Steve's blog posts Week Ending August 7, 2011

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Steve Boese blog posts for the week ending August 7, 2011. Posts on HR, HR Technology, and more. Service provided by Tabbloid.

Steve Boese blog posts for the week ending August 7, 2011. Posts on HR, HR Technology, and more. Service provided by Tabbloid.

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  • 1. 7 August 2011Today’s TabbloidPERSONAL NEWS FOR steveboese@gmail.comSTEVE BOESE’S HR TECHNOLOGY needed to achieve the kind of deep, and differentiating knowledge about whatever subject or line of work you’re interested in truly is aGrind prerequisite for sustained success these days. I think we all know it. But IAUG 05, 2011 08:47A.M. also think sometimes we forget what it looks like, what it feels like to read white papers at 11PM on a Friday, or to cycle through thousands of unread posts in Google Reader on Saturday morning before the kids wake up, or to participate in industry events and online forums with energy and enthusiasm. It’s a grind to do those things for sure. The picture on the right of this piece is my son Patrick, age 10. In what can possibly be seen as a testament to shoddy parenting, it was taken at about 11PM on a recent Friday night, as he was diligently battling away to get a post written for his ‘Patrick’s Investigations’ blog, (stop by and dop him a comment if you like). Eleven at night, in the dark, grinding over a post because he wants his blog to succeed, he wants to be a good writer, and he has figured out (on his own), that those things are not at all easy. Achieving those goals will be lots of hard work. Cuban re-ran his ‘How to Get Rich’ piece in response to the recentYesterday on his Blog Maverick blog, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark economic news in the US as a reminder that no matter how badCuban re-posted a piece he had orginally written in 2008 titled ‘How to conditions get, that buckling in and simply out-working the competitionGet Rich’. While there isn’t much in the way of specific or tactical advice still gives anyone the chance to perhaps not get rich, but to at least getin the piece - and as Cuban states in the article - “This is not a short- ahead. I ran this piece today to share a small image of what the grindterm project. We aren’t talking days. We aren’t talking months. We are looks like, played out late on a Friday night, by a little kid.talking years. Lots of years and maybe decades. I didn’t say this was aget rich quick scheme. This is a get rich path.” - the post does offer some Have a Great Weekend!solid advice not so much in the way of actually getting rich, but rather inpositioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities by virtue of hardwork and preparation. You should definitely pop over to Blog Maverick STEVE BOESE’S HR TECHNOLOGYand check out the post.Patrick burning it late on a Friday night I want my MTV, I mean myFor me, the money line was Cuban’s take on how the commitment tooutwork the other guy, and to grind away at night and on the weekends if workforce appsneed be to gain that critical edge that comes from better preparation, AUG 04, 2011 08:03A.M.more complete study, and from simply knowing more about theindustry, market, players - whatever than the competition. Again fromthe Cuban piece:“Before or after work and on weekends, every single day, readeverything there is to read about the business. Go to tradeshows, read the trade magazines, spend a lot of time talking tothe people you do business with about their business and thepeople they buy from.”Look, no one needs this blog to remind them of the obvious, that hardwork and a real commitment to digging in, to putting in the long hours 1
  • 2. Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR steveboese@gmail.com 7 August 2011 Release): • Apps Create Me Moments: Apps allow intense personalization and hyper-focus, filling our idle moments with “me time” on- demand. This expectation for powerful, instantaneous “me focus” is making its way into desired in-app entertainment and ad experiences. Personal context is king!87% of participants said: “Apps let me have fun no matter where I am or what I’m doing.” Implication for designers of ‘workplace’ apps: Smartphones and tablets are really personal devices, much more so than the standard- issue company PC or laptop. Apps therefore need to maintain and leverage this personalization of experience, app users like to see their apps as almost personal tools, and not just extensions of a bland or generic enterprise solution.MTV was in the news this week, as the venerable network of ‘Video • Apps Make Everyday Life Better: Apps are enhancing our day-Killed the Radio Star’, ‘Beavis and Butt-head’, and more recently ‘Jersey to-day experiences directly by enabling productivity, achievementShore’ celebrated its 30th anniversary. Over the 30-year run MTV has of our personal goals, and so on—and indirectly