Friday, March 31, 2006

China warming up for BPO market

Reports suggest that China is warming up for the outsourcing market ,it’s all set to give India a run for its money, with the BPO market hotting up across the Wall.

IDC predicted, in a recent report, that China’s BPO market would surpass geographic limitations, with Dalian as the centre and major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou/Shenzhen as the main nodes. The reason companies are flocking to Dalian are its proximity to markets like Japan and Korea and also its ability to service the Chinese domestic market.

For MNCs, Dalian provides one more low-cost site in their global sourcing network which, till now, has been heavily skewed towards India. Moreover, clients like the idea too. “Clients want a balance in risk portfolio, from a risk and business continuity standpoint,” says Mr Walker.

IBM has 24 delivery centres globally, out of which 17 are in Asia. India is home to 11 of IBM’s centres. Dalian has a substantial Japanese-speaking population and is an established educational centre, boasting 22 universities, and, according to Dalian’s mayor Dia Xeren, 200,000 graduates, a good measure being from the engineering and science faculties.

During my limited interaction with Chinese folks I have found them very confident, determined, academics oriented and needless to say very patriotic. Unlike Indians they are not very keen to move to US or any other country in search of greener pastures. Most of them who go for higher studies and research work to foreign universities always come back to China. They have a keen sense of serving China and probably its one of the reasons why they are so progressive and flexible to adapt.

Peter Senge on Presence

The revised version of Peter Senge’s classic The Fifth Discipline, a paperback with more than 100 additional pages is being released. This new material is based on interviews with many practitioners of Senge’s ideas over the past 15 years, and includes 8 strategies on the art of implementing the principles of organizational learning. In an interview he talks most recent book, Presence. Senge produced this book with three co-authors and refers to it as a “prequel” of sorts to The Fifth Discipline. Here are some key thoughts from his interview on 800 CEO Blog.

Presence deals with the state of mind, or state of spirit, of attempting to work with the five disciplines, in order to build a learning-oriented culture. There is an unexamined aspect of this process that the book explores. Otto Scharmer has referred to this as the “blind spot.” [Hanover Insurance former CEO] Bill O’Brien referred to this as the interior state of the leader or intervener. When discussing how to build a learning-oriented culture, we often talk about tools and methods and frameworks, but rarely ask the question of “where the heck is this person coming from?”

This matters quite a bit, because the first rule that we all know is that change is threatening. And if you are in an organization with pressures to perform and people trying to climb the ladder, you will always be dealing with the issue of “whose agenda is this?” To what extent are these ideas self-serving? Creating the foundation of trust means addressing where we are coming from. This enables people to explore the extent to which change is aimed at the benefit of the whole or towards individuals.

Blogger Beware:Employers are watching your Space

An interesting article by Diane E. Lewis of Boston times talks about the trend among recruiters to go through candidate’s bloc before offering job positions. Employers hoping to gain insight into the character and personalities of job applicants are increasingly likely to peruse blogs.

''For potential employees, it is not uncommon for senior executives to have a media search conducted that would include all public statements the individual has made," said Tal Moise, chief executive of VerifiedPerson, which performs online background checks for US employers. ``What the public needs to understand is that whenever information is in the general domain, assume it is not private."

Social networking sites could be immensely valuable to employers looking for the kind of detail they can't get from a resume or in an interview, said Bruce M. Sabin, director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Webber International University in Babson Park, Fla.

''The opportunity to glean the kind of information students willingly post on MySpace is a potential goldmine for employers," Sabin said in an online posting. ''Employers would probably not be impressed to find . . . students discussing their 'booty calls,' or posting self-portraits that could only be described as soft porn."

Umhh.. Interesting trend for sure, on a personal note I feel one need to take a hard look at the content and nature of the blog before making any serious decision about the candidate. Some people like to blog on personal issues or even trivial day to day stuff which may not be a relevant stuff for employee selection. However I think blogs are in some way reflections of our personality, interest areas and attitude.So it may be a valid indicator for some positions. We are definitely going to see more action in the days to come.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Guide to Benchmarking

Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton talk about some of the common perils of benchmarking as a management practice. They feel that benchmarking as a practice is quite useful but they way it is practiced makes all the difference.Some key learning’s are:

The logic behind what works at top performers, why it works, and what will work elsewhere is barely unraveled, resulting in mindless imitation.This may lead to some strategic flaws in policy makings. A pair of fundamental problems renders casual benchmarking ineffective. The first is that people copy the most visible, obvious, and frequently least important practices.

