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    Knowing where to optimize your talent

    Over the weekend I caught this pretty interesting discussion on the Marginal Revolution site, 'Where is talent opimized?', a discussion of what industries (or more accurately job roles), have the ideal or 'best' talent suited for their roles actually doing those roles.

    It makes more sense to think about this idea of talent optimization, a state where the very best people who could perform a job are actually in that job by looking at a couple of examples where the difference is pretty clear. For example, professional basketball players, who are subject to years or training, competition, evaluation, and measurable performance metrics are probably the 'optimal' group of folks to actually be playing pro basketball. Said differently, it isn't likely there is a large untapped, undiscovered group of people who really should be playing pro basketball, but for some reason (or some labor market inefficiency), they are doing some other job instead.

    Compare that to a job like mid-level management or perhaps many governmental jobs. In many of these roles performance is harder to quantify and measure, compensation levels are either opaque or set on criteria other than performance, barriers to entry to the profession exist, (lots of 'referral' hiring for example), and finally many of these jobs have been closed off to under represented groups for a long time. When you think about it, it seems really unlikely that talent in these kinds of roles, in any organization, will be the 'best' or 'optimal'. It is just too hard to even figure out what 'optimal' even means I would argue. Finally, roles that once you 'get in' it is almost impossible to get removed from for poor performance or incompetence should also be added to this group of sub-optimized talent profiles.

    Why is this interesting (at least to me?)

    Because I think often while we know that some roles in the organization are more important/strategic to the organization than other roles, we don't always acknowledge that there also exists this difference in the ability to 'optimize' talent across different roles as well. Although the distinction may be subtle, these two are not actually the same thing.

    Finally, understanding how (or I suppose if), an organization can exploit these kinds of selection/sorting inefficiencies and get 'better' or more optimal talent attracted to roles that typically are less likely to be optimized, could result in a competitive advantage through talent that is usually unrealized.

    In other words, if your organization could truly have the 'best' front-line managers wouldn't that make a huge difference in business and talent outcomes?

    I will leave you with this one link to think about this more - In-N-Out Managers make $160,000 annually.

    Have a great week!


    n = 1

    1. Do for-profit organizations enact general or across the board wage/salary hikes just because more favorable tax policies will result in increased corporate profits? Or do they raise compensation for the basic and fundamental 'talent' reasons we all know about - worries about retention and attraction of people, and the need to compete more aggressively for these people? 

    2. It is not just the United States that seems to want to make immigration more about merit and the need to find workers with a Liam Neeson style 'particular set of skills'. Check out this piece describing the challenge in Japan - facing a declining (and aging) native population and having difficulty recruiting high-skilled workers. If you are a mobile, highly skilled, and adventurous type, I'd say your options for traveling the world and making a great living have never been better.

    3. A recent Marist poll reports that 94% of US workers think it is unlikely they will lose their jobs to automation. One of the reasons cited was 'I don't think a robot would love my job as much as I do'. But I wonder - (sorry Tina Turner), 'What's love got to do with it?'

    4. Want to get a job at auto manufacturer Volvo? You may need to interview inside/with a car (see below, email and RSS subscribers may need to click through)

    5. We did a fun and I think interesting HR Happy Hour Podcast this week - check out Trish McFarlane and I with our new series 'The H3 Hot 3' where we talk pay equity and fairness, leadership when the leader is always right, and why/how change and change management can be so difficult.  

    6. Did your city not make the short list for Amazon's new HQ? Be careful, some losing cities are are now wallowing in an existential crisis of self-examination. My take? I think it is always good to face up to your own weaknesses and limitations. But it isn't great to dwell too long on them. And my city, (for now), will get over it. We still have the Garbage Plate.

    7. Sports take of the week: I am so disappointed in how my New York Knicks are playing. But I am still excited to see HR Tech companies Infor, (Brooklyn Nets), and Ultimate Software (Miami Heat), as official NBA jersey sponsors this season, (and as I predicted way back when). Also, check out the extremely cool Heat 'Miami Vice' alternates that were unveiled this week.