through thecertainly changed its focus, direction, and strategy, and as many resulting creation of free time, improved mental well-being,observers are quick to note, the network doesn’t really have that much to opportunities for positive discovery, and more.do with music anymore as it has long since morphed into a more generalentertainment property. Implication for designers of ‘workplace’ apps: Sort of obvious, but the main point of emphasis is that the enterprise apps, particularlyBut even noting these changes in MTV’s purpose, it was kind of ones that might be transaction driven, need to do more than justsurprising to me when I received an email Press Release pitch with the replicate processes typically performed on PCs in corporate systems.title - ‘Latitude and MTV Networks Uncover the Meaning Behind Our They need to make the experience and process better - more efficient,Addiction to Apps‘, referencing the results of a recent study on mobile simpler, more enjoyable. If the staff hate the process and the tool whileapplication usage conducted by the research firm Latitude on behalf of using it in the office, simply porting it to an iPad won’t make them feelMTV Networks. Since (shockingly, I know), I am old enough to any better about it. In fact, they might rebel, wondering why they can’tremember when MTV was stil about playing bad Journey videos, I had to seem to escape from it.check out the press release and some of the study’s findings about mobileapplication uptake and the important app value propositions - after all • Apps Open Us to New Worlds: Whether it’s learning newwhat workplace or HR technology solution is not making a move (or languages or gazing at the stars, the possibilities seem endless asalready has arrived), in the mobile and app space? And as smartphones apps open people’s imaginations to the new and “magical.” Asand tablets are taking over on the consumer side as gateways to the web, mobile technology rapidly innovates, people increasingly envisionthere’s no doubt the same will (or is already) happening inside the apps as complementing and transforming traditional mediaenterprise. experiences into “something new.” 91% of participants said: “Apps expose me to new things.”For context here are some details on the purpose and themethodology of the study from the Latitude release: Implication for designers of ‘workplace’ apps: How about approaching your app strategy beyond simply taking what you have in The study investigated the underlying psychology and current the office and porting it to a mobile app and think about what you can behaviors surrounding app adoption, use, and abandonment deliver that is brand new? What value can you add to the employee for heavy app users, and ultimately uncovered top experience that they can only get via your new app? Whether it is new characteristics and features of a successful app. The study learning content, a tool that mashes up data in your CRM with social web included a round of initial qualitative interviews, a content, or simply a syndicated feed of news and events about your deprivation phase (normal app users were asked to go app- company or industry - consider building something brand new and free for three days), and a quantitative survey of more than exclusive to app ecosystem. 1300 app-engaged smartphone owners between the ages of 13 and 64. What’s your take - can the designers and workforce technology experts learn from the MTV crowd?So what did the study show the main benefits are of app usage andtherefore are the primary drivers of longer-term adoption and reduced Or perhaps a better question - will you be watching thethe chances of app ‘abandonment?’, (again, from the Latitude Press retrurn of Beavis and Butt-head to MTV this Fall? 2
  • 3. Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR steveboese@gmail.com 7 August 2011 STEVE BOESE’S HR TECHNOLOGYSTEVE BOESE’S HR TECHNOLOGY Career advice for kids? LearnHow Cities Outlast CompaniesAUG 03, 2011 07:15A.M. how to build robots AUG 02, 2011 08:47A.M.Last week on the Fast Company site, a piece titled ‘How Short-Lived,Slow-Moving Companies Can Become More Like Fast, Creative Cities’ , areview of some of the research of physicist Geoffrey West on the growthand development of cities, caught my attention. It was a familiar readsince I had previously blogged about West and his research in December2010 in a post called ‘Physics, Cities, and Corporations‘.By way of review, West describes a theory, based on extensive research ofworld cities and over 23,000 companies, that cities tend to follow apattern found in other complex ecosystems; most often, they grow instability, success, and creativity as they increase in size and grow morediverse. With rare exceptions, cities tend not to disappear. In contrastcompanies tend to look more like mammals, getting slower as theyincrease in size and bureaucracy, and then growing old and fading awayentirely.Why did I want to essentially re-post