We have been benchmarking the wrong things. Instead of copying what others do, we ought to copy how they think."

The second problem is that companies often have different strategies, different competitive environments, and different business models—all of which make what they need to do to be successful different from what others are doing. Something that helps one organization can damage another. This is true particularly for companies that borrow practices from other industries, but often is true for organizations even within the same industry.

The fundamental problem is that few companies, in their urge to copy—an urge often stimulated by consultants who, much as bees spread pollen across flowers, take ideas from one place to the next—ever ask the basic question of why something might enhance performance

As in benchmarking, asking some simple questions and acting on their answers can help avoid the bad results that come from mindlessly repeating the past:

Are you sure that the practice that you are about to repeat is associated with the past success? Be careful to not confuse success that has occurred in spite of some policy or action with success that has occurred because of that action.

Is the new situation—the business, the technology, the customers, the business model, the competitive environment—so similar to past situations that what worked in the past will work in the new setting?

Why do you think the past practice you intend to use again has been effective? If you cannot unpack the logic of why things have worked, it is unlikely you will be able to determine whether or not they will work this time.

Leadership defined by Followers

Followers Define Leaders by BNET's Don Blohowiak -- “Follower behavior, not leader behavior, defines leadership,” write Aubrey C. Daniels and James E. Daniels in Measure of a Leader. The extent of one’s leadership, The extent of one’s leadership, the Daniels say in their recent book, is determined less by results and more by the way followers behave.

The Daniels argue that a leader is determined by four key follower actions:

1. Followers deliver discretionary behavior directed toward the leader’s goals.
2. Followers make sacrifices for the leader’s cause.
3. Followers tend to reinforce or correct others so that they also conform to the leader’s teachings and example.
4. Followers set guidelines for their own personal behavior based on their perceived estimate of that which the leader would approve or disapprove.

In explaining their criteria for defining leadership, the Daniels write:

The first criterion suggests that the most effective leaders are those who get more out of the followers than the followers are required to give. In essence, the individuals donate some of their time and energy to the leader’s cause.

The second criterion states that the follower is willing to make sacrifices to advance the leader’s cause. This implies a commitment to the leader and his cause and is another example of a voluntary choice rather than a forced one.

In essence, the individuals donate some of their time and energy to the leader’s cause.The third criterion talks about the relationship the followers have with each other as a result of the leader’s example. They agree that the leader and his objectives are worthy enough that they will be supportive of, rather than competitive with, one another.

And, finally, the fourth criterion is about the followers’ relationship with the leader. The follower and the leader respect each other for what each contributes to the cause.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What they teach you on Streets

"When I came out of college in 1976, I was told by all my friends and people generally older and guiding me in my hometown in Ludhiana that the pole-positions...the grand-stand positions have already been taken up by those who mattered."

"Learning that I could not take from B-school because I went straight to business after university... I picked up on the streets. I learnt my lessons on the streets and at every opportunity, tried to assimilate, gather, absorb some of the practices that were required to create an

Mahatma Gandhi once said: 'at first, they ignore you'; these were the times when I was being ignored."

"It's important that at this stage you be ignored. Because spotlight at an early time of your lifecycle does not give you any extra advantage but certainly puts you at a great disadvantage."
Great words of wisdom by none other than a key figure in the telecom revolution in India of Bharti Telecom fame S.N. Mittal. Sharing his thoughts with students and faculty of Indian Institute Management, Bangalore, at a convocation function, the Chairman and Group Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises said: "I am a new age entrepreneur. I believe I represent the changing face of India." To read more click here

Changing times and workplace

Technology, business dynamics, social structure and economic situations heavily influence the way we are working in today’s workplace. It has always been undergoing a steady change over the year but we are seeing major change in our workplace due to changing times.

As work evolves, companies and employees will have to deal with the blurring of traditional boundaries between work and family life, between offices and remote locations, between manager and employee, and between nationalities and cultures in the global economy.

IBM has come out with a series on “IBM and Future”.In this series they podcasted a dialogue between Randy Macdonald and Eric Lesser. Randy heads Human resources for IBM; Eric leads human capital research for IBM's consulting practice.

