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    To fail this often, you have to be pretty good

    Quick post from the Western NY satellite office of The 8 Man Rotation - wanted to point out an important NBA milestone that happened last night: Lakers star Kobe Bryant set the record for most missed shots for an NBA career.

    From the ESPN piece on the 'achievement':

    Kobe Bryant made history Tuesday, setting the NBA record for missed field goals.

    The Los Angeles Lakers star set the mark with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter of a 107-102 lossto the Memphis Grizzlies. He missed a 14-foot fadeaway jumper from the left side, giving him 13,418 career missed field goals, one more than Boston Celtics legend John Havlicek

    Asked about the record, Bryant, who scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-26 shooting and finished with 13,421 misses for his career, smiled and said he wasn't aware of it.

    "Nah, I don't follow that stuff, man," he said.

    How does he explain setting the mark?

    "Well, I'm a shooting guard that's played 19 years," he said, shrugging and smiling. He later added, "Like I said, 'shooting' guard, 19th year."

    Wow, over 13,000 missed shots in a career, more than any other player. You would think that this ignominious mark speaks pretty badly of our man Kobe. But before you come down too hard on the Mamba, take a quick look at the next half-dozen or so names on the 'Most career missed shots' leader board

    John Havlicek - (Celtics legend from the 60s and 70s, Hall of Fame member)

    Elvin Hayes - (The Big 'E', great scored and rebounder in the 70s, Hall of Fame member)

    Karl Malone - (The Mailman, Utah Jazz legend, possibly greatest power forward ever, Hall of Fame member)

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - (the NBA's all-time leading scorer, Hall of Fame member)

    Michael Jordan - (probably greatest player of all time, Hall of Fame member)

    I think you get the idea here. In order to be able to miss so many shots, you have to be an amazingly good and valuable player. Players who can't actually perform are not kept around long enough to climb very high on this kind of 'failure' list. 

    The bigger picture takeaway from the 'Kobe has missed more shots than anyone' story?

    That in many fields (sales, content marketing, natural resource exploration, showing price pigs at the county fair....), failure might come just as often, if not more, than success. You have to be out there competing, hustling, working it in order to fail so often. And your best performers, maybe even you, are naturally going to fail, sometimes often. But that might be ok.

    I will leave this story with a quote from Kobe, asked to comment on over 13,000 misses over 19 years:

    "You've got to go out and figure that out and play and do the best you can, and whatever happens, happens. You can't be held captive by the fear of failure or the fear of what people may say."

    If you are open, take the shot.

    Have a great Wednesday!


    Numbers never lie - but they change how we behave

    Full disclaimer: I am not much of a fan/user of Facebook. I check it very infrequently, almost never see things like messages or friend requests in a timely manner, and really only keep my account active for HR Happy Hour Show page purposes. So take that for what it is worth and as preface to what I want to talk about today.

    I caught a really interesting piece on The Atlantic titled 'How Numbers on Facebook Change Behavior', a review of a study conducted by Ben Grosser that attempted to understand just how much that Facebook metrics like the number of people that 'liked' a piece of content or the number of friends that a Facebook user has goes on to influence user behavior on the site.

    I recommend reading the entire piece, particularly if you are a big Facebook user, but I can give you the short (and maybe kind of obvious) conclusion in one sentence: You (and most everyone else) are more likely to 'like' something on Facebook if lots of other people have 'liked' that same thing. 

    From the Atlantic piece:

    To keep its 1.3 billion users clicking and posting (and stalking), Facebook scatters numbers everywhere. While it collects many metrics that users never see, it tells users plenty of others, too. Facebook tells you the number of friends you have, the number of likes you receive, the number of messages you get, and even tracks the timestamp to show how recently an item entered the news feed.

    And these numbers, programmer and artist Ben Grosser argues, directly influence user behavior by being the root of Facebook addiction. In October 2012, he set out to find exactly what Facebook's metrics were doing to users after noticing how much he depended on them.

    He did this by creating a browser extension, that when activated, 'hides' the numbers from Facebook. Instead of seeing the little red number alerting you to the count of notifications you have, you are just informed that you have notifications. And you won't see the that '18 people like this' but rather that 'people like this', that kind of thing.

    Grosser then examined what happened and recorded the observations from some of the 5,000 or so people that installed the tested the 'numbers hiding' extension.

    And again, the findings were probably not terribly surprising. People tended to report (and demonstrate) that when visible the Facebook numbers fostered more competition, (more likes the better), manipulation (removing posts that did not have enough or any likes), and probably most importantly, homogenization, (liking posts that many of your friends had already liked).

    Why am I writing about this, as a self-declared non-user (essentially) of Facebook?

    Well because everyone else uses Facebook, so what happens there sort of matters in a big-picture sense and I find that important to keep in mind. But also, for what these kinds of findings might mean for the systems and tools that we use in the workplace as well.

    Wouldn't it make sense for savvy (and admittedly unscrupulous) organizational communicators to not just message their workforces, but to imbue in these messages a sense of importance and value by gaming the system with additional 'likes' or upvotes or 5-star ratings - you get the idea? The kind of activity that gets restaurant owners in trouble on Yelp for example.

    It really is not that much of a stretch, and I am sure this happens all the time, for companies to post on their blog or in their LinkedIn Group and then have a few dozen employees immediately 'like' the post, this setting off what they hope will be a snowball effect once other readers observe all of these 'likes.' And note, I am not talking about scammy 'like farms' or purchased Twitter followers or YouTube plays. I am talking about real people taking actions and reacting the actions of others.

    Is that really a bad thing or not, I suppose I am not sure.

    But we have always known, even in the age of Facebook that popular doesn't necessarily equal quality.