    8. The 2017 Oscar nominations are out. I have to this point seen 2 of the 9 movies up for Best Picture. Going to grind through the other 7 in the next few weeks to get ready for the annual HR Happy Hour Oscars Preview and Predictions show next month. Who do you like for Best Picture?

    9. This was a big week in HR and HR tech for acquisitions. ADP acquired WorkMarket. Maestro Health was acquired by AXA. And in a really exciting development, LRP (the owner of the HR Technology Conference and HR Executive Magazine) has acquired Singapore based HRM Asia. I think these are just the first of what should be a busy and active year for investments and M&A in the HR and HR Tech space.

    10. When does the Shamrock Shake come back? The McRib? These are the important questions that torment me.

    Have a great weekend!


    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 310 - The H3 "Hot 3"

    HR Happy Hour 310 - The H3 "Hot 3"

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish launch a new series for 2018 - The H3 'Hot 3', where Steve and Trish break down three topical issues in the world of work, tech, sports, pop culture and more - and tie them back to the workplace and HR. This week on the inaugural 'Hot 3' episode, we take on pay equity and disparity on the Today Show, what happens when an organization has a leader whom no one seems to be able to say 'No' to, (Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump), and the importance of demonstrating both emotional and quantitative benefits when convincing people to change - told through the story of Trish's new toothbrush, (trust me, it makes sense when you listen).

    Additionally, Steve and Trish teased the HR Happy Hour Annual Oscar preview show, we talked about LRP's acquisition of HRM Asia, and announced new HR Happy Hour video content. Finally, thanks once again to 2018 HR Happy Hour presenting sponsor Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really fun show, and we hope you enjoy it (and tell a friend!)

    Links - Sonic Care toothbrushThe 9x 'Better' principle, Adam Grant TED talk, and 2018 Oscar nominations.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show wherever you get your podcasts.


    The market for enterprise tech is huge - and growing

    The market research company Gartner recently released their projections for Enterprise IT spending (think how much and for what types of technology upon which companies and organizations will spend their IT budgets), and what the Gartner data suggests is really telling and interesting for the HR and HR Technology space. Here's the data from the Gartner press release, then some comments from me after the chart:

    A few notes and observations from this data, and one thing to think about if you are an HR leader and a consumer/shopper for new HR technology in 2018:

    1. The enterprise IT market is massive - fast approaching $4 trillion (yes, that is with a T) in the US in the coming years. This is the manifestation of the old mantra the 'every company is a technology company'. No matter what your are business for, chances are in 2018 or 2019, you will be investing in more and better technology across the board in order to increase efficiency, expand market share, better serve customers, innovate on new products and services, and improve and enhance your human capital. Said differently, if your organization has not/will not be investing in technology you certainly risk falling behind competitors who are making those investments.

    2. The enterprise shift to cloud-based, SaaS solutions is by and large complete. Look at the growth rate for the Data Center Systems category in the Gartner data. Organizational investment in their own data centers is expected to be about flat in 2018, and to decline in 2019. Most organizations, even larger, global ones, simply do not want to be in the business of building and maintaining their own data centers. Best to leave that to the Amazons, Googles, Microsofts, and Oracles of the world. From an HR tech perspective, if you are an HR leader at an organization who still utilizes on-premise HR solutions, 2018 could be the year that your CIO finally has a discussion with you about migrating off of your own data centers and into an HR tech provider's cloud.

    3. And take a look at the growth rate Gartner estimates for Enterprise Software - the category that includes HCM solutions. They estimate 9.5% growth in spend for enterprise tech in 2018 and over 8% in 2019 - making this category the fastest growing by a large margin in all of enterprise IT. This tells us a couple of things. One, like I mentioned above, Enterprise Software is the IT category that offers the best opportunity to help drive competitive advantage for the organization. Whether it is tech that improves the supply chain performance, provides data to better market and target customers, or enables the organization to hire, develop, and retain the best talent - this is how/where technology spend can make a real difference in business performance.

