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    Learn a new word: Face with tears of joy

    At the risk of sounding a little too much like the 'get off of my lawn' old codger that I am fighting against becoming, please take a look at the image on the left, your Oxford Dictionaries 'Word of the Year' for 2015 and try hold back your tears for the future of humanity while you contemplate the same.

    The 'Word' of the Year for 2015 as you have certainly deduced is not really a word at all, but rather an emoji, and to be precise, it is the 'Face with tears of joy' emoji. And if the folks at Oxford are correct you have doubtless seen this particular emoji plenty of times this year as their research claims 'face with tears of joy' to be the most-used emoji of 2015. I guess 'smiley-face' is just so 2012. Note to self: I probably need to up my emoji game.

    Just why did Oxford Dictionaries go with an emoji, never mind this particular one as its Word of the Year? Let's take a look at the reasoning from the blog post announcing the selection:

    Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.

    This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and ๐Ÿ˜‚ was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that ๐Ÿ˜‚ made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014. The word emoji has seen a similar surge: although it has been found in English since 1997, usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year according to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.

    Admit it, you have used an emoji(s) in some kind of 'business' correspondence in the last month or so. Even if it was not a full-fledged 'image' emoji, you have definitely dropped a :) (technically, an emoticon, not an emoji, but you get the idea), somewhere in an email or a text to a business contact. It is ok, I have to.

    And I suppose with recognition of the rise in popularity and increase in common usage of emojis by organizations like Oxford Dictionaries it is becoming a little less troubling to admit that you have been peppering emails and other messages with those cute little characters. And why not? A picture is worth a thousand words and all that, and NO ONE wants an email of a thousand words, or even half that.

    But the larger part of the story, and the reason why I have submitted 'Face with tears of joy' as the latest in the 'Learn a new word' series is that it reminds us (again, as if we needed reminding), that methods, manner, and styles of communication, even 'serious' communication, change and morph over time. We are not writing long-winded memos any longer, no one has tolerance for lengthy emails, voice mail is just about dead as a business tool, and so on. 

    With the growth in popularity of short messaging services, (SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc.), the style of interaction on these services are changing and adapting to the medium. Throw in the seeming information overload/time crunch that almost every professional you know will claim these days, and the ability to convey complex information in the shortest, most succinct way possible is a skill that is at a premium.

    And since this post has already gone on too long for a post that is more or less about getting your point across more quickly, I will leave with this - it is probably time to step up your emoiji game. As much as I cry a little inside to say that.

    Have a great week!


    HRE Column: Thinking about HR Tech User Experience

    Here is my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech and that archives of which can be found here.

    As usual, the Inside HR Tech column is about, well, HR Tech, (sort of like I used to write about all the time on this blog), and it was inspired by the several vendor events I have recently attended, (Achievers, iCIMS, Kronos, Oracle). At each of these events, and I am pretty sure every other event I attended in 2015, HR technology companies talk A LOT about User Experience or UX.  Since the subject of UX comes up so often these days, on the latest Inside HR Tech column I offer some suggestions for HR leaders and pros on the right things to think about and questions to ask when assessing your HR technology provider's approach to and ability to deliver great User Experiences.

    I once again kind of liked this month's column, (I suppose I like all of them, after all I wrote them), but felt like sharing this one on the blog because it touches upon what has been in the past a pretty popular topic with HR leaders today - how to understand UX and how to evaluate UX to make the most of their HR technology investments.

    Here is an excerpt from the HRE column, 'Getting Your Arms Around the Experience':

    In almost every demonstration, someone from the provider organization talks about being focused on something called the "user experience" (aka "UX"). This term almost always follows the descriptor "great," so what I hear all the time from providers -- and you've probably heard it, as well, during a recent HR- software demo -- is, "We are focused on creating a great user experience." Literally every vendor says this exact same thing.

    The reason they all say this is that UX is actually really important. You probably realize this -- even if you are among those who have never heard the actual term before -- because you are making decisions and choices around technology at least partially based on UX. The apps you like to use on your phone, including those for email, weather, sports scores, shopping, listening to podcasts, etc. -- were likely chosen for two main reasons: One is based on the actual functionality of the app (aka, the "what"); and the second is based on the input methods, characteristics, work flow, design, look and interaction style of the app (aka, the "how").

    That how is the most significant part of the concept of UX.

    It is important to note, as well, that user experience is more than just colors, fonts and buttons. It encompasses a wide range of aspects and elements that define how users feel about the technology.