Some of the interesting thoughts which came out the discussion was:

The Amount of social pressure that people are feeling at work. It goes beyond any particular industry. People are pulled between their personal needs and their business needs.

Blurring of lines between what has historically been the manager and the employee. The two are beginning to interact in ways that they are one. And that's got a positive and a negative.

There is an enormous pressure in the workplace for the constant upgrading of skills. Historically it's been there, but the rapid nature of how the world is getting flat and the workplace is changing technologically is driving people to have skills more quickly than they have historically.

Corporations today are making so many dramatic decisions because of the globalization of business, Drastic and dramatic action is being taken, and employees are uncomfortable with that. So they're going to find a great deal of safety is in the relationship that they create with their first line manager, if you will.

People are able to come together quickly around shared goals and objectives. And without both this relationship based trust and also there's what we call competence based trust, it's very difficult to get anything done especially in a knowledge-based economy where the sharing and the application of new knowledge and bringing knowledge together becomes a very important point. And without that level of trust on both levels it’s very difficult for these types of exchanges to occur.

You can download the podcast pdf version here

Coca Cola to use Blog for Employees Survey

In an interesting move the Coca-Cola Company is using a blog as a communication channel through which the 55,000 employees of the global company can provide their views on Coca-Cola’s vision, mission and values.

This was published in a report yesterday in Dutch business magazine Brisk includes an interview with Orlando Ashford, head of HR at Coca-Cola’s US headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, who says that Coca-Cola can be one of the most respected companies in the world only when it’s clear to employees what the company stands for. Ashford said this is necessary if Coca-Cola wants to remain as the world’s best-known brand.

Brisk’s report says that Coca-Cola’s top 150 managers met last year and decided on the seven principles which describe Coca-Cola’s culture. These seven principles make up the company’s strategic Manifesto for Growth comprising Mission and Vision and Values.

Quiz: What's Your Workstyle?

My match:

Social Worker50%

You value people, feelings, collaboration, harmony and optimism. If you work with a Social Worker, be sure to communicate with him, and measure your words because his feelings are easily hurt. But give him a chance and he’ll be a terrific cheerleader for your team.

Lone Ranger0%

You live in the moment and require flexibility, change of pace and lots of space. If you work with a Lone Ranger, don’t hem her in with regulations and deadlines and she’ll do great work.


You protect the bottom line, results, and the calendar. You never met a rule you didn’t like. If you work with a Watchdog, be on time and pay attention to detail to stay on his good side, and put him in charge of keeping things organized.


You are the "intellectual architect" in an organization -- you keep things moving forward, but can seem removed or overbearing. If you work with a Professor, give her space to think about things unburdened by rules or displays of emotion and she’ll do excellent work.

Not bad at all for an HR Guy.Take your quiz here

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Key to HR Technology

Which are the critical aspects of HR technology tools which will ensure Scalability, Flexibility, and Agility?
Businesses are seeking to be more scalable, flexible and agile in the marketplace. To do this, HR organizations need to focus on the right mix of competencies for the organization, meaning all the talent, workforce and rewards strategies we love to talk about here. However, the foundational infrastructure of technology and process must be present.

As businesses “re-tool” and redefine themselves to create their brand, increase their market penetration, and grow their revenues and employee populations, HR’s role should be clear and present. Scalable organizations depend not only on a clear HR technology infrastructure to provide continuous metrics to support the growth, but talent acquisition must provide leading support to achieve these goals.

Talent management organizations and systems play a key role in defining the flexibility and agility of a workforce in maintaining and creating new competencies as the market introduces new talent needs to the organization. Not only must the workforce be flexible in the ever changing competency requirements, but talent organizations should continuously project future needs with business leaders.

Strategy and Performance Gap

Strategy formulation and execution always seems to have some gap, we’ve seen many perfect boardroom ideas flounder when it comes actual ground level implementation. Strategists and planners toil hard to come up with a foolproof plan but implementation continues to be a greater challenge.

HBS professor Robert S. Kaplan and colleague Andrew Pateman argue for the creation of a new corporate office. Why is there such a persistent gap between ambition and performance?" ask Robert Kaplan and David P. Norton in "The Office of Strategy Management" in the Harvard Business Review.

