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    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 223 - The Chairman's Show - #HRTechConf

    HR Happy Hour #223 - HR Technology Conference: The Chairman's Show

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Recorded Friday October 30, 2015


    This week on the show, HR Happy Hour hosts Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane broke down the recently completed 2015 HR Technology Conference.

    After many months of preparation and an amazing time at The HR Technology Conference, Steve shared some of the behind-the-scenes information you can only get here.  Trish also appeared at HR Tech as a speaker and gives some commentary from the industry analyst perspective. Steve even dropped some hints at his plans for some new elements for the 2016 HR Tech Conference.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below, (Email and RSS subscribers will need to click through). 

    And don't forget the HR Happy Hour Show is available on iTunes, and on all the major podcast player apps for iOS and Android - just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to find and subscribe to the show and you will never miss a new episode.

    Be sure to check out (and share!) this episode.  It was fun to talk about many of the things HR Tech Conference attendees don't necessarily get to see.


    Deconstructed Protocols

    I have been on a bunch of long, cross-country type flights lately. And part of the deal with a long flight is the time honored tradition of casually glancing at the laptop or tablet of the person sitting next to you to catch a glimpse of their Facebook feed, the movie they might be watching, or my personal favorite - the contents of the PowerPoint deck they are likely about to present the next day.

    On my flight from JFK - SFO yesterday I succumbed to my curiosity to steal a glimpse (or three), at my neighbor's laptop. She was preparing and refining a PowerPoint presentation on some kind of really, really complex subject related to health care and disease control in hospitals (I think). While I was not able to make sense of the slides that I was able to see, one slide in her deck just about jumped out at me. It was the slide that seemed to mark the transition from 'These are all the crap things that are going on right now' to the section that would hold the ideas on 'Here is how we fix this mess and (hopefully) fewer people die.'

    The slide was titled 'Deconstructed Protocols.'

    And when I saw the slide title, I was really blown away. The gist of her presentation, I think, was how hospitals needed to really break down and dissect the specific steps, or protocols, associated with a certain procedure in order to try and figure out why an unacceptable level of post-procedure complications, like infections, have been occurring. And the only way to try and fix the problems is to tear down every element, every step, every piece of communication, every patient interaction, every handoff of responsibility, every piece of equipment used, every medication prescribed, and probably a dozen other things, and assess them both individually and as they exist and contribute to the overall process.

    All of which, for a complex medical process, seems absolutely exhausting and probably has lots or people lined up against it.  

    Deconstructing this process will take ages, will make people in high positions uncomfortable, and will likely require increased investment in the short term thay may take some time to pay off. All things that are hard, are hard to sell internally, and often have people lined up against anyone trying to drive the changes that need to be made.

    What is the point of all this? 

    A guess just a good reminder that even in situations like in a health care setting where making needed process, technology, or workflow changes can result in PEOPLE NOT DYING, often the agents of change run up against all the same barriers that you run into in your corporate role.

    It will cost too much. This will anger the VP of something-something if you cut his team out of the process. You can really KNOW for sure if your changes will have the desired effect. And on and on and on.

    But I hope you stick with it regardless. 

    Maybe you are not in the business of saving lives but I bet the change you are (or want to) advocate for will make people's lives better - employees, candidates, managers - doesn't matter. Even when the benefits are obvious and important, effecting change is still hard.

    And when the benefits are less clear, like as in most of what we do in HR/Talent, it is even harder. But keep the faith. And deconstruct the protocols.

    Have a great week!


    10 reasons why you should quit the NFL for the Premier League

    I am up early on a Saturday taking in Barclays Premier League match between my beloved Liverpool Reds and Chelsea, the defending Premier League champions currently mired in a slow start to the new season. I watch a fair bit of sports on TV, (I have pretty much no life), but after many years of increasing interest and appreciation of top-level soccer, I have mostly given over my Fall and Winter weekends to the Premier League, and have pretty much lost interest in the much more popular, (here in the US anyway), American football games (both college and in the NFL).

    Why is that? Why have I basically given up on American football, with only a passing interest in the country's most popular sport? Here are 10 reasons, just off of the top of my head. And if you are saying to yourself, 'Who cares what sports Steve likes?', I would answer, 'Probably no one. But it is my blog. And I am up early on a Saturday and this is what I feel like writing about.' So there.

    Ok, here are 10 reasons why I, (and maybe you too), should quit the NFL for the Premier League:

    1. Soccer has about 3 rules you need to understand in order to appreciate the action. Sure, there are more rules than that, but the essential ones are very few, they are pretty simple, (we teach 4 year olds how to play using these rules), and you can grasp them in about the first 15 minutes of watching a game. American football, and the NFL in particular, has about 3,593 rules, many if not most of them are incredibly complex, vary in their application, and even 'experts' of the game often fail to understand them. NFL football is akin to the worst of governmental or corporate bureaucracies - hopelessly dense, complex, and often unexplainable.