    So now that we have an idea of what the user experience consists of -- and that it is key when evaluating technology -- what are some of the questions that you should ask your current or prospective HR-technology solution providers when evaluating the UX of their solutions?

    Here are a few ideas. First, some questions about the organization itself:

    What does UX mean to your organization?

    This is mostly about getting solution providers to talk about UX generally and share their philosophies of the importance of UX to their organizations. It's also about trying to get a sense of their approaches in building their solutions. When they talk about their products and future road maps, how much time is spent on UX topics compared to basic functionality and capability? Essentially, you are trying to get an overall feel for, and comfort level with, the provider's commitment to UX.

    What is the title of the most-senior person in the organization who is dedicated to UX? How many staffers are on the UX team? Has that part of the development organization grown in the last two years?

    These questions are meant to help you dig a little deeper to see if the solution provider is backing up its stated commitment to UX with the proper investments and resources.

    Read the rest over at HRE Online...

    Good stuff, right? Humor me...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and rake your leaves or dig your car out of the snow  for you if you do sign up for the monthly email.

    Have a great day and a great long, Thanksgiving weekend in the USA!


    For your Holiday weekend viewing: The 8 Man Rotation's favorite sports movies

    We're heading into a long holiday weekend, at least in the USA, and it is quite possibly the greatest holiday of them all - Thanksgiving. Eating, drinking, sleeping, eating some more, taking in some sports on TV or in person, shopping - it is the quintessential American holiday no doubt.

    Since you will likey spend large parts of the next four or five days in turkey/stuffing/mashed potato coma, and will be for long stretches glued to your sofa and/or La-Z-Boy chairs, you need something to keep you passively entertained. But fear not gentle readers, The 8 Man Rotation crew, (Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak, and yours truly), have you covered.

    Because what you really want to do this holiday weekend is catch up on some of the greatest sports movies ever made and we at The 8 Man Rotation take sports, and sports movies very seriously. So seriously that we spent a collective 17 emails and 37 minutes coming up with our favorites which we wanted to share. So fire up your Netflix and have fun with these selections this weekend:

    The 8 Man Rotation's Favorite Sports Movies.

    Tim Sackett:

    Any Given Sunday: All you have to say is “Pacino’s Speech” - maybe the best movie coach speech of all time! "The inches we need are everywhere around us.  They are in ever break of the game every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the fucking difference between WINNING and LOSING, between LIVING and DYING."

    Hoosiers: Jimmy Motherf$%&!&ing Chitwood. When Coach Dale calls the play in the huddle to win the game, using Jimmy as a decoy and Jimmy says just pass the ball to me, I’ll make the shot.  Every basketball kids fantasy. Classic over-coaching as well. Just give the ball to your best player and win or lose knowing you gave it your best shot with your best talent. 

    White Man Can’t Jump: The beginning of main stream trash talking! Before this movie you only talked trash if you could back it up. After this movie, trash talking became an art form on the court and off.  The movie also addressed, and made fun, so many stereotypes as well. This wasn’t the norm in 1992, which made it somewhat shocking to watch at the time. 

    Bonus sports movie footage for the, underrated, Tom Cruise fans. Top three Tom Cruise sports movies:

    1. All The Right Moves. It was 1983 and I was in Love with Tom’s co-star in the movie, a young Lea Thompson. Coming of age football. Friday Night Lights, twenty years before it became cool.
    2. Days of Thunder. Cole Trickle might be the best Nascar name that isn’t a real Nascar name! Nicole Kidman, pre-Mrs. Cruise, as a co-star, I’m still wondering how they made him taller than her!
    3. Jerry Maguire.  The best non-sports, sport movie of all time.  NFL, Agents and the line I say to my wife almost daily, “Don’t Ever Stop F$%&$% Me” to lead the movie off!

    VIDEO - Hoosiers, 'I'll make it':

    Lance Haun:

    My two favorite sports movies, Major League and Caddyshack, are two sports I absolutely hate watching and playing. Neither are really critically acclaimed but if I see one of these come on cable, I'm watching them until the end. Caddyshack gets the nod because it's infinitely quotable, has unnecessary nudity, and includes Bill Murray and an actually funny Chevy Chase. My favorite quote that I plan to use as a father: "You'll get nothing, and like it!"

    VIDEO: Caddyshack, 'Right in the lumberyard'

    Matt 'The Professor' Stollak:

    As I said in one of the HR Happy Hour #8ManRotation shows, we blog about sports and HR because we are looking to connect with our fathers.  That same theme carries out in movies about sports:

    Field of Dreams - That movie is one long play so that Kevin Costner can have one last catch with his dad

    Breaking Away - Four townies trying to make it in Bloomington, IN and win the Little 500 bike race.  Hard to beat the exhilaration when Dave races against the semi-trucks on the highway.  But, all Dave really wants to do is be accepted by his dad, and he takes some pride when he sees his father try bike riding at the end of the film.

    VIDEO - Breaking Away trailer:

    Kris Dunn:

    He Got Game: Denzel, Spike Lee, a backdrop of hoops and Ray Allen starring as “Jesus Shuttlesworth”.  I love the story of a complicated father/son relationship as Denzel tries to parlay his way out of prison by encouraging his son (Jesus) to play at Big State U, which just happens to be the school of choice for the governor.  Great music spanning a lot of tastes from dramatic orchestra scores to Public Enemy.  Spike Lee perspective in Camera shots.  Fun fact: One of my sons got asked at church at a young age what the last name of Jesus (son of god, not Ray Allen) was.  That’s a trick question in a church setting.  My young son didn’t miss a beat – he raised his hand like Horseshack in Welcome Back Kotter and enthusiastically said, “Shuttlesworth”.  Welcome to the Dunn family, where everything has a hoops influence.

    Bull DurhamYou haven’t lived until you’ve had a son who’s played baseball and coached with another guy who knows all the lines to this movie.  The game in front of you actually becomes secondary.  You sit down next to a 10 year old in the dugout and say, “get a notepad, because it’s time to practice your cliches.”  Two minutes later, the kid is repeating the wisdom of Crash Davis - “I just hope I can help the team” and “It’s a simple game – you throw the ball, you catch the ball”.  After he has the cliches down, you bring the kid inside for senior level Crash Davis: “Anything that travels that far should have a stewardess” as an example.  Then, the fun is suddenly over when he commits two errors in the field and you resume screaming at him to "man up”.  Sports movies can only take you so far.

    Any Given Sunday:  A must for any sports fan who wants to think about talent from the lens of sports.  While I agree with Tim Sackett that the Pacino speech is classic, I’m going deep in this movie and tell you that hall of famer Jim Brown is the hidden gem.  Playing the role of Defensive Coordinator, he steals the movie from Pacino and Jamie Foxx with two scenes that are coaching classics.  The first scene involves Brown going on a sidelines diatribe towards his defense and a player encouraging him to calm down before he has a stroke, to which Brown replies, “I don’t get strokes Mother#######, I GIVE THEM”.   The second scene involves Brown addressing the team at halftime and using a chalkboard diagraming X’s and O’s, with the following gem: “Now you’re dumb enough, so we made it simple enough.  We made this #### real ####ing simple (as he pounds the chalk against the board)”.  Who among us couldn’t use that line at times in corporate America?

    VIDEO: Bull Durham, 'Cliches'

    Steve Boese:

    I am going to break this down a little differently - going with my favorite movie from each of the 'major' sports, then tossing in one more as a wild-card. Here goes:

    Basketball - Hoop Dreams. While there have been many more entertaining and funny basketballs movies made, (Fast Break, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Semi-Pro), there has never been a basketball movie as gripping as the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams. Following the exploits of then high school stars William Gates and Arthur Agee and their struggles to escape their tough upbringing through basketball, Hoop Dreams is an essential sports drama, except it is all too real.  

    Baseball - Moneyball. Sure, by now you are sick of Moneyball. You probably have even seen the real-life protagonists of Moneyball, Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta, (the Jonah Hill character in the movie), on the HR conference speaking circuit, maybe even more than once. But that doesn't take away from the story, and just how innovative and influential that Moneyball has been not only in baseball, but in sports (and business) overall. Also, a highly re-watchable movie. If you catch this one on F/X on a random Tuesday night, you are locked in. Honorable mention to Pride of the Yankees and The Natural.

    Football - The Longest Yard, the original from 1974, not that Adam Sandler nonsense. Peak Burt Reynolds leading a team of prison inmates in a brutal game against the guards? Sign me up. Plus, great performances from Richard Kiel and NFL legend Ray Nitschke. Honorable mention to North Dallas Forty and Friday Night Lights.

    Hockey - Youngblood. Hockey is a terrible, ridiculous sport, and consequently almost every movie about hockey is also terrible and ridiculous. Youngblood is the exception to that rule. A very young Rob Lowe, the underrated Patrick Swayze playing the quintessential Patrick Swayze-type role, and 'Why didn't she become a bigger star?' Cyntiha Gibb as the love interest for Lowe's Dean Youngblood character. Will Dean learn how to survive on the ice? Will dating the coaches daughter ruin his chances to make the big time? Is that Ed Lauter in another movie? Who cares - just doze off back on the sofa, you can snooze through long stretches of this movie and not miss anything. Honorable mention to Slap Shot.

    Wild Card - Going with another documentary here, this time the 1977 bodybuilding epic Pumping Iron. Featuring Arnold before he was ARNOLD, Lou Ferrigno before he was The HULK, and a slew of other bodybuilders from the Venice, California scene in the late 70s, Pumping Iron is a fantastically entertaining film. Watching Arnold mentally toy with his chief Mr. Olympia rival Ferrigno in the run up to the competition is like watching a master of manipulation and mind games at his absolute peak. Just a great, gripping watch even if you are not a fan of bodybuilding. Looking back you can see signs in the 1977 Arnold that he had designs on much, much more than just winning bodybuilding contests.

    VIDEO: Moneyball, 'What is the problem?'

    Good stuff, right? Of course.

    Thanks to the 8 Man crew for the contributions. And please chime in in the comments with your top sports movies that we should have queued up this weekend.

    Happy Thanksgiving!



    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Citi Smarter Worklife Challenge

    I had a call last week with some really cool folks from Citigroup, often shortened to just Citi, one of the world's largest banking and financial services organizations. Even for such a large, well-known global brand, the challenges facing Citi are not that different from the ones facing just about every size or type of organization - the need to innovate, to become more agile in a fast-moving and competitive marketplace, and perhaps most importantly, to find, engage with, develop, inspire, and achieve great business performance through people.

    Citi describes this last element of improving outcomes with and through people in the context of the 'Employee Journey' - the full life cycle of actions and interactions that people have with the organization, with their colleagues, and crucially, with the many technologies that help shape these experiences along the journey.

    And one of the ways Citi has identified that will be of primary importance in improving their employee's journeys is through innovative HR and workplace technologies, which after learning more about what they are working on in that area I was interested and glad to help Citi get the word out about their new initiative called the Citi Smarter Worklife Challenge.

    The Citi Global Digital Acceleration team has created the Smarter Worklife Challenge, an open contest to help find and identify innovative human resources technologies designed to improve this Employee Journey. Citi is inviting both startup and established technology solution providers to submit their ideas and concepts, (submissions must be at least advanced, working prototypes), in the areas of recruiting, onboarding, career development, social/collaboration, analytics, executive management, and more, to compete for a prize of $50,000 in cash, and the opportunity to enter into commercial terms with Citi and be incubated and/or accelerated.

    For HR technology solution providers interested in applying for consideration for the Smarter Worklife Challenge, a few important dates you need to know: The deadline for submissions is December 4th, and finalists will be announced December 18th, and challenge finalists will be invited to demonstrate their solutions to Citi senior leadership in February 2016.

    Full details about the challenge, including submission timelines and contest rules can be found on the Smarter Worklife Challenge site. Also, a PDF version of the challenge process, timelines, and guidelines can be downloaded here

    I think this is a really neat and interesting challenge and thanks to the folks at Citi for bringing it to my attention and for supporting innovation in the HR tech marketplace. Please do share the information about the Smarter Worklife Challenge to any HR technology innovators that you think might be interested in participating.


    Disclaimer: I am sharing information about the Smarter Worklife Challenge because I like the idea, I am not being compensated in any way by Citi, and this challenge is not affiliated with the HR Technology Conference.


    Biases, ranked

    I love when things work out exactly as I thought they would. I also love when I overestimate my own ability and when I forget what it is like when people do not have as much information on a subject as I have. And when I underestimate how long it is going to take to complete a task - man that's gold.

    All of the above are examples of biases, in one form or another. There are so many biases it can be hard to keep them all straight, and to know which biases are better/more interesting than others. Therefore I submit this subjective, unscientific, incomplete, and 100% accurate list of biases, ranked.

    Here goes...

    10. The Illusion of Control

    9. The Dunning-Kruger Effect

    8. Planning Fallacy

    7. Negativity bias

    6. Shared information bias

    5. Confirmation bias

    4. The Hot-Hand Fallacy

    3. Projection bias

    2. Availability heuristic

    1. Gambler's fallacy

    Did I leave some important biases out? Sure.

    Did I fail to adequately explain my rankings? Of course.

    Might you disagree with the above rankings? Yep. But you would be wrong.

    Have a great weekend!