They studied the root causes of this disconnect between strategy and performance. They found out that most organizations do not have a strategy execution process. Many have strategic plans, but no coherent approach to manage the execution of those plans. Consequently, many key management processes remain disconnected from strategy. Some other findings are:

(a) Many organizations don't have a consistent way to even describe their strategy, other than in a large strategic planning binder. We believe strongly that organizations need to find a consistent, coherent way to translate their strategy into operational terms.

(b) Sixty percent of typical organizations do not link their strategic priorities to their budget, virtually ensuring that key strategic initiatives do not get funded and resources may not be supplied to deliver on the strategic plan.

(c) Two-thirds of HR and IT organizations develop strategic plans that are not linked to the organization's strategy. This is extraordinary.

(d) Seventy percent of middle managers and more than 90 percent of front-line employees have compensation that is not linked to the strategy.

(e) Most devastating, 95 percent of employees in most organizations do not understand their [organization's] strategy.

In short, there is often a chronic disconnect in organizations between strategy formulation and strategy execution.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Talent Management Strategy

Talent management and Individual growth in organizations is one of the most critical challenges for HR today. The huge demand and shortage of talent pool leads to some uncomfortable situations for many of us in HR .One of the most preferred and successful means for developing and retaining talent is providing ample opportunities to organizations present pool of resources for performing the next level of role.

It’s always easier said than done and Lowell L. Bryan, Claudia I. Joyce, and Leigh M. Weiss have a step by step guide for 21st-century companies, which should put as much effort into developing its talented employees as it puts into recruiting them. Here’s a brief of the study which appeared in Mckinsey Quarterly latest edition.

Most companies have traditionally spent most of their energy improving the quantity and quality of their line-management talent as opposed to other types of professional employees.

Companies focus the greater part of their efforts on helping managers move up the line-management hierarchy and become better general managers. They usually spend less time developing the people who have the talent required to cultivate distinctive client relationships, to tailor products for distribution channels, or to negotiate superior contracts with suppliers. The rewards of line management motivate talented people to seek line opportunities over professional ones.

A formal talent marketplace doesn't come into existence naturally; a company must invest in it to ensure that it makes a fair exchange of value to both parties in a transaction—otherwise, it will fail. Formal talent marketplaces can develop around functional areas or managerial roles. Large companies with a formal talent marketplace include American Express and IBM.

Talent markets in action

How might talent market transactions work?

First of all, any marketplace must define what is being traded, how it is priced, and the operating protocols and standards. To facilitate exchanges, a formal talent marketplace also needs "market makers": usually central human-resources staff in the case of managers or staff assigned to help a formal network executive (who might head, say, a center for software design) in the case of specialized professional talent.

Market makers must be allowed to show each party confidential information (such as performance reviews) related to an assignment. This requirement protects the interests of both job seeker and would-be employer, facilitates "contracting" for assignments by the parties involved, and ensures that the terms of the "contracts" are honored after the fact.

Employees who have fulfilled the time commitment in their current job contracts can apply for a new job by using the online system to submit an application that responds to the requirements in the job description. The manager of the employment opportunity can also search an electronic database for candidates who haven't applied.

Three important design features further support this talent marketplace. First, performance evaluations, which are conducted across the company, have several standardized components that promote comparisons among candidates. To help the market function smoothly, jobs have minimum time commitments (usually one year for lower-level managers and three for vice presidents) to ensure that managers don't have to scramble to fill positions before the people who hold them have finished the job. Finally, enterprise-wide standards (such as salary bands) are defined for all levels, from entry through senior leadership, thus facilitating comparisons across the company.

Breaking with tradition

A formal talent marketplace makes employees (rather than line managers or HR professionals) responsible for managing the greater part of their careers. Second, it explodes the idea that senior managers "own" talent. In a talent marketplace, employees are "restricted free agents" (the restrictions define, for example, pay grades and terms of service). They are expected to find the best opportunities for themselves, and the market opens up a nonprice-based competition across a range of candidates and job alternatives.

Furthermore, a talent marketplace formalizes the terms of employment—that is, the role, its duration, the place of work, travel, job options available upon successful completion, and so forth. It does so by making the terms more formal than a mere handshake and by making the protocols around the contract formal and explicit. Finally, it dispenses with two-party contract negotiations and instead uses the HR "broker" to protect confidences, promote the interests of both parties, and ensure compliance with the terms of the contract.

