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    Friday
    Apr112014

    What's bigger than the World Series? Watching people play video games

    This is a short update in a semi-regular series of 'If you are not paying attention, the world is probably a lot different than you think' department I offer up this nugget courtesy of The Atlantic - 'More People Watched the 'League of Legends' Video Game Championships that the World Series'.

    Here is the opening from The Atlantic piece, click over to read the rest if you like, but unless you are a fairly serious gamer the first paragraph is probably all you need, (or I need) to make the point:

    In October, some 15 million people tuned in to watch Major League Baseball’s World Series in the United States. But that’s nothing compared to the other big sporting tournament that took place around the same time: In late September and early October, 32 million people watched the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship, according to a new report (pdf) from SuperData, a games research company.

    Additionally, over 18,000 people (real, actual people) filled the Stapes Center in Los Angeles to watch the finals live. Also, it wasn't just the World Series total viewers that were topped by viewers of League of Legends - the NBA Finals Game 7, the average for the NCAA College Basketball Final Four, and the BCS College Football National Title game all fell short of the 32 miiion people that tuned in to the League of Legends finals.

    Why mention this story? Well, it is a Friday and in a nod to yesterday's crowdsourcing post, I kind of am out of other ideas. But seriously, I think this is an incredibly interesting story. Think about it in your own work or personal context - would you ever have thought about the growing popularity of watching other people play video games?

    It sounds so silly, right? Who would actually want to watch someone else play a video game?

    I am not really sure, but if you think about it for half a minute (and non-emotionally), watching 'real' sports like baseball or football is just as silly as watching people play video games. What is the difference really, except just that baseball and football have been around longer. But those of you who take 4 hours out of your Sunday afternoons to watch your favorite NFL team all Fall/Winter don't have the right to claim any kind of intellectual high ground over the video game fans.

    In fact, most of the people who watch the pros play video games do it to try and actually improve their own game playing ability - something that can be said for very few football or baseball fans.

    The world is not at all what we think it is at time.s I think it helps our work in HR and Talent, although I could not tell you precisely how, to keep aware of what is going on out in the big, scary world where millions of people are watching video games when you are watching football.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Apr102014

    If you're thinking about crowdsourcing

    Crowdsourcing, while not a new phenomenon, continues to appear in new and different places all of the time. Just the other day the TV network NBC announced a new project to attempt to crowdsource new ideas for comedy shows. This NBC program, like most crowdsourcing efforts, is a nod to the (obvious) reality that no matter how many writers or producers or directors the network can employ, that there exists outside NBC thousands and thousands of talented people, and some of them probably have great ideas for comedy shows.

    The same logical argument could be made for almost any company trying to tackle any problem. Need some fresh ideas for branding campaign or to design a new logo? Ask the crowd. 

    Trying to decide what new features to add to an existing product or service offering? Ask all of your customers - a more targeted type of crowdsourcing.

    Heck, I have even seen bloggers from time to time pull off their (sad) version of crowdsourcing by asking readers, "What topics would you like me to write about?". Aside: Nothing says 'I have no ideas any more' than asking readers what they would like you to write about. A good blogger (or artist or designer or product developer) should not care too much about what 'the crowd' thinks.

    But regardless, crowdsourcing is here to stay and in reading about the NBC comedy contest I came across this excellent piece by Jeffrey Philips writing on the Innovate on Purpose blog that points out some specific potential problems with the NBC approach that also provide insights into the dangers with any crowdsourcing program.

    Here is a bit from the piece, (but you should definitely click over and read the entire thing)

    When companies that rarely innovate attempt "open innovation"  I often wonder:  is this a sign that they finally understand the number and range of excellent ideas in the broader world, or is this a desperate sign that they've recognized the idea well is dry internally, and are left with nothing but an external search for ideas.

    What NBC is doing is a high wire exercise, and I wonder if they are prepared for the results.  While they are asking for ideas from their audience, I doubt that they've done much to change how they evaluate ideas or the internal culture of the network.  If you read the article you'll see that the judge panel they are using to evaluate ideas and pilots consists of a range of comedic talent that they've featured in other shows, some successful and some that failed.  If NBC really wanted to understand what people want, they'd go further, allowing crowdsourced ideas to be evaluated and ranked by the crowd.  One wonders if they know who their audience is and what they want.

    Some great takes there and things to think about if you are chasing the crowdsourcing carrot. Are you genuinely seeking some new or fresh approaches to round out or to validate your existing thinking? Or are you flat out tapped out of ideas in total (in that case you probably have an internal talent and management issue that runs deeper than, "What color should this button be?' questions).

    And then once you get all of these crowdsourced ideas are you actually prepared to deal with them? Maybe your problem isn't a lack of ideas, it is an inability to evaluate, interpret, select, and implement the ideas that you already have. I mean how hard is it to come up with an idea? I came up with the idea for this post in about 2 minutes.

    Anyway, check out Innovate on Purpose and make sure if you are jumping in to the crowdsourcing pool you have at least some idea why.

    Happy Thursday.

