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    Entries in Technology (374)

    Tuesday
    Sep052017

    Learn a new word: Goodhart's Law

    Happy 'First-day-of-the-rest-of-the-year'. I suppose every day is the first day of the rest of the year, but for some reason on the Tuesday following the long Labor Day weekend that feeling is much more acute.

    Quick shot for your cram five days of work into four week. Another installment of your favorite series here on the blog - Learn a new word, where I share a word, term, phrase, or concept that I had not been familiar with previously, and for some reason seemed interesting/important/cool enough to share.

    So here goes - and this one is especially for the 'You can't manage what you can't measure' types out there.

    Our submission - Goodhart's Law

    (from our pals at Wikipedia)

    Goodhart's law is an adage named after economist Charles Goodhart, which has been phrased by Mary Strathern as: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." This follows from individuals trying to anticipate the effect of a policy and then taking actions which alter its outcome.

    Actually Goodhart himself stated the 'law' just a little bit differently, theorizing that "When a measure becomes a metric, it ceases to be a good measure.”

    Either way, the key point by Goodhart is still sound (and pretty obvious, even if you have never heard of our friend Goodhart).

    Make a measurement - say time to fill open jobs, percent of new hires who stay longer than 6 months, or even number of new patents filed by the R&D department - doesn't matter, the sole or even a primary metric of success and evaluation and things tend to get a little strange.

    The effected people pretty quickly learn how to manage/game the measurement, they start thinking, maybe too much, about how to drive that specific measurement in a manner that is positive for them, and they stop thinking so much about other, perhaps more cross-functional or strategic measurements.

    And even worse, too many managers or leaders focusing too much on measurements can sometimes be an excuse for not exercising good judgement, a method that corporate bureaucrats use for CYA and holding on to territory, and an imperfect way to try and describe people and relationships in a numerical manner.

    'You can't manage what you can't measure' is a fun thing to say. And sort of easy to agree with. But like Drucker's other widely quoted maxim, 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast' it definitely deserves more and closer scrutiny than it is typically given.

    We manage the unmeasurable all the time. And reducing everything to something we can measure, to a number, is probably the fast path to inflexibility, failure to adapt, and a workforce conditioned to respond and behave to the movements of numbers on a spreadsheet.

    Have a great week!

    Monday
    Aug212017

    Customers might always be right, but what they tell you isn't always useful

    Happy possible-end-of-days Great American Solar Eclipse Monday!

    'The customer is always right' has been a generally accepted mantra? maxim? truism? that has pretty much informed the product, service, and sales strategies for all kinds of industries for decades. And while the absolute truth and the need to adhere to this precept is certainly debatable, 'customer focus' taken more generally has developed into the operating philosophy of most successful organizations.

    So while the customer is (probably, mostly) always 'right', is what they are telling you all the helpful or useful?

    Over the weekend I came across this outstanding post from Cindy Alvarez called '10 Things I've Learned About Customer Development' that highlights just a few of the ways that customer input and feedback isn't always incredibly insightful or useful. Here's just one example (my favorite), from the list:

    What features your customers ask for is never as interesting as why they want them. So: Direct them away from talking about the solution and back to describing the problem. Listen, pause, and then ask what it would allow them to do if they had it today. Ask what they’re currently doing as a substitute. They’ll either identify a problem (good — now go solve it) or be unable to provide specifics (feel free to deprioritize this suggestion).

    In the enterprise and certainly in the HR tech space function and feature 'arms races' have been a significant driver of solution provider development and attempts at competitive differentiation for ages. This approach makes sense in an environment where customers and prospects send out voluminous RFPs and request tightly scripted demonstrations that sometimes are even spelled out in minute by minute increments. 

    In an environment where business can be won by 'checking the most boxes' it just made sense for providers to, in fact, strive for the most items that could be checked off. Even if no one, customer or provider alike, is entirely sure that checking all the boxes is the best or even a sensible strategy. 

    Of course there is some level of baseline capability that say a Payroll or ATS solution must provide to even be tenable - no one would argue that. But there is probably much more room for creativity, innovation, and ground breaking thinking around enterprise tech than we allow if we focus too much on 'what' we need systems to do and not enough on 'why' we think these features will allow us to accomplish.

    Check out the entire list from Ms. Alvarez, there is much more food for thought in there for solution providers and customers alike.

    And don't stare too much into the sun today!

    Wednesday
    Aug162017

    Three quick takes on the LinkedIn - hiQ Labs news

    First the news in case you missed this yesterday.

    From our pals at Fortune:

    A U.S. federal judge on Monday ruled that Microsoft's LinkedIn unit cannot prevent a startup from accessing public profile data, in a test of how much control a social media site can wield over information its users have deemed to be public.

    U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted a preliminary injunction request brought by hiQ Labs, and ordered LinkedIn to remove within 24 hours any technology preventing hiQ from accessing public profiles.

    And a little bit on the back story, in case you had not been following this case over the last few months:

    The dispute between the two tech companies has been going on since May, when LinkedIn issued a letter to hiQ Labs instructing the startup to stop scraping data from its service.

    HiQ Labs responded by filing a suit against LinkedIn in June, alleging that the Microsoft-owned social network was in violation of antitrust laws. HiQ Labs uses the LinkedIn data to build algorithms capable of predicting employee behaviors, such as when they might quit.