To read more click here.

I-Pods as learning tool

You thoughts I-pods are meant for music and videos,think agagin.
Georgia College & State University boasts traditional college fare -- spacious greens, historic architecture and a steady stream of students with the familiar white headphones of iPods dangling from their ears.

But here in the antebellum capital of Georgia, students listening to iPods might just as well be studying for calculus class as rocking out to Coldplay -- after the school's educators worked to find more strategic uses for the popular digital music and video players.
At least 100 of the rural school's employees are turning iPods into education or research tools -- impressive for a college with only about 300 faculty. But it's more than simply making class lectures available -- a practice now routine at many colleges and even a few high schools.
That's innovation for you. I think it's a wonderful move to engage students and they should do a post experiment analysis to review the effectiveness of the tool in improving students performance and experience.

Teams and Committes

Teaming by BNET's Don Blohowiak posted about the differences between a team and a committee.

A team, you’ll recall, is comprised of people with a clear common purpose. Everyone is working together to accomplish something specific — create a product, meet a deadline, achieve some particular outcome.

A committee is comprised of people who assemble occasionally to talk about stuff. Seemingly endlessly. Often with little more than an oblique inkling of purpose. Opinions, often not well-informed, fly endlessly. And pointlessly.

Another key distinction of a team from a committee: the import of every member. In a true team, every member is necessary. The team could not function without the participation of every member — their role is defined, their contribution necessary.

Teams leverage their members’ time and talent with a delicate balance between dividing task labor by individual, and simultaneously cooperating collectively for task completion. Committees, in contrast, often are organizational black holes. They insatiably consume human time and energy expended pointlessly and endlessly until the life force has been sucked out of every last committee member — many of whom found themselves working in ways that were either redundant to the efforts of other committee members or in opposition to the work done by their committee colleagues. Or both. In a true team, every member is necessary. The team could not function without the participation of every member.

Teams track their progress toward clear goals in service to well-defined objectives. Committees perpetually engage in basically aimless activity masquerading as work with little to no indications of achievement (or even progress).

Teams celebrate their accomplishments and deconstruct their failures to learn from them. Committees often aren’t sure what they’ve accomplished. If there are successes from committee work, committee members often jostle tirelessly and selfishly for credit. Any committee failures spur superhuman efforts by all committee members to lay blame on every other member of the committee.

Teams work. Committees pretend to.
My Views: To some extent the objective of teams and committees itself lay the foundation of the nature of functioning .Teams have a clear defined role and share the ownership of achieving goal whereas the committees may be formed with a very different set of objectives to begin with.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Are You Welcome ?

Employees joining new organizations often go through the situation of anxiety, dilemma and uncertainty at the time of joining new organizations. One of the key role of HR is to ensure that all new employees have a hassle free and well planned on-boarding model to make employees feel they are welcome in the new organizations.

Susan Zeidman in her article “On-Boarding: Helping New Executives Get It Right” gives out some valuable guidelines for planning an effective on –boarding programs.

Some organizations take a “sink or swim” attitude toward new hires. This happens when corporations believe they’ve hired seasoned professionals with excellent résumés. It’s a “let’s wait and see what they do” approach. That attitude doesn’t ensure success. Instead of letting new executives discover on their own what is expected, it would be beneficial to provide mutually agreed-upon goals.

Getting StartedNot all executives, intuitively knowing how to integrate into a new work environment. However, organizations can make it much easier for executives to on-board if they follow a three-step process:

Clearly state expectations.

Suggest what is important to learn and from whom to learn it.
Ask what processes, procedures and changes the executive intends to implement at the end of three months, six months and one year.


First, it is helpful for senior management to understand why this executive was selected for this particular position and what he or she is expected to do right away. That sounds simple, but it is far more complex than it appears. A new executive in an organization needs to know if the business is a growing one, a turnaround or a “maintain as is” situation. Matching the right executive with the right business situation is a good start.

The Learning Curve

Learning can be a good barometer of an executive’s success, and it can dramatically shorten the on-boarding process. What are the critical learning needs for this executive? Does the organization operate in a Six Sigma environment? Does the organization have a flat structure? Is it very collaborative? The organization can direct its new executives to learn in an efficient way by clearly stating the priorities and by asking how they intend to structure their learning.

Building a Sound Learning Process
The organization needs to provide the new executive with a realistic picture of the division, so the executive can develop the best learning plan right from the start.Organizations can structure the amount of new information a new executive should digest by dividing it up into three phases, much like building a house: start with a foundation, create the exterior walls and then finish with the interior.

Building up or strengthening the learning phases creates satisfaction for both the organization and the new executive. It also demonstrates to the new executive that there is an expectation that learning takes time. At the end of each phase, both the organization and the executive can debrief, reassess and modify expectations for the next phase. This flexibility allows the organization to coach the executive to success.

Processes and Procedures

What results do you expect to realize when implementing this new process?
How will this process affect your staff?
What risks or other considerations are involved in the new process?
What unintended consequences could result from the new process?
How will you ensure the process will be successful?

These questions uncovered assumptions and paved the way for a successful result. It also allowed the manager to coach Carol through an early win as a new executive.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Employee Ethics

Recent times have seen Organizations taking firm actions against employees who do not comply to the disclosure norms and official code of conduct. Some time back we heard that Intel had fired up to 250 workers in India after alleging they fiddled their expenses claims, reports from the sub-continent suggest.

In another development Wipro has just fired some employees for faking their CVs. It has also filed police complaints against several recruitment agencies for helping these employees falsify CV information.

The report also suggested that IBM India recently sacked many employees for the same reason. Some are said to have worked there for two years. TCS, also facing this problem, has from this year outsourced the entire process of CV verification to a specialized agency.

I guess this sends strong signal to the agencies who are play an active role on fabricating the profile of employees.

Now the question is why is it that it’s only now people have started taking close look at background checks.

One of the prominent reasons is that clients of IT companies now want complete background checks to be done before employees are sent onsite or even being billed for projects.

Since the growth in IT industry has seen recruitments happening at a breath talking pace the resource supply and pool has not been able to keep pace with the requirements. At one of the pitfalls of this situation is that many of the small companies end up recruiting people without doing proper reference and background .On the behavioral side ,some time back I’d posted on an article on ethics and behaviour and why people tend to get in the habit of bending the rules.

HR Blogging

HR Blogging has picked up quite well in the recent few years. It has become an effective medium of staying in touch with the latest happenings in the field of HR .We have no. of blogs dedicated to various aspects of HR and it seems to be growing every day.Although I've been reading a lot of HR related blogs but some of the links mentioned below were new to me.Most of the blogs which I read regularly as featured on my blogroll.

HRE Online has a list of HR blogs which you may find useful.

General HR Blogs

The HR Blog; Bostonworks is the jobs section of This is a "group blog," with entries from more than a half-dozen industry experts, and it has quickly become one of the more prominent and reliable sources for HR news and commentary.

Workplace Prof Blog; The author is Richard Bales, professor of law at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. Mostly a news aggregator, Bales covers the waterfront, giving you a quick read on the latest HR headlines.

The HR Analyst Blog; The author is Jason Corsello, a program manager for the Yankee Group's Business & IT Services Decision Service. Corsello has his thumb on the pulse of the profession and has a common-sense approach to the issues facing it.


Benefitsblog; Attorney B. Janell Grenier authors this blog. The content is a little dry and technical, but it's jam-packed with info if your focus is benefits.

Managed Care Matters; Joe Paduda, the principal of Madison, Conn.-based consultancy Health Strategy Associates, is the author of this site, which takes an in-depth look at the health-benefits issues and is not afraid to take a stand on those issues. Worth a read, even if you disagree.


Hiring Revolution; A group blog from the team at that looks at all angles of the staffing and recruiting jungle, with thoughtfulness and wit.

The CareerXRoads Annex; The author is Gerry Crispin, co-author of the book CareerXroads. Crispin is clearly conversant with the staffing scene, and offers in-depth analysis on what's happening within it.


Eelearning; Dave Lee, a learning professional himself, offers an in-the-trenches point of view to the world of corporate learning, and can discuss everything from learning theory to the latest technology.

Internet Time Blog; Jay Cross, CEO of Internet Time Group and founder of the Workflow Institute, seems to be everywhere that e-learning events are happening--and is usually live-blogging the action. An intensely focused blog from somebody who knows what he's blogging about.