    2. Because of this complexity in the rules, NFL games are interrupted dozens of times (and on EVERY punt or kickoff it seems), by penalty flags, interminable on-field conferences amongst the numerous game officials, and delays in the game for video reviews, often frame-by-frame, of controversial plays. Again, the NFL resembles the worst in big corporations in that the games are really just a few seconds of actual things happening that are interrupted by meetings of paunchy, middle-aged men discussing and attempting to explain what just happened. 

    3. Let's talk about the actual game action then. A Premier League game consists of two 45 minute halves with the clock running constantly, with a few minutes of 'extra' time usually added for injuries and other delays. Add in a 15 minute halftime break, and the normal (meaning EVERY one), Premier League game takes a bit under 2 hours to complete, start to finish. It is a perfect amount of time to dedicate to a sporting event, a movie, a dinner with your in-laws  - pretty much anything. NFL and especially college football games regularly require 3 to 3.5 hours to complete. And for the amount of actual action that occurs in a game, (see Point 4), 3.5 hours for a sporting event is just insane.

    4. It has been estimated that the average NFL game, the game that takes about 3.5 hours to complete, and has 60 minutes of official game time, actually has only between 7 - 8 minutes of action, i.e., where the players are actually PLAYING football. The rest of the time consists of players walking back to the huddle, standing in the huddle, walking back to the ball from the huddle, and waiting for the quarterback to scream a series of incomprehensible commands and making wild gesticulations. The ball is then put into play for a few seconds, (the average NFL play lasts about 7 seconds), and the entire process is repeated. Unless it is interrupted by a penalty flag and a corporate board meeting by the aforementioned old men. Football is 3.5 hours of almost nothing happening.

    5. Premier League soccer (and all soccer really), consists of 90 minutes of almost constant action. There are no 'time outs', there are fewer delays for penalties and fouls. When there is a foul the one on-field referee in charge makes the decision, and the ball is put back into play quickly. There are no meetings to talk about the fouls, there are no lengthy delays to 'check the video replay', and there are no 'coaches challenges' like in American football. Soccer realizes, correctly, that it is a GAME, and not every tiny decision needs to be examined under a electron microscope.

    6. While the rest of this post is a little cheeky, this point is pretty serious. While injuries happen in all sports, and sometimes they are serious injuries, for the most part soccer at all levels is much, much safer than football. Despite all the advances in protective equipment, the nature of football leaves almost EVERY player injured at some point. While NFL players are grown men, and are compensated well to accept these risks, the culture of American football extends much further into society, where the participants are neither grown men or compensated at all for these risks. This season alone 7 high school football players have died from direct football related injuries. Read that again. SEVEN high school kids have DIED from playing football. I find it incredible that 99.9% of American society is ok with that. 

    7. In the US, Premier League games (that last a total of 2 hours like I mentioned), are played in the morning across all US time zones. That means you can wake up early, take in a couple of matches, and still be free by Noon or so to do whatever it is you SHOULD be doing on the weekend instead of sitting on the sofa watching sports. You can get your fill of game action and still not be a jerk to your family or friends who don't care about your fantasy team and want you to be an actual contributing member of society on Saturdays and Sundays, and not some loser who is constantly checking his phone to see how many receiving yards Odell Beckham Jr. has racked up. 

    8. The match commentators for the Premier League games are exceedingly better and more entertaining than their NFL counterparts. Premier League commentators use words like 'comprehensive' and 'beguiling' and describe players with phrases like 'He is a wily campaigner'. NFL game analysts mostly like to talk about what team coaches said to them in meetings the day before the game. When NFL commentators try to move past the obvious 'The team that makes the least mistakes will win today', and get into the intricacies of the game action, 'Tampa rolled their high safety over to the weakside to guard against the naked bootleg action from Seattle', almost no one watching the game has any idea what they are talking about.

    9. And speaking of TV coverage, in the US anyone with a decent cable sports package has access to EVERY SINGLE Premier League game on LIVE. Every game is on TV. In the NFL, America's most popular sport, the only way you can get access to every game live on TV is to subscribe to the satellite TV provider DirectTV and order a premium NFL package to get access to all the games live. There are a couple of ways to get access to streams of NFL games as well. But in 2015 the fact that I as a subscriber of Time Warner Cable, one of the largest cable companies in the US, can't order up or subscribe to any NFL game that I would like to see on my TV is absolutely insane.

    10. (I promise this is the last one. If you have made it this far well, bless your heart). The pinnacle of the NFL season, the Super Bowl, is primarily enjoyed by millions not for the actual game, 'Who is playing again?', but for the TV commercials. The actual game is just a side note for the commercials, the halftime show, the endless tweets and columns about which big corporation 'won' the game by having the best TV spot, and the discussions of what kind of plausible excuse can you come up with to call in sick to work the next morning. Aside for the fans of the two teams playing, and the people who have bet on the game, no one really cares which team wins the game. Let's talk more about that Doritos spot instead.

    That is it. I am out. Thanks for indulging me. 

    And by the way, Liverpool 3 - Chelsea 1 - Full Time. Go Reds.

    Happy Halloween.


    Notes from the road #19 - Red eye diaries edition

    Submitted, or at least started to try and submit, from the new and improved Delta Sky Club in SFO while awaiting a redeye flight from SFO - JFK.  