    I wonder though, even in the communications from our friends and colleagues, if we should also realize that popular doesn't always equal popular as well.

    Happy Tuesday.


    Owning Disruption at #HRevolution

    Submitting this dispatch, (yet again) from the Delta Sky Club on my way home from the wonderful HRevolution event held over the weekend in Grapevine, Texas. (Note: See below embedded the song that has been burning my psyche ever since I knew we were holding the event in a place called Grapevine).

    One of the highlights of the event for me was a session, really a classic and engaging HRevolution-style discussion, on Disrupting HR that was facilitated by Frank Zupan and Tammy Colson, long-time HRevolution 'family' members'. It was a great discussion that at times traveled to the notion of 'disruption' itself, whether or not it even makes sense to talk about disruption in an HR context, and what might be some examples of people or organizations that have actually 'Disrupted' HR.

    In the discussion, I felt compelled to actually participate quite a bit more than I usually do in HRevolution sessions, (normally I am running around herding attendees, making sure the coffee pots are full), and I think it was primarily due to how or what I think is driving just about all of the disruption in organizations today - technology.

    For the first 150-odd years of workplace (HR and otherwise) technology, the 'disruptions' that were caused for workers and workplaces were introduced and driven by company owners who were looking to improve efficiency and profitability, and later (much later), by corporate IT departments who became tasked with finding, evaluating, and introducing new technology into the workplace.

    Over time, HR departments, (and also sales and procurement and facilities and sales, and just about all other back office functions) never really 'owned' the technologies that they used to do their jobs. These were provided by company ownership, stewdarded by IT, and simply became the de-facto foundation for performing back office and administrative tasks. 

    But today, (and what has been building really for the last half-dozen years or so), both back-office functions like HR and marketing have claimed much more significant influence and control over the kinds of technologies that they use in the workplace, and that can in turn, significantly impact, drive, and enable this notion of 'disruption'. This is driven by the cloud, SaaS, mobile, declining cost of computing, and the amazingly powerful smart phones just about every employee carries.

    It doesn't really matter if you care for the term 'disruption' or not, there is not any doubt that for all except the most backward looking companies that new workplace technologies have changed the very nature of work. I suppose the question then becomes, with all this new(ish) ability to set the technology, (and consequently) the disruption agenda, is what will HR do with it?

    In the past two decades the most disruptive new technology introduced to workplaces has to be Email.

    And email was, is , and probably always will be 'owned' by a corporate IT department. HR's involvement with Email as a disruptive technology was/is merely to set and occasionally enforce standards for conduct, content, etc. 

    Just what will be the next workplace technology that proves to be as disruptive as email remains to be seen.

    A better question for HR leaders, and folks that want to become one such, is whether or not HR will be the driving force behind whatever this/these technologies end up being, or whether they, like in the Email example, end up being simply passengers (and sometime police) who are along for the ride.

    Workplace 'disruption' will be owned by who is driving the technology agenda. It might be IT, it might be leadership, it might even be rank and file employees.

    But if you're in HR and you want a say in the future of your organization, (and your career), you want to be a part of that conversation. You probably want to lead that conversation, actually.

    Thanks to all the HRevolution attendees, speakers, sponsors, fellow organizers, and friends for a fantastic event! 

    Oh yeah - here is the song I wanted to share, 'Grapevine Fires' by Death Cab for Cutie (email and RSS subscribers will have to click through to see the video).


    Notes from the Road #13 - #HRevolution Edition

    Filing yet another dispatch for the ever-popular, often imitated, and usually exceeded 'Notes from the Road' series from the Delta Sky Club, this time in lovely LaGuardia Airport.

    I am heading this fine morning to Dallas, or more specifically, Grapevine, Texas for the the 6th (or possibly 7th, I have lost count), HRevolution 'Un'Conference and HR family reunion of sorts.

    This time the HRevolution event, which began when a small group of HR professionals (Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks, yours truly, and later joined by the mighty Matt Stollak), combined forces to form a different kind of HR conference, returns to its original roots. The event is one that has always emphasized new and challenging topics, personal and professional networking, and one that was not 'owned' or overly dependant on external organizations, associations, or sponsors.

    I have written tons of posts about HRevolution over the years, it doesn't really make too much sense for me to once again run down the list of all the reasons why I am proud and honored to be a part of the HRevolution organizing team and community. The event, in many ways, is the high point of the professional year for me.

    Many, many thanks must go out to this year's HRevolution sponsors - Symbolist, (who have been gracious enough to open their doors, literally, for us), Mercer, and Small Improvements.

    It is going to be a fantastic event this weekend in Grapevine - hope to see many of you there!

    Have a great weekend!


    If you're not sure

    Spotted, in this piece from Esquire, The 16 Wisest Things Men Have Ever Said About Style:


    "If you're not sure whether it looks good on you, it doesn't."

    – Scott Omelianuk, Author of Things A Man Should Know About Style


    Great advice, I think, not just for fashion but for all manner of situations and endeavours. 

    Not that being sure, matters all of the time of course. We can't always, maybe hardly ever, be sure about things.

    But for the times when we need to be sure, whether it is the choice of clothes, careers, or maybe even sorting out whom you can trust and whom perhaps you should not, well, I think that the advice from Mr. Omelianuk is pretty solid.

    Now the trickier part I reckon is knowing when you need to be sure and when you only need to feel reasonably confident you're doing the right thing. 

    But for now at least that hat/shirt/coat/monocle/walking stick/handlebar moustache/eyepatch/neck tattoo/sketchy person you are thinking about sharing an important business item with that you are considering?

    Stop considering them.

    Happy Thursday.