To read more click here

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Innovation at PNG

Larry Huston and Nabil Sakkab talk about PnG’s innovation model in HBR's latest article. Procter and Gamble company grew to a $70 billion enterprise, the global innovation model it devised in the 1980s was not up to the task. CEO A. G. Lafley decided to broaden the horizon by looking at external sources for innovation. P&G's new strategy, connect and develop, uses technology and networks to seek out new ideas for future products. "Connect and develop will become the dominant innovation model in the twenty-first century," according to the authors, both P&G executives. "For most companies, the alternative invent-it-ourselves model is a sure path to diminishing returns."

Some of the excerpts of the article are ;

We knew that most of P&G's best innovations had come from connecting ideas across internal businesses. And after studying the performance of a small number of products we'd acquired beyond our own labs, we knew that external connections could produce highly profitable innovations, too. Betting that these connections were the key to future growth, Lafley made it our goal to acquire 50 percent of our innovations outside the company. The strategy wasn't to replace the capabilities of our 7,500 researchers and support staff, but to better leverage them. Half of our new products, Lafley said, would come from our own labs, and half would come through them.

As we studied outside sources of innovation, we estimated that for every P&G researcher there were 200 scientists or engineers elsewhere in the world who were just as good—a total of perhaps 1.5 million people whose talents we could potentially use. But tapping into the creative thinking of inventors and others on the outside would require massive operational changes. We needed to move the company's attitude from resistance to innovations "not invented here" to enthusiasm for those "proudly found elsewhere." And we needed to change how we defined, and perceived, our R&D organization—from 7,500 people inside to 7,500 plus 1.5 million outside, with a permeable boundary between them.

It was against this backdrop that we created our connect and develop innovation model. With a clear sense of consumers' needs, we could identify promising ideas throughout the world and apply our own R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and purchasing capabilities to them to create better and cheaper products, faster.

The model works. Today, more than 35 percent of our new products in market have elements that originated from outside P&G, up from about 15 percent in 2000. And 45 percent of the initiatives in our product development portfolio have key elements that were discovered externally.

Self assessment

Mark Cuban has a terrific post about the fact that often we are wrong at assessing our own true potential, strength and weaknesses.

I have been just as bad at this as anyone, particularly when I was getting started in the business world. For those of us who dream of starting and running a business, we know that we have to have a level of confidence in our own abilities. We don’t want to believe that there are things we can’t do.

We want to believe that if we try hard enough, work long enough, and get a little lucky, that the sky is the limit. The problem is that we let our confidence cloud our judgments of what we truly know about ourselves.

Does that means individuals tend to often underestimate themselves when it comes to doing things for our own venture?

I've seen that many self –starter entrepreneur often get in this trap of doing everything themselves and thereby loosing the sight of big picture and they end up being the worst kind of manager .They seldom believe in nurturing a culture of talent development and often have a bias towards their style of working .

HRIS and its Key Role

HRIS is increasingly playing an important role in transforming HR role in Organizations. Systematic HR has a post on the key role which HRIS is likely to play.

HRIS should be playing the same role in process support that it does in decision support. In decision support HRIS should have the business acumen to be more creative in determining how data is delivered to leadership.

This is not to say that HR leaders don’t need to request what they want, but the knowledge of the HR data available gives HRIS an opportunity to provide what may
not be expected or known otherwise.

The key is that as functional process owners are determining what the business requirements are for their process and how to optimize it, these process owners are not always fully familiar with how a process might be optimized from the technical standpoint.

Process owners and HRIS should really be working together to optimize a single process so that it meeds business requirements, makes technological sense, and fits into the context of a larger HR technology environment.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Know your Boss

I’ve come across many folks in my career who often crib about having a Boss who is hard to please. Sometimes this leads to deep anxiety or rather insecurity if you’ve a peer who is good at managing his boss.

Stever Robbins talks about things which one must consider in order to understand his Boss better.

You've heard managers say they'll heap riches on those who do a good job. Ignore their words; watch their actions. Who do they really reward? Why? Mostly, we reward those who meet our needs, first and foremost. If you know what your managers really want, you can meet their needs while meeting the needs of the business. The late Harvard psychology professor David McClelland had an easy framework you can use.

