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    Entries in culture (65)

    Tuesday
    Feb202018

    Learn a new word: Conway's Law

    Have you ever noticed the tendency for large, complex, and difficult to navigate organizations to create to create large, complex, and difficult to navigate products, services, and policies?

    Alternatively, have you noticed, (I am sure you have), how many startup companies (especially tech companies), who lack size, complexity and bureaucracy in their organizations tend to create much simpler, easy to use and intuitive kinds of products and services? 

    It kind of makes sense, even if we never really consciously thought about the connection between the organization, its size, methods of working, and structure and the outputs of that organization. But it is a phenomenon, in technology certainly, that has been observed for at least 50 years, and it has a name - Conway's Law - today's Word of the Day.

    Mel Conway, a programmer, came up with concept in 1967, and by 1968 it was dubbed his 'law'. What does the law actually say? From Mr. Conway's website:

    Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.

    Later, the Law was expanded to encompass not just the idea that an organization's communication structure would influence (and mirror) the systems that the organization produces, but the broad 'culture' of the organization has a significant impact on its products and services.

    Think of a corporate website, which often has separate sections of information that copies the internal organizational makeup, not necessarily aligned and architected with how site visitors want to consume information. Or an enterprise technology product that offers complex and lengthy workflows for transaction entry, routing, and approval that tends to reflect the creating organization's own internal processes and hierarchies that do not always reflect what their customers want.

    These kinds of examples show Conway's Law in effect - the way the fundamental elements of how an organization operates internally show up in the products they build, the services they offer, and more broadly, how they 'see' the relationship between themselves and their customers, shareholders, and community.

    I have written in a few places that when making decisions around HR and other enterprise technologies that HR and business leaders should evaluate the culture and vision of any potential technology provider just as closely, (if not more closely), than they evaluate the capability and functionality of a particular piece of software.

    Capability and functionality can change over time, and in mature markets tends to run together amongst established providers. But organization culture changes much more slowly, if ever, and no matter what new elements of functionality are introduced to the solution, the essential nature of the provider (and the priduct too), is likely to be pretty well entrenched.

    Have a great day! 

    Monday
    Jan082018

    SAVED FOR LATER: A word about words - the ones your use in your public job listings

    Since no one asked, a quick word about the process I have used for ages to find/save ideas for blog topics.

    I use Feedly, (while pouring one out for the late, great Google Reader), to subscribe to about 400 news and information sources on topics like tech, HR, news, pop culture, sports, and more for two main reasons. One, to try and keep up to date and informed about what is going on the world, country, and in the HR/workplace/HR tech space. And two, to leverage Feedly's 'Read Later' funciton  to effectively bookmark or save posts and articles that might be used as sources or inspiration for future posts.

    Inevitably, I save many, many more articles than become posts, (or topics on the HR Happy Hour Show). So sometimes, usually on the weekend, I page and scroll back through some 'Saved for Later' pieces that I didn't actually cover or discuss anywhere in order to make sure that there wasn't something really interesting that should have been covered but for some reason was not.  And there are plenty of these kinds of pieces for sure. So in 2018 I am going to try to do a little better about surfacing these topics, even if it is a little 'late' or if it seems the news cycle has passed. So here we go...

    From a few weeks ago, in something you may have caught, perhaps not, the HR Tech company Textio (who we featured at the 2017 HR Technology Conference), published a really interesting post titled '1000 different people, the same words', which shared the results from text analysis of over 25,000 public job postings from 10 well-known tech companies. The purpose of the analysis was to determine both the most common words and phrases used within a company's job postings, as well as assess how much more or less frequently these words and phrases appear compared to peer companies and a general baseline. Finally, Textio also examined the impact of these words and phrases in terms of how they drove differences in the expected number of male and female applicants. Take a look at a summary of the data below, then a couple of quick comments from me.

    It is pretty amazing and instructive what this fairly simple but still pretty profound text analysis suggests, (and possibly reveals), about the cultures, norms, and expectations that these companies have for their employees based on the words they use/overuse in their job postings.

    The words and phrases are also kind of reinforcing too, of the ideas we the public and job applicants likely have of these companies, based on what we know about them from the news and their reputations.

    The words that appear often in Amazon and Uber job postings like 'maniacal' and 'whatever it takes' are probably not surprising given what we know and have heard about these companies approach to work, business, competition, and performance.

    Likewise, Slack's use of 'lasting relationships' and Twitter's use of the phrase 'diverse perspectives' also pretty accurately reflect at least some elements of both of these company's ethos.

    This is really interesting, and I think important. The language that an organization uses in their communications, especially their public-facing kinds of communications say more about what they truly are about than any formal, stilted, and focus grouped to death mission or vision.

    It is a really good idea to make sure that the words, phrases, tone and manner with which your message is being carried to those who may not know (or have experience with) what you organization is really all about be true to what you believe (or aspire) it to be.

    Textio is doing some really interesting and important work in this area, thanks to them for sharing this data.

    Happy Monday - have a great week! 

    Thursday
    Dec072017

    Color of the Year 2018

    In the continuing tradition of 'If it interests me, it must be interesting to other people too' that explains just about everything that gets covered on this blog, it is once again time to examine one of my favorite and recurring topics - Pantone's 'Color of the Year' choice.

    I continue to be completely, and probably irrationally fascinated with Pantone's 'Color of the Year' designation and process.

    In case you are unfamiliar (shock!), with Pantone and the Color of the Year designation here is all you need to know. Pantone is the world's leading authority on color, color systems, and publishes the industry standard definitions of colors. In other words that nice new orange shirt you just bought is not just 'orange' it is 'Pantone Persimmon Orange 16-1356 TPG'. Pantone provides guidelines and definitions for thousands of variations of colors, and it is the standard by which colors are classified.

    Each year the color experts at Pantone declare one specific shade the 'Color of the Year'. This specific color, (in 2017 it was 'Greenery' in case you did not know), is meant to be a kind of reflection of trends in art, design, fashion, movies, popular culture, and branding and often will subsequently become more common in actual products like clothing and jewelry as a result of the Color of the Year designation. So perhaps if you think back on 2017 and think you have seen a lot of Greenery around - sort of a vibrant shade of medium green, you have Pantone to thank or blame for that.

    So this week Pantone announced its choice for Color of the Year for 2018 a deep, intense, and saturated  hade of purple called 'Ultra Violet' - aka Pantone 18-3838.

    The rationale behind this choice of of Ultra Vilet for color of the year?

    Here's what Pantone's color experts had to say about the selection: (side note, isn't 'Color Expert' one of the coolest job titles ever?)

    A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.

    Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

    Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

    So what, if anything, should any of us care about what Pantone says about culture, trends, society, fashion, and how we all are collectively feeling - expressed through the colors we are seeing and using more and more?

    I suppose the main thing to think about is right in the verbiage Pantone used to describe their thinking processes behind the selection. The words awareness, mindfulness, and creative inspiration all show up in the description. Pantone is suggesting that the colors (and feelings) we will seek in 2018 will be ones like Ultra Violet, a color that (if such a thing is possible), will help to make us feel more open to creative expression, reflection, experimentation, and non-conformity and more inspired to take on the world perhaps.

    No matter your personal point of view, it is pretty fair to characterize 2017 as a kind of an unusual year. The US economy continues its amazing recovery 2008 lows (the recession now seems so long ago it is hard to remember it at times), unemployment seems likely to move under 4.0%, and measures like the stock market and corporate profits seem to indicate the good times are not yet close to ending.

    But lots and lots of folks are not sharing equally, if at all, from this recovery and growth. And of course the things that are happening in politics and with corporate/business scandals (looking at you Matt Lauer), remind us all that even in seemingly 'good' times that there will always be work to do.

    Pantone thinks/hopes that Ultra Violet will 'take our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way for what is yet to come.'

    Let's hope.

    The colors we choose to wear to paint our homes in to use in our creative endeavors say plenty about us, about who we are, how we feel, and perhaps how we want to feel.

    What do you think? Ready to rock plenty of Ultra Violet in 2018? I think it would make an excellent tie, (in case you have not shopped for my Christmas present yet).

    Have a great day! 

    Friday
    Nov242017

    Steve's Holiday Gift Recommendation #2 - The Rocker T-Shirt You Used to Have

    For your 'Black Friday' reading and shopping pleasure, wanted to run out a fresh Gift Recommendation installment. For folks who may have missed the first shot at this last week, here is a quick reminder of what this series is about:

    It's the end of the year, things are a little quiet, and that, coupled with after almost a decade of blogging in one place or another, every topic I thought about hitting for the end of the week felt tired and played out, I decided to start a new series to run on Fridays until the end of the year - Steve's Holiday Gift Recommendations for 2017.

    Each Friday I will share something I would love to receive as a gift this season, and since according to my view of the world (and massive ego), if I like something, then you (and the people in your life), should love to receive as well.

    I will try to make the gift recommendations affordable, appropriate for pretty much everyone, and easily obtained. And finally, there are no affiliate links or kickbacks on any of these items. These are just cool gifts that I think anyone would love. And please, please resist your temptation to order and send these gifts to me. This is not what this is about.

    Wow, that was a long preamble. Here goes...

    Today I am not pointing you to one specific item, (the image on the right is just an example, but a cool one for sure), but rather a website that has dozens if not hundreds of cool, retro-style T-shirts and other items featuring rock stars and bands past and present - Rocker Rags.

    Take a quick look through Rocker Rags inventory and you'll find reproductions of such beauties as Aerosmith's 1977 'Boston to Budokan' Tour shirt, (I have that one), Journey's 1981-82 'Don't Stop Believin' Tour, and Soundgarden's 1994 'Superunknown' Tour. 

    And there are tons more vintage look band, concert, and performer shirts from just about every band you used to think was cool. And the neat thing is these kinds of classic shirts are even popular with today's kids - I know I have picked up a Clash shirt or two for the Gen Z'er on my list.

    So for today's Black Friday recommendation, check out Rocker Rags, relive that concert you went to in 1988, and get yourself or someone on your list something pretty fun, original, and neat.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Aug102017

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 292 - Shaping and Improving Company Culture

    HR Happy Hour 292 - Shaping and Improving Company Culture

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: David Sturt, EVP, OC Tanner

    Recorded live at OC Tanner's Influence Greatness Conference in Snowbird, Utah

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve was live at the OC Tanner Influence Greatness Conference with guest David Sturt who talked about how companies can intentionally shape and improve company culture. David shared insights from OC Tanner research on company culture, the key facets or elements that tend to describe, drive, and influence culture, and how organizations and leaders can leverage these insights into practical and actionable changes to improve their own cultures.

    We also talked a little about how cultures are formed, Steve shoehorned in his favorite Rock-Paper-Scissors analogy, and David shared news of the annoucement of a new partnership between OC Tanner and HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulse, which was really exciting for us at the HR Happy Hour Show.

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

    Thanks as always to Virgin Pulse, www.virginpulse.com and to OC Tanner for having the HR Happy Hour at the Influence Greatness event.

    Check out David's new book 'Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness' which was just released today. 

    Finally, remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, and wherever you get your podcasts.