    Wednesday
    Apr092014

    CHARTS OF THE DAY: On Increasing Job Openings and Scarce Candidates

    Today's chart(s) of the day come courtesy of Gluskin Sheff + Associates, and the excellent (and filled with charts) report from David Rosenberg titled 'The US Labor Market in Pictures, Tighter Than It Looks!', which provides a fantastic overview and re-set of the macro trends for employment in America.

    Taken from the Gluskin Sheff report, I want to call out two of the report's dozens of charts, the first on the growth in absolute job openings in the USA:

    Job openings continue to rise from the post-recession bottom, and with about 4 million current openings, seem on track to eventually climb to eclipse the pre-recession highs. In fact, if suddenly all 4 million openings were filled from currently (officially) unemployed workers, the unemployment rate would fall to about 4%.

    But of course things are not so simple or neat, and this next chart illustrates the challenges that many employers are reporting trying to fill jobs in a time of rising openings:

    Companies, especially smaller companies, are reporting increases in 'difficult to fill' positions, (a level just off it's five-year highs), and if you dig into the Gluskin Sheff report further, you will see that over 40% of companies are reporting 'few or no qualified applicants' for their openings.

    These trends of rising job openings combined with, at least for many types of jobs in many industries, are having a tightening effect on the labor market overall. I am not smart enough to try and tell you exactly why this is happening right now, it is certainly a complex and debatable set of circumstances that includes the aging workforce, the governmental safety net, firm's inability or unwillingness to invest in training candidates, and the 'fake-or-maybe-it-is-not-fake' shortage of candidates with the needed skills for the modern age.

    But the data seem to show one thing that is clear - the labor market is starting to show signs of tightening, probably making it more difficult for you in the short and medium term to deliver the candidates you need to sustain your business and talent objectives.

    It might be time to start re-thinking all the things that make your shop the place where increasingly scarce candidates want to land.

    Happy Wednesday.

    Tuesday
    Apr082014

    Reactions to notifications from various social networking sites 

    In no particular order of importance (and likely no overall importance whatsoever)

    "Person you don't know wants to be your friend on Facebook"

    "Who?" followed shortly by "Why?" followed shortly by "I really dislike Facebook already, I can't see how this will make it better." (Aside - Facebook is one of the few services that gets worse the more you use it. )

    "Person you don't know has just followed you on Twitter"

    "   "

    "Person you know has sent you a Direct Message on Twitter"

    "Please send me an email. I don't need another 'Inbox' to have to ignore."

    "Person ABC has mentioned you in their 'Follow Friday' tweet"

    "I remember 2008 too."

    "Person you don't know would like to add you to their professional network on LinkedIn"

    "Yes" followed shortly by "Please don't send me any LinkedIn messages. I don't need another 'Inbox' I have to ignore."

    "Person ABC is now following you on Quora."

    "Oh yeah, Quora. I should really try and attempt to answer a question on there someday.... Nah."

    "Person ABC has added you to their Google+ Circles."

    "People are still doing that? Huh."

    "Steve - here are some Pinterest boards we think you will like!"

    "Pinterest - it is pretty clear you don't know a thing about me."

    "Person ABC started following you on Instagram."

    "Be prepared to be consistently bored."

    "Person ABC wants to be your friend on Foursquare."

    "There are about three people that need to know where I am at any given time. You are not one of them." also "You will come to learn that I go to bagel shops a lot."

    "Person ABC favorited you page on About.me"

    "Now come on. About.me? Really? I am embarrassed to even have an About.me page."

    It does all seem a little silly sometimes, doesn't it?

    Happy Tuesday.

    Monday
    Apr072014

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 179 - Data Driven HR

    HR Happy Hour 179 - 'Data Driven HR' (Live from Equifax Workforce Solutions Forum 2014)

    Recorded Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Guests: Dann Adams, President, Equifax Workforce Solutions and Mike Psenka, Senior Vice President Workforce Analytics, Equifax Workforce Solutions

    Last week Steve and Trish were able to attend Equifax Workforce Solutions Annual User Conference in Scottsdale, AZ and sit down with Dann Adams and Mike Psenka to talk about some of the ways that more advanced capability and increased availability of data and analytics are changing the way HR gets done, and increasing the opportunities for HR to contribute significant business value.

    Data is increasingly the 'must have' resource for HR leaders. It can allow the leveraging of that data and the related insights on pay, turnover, and job movement from a wide swath of industries and millions of data points in order to give organizations a better understanding of how their workforce trends stack up to their peers. It also means using data and decision support tools to ensure the organization is making the right decisions and remaining compliant with complex ACA requirements.

    Equifax Workforce Solutions through their technology solutions, extensive and robust data set from which to derive insights, and the domain experience of their team are at the forefront of delivering on the promise and potential that data and analytics offer to HR leaders and organizations. On the show, Dann and Mike share a few examples and share their insights as to how HR organizations can get the most value from these data driven approaches. 

    You can listen to the show on the show page here or using the widget player below: 

    Popular Business Internet Radio with Steve Boese on BlogTalkRadio

     

    Additionally, you can subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or for Android device users, from a free app called Stitcher Radio. In both cases just search for 'HR Happy Hour' and add the show to your podcast subscription list. 

    This was a fun and informative show and I would like to thank Dann, Mike, and everyone at Equifax Workforce Solutions for allowing the HR Happy Hour Show to be a part of Forum 2014.