on the same topic once more? Well,the original piece ran a few days before Christmas 2010, and somehow I By now you probably have caught the story of the latest step in whatget the feeling that physics and demographics were not really all that some might see as the inevitable ‘Terminator‘-like march towards thecompelling for most readers who might have had visions of sugarplums complete and total domination of the human race by our robot overlordsand all that going on. And second, last month a talk given by Professor - Foxconn Planning To Hire 1 Million Robots.I’ll be back - with your iPadWest about his theories and presented at the TedGlobal2011 event wasposted on the Ted site. A copy of the 17-minute talk is embedded below, You know Foxconn right? According to Wikipedia, they are the largest(email and RSS subscribers will need to click through to see maker of electronic components in the world. Foxconn is probably wherethe video). that little iPhone or iPad that you are so attached to was assembled. Apple, like so many tech hardware organizations has long realized thatWhile West’s theories are highly provocative, they don’t really start to design, development, and writing software were the keys to success andoffer organizations, particularly large ones (or ones that aspire to grow competitive advantage, but the actual manufacturing and assembly of itslarge), ideas on how to prevent that inevitable slide into the kind of gadgets was better positioned elsewhere, with a company like Foxconngrowth stagnation and slow decline of vibrancy, creativity, and energy that has clear labor cost (and likely other) advantages over domesticthat seem to ensnare so many large and mature organizations. Why does manufacturing.it have to be that with increased size, organizations seem to be destinedto slower rates of growth, and eventual disruption at the hands of It is an old story, chase less expensive manufacturing labor and capacitysmaller, faster, more agile competitors? While cities, on the other hand, offshore, while keeping the essential elements of the organizationseem to thrive with growth, and when you dig into West’s data, see stateside. As long as the good ideas keep coming, and the manufacturingincreases in efficiency in many measures - energy use, infrastructure operation can keep up with demand, maintain quality standards, andrequirements, creativity, etc. hold the line on costs, well, you have the Apple story essentially.Obviously this topic is interesting to me, since I’ve posted on it twice, But as we see from the Foxconn/Robots story, even a seemingly(and watched the TED video a couple of times), so hopefully this will inexhaustible supply of lower-cost labor might not provide theresonate with some of you that might be inside organizations that competitive edge forever, and whether it is labor cost pressure, difficultyseemed to have lost a step as they have grown larger. in meeting the insatiable demand for Apple toys, or internally driven profit motives, even a company like Foxconn is looking to aggressivelyWhat are some of the ways that you can help instill some of that energy manage labor costs via automation.and agility that most of your smaller competitors are using against you?What, if anything can you take from the growth of urban areas and city We have all heard, and have advised students and others for ages - ifecosystems that might apply? your job can be replaced by a computer, or a robot, or an offshore worker willing to do the same job at half the cost, then you probably ought to 3
  • 4. Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR steveboese@gmail.com 7 August 2011have a backup plan in the works. Now it seems like we might have to sites, the Uni Watch blog, ‘Rooting for Laundry’; a piece about some ofstart giving that same advice to the proverbial ‘half the cost offshore the recent transactions and changes from the world of sports. One ofworker‘. When the robots start replacing the low-cost labor at Foxconn, those changes was the report of uniform redesign of the iconic Newwell it is probably time to think about a new career in robot design. Or Zealand National Men’s Rugby Team jersey. The team, one of the mostlandscaping. successful and legendary sides in international rugby is known as the ‘All Blacks’, named after their well-known and traditional black jerseys andSo kid, what do you want to be when you grow up? (Hint: say ‘Robot uniforms. The All Blacks are generally one of the top teams inDesigner’). international play year in and year out, and if they could be compared to an American football side, some combination of the Pittsburgh SteelersUntil of course the robots figure out how to design and build and the New England Patriots might come close to approximating thierthemselves... history and their success over the years.Tim Sackett’s Monday AM staff meetingAside: I like in the TechCrunch piece about the Foxconn story, they referto the acquisition of the robots using the term ‘hire’. Makes me think So back to the Uni Watch piece - the All Blacks have just introduced aabout the questions the recruiter would ask the robot during the new set of team jerseys, and in addition to the expected informationinterview. about new-age performance fabrics, and lighter and more moisture absorbing materials, the article also includes this quote from New‘So tell me your biggest weakness?’ Zealand team captain Richie McCaw:‘Well, people say I am a workaholic, and I don’t know how to unwind. I “It’s pretty awesome to be involved in creating a newsay that is silly. I had 30 minutes off for maintenance and a software All Blacks jersey,” says McCaw. “People all over theupgrade last year.’ world recognise the jersey, and of course Kiwis feel extremely strongly about it, so to make a change to it is a big deal. This new jersey is revolutionary – butSTEVE BOESE’S HR TECHNOLOGY it’s still very much an All Blacks jersey. It’s still something I’m very proud to wear.”Colors and Getting Change From a piece on the official New Zealand Men’s Rubgy site,Management Right Allblacks.com, we learn that the new jersey was ‘designed and testedAUG 01, 2011 06:30A.M. in conjunction with several senior All Blacks including captain Richie McCaw’.Feels like ages, since I had a good sports-themed take on the blog. Withthe NBA in a combined offseason/lockout, and the current Major League I know what you might be thinking - big deal, so a sports team changedBaseball season for some reason seeming incredibly uninteresting to me its jersey, happens all the time, and usually it is for the sole reason toat the moment, I have been hunting high and low for a good sports drive increased memorabilia sales. Perhaps. But in the details of this Allrelated topic on which to pontificate. After all, next year’s edition of ‘The Blacks jersey redesign we can take several lessons that I think can be8 Man Rotation’ e-book is not going to write itself. more broadly applied to many other organizational change initiatives. 1. Memory and Tradition Key in the jersey redesign efforts is a firm grasp and appreciation of the legacy and the history of the team. It can be pretty easy to advocate ‘blowing everything up’ and starting over in organizational change efforts, but also forgetting the values, people, and culture of what came before can be a mistake. The fans and players of the All Blacks are all well versed in the history and tradition of the side, so launching a major redesign effort from a completely blank page might have resulted in failure. Think of McCaw’s comment about still being proud to wear the new jersey. At least part of that pride has to stem from the new jersey’s honoring the long and revered tradition of the side. 2. Involvement Team Captain McCaw and several other of the senior team membersAnd then over with weekend I found this gem from one of may favorite were pretty heavily involved in the design and testing process for the new 4
  • 5. Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR steveboese@gmail.com 7 August 2011jersey. For initiatives like this to have the best chance for success, thefront-line individuals that stand to be most impacted by the changeshould be included in the process as early and often as is feasibly. Whilethe new design might look good on the website, and may be morelucrative to sell in the team shop, if the players on the pitch are not ableto continue to perform at their highest level while wearing the newjersey, then the change initiative would be a failure. Too often we like toproscribe change, and assume we know what the ‘real’ implementersneed, but unless they are involved more intimately and fully in theprocess, we are mostly guessing.3. PerformanceWhile keeping cognizant of history and tradition, and securingorganizational buy-in by involving the most impacted team members inthe process are both important and valuable, the redesigned jersey itselfhas to meet the intended performance goals set out by the designers aswell. Simply ‘involving’ staff in a change process does no good if theresults are unsatisfactory. Some highlights from the piece onAllblacks.com: (manufacturer) Adidas believes it’s the best rugby jersey in the world. It’s the lightest, ‘fastest’ and closest-fitting rugby jersey ever made It’s 50 per cent lighter than the last jersey - but just as strong Because it’s so light and aerodynamic it has less weight and drag, allowing players to go fractionally faster. At the elite level of the game, the slightest advantage can make a difference to the resultNow we won’t know for sure until the team competes in these newjerseys if the expected performance improvements will pan out, butinitial results from training and testing seem to bear out theseexpectations.What can we learn about change management from a sports team jerseyredesign?Apparently quite a bit when it is done well.P.S. -Hi to my friends at Sonar6, that I hope will keep me honest in thecomments! 5