Thursday, May 29, 2008

Innovative Talent Management Survey

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Innovation and innovative talent management are crucial to the long-term prosperity of companies. Companies that recognize this, succeed. Companies that don’t… don’t.

So when we are talking about “innovation” we should also be talking about Mr. Burnett. Bill Burnett has spent 25 years building and leading innovation teams both globally and locally. Recently, Bill started the research phase of a new book focusing on “innovation”. As part of that research, a survey has been constructed and aims at measuring (in a general sense) how innovative a particular company is and what that company’s culture is like. In a roundabout way, the survey also approaches the question whether “employees need to have their souls crushed to be more dedicated to the betterment of the company, or [whether] people contribute more ideas if they are treated well?”

This short survey can be found here.
Bill’s Superinnovator Blog can be found here.
Bill's website can be found here.

I encourage you to take this survey. It should get you thinking about your company and its orientation toward innovative talent (as well as provide valuable research data for a new book). I am sure that Bill would be more than willing to talk to you about the survey results upon request. Bill’s blog and website are also veritable treasure chests of information in and around the topic of Innovation.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blog Content Upgrade

1) Soon, our readers can expect to find abstracts and reactions to the newest research in social and organizational psychology focusing on the following topics.
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Workforce Performance
  • Work Satisfaction (and its various factors)
  • Stress Management
  • Career Management
  • Cooperation (organizational)

2) We will begin conducting research surveys on the above topics. Links will be included in the blog for the relevant surveys as these links become available. The results of these surveys will be published on the blog and will also be e-mailed to those who request them.

So, stay tuned...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Speeds and Feeds

Computers are all about "speeds and feeds", right? Sure, but they all have "speeds and feeds" and they are all just about the same. Apple and HP have proven that you don't need to advertise the technical specifications of computers any more.

(This won't b
e a tech article, I promise)

Apple focuses more on looks and HP makes an effort to make the personal computer "Personal again". But inside, both machines run Intel or AMD, they have ram and HDDs. In effect, their guts have become com
moditized. This is why Dell isn't number 1 anymore (though they have changed their marketing strategy to match Mr. Satjiv Chahil's at HP and may soon be back on top).

Before Mr. Chahil arrived at HP, the rules for marketing computers were dictated by executives at Intel and Microsoft (given that the vast majority of computers run on Intel processors and Windows). Mr. Chahil referred to the old marketing technique as simple: display the "speeds and feeds". Then he raised the question of how exactly is HP was supposed to differentiate itself from Dell when both companies offered computers with virtually the same "speeds and feeds"? He asked the executives at Intel and Microsoft and they just looked at him blankly a
nd probably said something like "Intel inside make computer fast" and "Windows make home network easylike".

How do you resist the urge to commoditize your product (Dell claimed that the PC was a commodity!)? For Mr. Chahil, the solution was a simple one: stop advertising a PC as a box of "speeds and feeds" and start advertising it as a Personal Computer. And that is exactly what he did. He began by selling the Personal aspect of PC to his engineers and product developers. The first HP ads that ran under Mr. Chahil had no mention of Windows, Intel or any of the computers technical specifications. Instead, they were beautifully landscaped and featured flowers.

If he could not c
onvince his own employees that the PC was not yet a commodity, how could he convince the consumer market? It required a lot of ingenuity to take a step back and say, "wait a second, the computer is still special". I think that when your business grows to the size and the importance that Dell and HP have grown to, you have a hard time taking that step back because all you can see is the other guy's numbers. What you don't see is that most "ordinary" people don't know what computer to buy because they all seem so similar. That's the brilliance in Mr. Chahil and his ability to motivate his company around that vision as quickly as he did. It is also testament to his intimate understanding of employee relations.

So, consider this: when the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts laid out his plan to increase the size of the student body by 15%, he didn't run out and snatch up more highly experienced, qualified professors (speeds and feeds), he went and hired a new head groundskeeper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WPM Software Industry Worth $2.6 Billion?

By 2012, the workforce-performance-management software services industry will reach nearly $2.6 billion according to an IDC report entitled Worldwide Workforce Performance Management Forecast 2008-2012.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about “economic downturn”, “slowdowns”, and the unemployment rate. At the same time, the IDC is forecasting somewhat rapid growth for software services that provide workforce-performance-management solutions.

This can be explained easily enough: HR executives are hedging their bets that a software solution is a cheaper solution than a human solution (i.e. a consultant or a new hire), and (working in the workforce-performance-management software services industry) I am inclined to agree.

Lisa Rowan, the IDC’s HR and Talent-management services program director says that “Despite a potential business downturn, employee retention will continue to be a key concern for HR executives in 2008, given the very real demographic shifts occurring in the workforce” and that “[e]mployers will be seeking ways to both automate and integrate talent functions, with the goal of identifying and retaining top performers. Performance management is a linchpin in this process”.

On a small scale, might such services (as implemented in, say, a paper company) be a first step in the direction of better fostering a relationship between Connectivity and Productivity?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What’s wrong with the "Formal Interview"? Part 1

A guy walks into an interview at a major accounting firm, slightly under dressed, and a little late. He says to his interviewer that he is pleased to be there but has just come from an interview at a rival firm where he had been offered a job. He says he would still like to take part in the interview process, but just thought that his interviewer should know, from the start, that he had already accepted the position. Just to be fair.

The interviewer asks, “then why are you here?”. He replies that, though he has already accepted the job, he had done so more from panic and excitement over the “package” he had been offered than from any real affinity with the company and its practices. He goes on to say that he had driven home (overcome with excitement) with the intention of calling in and canceling the interview but that his instincts had gotten the better of him and he figured he should come in anyway. He then apologizes, ostensibly for being late and for seeming frazzled.

The inexperienced interviewer ventures to ask what firm they were talking about and the whole thing devolves into a discussion of this man’s relative utility in the eyes of some other interviewer. It doesn’t last long, but long enough.

After positive informality, the formal interview begins.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Connectivity and Productivity

I recently read an interesting report in The Economist that really got me thinking about something that many HR executives are coming to see as a problem: how do we foster a more portable, “always on”, virtual type of working style for our employees while, at the same time, retaining the kind of cohesiveness and sense of control that made the last century so unbelievably productive?

The argument has always been that as technology grows more sophisticated (and perhaps sophisticated isn’t the right word), we grow more productive, we break free of “Malthusian equilibrium” and so, from a very modern historical prospective, we are liberated from the arduous nature of “labor”. And, to a certain extent, we’ve really seen this kind of evolution.

Computers have changed everything, right? Well so have cellular phones, fax machines and the internet. The necessity of the vast cubical farms that make Dilbert cartoons so funny, from a technical standpoint, really isn’t there anymore.

But there is still that practical standpoint. Technically, we could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing away with the vast majority of our office space, and sending our employees home with their “terminals” and getting them all a Blackberry and an HP C1340 All-in-one printer. Done. We might even save enough to pay a percentage of their rent or mortgage and upgrade their health coverage.

But will they work?

My guess, along with virtually everyone else’s, is that, no, they will not work. So if we are going to actually make use of our new gizmos in the work place, we need to find some way to reconcile the more recent advances in mobile technology, bandwidth, and mobile computing with the stationary, “conventional” (and this is perhaps the focus for change), work arrangement; to knit the two together with some rather unconventional Human Resources Management.

We all know how they are doing it at Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. But how do we do it at the insurance company, the consultancy, the paper distributor?

Some Valuable Resources

We have added some valuable resources to the right hand column of the blog.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blog Launch

We're pretty excited here at HR-Meter to launch this blog.

Like any industry, Human Resources (Human Capital) management is an ever evolving practice that can only benefit from an ongoing and open dialogue with both the internal forces that guide its evolution and the external forces that it exists for-the-sake-of.

This blog has come into existence for the express purpose of furthering the development of best practice solutions to human capital related issues as these issues continue to evolve, crop up, as well as disappear all together.

This form will, at times, be broad, seemingly missing the point or carrying itself far beyond what is typically considered a natural or customary topic of conversation for the human resources manager or consultant.

Nevertheless, we would consider such an exercise a failure if our dialogue were to simply remain within the "acceptable", predetermined confines typical for what is commonly understood to be "Human Resource Management".