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    Friday
    Apr042014

    Off Topic: Grunge Songs, Ranked

    In an ongoing experiment to discover if there is indeed a correlation between a blog post's lack of meaning and insight and it's popularity, I present to you for your consideration the definitive ranking of 'Grunge' songs.

    20. Glycerine - Bush

    19. Spoonman - Soundgarden

    18. Change - Candelbox

    17. Plush - Stone Temple Pilots

    16. Heart Shaped Box - Nirvana

    15. Malibu - Hole

    14. Even Flow - Pearl Jam

    13. Hunger Strike - Temple of the Dog

    12. Man in the Box - Alice in Chains

    11. Cover Me - Candlebox

    10. Cumbersome - Seven Mary Three

    9. In Bloom - Nirvana

    8. Pretend We're Dead - L7

    7. Violet - Hole

    6. Alive - Pearl Jam

    5. Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden

    4. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

    3. Jeremy - Pearl Jam

    2. Interstate Love Song - Stone Temple Pilots

    1. Would? -  Alice in Chains

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Apr032014

    CHART OF THE DAY: Better hope you're not a telemarketer

    I'm about to speak a little later this afternoon at the Achievers Aspire event in San Francisco on the topic of Robots in the Workplace (I know, shocking that this was the topic I pitched when the folks at Achievers asked me if I would be interested in participating in the event), and in doing a final review of the slides I am planning on presenting I figured I should share one of the most interesting charts from the deck - so here goes:

    (Source: Business Insider)

    It is probably not a shock to you or anyone that jobs like telemarketing, typists, and retail salespersons are coming under increasing threat from the rise of robots and automation, but take a look at some of the other, more surprising types of jobs that have a high likelihood of being automated away in the next two decades.

    Accountants, technical writers, even commercial pilots - these are not the kinds of jobs we initially think about when we consider the potential impact of robots and automation in workforces.

    I have a feeling my talk this afternoon might be a tough one - I am not at all sure that the HR leaders in this room that are not working at 'obvious' ripe for automation types of industries like manufacturing or call centers are really thinking all that much about robots and automation. But I think, or at least I am going to try and argue, that automation in its many forms, (robots, intelligent software algorithms, wearable devices, machine to machine interaction), are going to be in the forefront of the HR/Talent agenda for just about every organization of any size in any industry.

    It should be a fun talk. I will let you know how it turns out.

    Wednesday
    Apr022014

    A funny reminder of what normals think about many of us

    I am pretty sure my favorite, offbeat website is Dinosaur Comics. I know I have blogged at least a couple of times over the years with a take on something interesting that the genius behind Dinosaur Comics, Ryan North has posted.  And his idea, a comic series where the pictures, panels, and layouts are exactly the same every day, but with the topics and dialog between the two characters changing, is really unique and remarkable.

    Recently, Dinosaur Comics took on the topic of HR and Recruiting's favorite sourcing and people research tool, LinkedIn. Take a look at what two comic dinosaurs think about LinkedIn, and then I (natch) will have a couple of comments after the comic.

    Really funny, right? But to paraphrase the great Joe Pesci in Goodfellas - how is it funny? And should we really care beyond laughing? A couple of quick thoughts:

    1. 'Normals', i.e. people who don't live and die all day long on LinkedIn, are not all that concerned with their 'personal brand', and don't actually feel like their job is the most important thing about them likely make up the majority of your workforce.

    2. Most of these people, I think, are not at all comfortable with the notion that the divide or the separation between 'work' and 'not working' is diminishing (or even disappearing). Lots and lots of solid and even outstanding performers are not thinking about work after 5PM. And they are not spending their weekends sending LinkedIn connection requests. They are, once again, 'normal.'

    3. HR and Recruiting people love to tell everyone who will listen that 'They need to be on LinkedIn' and offer endless tips and tricks so that people can 'Get the most out of their LinkedIn profile'. They do this for primarily self-serving reasons - they want the full range of people that they someday might be interested in contacting about job opportunities to be easily findable and contactable, (facilitated by tossing a few $$ to LinkedIn). I wish some honest recruiter would just post an article that says 'If you ever want to be considered for a job at my company, here is what I expect to see on your LinkedIn profile.' But instead we get dozens and dozens of pieces about 'optimization' tips. So boring.

    I don't mean to take shots at LinkedIn, I am a long-time user and have gotten some value out of that over the years. But I also think it has become too easy (and lazy) to have one and only one source for universal professional information. And one that normal people don't really understand as well.

    Tuesday
    Apr012014

    The next important HR Tech acronym: CALO

    You already know all the big HR Tech acronyms - LMS, ATS, HRIS, SaaS, ERP, and on and on.

    But the next big HR and workplace technology acronym you should start to become familiar with, as it promises to offer more for individual and organizational productivity and performance than all acronyms that have come before, is probably a new one to you.

    CALO

    CALO stands for Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes

    Just what does that mean? 

