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    Entries in talent (56)

    Thursday
    Oct192017

    Digital Talent Profiles and the Blockchain

    I'm still unwinding a bit from last week's HR Tech Conference, and one of the things I like to think about after the event is more of a question I suppose. Namely, 'Where there any trends or new technologies that we should have paid more attention to at the event, and should be featured next time?'

    About a two or three weeks before the event, a friend of mine contacted me to inquire if we (the Conference), was going to showcase any Blockchain technology, and how this developing tech can or will be used in HR, Talent, or Recruiting. My short answer was 'no', as I had not really seen or heard much on that front in 2017, no one (that I can recall), specifically pitched me any blockchain powered tools to review, and frankly, I only kind of understand what the whole thing is about myself.

    For folks who may have no idea what I am talking about, from our pals at Wikipedia on the Blockchain:

    A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block,a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A blockchain can serve as "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. 

    This makes blockchains suitable for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, such as identity management,transaction processing, documenting provenance, or food traceability

    That doesn't seem too tough to understand, right?

    A data repository that is secure, verifiable, can record and store all kinds of data types, and can be widely distributed and shared.

    Thinking about it that way, there certainly seems like their would be or could be some applications of this technology in HR and talent technologies.

    Before we jump to that, check out this example of how a form of Blockchain is being applied in the Higher Ed space - as a way to electronically distribute and validate student credentials and degrees:

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering some students the option to be awarded tamper-free digital degree certificates when they graduate, in partnership with Learning Machine. Selected students can now choose to download a digital version of their degree certificate to their smartphones when they graduate, in addition to receiving a paper diploma.

    Using a free, open-source app called Blockcerts Wallet, students can quickly access a digital diploma that can be shared on social media and verified by employers to ensure its authenticity. The digital credential is protected using block-chain technology. The block chain is a public ledger that offers a secure way of making and recording transactions, and is best known as the underlying technology of digital currency Bitcoin

    An interesting application of Blockchain to share and allow the verification of student degrees by employers, banks, and whomever else would need access to a student's degree information.

    To jump back to HR/Talent, it makes perfect sense then that a similar Blockchain protected employee talent profile could be created for an individual person that could include not only the degree and academic information like in the MIT example, but also work products, verifiable job histories, certifications and skills assessments, and maybe even things like recommendations and testimonials. And all stored in a secure and distributed way - perhaps a way for a candidate to share their profiles with a number of companies at once without having to go through tedious and repetitive job applications for each one. Or maybe in some kind of talent repository for temp, gig, and contract workers to submit their availability and credentials in talent marketplaces.

    There are probably going to be lots more applications of Blockchain in enterprises coming soon, and I will be on the lookout for innovative HR and talent applications for next year's HR Tech.

    If you are a provider doing something interesting in this 'Blockchain for HR' space, get in touch, I'd be interested in learning more.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Oct042017

    The sometimes fine line between retention and regrettable turnover

    Your pal Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine passed away last week at the age of 91.

    While you probably now plenty (maybe more than you care to know) about the Playboy brand and Hef's pretty remarkable life, you might not know the impetus for him setting off to create Playboy magazine and launch 294,295 'I only subscribe for the articles' gimmicks.

    According to the Chicago Tribune's accounting of Hef's long life, at 26 years old Hef left his copy writing job at Esquire Magazine to launch Playboy after the prescient folks at Esquire denied his request for a $5 per week wage raise.

    After being rebuffed by the thrifty team at Esquire, Hef cobbled together about $8,000 of investment and borrowed funds to debut Playboy in 1953 and the rest, as they say, is bunny-eared history.

    No one is likely around who was in the meeting at Esquire when the 'We can't give him $5 more a week' decision came down, so the rest of this is pure speculation. But that kind of decision really reeks of process, politics, salary review periods formalities, and a bunch of other formal HR and talent management 'rules' that can often get in the way of managers and leaders doing right by the business.

    Hef does not get the extra fiver per week, and out the door he goes and eventually, (actually it happened pretty quickly), becomes a legend in the magazine industry. 

    Oh yeah, the same industry he was working in that thought he was not worth a sawbuck every pay periiod.

    It can be a fine line, a really fine line, sometimes between what good, valuable, productive, and 'want to be loyal' people want and what might send them out the door.

    In this case it was $5.

    In your case, it could be your best support person wanting to flex her hours once a week, or your third-best salesperson not wanting to show up at the office if he doesn't have outside calls one morning, or the 3rd year pro who is killing it in the marketing team and that you know you seriously low balled when you brought her in in 2014.

    RIP Hef. I am kind of glad Esquire wouldn't pay up back in 1953.

    I mean, if they had paid up, I would have missed LOTS of great articles...

    Wednesday
    Aug022017

    Defining the competition

    There are two schools of thought on how an organization should think about its competition - for customers, market share, talent, brand awareness, etc.

    One approach is to study your competitors closely, monitor their strategies, actions and decisions, and devote a lot of resources and energy to roles like competitive intelligence gathering, market analysis, and the development of specific playbooks focused on your main competitors to prepare your salespeople for what they are likely to encounter in the field. I'd say that in enterprise tech, HR tech for sure, this is the approach that most medium-to-large providers take.

    The alternate approach is to largely ignore specific competitors and spend the vast majority of your time working on product, message, and lots of internal and specific capabilities like implementation, service, support and the like. This is often the approach startup tech companies take as they likely have to spend most of their time trying to define their own message, communicate their unique value proposition, and if they are truly innovating in the market their competition may not even actually exist. Or said differently, they often are competing against 'doing nothing' and not against a competing product or service. 

    And truly most companies probably exist somewhere in between these two extremes - thinking about the competition some, and other times taking a more internal focus. And this focus usually skews towards former as the company grows, enters new markets, or begins to attract new competitors (success breeds competition). 

    I thought about this 'competition continuum' when I caught this piece on Venture Beat - Amazon's name pops up on 10% of U.S. earnings conference calls, a nod to the retail/tech/distribution giant's outsize reach in the US economy right now.

    From the VB piece:

    Almost 700 U.S. companies have reported quarterly results so far this earnings season, and the e-commerce titan’s name has popped up on roughly one of every 10 earnings conference calls so far. And the retailers whose lunch has long been eaten by Amazon.com Inc haven’t even reported yet.

    In all, Amazon has been raised either in passing or with some urgency on 75 calls hosted by corporate chieftains in the past several weeks, according to a Reuters analysis of call transcripts from components of the S&P 1500. That’s well more than twice as many mentions as Google or its parent Alphabet Inc and over three times as many as Apple Inc.

    Everyone from traditional retailers to 'big tech' companies like Microsoft and IBM all the way to Dow Jones stalwarts like 3M and Johnson & Johnson all have at least one eye on what Amazon is doing.

    It is kind of incredible to think that Amazon is now a real (or imagined) competitive threat across such a wide range of industries and companies.

    But here's what at least I thought was the really interesting thing about the piece, and the reason for the post in the first place.

    Most organizations spend lots and lots of time, (maybe too much time), thinking about the competition. I get the feeling that truly amazing, game changing companies like Amazon don't spend all that much time doing that. No, they focus on doing the things that make others worry about them instead.

    And that is a much, much better place to be.

    Postscript - I am totally obsessed with the Amazon Echo and really annoyed at every other piece of technology I own that will not yet respond to voice commands. I think this is going to be a really big deal in workplace tech and sooner than we think.

    Friday
    Jun232017

    UPDATE: Ways to describe a basketball player's talent, ranked

    NOTE: Ran a version of this post 2 years ago the day after the 2015 NBA Draft, the draft were my New York Knicks did indeed select the 'Unicorn' Kristaps Porzingis in the first round. Fast forward two years later and these same Knicks apparently are flirting with the idea of trading the Unicorn, who is quite literally the only player worth watching on what has become a terrible team. If they do indeed decide to trade Porzingis, I want to make it publicly known that I am no longer a Knicks fan, and will be in search of a new team to support.

    Having said all that, let's take another look at the many ways that the NBA analysts and pundits have come up with to describe a basketball player's skills and talents. Did you think 'fast', 'tall', or 'can jump high?' were good enough? Oh no, my naive friend.

    After watching about 5 hours of draft coverage, (and pre-draft and post-draft shows), I offer up ways to describe basketball talent, ranked, and as always, these are unscientific, unresearched, and 100% correct.

    Here goes...

    15. Floor spacer

    14. Efficient

    13. Switch-capable

    12. Rim-runner

    11. Twitchy

    10. Bouncy

    9. Wingspan

    8. Fluid

    7. Motor

    6. Elite-level athleticism

    5. Second jumpability

    4. High ceiling

    3. Grit

    2. High basketball IQ

    1. Tremendous upside

    As always, you can disagree with these rankings, but of course you would be wrong.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Apr192017

    Creating a Narrative for Talent

    Long flight last night out to Vegas and to pass the time (and I needed to since this flight was not equipped with Satellite TV and thus I was not able to watch the NBA playoffs), I was multi-tasking with Jason Bourne on the screen and the SI.com Media Podcast in the ear.

    On the podcast host Richard Deitsch asked guest James Andrew Miller (author of books on ESPN, CAA, and Saturday Night Live), about an ongoing negotiation between cable sports channel Fox Sports 1 and personality Katie Nolan. When discussing how Fox Sports 1 might look to retail Nolan (who apparently will have other options), Miller said something really, really interesting. Check this out...

    Miller: She is a real talent. I think she knows it. I think Fox Sports 1 knows it. And so I would expect if she does stay, they will have to come up with not only something that is more than what she is doing now, they will have to come up with more money, and so it is probably one of those things where she tests the marketplace.

    But this whole idea about testing the marketplace isn't just about dollars sometimes, it's about other opportunities. She might not know what she wants to do yet. She might not even know what she can do elsewhere. 

    Fox Sports 1 has to realize that this is all about creating a narrative for talent, this is about saying, "Look we want to remain your home, and this is what we can put together for you", and then maybe you even have to go beyond that and start to look more broadly about what they can do in their larger Murdoch empire.

    On the pod Deitsch and Miller went on to debate Nolan's ratings, other shows, and other things, but the important thing to me, and the part of the conversation I replayed three or four times was Miller's concept of creating the 'narrative for talent.' Leave it to a writer to come up with such an elegant and evocative description of a standard employee compensation/development/retention conversation.

    Think about what a 'narrative' implies. A story. A beginning, a middle, maybe some twists and turns. Maybe some conflict or challenges. Maybe a hero on some kind of a journey. Maybe a fantastic and delightful surprise. And then, hopefully, a happy ending.

    A 'narrative' just seems cool, fun, compelling, interesting.

    It makes you want to listen. It makes you want to learn more. It makes you want to keep turning the page.

    A comp discussion? Where you talk about ranges and midpoints? Or a review of goal completion? Where you debate whether or not a goal was 25% or 35% complete? Or a look at next quarter's corporate university training offerings to look for some development opportunities? Ugh.

    Those all seem dull. Rote. Required even by the HR police.

    None of those really want to make a talented person want to hear more of your story.

    So that's what I thought was interesting about Miller's way of describing the way that a company needs to approach a conversation with a talented employee that might be on the verge of something big, but also has a ton of options.

    It's all about creating a narrative.