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    HR and Indie Culture

    One of the mainstays of the 'business' blog world is the occasional book review post.  Bloggers get pitched by PR agencies or writers all the time to see if there is interest in reading and potentially reviewing the latest work on management, marketing, leadership -  you name it.  Other times bloggers provide their take on one of the popular business books of the day that have a subject matter in line with their blog's focus and target audience.

    Some recent (and good) examples of this kind of review are Paul Hebert's look at 'Switch', or Kris Dunn's take on 'Linchpin'. Switch is all about influencing people to change, right in Paul's sweet spot, and Linchpin, with its focus on results and getting stuff done aligns well with some of the recurring themes of Kris' blog.

    I don't write many book reviews on this site, since in the case of books like Switch or Linchpin I am either a bit late to the party, or don't really have much to add to or improve upon what people like Paul and Kris (and lots of others) have already covered. More so, in the case of the majority of books I read, they are not really in line with the realm of what this blog is (theoretically) about, technology and HR topics.

    So when I picked up Kaya Oakes' 'Slanted and Enchanted : The Evolution of Indie Culture' a few weeks ago I did not intend on writing about it on the blog. I am actually not sure why I bought the book, maybe I was a bit tired of reading about how to convince people to do stuff they really do not want to do, or undergoing more admonitions of how to be fantastic and awesome by just being fantastic and awesome.  Possibly it was the cool looking cover.

    Either way, after completing the book I felt like posting about it. Not so much a 'review' but just some observations of the similarities between indie culture and what is going on in the HR space lately. The book is essentially about the history and evolution of so-called indie culture, that is creative works done outside the 'mainstream' of corporations and organizations and without much concern about the viability or financial rewards.

    In the book's retelling of the origins, early heroes, development, and export of indie music, books, art, and design I saw some parallels in the creation, distribution, and eventual attempted absorption by big corporate interests of indie culture, and some of what is starting to happen in the HR and Talent world where this little blog (and hundreds of others) reside.

    When I think about the growing influence of the HR and recruiting blogs, radio shows, and bootstrapped 'unofficial' Unconferences in the Human Resources community it seems to me not unlike some of the stories in Slanted and Enchanted. Death Cab for Cutie gets a major label deal and makes regular appearances on The OC, and HR bloggers now routinely get press credentials to 'mainstream' HR events, get asked to make speeches or sit on panels, and many major and entrenched organizations and associations are trying to figure out how to understand, embrace, and possibly even absorb elements of this growing 'indie' movement in HR.

    I think it is fantastic the the 'Indie HR' community is getting more recognition, notice, and is gaining (subtly) in influence with the mainstream HR world.  But here is the thing, as 'Indie HR' gains acceptance and gets more intertwined with 'traditional' HR is it in danger of losing what makes it so vibrant and meaningful?  Will it get toned down, homogenized, or otherwise turned into just another extension of the status-quo?

    Last thought, in 'Slanted and Enchanted' Kaya Oakes says this about what being 'indie' really means:

    Independence means rebellion, risk, tenacity, innovation, and resistance to convention.

    She was referring to art, music, and poetry.  For those of us in 'Indie HR' we could be talking about interviewing, social networking, performance management - you get the picture.

    As Indie HR goes more mainstream, can it still remain rebellious?  Or will it resort to making VH1-friendly videos and counting the royalties?


    The Talent Show

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour we will welcome the team from the TalentedApps blog - Meg Bear, Amy Wilson, and Mark Bennett to talk about 'Talent'.

    The show starts at 8PM ET and the call in number is 646-378-1086, you can also listen online using the player below:

    I would describe Meg, Amy, and Mark as 'talented' if it were not such a bad pun.

    But in a way, I wonder if the prevalence of the term 'talent', and the way it is applied in so many contexts and circumstances has had somewhat of a devaluing effect.  Do we even know what anyone means when they refer to 'talent'?

    There was the 'War for Talent', which may or may not be over, there is 'Talent Management', which may or may not be the same as Human Capital Management, and there are plenty of software solutions promising to deliver 'Integrated Talent Management', which possibly or not will help organizations integrate processes and better manage talent.

    For sure 'talent' is a complicated notion, but the team at TalentedApps consistently takes these complex topics and ideas and makes them accessible, understandable, and by sharing their insights and ideas they help us all get better at navigating the talent game, and putting us in a position to win, (or at least judge) in the talent show.

    So tonight on the HR Happy Hour we will look get behind some of the complexity and talk about how organizations can better assess talent, why ideas like 'job fit' are so important, and maybe even the changing nature of jobs and work and organizations.  That may be a tall order for a one hour show, but I think if anyone can help make sense of it all, it is Meg, Amy, and Mark.

    I hope you can join us for what should be a fun and interesting show with our 'talented' guests from TalentedApps.


    HRevolution 2010 - Sponsor Spotlight - Pinstripe Talent

    When many people hear the term 'outsourcing' they instantly conjure a mental image of row upon row of anonymous worker bees, chained (figuratively) to desks, headsets on, taking and making calls and reading scripts provided by the customer to carry out their tasks hour after hour, day after day.

    Outsourcing is also frequently negatively associated with the export of 'good American jobs' to some foreign and distant land, furthering the steady decline of the domestic economy and contributing to the continued high level of US unemployment.

    It is too bad that more of the general public doesn't see much of the 'good' side of outsourcing, where talented organizations composed of subject matter experts with deep strategic, process, and technical skills deliver high value added services to client companies, enabling them to concentrate more fully on their core capabilities, and to help them meet their business objectives.  Where the arrangements are not simply about driving costs to the lowest possible level, or just about wringing every last ounce of efficiency out of a given process.

    Where the outsourcing company truly endeavors to move the relationship beyond transactional and into transformational.  This is the essential value proposition of leading Recruitment Process Outsourcing provider Pinstripe Talent, an innovator in the industry, and a major sponsor of HRevolution 2010, the premier HR and Social Media Unconference, set for May 7-8 in Chicago.

    Pinstripe Talent designs, builds and delivers high-performing HR and talent acquisition solutions through Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) partnerships that integrate:

    • HR strategy development
    • employment branding
    • sourcing
    • screening
    • recruiting
    • hiring
    • onboarding
    • and employee engagement

    They are a recognized leader in transforming the recruitment function into a competitive advantage for some of the world’s most demanding, complex and successful organizations.

    But beyond the marketing talk, Pinstripe is simply an organization that thrives on the strength of the relationships it builds with its clients, partners, and with the HR and recruiting community at large.  It is this focus on relationships that is made evident by their participation as a sponsor for HRevolution 2010.

    The event is about sharing expertise, making and strengthening relationships, and finding ways to support each other with ideas, strategies, and new and innovative approaches to attacking and solving problems.  Which it seems to me is exactly the kind of work Pinstripe engages in every day.

    It is a natural fit, and on behalf of the HRevolution team, many thanks to Pinstripe Talent for the support.




    Guest Post - Why Business Intelligence is Failing HR Managers

    Note: This guest post comes from Tom Malone, CEO of Accero.

    In the past few years it seems like business intelligence has been all the rage. Vendors promise a tool that will help HR managers pull a seat up to the table with strategic insight gained through predictive analysis of the company’s own data.

    However, according to analysts, most companies never achieve the results they expect with these tools. Why is it that business intelligence fails to live up to expectations? The answer can be found in time and resources.

    Somewhere between the sales pitch for BI and the initial implementation of the product comes the realization that instead of a solution that serves up insightful analytics, they have a tool that, while powerful in potential, requires a ton of work before it can provide any useful insight.

    Once a BI product has been purchased someone within the organization (usually HR & IT) must determine what key metrics they want, and what data they need to support those metrics.  Then they must couple the BI tool with other technologies such as a database and ETL tool (extraction, transformation and loading) to build a data-mart that manages and stores complex workforce data, automate a process to load data into the data mart, design each key metric as a chart, scorecard  or dashboard, build all the charts and dashboards, store them in a way that makes finding the right metric easy, tie each metric to a role-based security model and finally train their users in using the BI tool to slice and dice through the resulting metrics. 

    As you can imagine, doing all of the above takes a lot of time, a lot of IT talent and a lot of money.  It is the number one reason why BI is failing HR managers and their organizations.

    Do we need analytics solutions to help provide insight in the space? Absolutely. HR Managers are the best conduits for information into how an organization can encourage and reward employees, comply with laws, reduce labor costs and increase productivity and eliminate compliance risk. Are we there yet with easy-to-use tools and pre-defined solutions?   For most HR departments, the answer is no.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts and personal experiences with this topic. Is BI working for you and within your organization or has it failed to live up to its promise?


    Tom Malone is CEO of Accero (formerly Cyborg) a Payroll, Human Resources and Human Capital Management software and service provider. Tom has over 25 years of experience in the software, computer services, and telecommunications industries.



    Lost in Wonderamaland

    I spent the day yesterday at my Dad's house, which used to be my house as well I suppose, helping him get re-settled as it were, freshly home from a lengthy illness that required hospitalization, then intensive care, followed by two weeks in a rehab facility.

    Dad is doing much better, and I continue to be thankful for all the support and kind wishes I have received in the last two months as this drama meandered on, through several ups and downs.

    At the house, digging through one of the many closets that all were seemingly absolutely packed with stuff, I unearthed an old 13-inch black and white television.  The television is at least 30 years old, and I remember well the constant fiddling and jostling with the antenna in attempts to better focus important episodes of Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, and of course Met and Yankee games.

    For a moment I convinced myself if I turned that little black and white tv back on, it would still be able to dial in those old programs.  I want to think that while I have gotten older and moved on and grown up that the tv is still living in 1978, Farrah is still young and alive and gorgeous, Ricardo Montalban can re-assume his rightful place as the most interesting man in the world, the Mets stink and the Yankees are World Series champions.  Well, at least in 2010 the order of things in baseball hardly seems to have changed.

    I pulled the tv out from the closet, early on a Saturday, in the room where I spent the better part of 20 years.  I wanted to watch Wonderama one more time. I wanted to be sure that Farrah and Ricardo and Bob McAlister Bob McAlisterwere still in there somewhere, behind the tiny, dusty screen, and along with them my 10 year old self. 

    My son is about the same age now that I was back then. When that little black and white must have seemed to me like the most important possession in the world. When everything was not only possible, but almost certainly achievable.  When my Dad played ball with me, every time I asked him to.

    I wonder if one day, thirty or so years from now if my son will be digging through one of my old closets, unearthing some similar relic, a Wii game, or an ancient DVD player and have some of these same thoughts. Will he stop what he is doing and try for just a minute to forget about his problems, his fears, the pressures of having to take care of the person that always took care of him? 

    Will he think to himself, 'I was so happy back then, so freakin' happy.'

    I hope so.