McClelland said motivation comes in three flavors: power, affiliation, and achievement. Power People want things to happen their way. Affiliation People want to be popular and liked. And Achievement People want results. We're all part power, part affiliation, and part achievement.

If your boss wants you to get results, my advice on "working smart" holds. Get stuff done. Measure what you get done. Discuss the measures with your boss. Do, do, do. Your boss will be thrilled that by working smart, you can get more stuff done in less time. Then go home early, and have a life.

If your bosses want power, they want things done their way. Like bureaucrats, Power bosses often work this way. Following procedure and doing things the right way is more important than doing the right things.

Your job for a Power boss is helping her empire-build and/or helping her get things done her way. Be careful, though. Your boss may be bad at figuring out what needs to be done. So even if she's getting her way, her way just might hurt the business.

Study on Job Outsourcing

We have lot of debate over the loss of jobs in US due to the outsourcing of jobs to lost cost developing countries like India.

Recent research shows that that off shoring has been a limited phenomenon—and one that has contributed only marginally to the labor market’s weak performance in recent years.
Through year-end 2003, the number of jobs embodied in net imports did not exceed 2.4 percent of the country’s total employment.

Moreover, the jobs lost to net trade flows grew at a slower pace after the recession than they did before—dropping from 45,000 jobs per month in 1997-2001 to 30,000 in 2001-03.

These findings provide little support for claims that the transfer of U.S. jobs to overseas workers is largely to blame for the jobless recovery.

They conclude that trade has only modestly affected aggregate U.S. employment does not imply, however, that trade has had no serious consequences for individual workers. Our approach explicitly recognizes that jobs created through trade may, to a greater or lesser extent, offset jobs lost to trade. But even if these job gains and losses roughly balance for the U.S. economy as a whole, they may not do so for individual workers— that is, some workers who lose a job to imports may not immediately find an equivalent position. Quantifying the effects of trade on the well-being of workers is beyond the scope of our analysis. Rather, our study offers a new, net measure of the overall number of jobs embodied in recent trade flows.
I guess this a fair indicator of the fact that IT companies India have lot to look forward in the days to come.With talent becoming a scarce resource and continues restrcition on Visas India will surely be in News for all the good reasons.

Stars and Dogs

S + B has an interesting article by Harry Quarls, Thomas Pernsteiner, and Kasturi Rangan titled Love Your “Dogs” on talent retetion strategies of companies.They talk about the general market tendency of going after star performers in organizations; they argue that greater shareholder value can be created by improving the operations of the company’s worst-performing businesses.

The typical strategy is to invest more heavily in the “stars” that are earning superior returns on capital, while starving or selling the underperforming “dogs.” This is the conventional approach in corporate finance and has become so ingrained in management practice that it is almost impossible to question it.
But what if it is wrong?
What if corporations would be better off shortchanging their stars and nurturing their dogs? What different decisions would managers make then?

There is, in fact, reason to believe that the conventional wisdom is wrong. Corporate managers often rely on accounting metrics to make business decisions. However, these metrics are based on past performance; the market is interested only in the future. And past performance is generally a poor predictor of the future. Thus, when performance is assessed over time, greater shareholder value can be created by improving the operations of the company’s worst-performing businesses. The way to thrive is to love your dogs.

Friday, March 17, 2006

HRO:Looking Ahead

The year 2005 has seen a major shift in the HRO market. Some analyst estimate that the total contract value of the deals are at nearly $4 billion.2005 also saw one of the major HRO deals of $1.1 billion, 13-year mega-deal signed by DuPont.

But will this year hold the same promise? One analyst who spoke with HRO Today off the record said 2006 is expected to draw some very large buyers into the market, but don’t expect the 25 to 30 percent growth it has witnessed in recent years. To read the list of Top HRO deals of last year click here.

THE HR Benchmark report comments that” more companies routinely look to outsourcing all types of business requirements, and increasingly review whether any expense can be managed more expeditiously outside the company’s four walls.

However, 2006 is not likely to be the year when companies in general decide to disband their existing HR departments and contract with third parties. Today, outsourcing some or all HR activities has a market penetration as follows:

*9% in companies under $50M in annual revenue
*40% in mid-size companies ranging from $50M to $999M
*66% in companies over $1B in annual revenue

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Selling Skills for HR professionals

How important is the role of selling skills of an employee in making an effective business presentation? