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    Learn a new word: The Illusion of Truth

    Repeating something over and over and over again doesn't make it the truth.

    That seems like a pretty easy statement to understand, and with which to agree. I mean we all get that right? It doesn't matter what the statement is, or who is saying it again and again, the act of repeating it so many times doesn't impact the fundamental nature of truth.  I think we all learned that back in grade school.

    But here's the tricky part, even though we know, or think we know that repeating something doesn't make it the truth, or at least closer to the truth, we often are easily deceived.

    And that brings us to today's 'Learn a new word' submission, especially interesting and relevant with Election Day in the USA bearing down upon us in then next week or so.

    Today's word is 'The Illusion of Truth'. Definition from our pals at Wikipedia:

    The illusory truth effect (also known as the truth effect or the illusion-of-truth effect) is the tendency to believe information to be correct after repeated exposure. This phenomenon was first discovered in 1977 at Villanova University and Temple University.

    This illusion of truth effect, which has been known for a while, was recently repeated in a study titled 'Knowledge does not protect against illusory truth' published in 2015 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

    In that study,  40 participants were asked to rate how true a statement was on a six-point scale, and in the second, a different set of 40 participants were asked to simply state whether a statement was true or false. In both cases, repetition made the statement more likely to be categorized as true. This was the case even for statements that contradict well-known facts, such as, “Barcelona is the capital of Spain,” (when in fact, Madrid is Spain's capital).

    Why were the participants in the study, and the rest of us too, more prone to believe a statement was true if we had heard it repeated over and over? According to the researchers, it is because trying to figure out whether new information is true is kind of hard, and requires more brain processing power than just simply accepting it.

    From the above mentioned study's summary:

    Research on the illusory truth effect demonstrates that repeated statements are easier to process, and subsequently perceived to be more truthful, than new statements. Contrary to prior suppositions, illusory truth effects occurred even when participants knew better. Participants demonstrated knowledge neglect, or the failure to rely on stored knowledge, in the face of fluent processing experiences.

    And this from the conclusion:

    Inferring truth from fluency often proves to be an accurate and cognitively inexpensive strategy, making it reasonable that people sometimes apply this heuristic without searching for knowledge. 

    Thinking about things is hard.  It takes energy. Even doing simple fact-checking might be a bridge too far in many situations. But 'going along' with something largely because we have heard it many times before is always easier, and often makes sense and is a sound and harmless strategy.

    Except when it's not.

    So that's the trick then. To know when to trust the process if you will and when to do your own research and make your own conclusions. Gosh, that sounds like work.

    But be aware that we all are more susceptible to the illusion of truth effect than we may think.

    Happy Halloween!


    HRE Column: How to choose which disruptive HR tech solutions to chase

    Here is my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech that can be found here.

    This month, in the aftermath of the HR Technology Conference and still thinking about all the innovative and potentially disruptive HR tech solutions that continue to appear in the market, I thought about how much more difficult it must be getting for HR and business leaders to assess and evaluate and decide which types of disruptive technology to pursue.

    Note, I am not really talking or thinking about specific technology evaluations like, "Which ATS should we license?", but rather larger questions of "Which types of potentially disruptive HR technology would benefit our organization, given our needs and our circumstances?", and "What should be the impact of these technologies on the organization and our people?"

    I came up with three general categories or impacts that potentially disruptive HR tech can (and perhaps should) have on the organization, and some thoughts on how HR leaders can better evaluate new HR tech in this model. I tried to describe what this kind of categorized impact assessment looks like in my HR Executive column. From the HRE piece:

    One of the highlights of the recently concluded HR Technology Conference and Exposition® was the record-breaking Expo Hall, which featured nearly 400 technology solution providers offering an almost dizzying array of tools, technologies and innovative approaches to help organizations with HR, talent-management, employee-engagement and other workplace challenges.

    But such a plethora of modern and innovative technologies also presents quite a challenge for HR and business leaders in that the growth of the HR-technology market and landscape has made the identification, research, assessment and eventual selection of the "right" technology solution all the more challenging. Probably the most frequent type of question I get from HR leaders over the course of the year is: "There are so many HR-tech solutions out there; how can I figure out which ones I should give my time and attention?"

    Note that this kind of question is different from "Which applicant-tracking (or learning-management system, or payroll solution) system is the best one?" I do get those questions too, of course, but probably less frequently than in the past, as most HR leaders today understand that there is never a universal "best" solution for anything, but rather a "best" solution for the individual organization, and its unique goals, requirements and circumstances. Lately the discussions and challenges I hear about from HR leaders seem more focused on trying to make sense of a complex and growing HR-tech market, and how to best take advantage of all this growth and innovation.

    One way for HR leaders to approach these kinds of challenges and determine how to spend their time and resources is to consider innovative and potentially disruptive HR technologies across a set of three criteria or broad categories of impact. I'd like to take a look at these three broad-impact categories and offer examples of how new HR-technology solutions fit into each.

    Category One: If the HR solutions reduce or eliminate organizational barriers for HR and employees

    There are a slew of HR technologies that are necessary and essential for organizations to either own or license for regulatory and compliance reasons. In other words, every organization that has regular employees has to, at a minimum, have a way to pay them, and to complete all the required tax filings and payments. This category is not really about those kinds of technologies. (If your organization has a critical need to solve such compulsory challenges, then you probably should take care of those before entertaining the idea of adopting new or disruptive HR technology.)

    This category is more about enabling organizational success via the elimination or reduction of the friction points that can hold people back from getting work done effectively and efficiently. You can get to the direct impact of implementing technologies in this category by asking questions such as, "Where does our employee's workflow get bogged down?" or "Where do we have data manually replicated in multiple systems?"; or simply by asking teams and leaders can simply be asked to talk about "What is it that makes my job more difficult than it needs to be?"

    Some real HR-technology solutions that help to solve problems in this category include learning systems that can surface content and assets in real-time and in context when employees need them the most or even more technical solutions that better integrate, validate and keep clean key HR-data elements and values across multiple systems. Almost every new HR-technology solution you introduce into the organization should solve at least one important "barrier" problem and eliminate a pain point for your targeted audience once it is adopted.

    Category Two: If the HR solutions help to elevate customer service -- for internal customers or external customers

    At the HR Tech Conference, one of the more interesting technology developments I remember seeing was an example of a deeper integration between an employee self-service type of portal and the company's HR-shared-service-center knowledge base and help-desk functionality. The idea here is that if employees were viewing their payslips or benefits enrollments and needed more information or had a question about the information they were viewing, they could, with one click, launch a "help" ticket or process to indicate to HR they needed assistance. HR practitioners would not only see that the request was made, they would automatically have all the needed context from the page or subset of information the employee was viewing...

    Read the rest of the HR Exec column here 

    Good stuff, right? Humor me...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and rake your leaves car or clean out your gutters or even help you pass out the candy on Halloween. 

    Have a great weekend!


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 264 - Future Trends in Talent and Talent Acquisition Technology

    HR Happy Hour 264 - Future Trends in Talent and Talent Acquisition Technology

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Kevin Wheeler, Founder, Future of Talent Institute

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the show, we welcome consultant, speaker, and thought leader Kevin Wheeler to the HR Happy Hour Show to talk about some of the big trends in talent and talent technology, and how it is so important for HR and talent leaders and professionals to keep dialed in to these trends to better prepare themselves and their organizations to successfully navigate the future.

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

    Kevin shared some of his recent work and research on how large companies are dealing with the increased technology capabilities and the transfer to digital business models, and the continued emergence of the contingent or 'gig' economy. We also talked about the importance of images and imagery in corporate communication, and how technology and organizations should be re-assessing and re-committing themselves to more visual forms of communication. Think of it as applying what Instagram does but inside and for the enterprise.

    Kevin also previewed his upcoming keynote at the Talent Acquisition Technology Conference, November 15-16 in Austin, Texas. Kevin will be talking about the ‘The Promise and Peril of Predictive Analytics’ at the event, and we talked about just a few of the key challenges and considerations for HR and talent leaders who are considering adopting predictive technologies in talent acquisition.

    We also spent some time talking about Amazon - quite possible the most interesting large company in the world.

    This was a fun and informative show, we hope you like it!

    Remember: subscribe to the HR Happy Hour on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or your favorite podcast app.


    The Carnival of HR and the Old Days of HR Blogging

    I started blogging in about 2007, right about the time I started teaching a course in HR Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

    For some reason in my HR Tech class I thought it would be a good idea to make sure the students knew about blogging - how to set up a blog, how to update a blog, how to write on a blog, etc. And in what turned out to be indicative of a few other things I covered in that class, I realized I needed to sort out how to do those things myself before I could teach them to the students.

    And so the first iteration of this blog was launched in 2007.

    Sometime later that year I ran through the same exercise with Twitter. I thought it important to talk about and demonstrate this new thing called Twitter in class, so I had to learn how to use it myself. So in late 2007, my initial Twitter handle, @Sbjet was born. I remember being VERY excited when I crossed 100 followers. That was big time in 2008.

    And something else was big time, at least to me, back in the early days of my HR and HR Tech blogging - the monthly Carnival of HR. 

    I have not written about the Carnival of HR in ages, so chances are some, or maybe even many, folks reading this blog today are not familiar with the Carnival. But back in 2008 and 2009 this monthly collection of the best blog posts from around the HR blogosphere was a really, really big deal. I tried for what seems like ages to get a post of mine included in the Carnival, only to be passed over. 

    I was pretty much unknown, writing a dumb blog about technology and teaching for a tiny, tiny readership. 

    But I kept on submitting a post each month anyway, and one month, finally, one of my posts was included in the Carnival of HR. I wish I could remember exactly when that was, but I do remember being really, really ecstatic about it when I found out, (this has to be the nerdiest thing I ever got excited about). 

    But back then, being in the Carnival of HR felt, at least to me, kind of vindicating. I felt, somehow, that it validated what I was doing in the eyes and opinions of the other HR bloggers who back then I was SURE were all better, smarter, and more popular than I was. I actually think most of them still are by the way.

    And also different back then, was that it really seemed like the smallish number of folks who were actively blogging about HR all would read each other's posts, would comment on them fairly often, and would share posts with each other in old school ways like Email and Google Reader. Sure, Twitter was just starting to become a thing by 2009 or so, but even then, the HR Twittersphere and the HR Blogosphere were pretty much the same group of folks, give or take, and there was (maybe I am being really naive here), a real sense of camaraderie and community there.

    And I guess that is why the Carnival of HR seemed so cool to me back then. It was like a public list of who was in the club, who was doing interesting work, who was contributing and had something to say.  Getting a post in the Carnival of HR meant you were a part of the cool kids, and even at whatever age I was then, still seemed like an accomplishment.

    I kind of miss those days, back when the center of the conversation was actually distributed around the internet on the couple of dozen or so HR blogs that were THE ONES to read then. Lots of them (and their owners), had cool names like HR Minion, Your HR Guy, HR Ringleader, HR Maven, Punk Rock HR, and the HR Capitalist. Some of these names still are active and vibrant in the HR blog world. Some, not as much, or their owners have moved on to new things and new adventures.

    But for me, someone who without blogging would NEVER have gone on to do any of the cool things I have been able to do these last few years, the early days of HR blogging were just about the best times I ever had with this blog.

    Why take this walk down memory lane?

    Because my HR Happy Hour Show partner Trish McFarlane messaged me last week to let me know she was hosting the latest Carnival of HR, and wondered if I had a post to include in the round up.

    I will admit to not having thought about the Carnival in a long, long time, but then of course I remembered how once it was the MOST important thing for a lowly HR blogger like me. And I remembered how cool it was to be included.

    So of course I sent Trish over a post to include in the Carnival, (and thanks Trish for using it!).

    You can check out the Carnival of HR on Trish's HR Ringleader blog here.

    And check it out you should. Because there just might be someone included in the Carnival for the very first time, and who thinks that being included is the BIGGEST deal ever. 

    And you know what? 

    They would be right. It is the biggest deal ever. 

    Thanks Trish for including me. 

    And thanks to all the HR bloggers out there for letting me into your club.


    The Geometry of the Deal

    So do you want to know what I did this past Saturday night? 

    Scratch that, I assure you that you do not, as you would likely become distracted having to navigate the simultaneous emotions of boredom, pity, and incredulity.

    So let's pretend for both of our sakes that I didn't spend a good portion of Saturday night re-watching (thank you Amazon Prime), the 1996 HBO movie The Late Shift, a 'based on real events' telling of the late-night TV wars of the 1990s following the retirement of TV legend Johnny Carson, long time host of NBC's The Tonight Show.

    (Ok, just between us, this is what I did on Saturday night, don't judge, and roll with me on this)

    Quick recap of the movie's key elements: 

    1. Johnny announces his plans to retire from TV in May of 1992, giving NBC effectively a full years notice and time to select his successor

    2. NBC has to decide who will be the next host of The Tonight Show, an extremely important decisions because (at least in 1992), The Tonight Show was still very popular, and extremely profitable. This was a big deal for NBC, (and their corporate owner at the time, GE).

    3. There are only two candidates. One, Jay Leno, who was well-liked, funny, (he was), and had become Johnny's regular guest host in the last few years of Johnny's run. And two, David Letterman, who had been hosting the Late Night Show on NBC, (the 12:30AM show that ran right after Johnny) for the past 10 years, and who was also popular, if slightly more edgy and hip than Leno.

    4. The rest of the movie, (I won't spoil it for you, as if I need to worry about dropping a spoiler for a 20 year-old movie), runs through what happens in the run-up to NBC's eventual decision, and the chaos and corporate drama which almost immediately ensues.

    I decided to watch this movie again for one specific reason, and that was not because I could not remember who did get The Tonight Show.

    No, it was because I recently was in a discussion with a friend regarding a real-life contract negotiation, and during that discussion I wanted to advise my friend to essentially 'think bigger', to not necessarily get bogged down in trying to 'win' on the small items, but rather to try and garner support for something more expansive, something more wide and far-reaching, frankly for a pretty significant re-interpretation and definition of the business relationship altogether.

    And then the phrase I was wrestling with trying to articulate finally popped into my head - I wanted him to change 'the geometry of the deal'.

    And then, I remembered where I first, (and I am pretty sure the only) time I heard that phrase - the movie The Late Shift.

    About a third of the way through the movie, Letterman comes to realize that NBC intends on awarding The Tonight Show host job to Leno, and is frustrated and confused and doesn't really know how to move forward. His ally (and Carson's producer), Peter Lassaly advises Dave to meet with a Hollywood agent, something Dave has in the past had no interest in doing. Lassally does convince Dave to meet with one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood, Mike Ovitz, and the 'geometry' line comes from Ovitz, when he sits down to meet with Letterman and Lassally.

    (Note: I can't find a clip of just the Ovitz meeting, below is a YouTube embed of the full movie, fast forward to 35:12 for the meeting, which is only a little over 2 minutes long). Email and RSS subscribers, click through.

    Here's the text of the Ovitz speech as well, in case you can't be bothered to mess around with the clip:

    Michael Ovitz: Peter, I know Dave's circumstances, and so I know why you're here. Dave is a star of such compelling stature that frankly it makes me personally angry he finds himself this abused. We pride ourselves here at CAA in developing a career plan for our clients that protects them as much as it enriches them. David has set such an incredibly high professional standard and yet he is going disturbingly unrewarded. That just doesn't make any sense; it's simply bad business practice. Obviously, we have an interest in establishing a business relationship with you Dave, and you Peter. Frankly, we have worked out a career plan for David, and it includes securing everything for Dave that he wants. EVERYTHING. Of course that means an 11:30 television show. Dave will be offered an 11:30 show, and he will be offered it by every network. The geometry of the deal will be far larger, the studios will be in, the syndicators, the full range of the entertainment industry. We shall frame a deal that will make you one of the giants. And if you give us the privilege of working with you, CAA will take care of everything your talents deserve, and his spirit desires.

    Awesome, right?

    And if you did watch the clip in the movie when Ovitz makes the speech you will catch his confidence, his preparedness, ("Peter, I know Dave's circumstances"), and his all-around dominance of the proceedings. Dave leaves the meeting much more confident himself, which is how all the best coaches, agents, teachers, leaders, or bosses make the people they work with feel.

    But most of all, and why this is so cool is that phrase - 'The Geometry of the Deal'. It's been in my head for 20 years, and now, hopefully, it's in your head too.

    Go kick some a$$ this week.

    I will try to as well.