    Got all that?

    Seems pretty simple, but at the same time the ulitmate outcome of this case (LinkedIn will almost certainly appeal this ruling) could be pretty important not just for LinkedIn and hiQ Labs, but also for you and me and everyone else who's data/profiles are at the core of this case.

    Three quick takes from me since it's my blog...

    1. While we are all pretty aware and comfortable with the social network concept of 'You are not the user, you are the product', most of us have continued to rationalize this away as it pertains to our usage and participation on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. If we get enough utility and value from being a member of LinkedIn, (networking, job opportunities, sales leads, etc.), then we are ok with LinkedIn building their business around selling access to and ways to interact with our profile data. But even if we are ok with LinkedIn earning revenue in this way, are we as comfortable with a third party like hiQ doing much the same? When you and I signed up for LinkedIn, I don't recall any T&C that asked if that would be ok? I personally get value from LinkedIn. I doubt the same can be said for hiQ.

    2. hiQ's business seems to be about aggregating and analyzing public LinkedIn profile data and then building out a set of tools that can help organizations make predictions about potential turnover. They are making a pretty big assumption that the 'right' amount of people have up-to-date, accurate, and meaningful profiles. And I think that is a pretty big assumption. I had to look up about 5 people on LinkedIn today, and two of them I am 100% don't have their current job title listed correctly. And these are the kinds of folks that use LinkedIn pretty regularly.

    3. And despite the above caveat about the completeness and accuracy of user profiles, it is indeed true that LinkedIn (courtesy of all of us), do possess an incredible amount of workforce data. Companies, jobs, career progression, contacts, etc. All good and important stuff. But you know who else possesses an even more accurate and more detailed data set about workforces, compensation, job moves, career paths, mobility andmore? Your current HR Tech provider(s), that is who. The bigger cloud HR providers, (ADP, Oracle, Ultimate, SAP, Workday, Infor, and more), all have incredibly detailed data sets on people. Where thry work, how much they earn, where they went to school, how their careers have evolved, etc. And these providers are all taking positive and aggressive steps to create valuable tools and insights from these large data sets. Plus, I would gather that while the data in your HRMS might not be 100% perfect, it is likely closer to the truth than the stuff on the average LinkedIn profile. If you haven't yet, talk to your HR tech provider about what they are doing to create new tools to help you that are based on the knowledge that can be gleaned from millions of data points in the cloud.

    I will keep an eye on the LinkedIn - hiQ case to see how it develops, but if nothing else it has served as a semi-occasional reminder that once it is on the internet, data flows like water. And you probably can't hold it back forever.

    Happy Wednesday.

    Monday
    Aug142017

    Webinar: Choose the Future: Five Important HR Tech Conference Themes

    Quick announcement of a FREE webinar I will be doing this Wednesday, August 16 at 2PM ET to discuss some current and important HR Technology Trends, and to do a bit of preview of the upcoming HR Technology Conference.

     

    You can read the abstract of the webinar below, and you can sign up for the webinar HERE

    Choose the Future: HR Tech 2017 and the Five Most Important HR Tech Trends HR Leaders Need to Know

    As we developed the program for the 20th Annual HR Technology Conference scheduled for October 10 -13, 2017 in Las Vegas several important HR Tech trends rose to the surface. The HR Tech Conference has always been about the future - of the workplace, human resources, and the ways people interact with technology, colleagues and their organizations overall. For many organizations, if not most, these varied futures will be greatly influenced by technology. It could be essential for core HR and workforce management tools, new tech that allows leaders to better understand the engagement and sentiment of the employees, or highly analytical technologies that can actually “predict” the future itself, as well as many others. These are the technologies and the stories that we will bring to the forefront at HR Tech this October and the ones that will help HR leaders navigate what can seem at times to be challenging futures ahead.

    In this webinar, HR Tech Program Chair Steve Boese (me) will share the five most important HR tech trends that will be prominently featured at the Conference in October, provide examples of how these trends are manifesting in HR technology solutions today, and preview the upcoming Conference to enable you to make the most of your HR Tech experience.

    Sign up for the webinar HERE and be sure to tweet your thoughts and comments using hashtag #HRTechConf.

    Thanks and hope to 'see' lots of you on Wednesday!

    Thursday
    Jul132017

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 289 - User Experience in HR Tech, Live from Inforum 2017

    HR Happy Hour 289 - User Experience in HR Tech, Live from Inforum 2017

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Recorded Live at Inforum 2017 in New York City

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish recorded live from Inforum 2017 in New York City and talked about some of the big announcements and innovations in HR Tech that were discussed at the event. Inforum HCM continues to innovate in HR Tech - from Artificial Intelligence, advanced analytics, and importantly - user experience design.

    On the show Trish shared some of the details of these innovations, and we discussed the importance of design and user experience in HR Tech, and what HR leaders should look for and think about when assessing potential solutions.

    Steve also put Trish on the spot by asking her to write a letter to her former HR leader self, offering advice as to what to think about when thinking about HR Tech. You definitely want to check out her answer.

    Additionally, Steve theorized on how, where, and why the old 'Big ERP' approach to HR and HR tech went wrong.

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

    This was a fun show, many thanks to the folks at Infor for having the HR Happy Hour Show at Inforum 2017.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts.