Jeff Wright feel that any organization that helps fight back against cancer is a worthy cause. Additionally, they both are passionate about spreading the news of the KU Cancer Center and informing the public of their comprehensive cancer care. Both are determined and dedicated to bring the entire spectrum of care to Kansas City to optimize and enhance patient outcomes. As mentioned, there are many opportunities to get involved in within the KU Cancer Center, click here to learn how to get involved today!

See below for an afterword from Dr Jensen -

“It was an honor to talk with you all about The University of Kansas Cancer Center – to share our story and vision for the future.  As you can tell, this is an exciting time for us and we are dedicated to providing the most innovative cancer research and treatment for patients in the region.  As you heard, we are embarking on a quest to achieve NCI Comprehensive designation.  This effort will require a great deal of community support.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate personally, please feel free to reach out to Krista Allen, Director of Development, at kallen@kuendowment.org. Thank you again for spending your time with us at the Executive Advantage Series.”

To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event in April, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for more information.

February 4, 2019

There were quite a few small start-ups that came through our office this windy and chilly January. Some of which were Idle Smart and Venture360. More information on each of these companies can be found below:


Idle Smart

Idle Smart is the ideal technology for trucks and soon to be other vehicles. They insert a wireless mechanism into the vehicle’s engine that can automatically turn on or off the idle vehicles once they reach their customized temperature or battery level. Idle Smart has been able to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and was recognized as a recommended product by the EPA. This technology is saving firms thousands of dollars year after year. Within the next year, they plan on expanding to ambulances and school busses. Find out more about Idle Smart here.



Venture360 is a software that helps manage major investments for private firms. The software creates a digital representation of company’s financial transactions for investors and owners to see easily. They help to connect investors with start-ups on a user-friendly and access controlled platform. Within the next year they hope to release Liquifi. The next instalment of investment management that allows individuals to trade their stocks in private firms. Find out more about Venture360 here.


Check out our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.


January 29, 2019

January 2019 | Michelle Kruse continues to do amazing work with our client, Center School District. See below or click here to check out the District's featured PBS segment about their innovative programming!

Keep up the good work!


October 2018 | CBIZ Wellbeing Coordinator, Michelle Kruse, helped her client Center School District implement a ground-breaking program for students at Center Middle School. This program provides children with a protein-packed breakfast every morning before their first class, and is the only one of its kind in the United States.

Hear Michelle discuss this initiative and why Center Middle School was chosen to participate in this study here: Center Middle School Protein Breakfast Study

January 7, 2019

by Jonathan Krass, Senior Account Executive

After days, weeks, and even months of planning emails, phone calls, meetings, presentations, and guidebooks (oh my!) you have successfully completed this year’s Open Enrollment. Ready or not, now is the time to begin thinking about where your benefit program is going for the 2020 year.

In this blog, I’d like to highlight four new and emerging benefits that should be on the top of your list to consider for your next benefits year:

  1. Student Loan Repayment: It’s not a secret that many college (and grad school) alum have student loans, and that for some grads, repaying their student loans is creating a burden on their day-to-day finances. Further, it can impact their ability to contribute to employer-sponsored retirement plans. There are many vendors in the marketplace that will help employees manage their student loans from soup to nuts. From getting (and then staying) on track with monthly payments, to consolidation, to adding in tax-favored contributions from their employers, vendors are stepping up to help today’s employees improve their student loan debt situation.
  2. Flexible Work Arrangements: Technology is rapidly enhancing how intelligently we work. Most of what we do on a daily basis can be performed on a smartphone. If you throw in a tablet, ever-shrinking laptop and the prevalence of public wifi, most office employees can perform a day’s work from any location in the world. In a recent survey by MetLife, 76% of respondents feel that “being able to work from home makes them feel that their employer trusts them.” Giving employees the flexibility to work from home, compress their work week, flex their start/end times, or even job-sharing can improve employee satisfaction and morale while still maintaining productivity.
  3. Paid Family/Parental Leave: Most employers offer some sort of leave to employees – whether it is Short Term or Long Term Disability, time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or a combination of vacation/sick days. But what if an employee is in a situation where none of these apply – or if, in the case of FMLA time, that leave would be unpaid? Many employers are increasing their benefits offerings to include Paid Family/Parental Leave – time off with pay for an employee to care for a baby or ill family member that does not decrease their allowance of vacation or sick time. In a 2018 study by Unum, 58% of respondents (64% of Millennials) ranked Paid Family/ Parental Leave as the most coveted employer perk – the #1 answer in the survey. Clearly, this can be a benefit that enables an employer to attract and retain quality talent.
  4. Voluntary Benefits: In a 2018 MetLife survey, 60% of respondents said that they are interested in having their employer provide a wider array of non-medical benefits that they can choose to purchase and pay for on their own. Further, 73% stated that having benefits customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employer. So offering non-medical benefits at no cost to the employer creates happy, loyal employees? Win-win! Benefits like Voluntary Accident, Critical Illness, and Voluntary Life help flesh out an employer’s benefits program by complementing existing core benefits, giving employees more choice, and do not have an employer contribution portion like medical or dental.

There is certainly a longer list of new and emerging benefits in the market, but these four are in the spotlight. If you do not already have them in your benefits program, they may be worth investigating to increase your employees’ satisfaction and retention. Contact your local CBIZ representative with any questions, or if you’d like more information about these or other voluntary benefits.

December 10, 2018

In the fourth q