    Here are, for your consideration, a series of slightly disjointed and possible incoherent observations of the red eye flight and the kinds of travelers that find themselves on an 11:45PM - 6:32 AM trip across this great land.

    1. Taking a red eye flight is 100% a terrible, horrible, no good, stupid idea. Whatever rationalizations you have worked through that led you to this grim place will all prove to be entirely empty. You will not 'get a lot done the next day' because you will be too tired. You will not score any points with the people back at the office, because they don't give a hoot about you. And you will only tick off your family that you were rushing home to see due to the fact that by about 7:15PM the next night you will be asleep in your Barcalounger.  The red eye flight is an abomination. And yes I am about to board one within the hour.

    2. No one, I mean no one on the red eye wants to be there, including the pilots and crew. It is the air travel equivalent of a visit to the DMV at 12:15PM on a Monday. Everyone is angry, tired, hates everyone else for the same reasons they hate themselves for choosing the red eye, and will kill you dead if you so much as make eye contact. It is air travel, which is usually pretty horrific, at its absolute bottom. Thank my lucky stars at least I am in the nice Delta Sky Club and not out in the terminal right about now.

    3. You are not going to sleep on the red eye, drop that fantasy right now. It is too crowded, hot, noisy, and altogether unpleasant for most people to get more than 39 minutes of decent sleep on a six hour flight. The one exception? The guy who drops like a rock in the aisle seat of your row, so out of it (and possibly snoring), that you can't get past him to get up and stretch your legs or get to the restroom. I guess you will have to hold it until New York. Awesome.

    4. The guy right next to you, inexplicably, will still be working at 11:30PM PT. He will be on the phone as you board. He will not stop texting even after 17 requests to turn off mobile devices. And the second the little chime goes off that indicates you have crossed 10,000 feet he will fire up that ThinkPad and get back online. And he will complain to high heaven if the in-flight Wifi gets a little wonky. He will order black coffee at 2AM. This person is a terrible person. I hope this person is not you.

    5. When you finally arrive the next morning you will make a solemn, sober, and serious vow: You will NEVER take another red eye flight again. But of course you know, deep down, that is an empty, empty threat. After a few weeks or months pass by you will be beguiled by the notion of getting home at 9AM instead of 'wasting' an entire day traveling and you will, on your own accord, book another red eye flight sometime soon. You know how I know this is true? I am on another red eye flight next week. We are all silly, silly, stupid people.

    Safe travels to anyone out there reading this in an airport, or worse yet, on a plane at 2AM.


    Technology, process, or message - which one should come first? #OOW15

    I am out at Oracle Open World for a couple of days this week and have been reminded (in a good way) of just how massive both this event is and the breadth and depth of the technologies and applications that fall under the Oracle banner. This event is really more like 10 events in one, with all the various technologies and application domains, (sales, marketing, finance, HCM, etc.), all having their own segments, content, and dedicated demonstration areas. It is just a huge event.

    One interesting nugget from my first day out at Open World was an observation that was made in a session I attended called 'Connect Sourcing, Recruiting, and Onboarding for Better Not Just More Candidates', that was given by Ann Blakely and Jim Fox from the consulting/advisory firm BakerTilly. It was a solid session with many smart and practical steps that organizations can take to better design, optimize and rationalize the steps in a classic talent acquisition process flow.

    But to me the most interesting aspect of the talk was the way that the typical 'People/Process/Technology' relationship was described. Typically, and in most of the 3,490 times I have seen someone discuss the concept, the importance of aligning each element (people, process, and technology), and making sure that each one individually is given adequate attention and resources, each one is treated more or less equally. In a nutshell, people, process, and technology are all kind of viewed as the same, or equal elements or sides in some kind of HR tech equilateral triangle. 

    Which is cool, or at least better than the classic mistake of leading with technology or becoming a slave to pre-existing (and often inefficient) processes at the expense of the other elements. Usually no one seems to make the 'mistake' of placing too much value or emphasis on the people side of the triangle, which is both odd and illustrative I guess.

    But to get back to the presentation yesterday which was fully in the context of improving the overall talent acqusition function, the speakers looked at the 'people' side of the classic 'People/Process/Technology' triangle and instead referred to it as 'Message.' But more importantly than just the semantic change, the speakers emphasized that in talent acquisition the 'message' itself - the Employer Value Proposition, the brand values, the ways in which the company wants to portray and position itself in the talent market, all of these things, that the message should more of less define the processes and then lead you to finding and deploying the right technology.

    It was more or less, a call to lead with 'people' as opposed to lead with one of other sides of the triangle, (which we know never really works out), or even to treat them all at least conceptually equally. Figure out the message, essentially who you are, what you stand for, what you truly believe are the core values that will make you an attractive employer, and build everything else out and up from there.

    It was a cool idea, and one that for me, I know I have not heard advocated much in the past, maybe not at all.

    Let the 'people' and the message drive how you design the processes and how/where/what technology will be leveraged to support it all. I am coming to think more and more that HR tech and tools that put 'people' first will be the ones that win in the long run....

    Like I said, a really cool idea shared in one small room of a massive event.

    Have a great Wednesday!