    And two, a growing and robust market for enterprise tech, (and HR Tech), is good news for you, the customer. You should see more and better solutions come to market, increased innovation from your current and established HR tech providers, and improved opportunities to implement HR and HCM tools to enhance your overall employee and candidate experience. The next few years appear to be a great time for HR organizations who are ready and willing to take advantage of this vibrant market for HR technology.

    Happy Monday - have a great week!


    UPDATE: Amazon just told you the top 20 cities for business investment in North America

    Surely you heard about Amazon's announcement of their intentions to build a second company headquarters, the so-called HQ2, in the coming years, and the widely covered RFP process to help them identify candidates (cities and regions), for this new HQ2. I wrote about the process last October here.

    Over 238 cities submitted bids to become the home of HQ2, and this week, Amazon named a short list of 20 cities that have made it to the second round of consideration, where Amazon will work more closely with these cities to dive deeper into the proposals, to get additional information, and to winnow down the list to the eventual winner - the home of the new HQ2.

    This is a big deal for these 20 contenders - $5B in investments and as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.

    Here's the list of cities that made the short list, as well as a map showing the 20 - more on that in a bit.

    Atlanta, GA
    Austin, TX 
    Boston, MA 
    Chicago, IL 
    Columbus, OH 
    Dallas, TX 
    Denver, CO 
    Indianapolis, IN 
    Los Angeles, CA 
    Miami, FL 
    Montgomery County, MD 
    Nashville, TN 
    Newark, NJ 
    New York City, NY 
    Northern Virginia, VA
    Philadelphia, PA 
    Pittsburgh, PA 
    Raleigh, NC 
    Toronto, ON 
    Washington DC 



    Kind of the 'usual suspects' list I suppose, but a couple of things stand out for me.

    One, nothing in the NorCal/Silicon Valley area. Probably a couple of reasons for this. Amazon has always seemed to indicate that it wanted more of a geographical balance between its current Seattle HQ and the eventual HQ2, pointing to a midwest or eastern location as a more likely selection. And two, I wonder if Amazon just wants no part of the already overheated market for talent, real estate, and inflated cost of living that comes with the Valley.

    Also, from the long list of 238, which certainly included a lot of places that had no real chance at meeting Amazon's requirements for population, talent availability, access to transportation hubs, etc., the final 20 does not include even one true 'outlier', a real longshot location that would have at least made things interesting, (if you are a betting person, anyway). Pretty much any of the 20 on the short list would seem reasonable should they eventually win the bid and become the home of HQ2.

    Finally, in case you or your leadership were wondering just what were the best locations in North America to consider a similar, major investment, well, Amazon might have done the first wave of analysis and due diligence for you. You can almost look at the Top 20 list from Amazon as a starting point and work from there. And believe me, even the 19 cities that don't win this bid will remind you and everyone that they were a finalist for one of the largest US corporate investment initiatives ever.

    And since everything is more fun when there is something on the line, I present Steve's opening odds for each of the 20 finalists to be named the home of the new HQ2.

    Atlanta, GA - 4/1
    Austin, TX - 5/1
    Boston, MA - 7/1
    Chicago, IL - 8/1
    Columbus, OH - 25/1
    Dallas, TX - 10/1
    Denver, CO - 12/1
    Indianapolis, IN - 20/1
    Los Angeles, CA - 15/1
    Miami, FL - 15/1
    Montgomery County, MD - 20/1
    Nashville, TN - 25/1
    Newark, NJ - 20/1
    New York City, NY - 10/1
    Northern Virginia, VA - 15/1
    Philadelphia, PA - 12/1
    Pittsburgh, PA - 12/1
    Raleigh, NC - 10/1
    Toronto, ON - 20/1
    Washington DC - 15/1


    Reminder: These odds are presented for entertainment purposes only, please, no wagering.

    Have a great day!

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