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    Social Media and the Company: Which picture is worse?

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour Show we will be re-visiting the topic of 'Social Media, The Company, and The Law', with special guest, Employment Law expert Eric Meyer.  It has been some time since we covered this ground on the show and tonight I am sure that Eric will do a great job getting us all back up to speed so to speak, with the ever-changing and fast-moving world that is the intersection and tension between social media, social networking, company objectives, employee rights, and the law.

    It will be an interesting and fun show, and I do hope you can join us tonight at 8:00PM ET as we kick around the topic.

    You can listen to the show tonight on the show page here, by calling in to the listener line - 646-378-1086, or via the widget player below:

    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio


    This week, as luck would have it, another great set of 'possibly inappropriate examples of social media use by employees' popped up - from my favorite professional sports league no less, the NBA.

    Submitted for your consideration are two Twitter status updates, both that originally contained a linked picture or 'Twitpic', and both from current NBA players, (though not from the same team).

    Exhibit 'A' - New York Knicks forward J.R. Smith tweets a very NSFW picture of a female friend in a state of very little dress, with an accompanying joke commenting about an aspect of her physique, (note Smith has since deleted the original Tweet).

    Exhibit 'B' -  New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman tweets a picture of himself holding up what appears to be a very lifeless cat along with some commentary along the lines of 'Look what we are going to do to the Bobcats tonight').

    Both tweets were sent from the player's personal Twitter accounts, and not in conjunction with any official team or league activities. Just a couple of goofy NBA players messing around on Twitter in their free time. No doubts that Smith's and Kaman's updates and shared pictures could be described as (depending on your point of view), as inappropriate, crude, classless, vulgar, offensive, etc.  And depending on the NBA or the individual team's written policies and contracts perhaps these kinds of updates would put the players in some kind of 'official' trouble with the league brass.

    But here is the interesting thing, and the tie back to tonight's HR Happy Hour Show on social and the company and the law - the league fined Smith $25,000 for his actions, and as of this writing, has not taken any action against Kaman.

    And that's the tricky part with dealing with employee's personal use of social media as an organization. Sometimes you have to make the tough call deciding what is more offensive - a NSFW picture of a woman not really dressed, or a guy on the starting five swinging a dead cat.

    Fun times...


    BONUS CONTENT - My spot on the Oracle Apps Blog

    Please indulge a quick spot of self-promotion - today I have a post up over on the Oracle Applications Blog with some thoughts around the impact of social media and social technologies in HR, and the great opportunity and potential for HR leaders to leverage these technologies inside the organizations.

    The post is titled, Beyond Record Keeping: What Social Means for HCM, and I hope you will check it out and share your ideas and comments about Social HCM there. And while you are at it if you are interested in staying connected to what is happening in the Oracle Applications space, the world of HR Technology, (or just want another opportunity to internet-stalk me), drop the Oracle Apps Blog in your feed reader.

    The Oracle Applications blog is meant to be a resource for the HR community and will feature guest posts from key executives, strategy leaders, and Fusion Applications customers. And I will be posting there from time to time as well.

    You’ll be seeing some new names and some names that you probably already know. The goal is to provide you with the information you need to get the most out of Oracle Applications today and identify new opportunities for your business in the future.

    Thanks for the indulgence - tomorrow we will back to our regularly scheduled hijinks here on the blog.



    As a parent of an 11 year old I have had the fun of building helping to build quite a few Lego sets over the years. Sets ranging from a few dozen pieces for the simplest small projects, to at least one set that consisted of over 2,000 pieces, and that I think took me about a month, working in small batches toLego Taj Mahal complete. A quick Google search masquerading as exhaustive research of the company history indicates the largest Lego set in terms of individual pieces to be the 2008 Taj Mahal set, an amazing likeness of the iconic building checking in at over 5,900 total pieces.

    Certainly for anyone that has spent time constructing and playing with Lego building sets over the years would attest to just how more evolved, detailed, and fantastic they have become, (insert the requisite 'Back in my day, we only had plain blocks and could build square houses' lament here). By continuously innovating and expanding the possibilities of what could be re-created and re-imagined with plastic blocks, Lego has carved a unique place in the toy industry, and by some accounts is now the 4th-largest toy manufacturer in the world. 

    But the really cool thing about Lego I think is not solely or even primarily the amazing sets like the Taj Mahal, the Tower Bridge, or the almost 4,000 piece Star Wars Death Star. It's the way that the company still recognizes and embraces the elegance and importance of the simple, classic, and foundational Lego brick. You know the one I am talking about right? A simple rectangular building brick, a little Lego version of the real world builder's 2x4, the simplest and yet most fundamental brick of them all. The kind of brick that form the basis for walls, towers, and really for anything that can be imagined by the builder.

    On the right is the image of the 1958 patent drawing for the Lego brick, (click on the image for a larger size), and while you might be thinking that the humble brick in the drawing has nothing at all to do with wonders like the Taj Mahal set, I think you might be wrong. Rather than me trying to explain why, let's get the Lego company's take on it - the following is directly from the Lego.com 'History' web page: Lego patent drawing - 1958

    The LEGO brick is our most important product. This is why we are proud to have been named twice – “Toy of the Century”. Our products have undergone extensive development over the years – but the foundation remains the traditional LEGO brick.

    The brick in its present form was launched in 1958. The interlocking principle with its tubes makes it unique, and offers unlimited building possibilities. It's just a matter of getting the imagination going – and letting a wealth of creative ideas emerge through play.

    The folks at Lego have realized that no matter how far they can push the creativity and design that goes into new building sets, the foundation that is the simple brick from 1958 is the source of it all. It makes Death Stars and Taj Mahals possible, but it also does more that that. The 5,900 piece Taj Mahal set is essentially designed to do one thing - to become a miniaturized, detailed, and accurate version of the actual Taj Mahal.

    But a pile of simple bricks, the foundation elements that Lego still sees as the most important part of their portfolio, well these are designed to become anything that the builder can imagine. And that is probably why over 60 years later, the 'system' no matter how much it has advanced, still works on a fundamental level. 

    When the core of a system is simple, essential, and 'right', well, almost anything is possible from there.


    Big Data, coming to a staff meeting near you

    Big Data is probably the latest buzzworthy term to enter into the discussions amongst technology solution providers, pundits, and enterprise information technology types, all of whom are jockeying to variously understand, explain, and offer insights as to all the fantastic opportunities, (and challenges) that Big Data presents. In case you may be late to the Big Data party, (maybe you've been goofing off too long on Pinterest to keep up), let's take a look at a basic definition of the concept from Wikipedia:

    In information technologybig data consists of datasets that grow so large that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools. Difficulties include capture, storage, search, sharing, analytics, and visualizing. This trend continues because of the benefits of working with larger and larger datasets allowing analysts to "spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime."

     Scientists regularly encounter this problem in meteorology,genomics, connectomics, complex physics simulations, biological and environmental research, Internet searchfinance and business informatics. Data sets also grow in size because they are increasingly being gathered by ubiquitous information-sensing mobile devices, aerial sensory technologies (remote sensing), software logs, cameras, microphones, Radio-frequency identificationreaders, and wireless sensor networks.

    Got all that?

    Essentially, our ability to generate and store massive amounts of data, from disparate, always-on, and almost unlimited sources, is surpassing our ability to understand, analyze, interpret, and take actions based on said data.

    Where there is an identified problem with data, (massive amounts of it that don't fit traditional tools and methods of interpretation), we can expect more and better technology solutions to continue to be developed to help organizations and institutions. Doing a quick search on 'Big Data tools' already yields thousands of results, ranging from technologies and processes from some of the largest information technology companies in the world, to new ideas from start-ups trying to innovate and get a toe-hold in this emerging domain.

    But like any other new technology trend, the trouble that Human Resources professionals could fall victim to is thinking that the problem of 'Big Data' is fundamentally a technical one, and that with the right or new or more powerful computing resources that suddenly 'Big Data' will start spitting out all kinds of actionable insights into their business and talent.  Data has always been just that, data, and possessing more and more of it just makes it more apparent that without the ability to ask the right questions, propose the right theories, and the capability to implement the strategies suggested by all this data, then all the Big Data in the world won't mean all that much to the HR professional.

    I was thinking about this after reading a recent piece titled 'Can Big Data Replace Domain Expertise?', a review of some recent articles and discussions among leading academics and data scientists debating whether or not if one possessed the data, the needed technology, and some core 'data science' skills, that actual domain experiences, (e.g. for HR or Talent data, actual experience in HR or Recruiting), would not be necessary to extract insight and actionable information from the data. In other words, "given the right data set, a data scientist with no domain expertise can out-perform experts that have been working in the field for decades."

    For domain experts, this kind of a conclusion would certainly be disputed, after all, how can a techie or a statistician know more about my business, or more pointedly, my people, than I do? How can simply crunching the data take the place of the knowledge I can bring to the table?

    Personally, I tend to side with the domain experts on this one, perhaps it stems from watching so many NBA games and seeing the increasing importance statistical analysis is playing in the sport and in how coaches, teams, and players are managed and evaluated. Often when I read detailed statistical analysis of a player or team that seems to be at odds with my unscientific (and likely biased) views, I often want to ask, 'But did you actually watch the games?'

    But eventually the data will get to be too much, too universally known, understood, and accepted, and some of my opinions and biases might have to change if I want to continue to be seen as a relevant, or even astute judge of the NBA and its talent.

    Eventually just watching the games won't be enough.

    And I suspect the same thing is going to happen for managers and judges of talent inside organizations as well.


    Off Topic - In the 1990s, an amazing future awaits

    Back in the late 1960s, an amazingly accurate, (and unintentionally hilarious) video titled 'Telecommunications Services for the 1990s' was produced in the UK by its Post Office Research Station at a place called Dollis Hill. The eight-minute video, (go ahead and watch, you can spare the time), offers a vision of a future world where every house is connected to a central data service, video calling is simple, easy, and inexpensive, businesses and consumers will access things like bank statements from their own computers.

    And the nature of work, with all these advances in technology, will change dramatically, In fact, 'Given all these facilities, the businessman will scarcely need to go to his office at all. He can do all his work in the comfort of his own home.'

    Check out the video below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through), then come back to see the list of everything the post office folks got right:

    So what did they correctly predict would be coming?

    High-speed internet connections to every home and business

    Worldwide video calling, (essentially Skype)


    Fax machines

    A crude form of Web Conferencing/Screen Sharing

    Online banking

    Online mortgage calculators

    Widespread remote working enabled by technology.

    Pretty amazing, wouldn't you say?

    Hope you had a laugh with this one, and have a great weekend!