    Check the below from a piece on HBR titled, 'The Ultimate Productivity Hack Will Be Robot Assistants' :

    The underlying technology behind all of the advances in robotic technology mentioned above is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).  A.I., often referred to as the ability of computers to think like humans, has been a main goal of many computer and cognitive scientists for the last sixty to eighty years. And one of the principle goals of A.I. developers has long been to help humans be more productive.

    The largest known A.I. project to date was instigated by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In 2003, DARPA contracted SRI International to lead a reported $200 million, five-year project to build a virtual assistant. The project consisted of up to 500 experts in machine learning, natural language processing, knowledge representation, human–computer interaction, flexible planning, and behavioral studies who were tasked with building a Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes (CALO).

    The goal of CALO was to become what the technology industry now calls a ‘cognitive assistant,’ – similar in function to what many of us think of as a personal assistant. This ambitious goal envisioned a software program that learns by ‘observing and learning from the past, acting in the present and anticipating the future.’ CALO would be able to assist its user with organizing and prioritizing information, mediating human communication, resource allocation, task management decisions, and scheduling and prioritizing.

    Read some of the goals of CALO again - organizing and prioritizing information, mediating human-human communications, allocation of resources, getting tasks completed, making decisions, etc.

    These are all things that you, and everyone in your workforce has to manage every single day.

    Unlike an LMS that an employee may have to check in to once a year, an ATS that they never see once they are hired, or an HRIS that they only access once or twice in a career, (if they move or have a 'life event'). 

    And don't get me started on the Performance Management system.

    But a CALO? A tool or technology that would actually help with organizing and prioritizing information and making decisions?

    Your employees would use that tool every single day, and all day long. And if it worked, it would actually help them in their jobs.

    I am not (yet) smart enough to know just how these CALO tools will enter the workplace, who will make them, how they will first find a way onto corporate platforms but I suspect that the smartest people working on workplace technologies are already attacking those issues.

    And I also suspect these CALO tools will have a much bigger impact and influence on worker performance than all the HR tech acronyms that have come before.

    Monday
    Mar312014

    The analytics takeover won't always be pretty

    Seems like it has been some time since I dropped a solid 8 Man Rotation contribution here on the blog, so to remedy that, please first take a look at this recent piece on ESPN.com, 'Fears that stats trump hoops acumen', a look at the tensions that are building inside NBA front offices and among team executives.

    In case you didn't click over and read the piece, the gist is this: With the increased importance and weight that a new generation of NBA team owners are placing on data-driven decision making and analytical skills, that the traditional people that have been the talent pool for NBA team management and executive roles, (former NBA players), are under threat from a new kind of candidate - ones that have deep math, statistics, and data backgrounds and, importantly, not careers as actual basketball players.

    Check this excerpt from the ESPN piece to get a feel for how this change in talent management and sourcing strategies is being interpreted by long time (and anonymously quoted) NBA executives:

    Basketball guys who participated in the game through years of rigorous training and practice, decades of observation work through film and field participation work feel under-utilized and under-appreciated and are quite insulted because their PhDs in basketball have been downgraded," the former executive, who chose to remain anonymous, told ESPN NBA Insider Chris Broussard.

    One longtime executive, who also chose to remain anonymous, postulated that one reason why so many jobs are going to people with greater analytical backgrounds is because newer and younger owners may better identify with them.

    "Generally speaking, neither the [newer generation of] owners nor the analytic guys have basketball in their background," the longtime executive told Broussard. "This fact makes it easy for both parties to dismiss the importance of having experience in and knowledge of the game.

    The piece goes on to say that since many newer NBA owners have business and financial industry backgrounds, (and didn't inherit their teams as part of the 'family business'), that they would naturally look for their team executives to share the kinds of educational and work experience profiles of the business executives with which they are accustomed to working with, and have been successful with.

    The former players, typically, do not have these kinds of skills, they have spent just about all their adult lives (and most of their childhoods), actually playing basketball. A set of experiences, it is turning out, no longer seems to provide the best training or preparation for running or managing a basketball team. 

    But the more interesting point from all this, and the one that might have resonance beyond basketball, is the idea that the change in hiring philosophy is coming right from the top - from a new generation of team owners that have a different set of criteria upon which they are assessing and evaluating talent.

    Left to tradition, hiring and promotion decisions would have probably only slowly begun to modernize. But a new generation of owners/leaders in the NBA are changing the talent profile for the next generation of leaders.

    The same thing is likely to play out in your organization. Eventually, if it has not happened yet, you are going to go to a meeting with your new CHRO who didn't rise through the HR ranks and maybe is coming into the role from finance, operations, or manufacturing. In that meeting your 19 years of experience in employee relations might be a great asset to brag on. Or it might not be.

    And you might find out only when you are introduced to your new boss, who has spent her last 5 years crunching numbers and developing stats models.

    Have a great week!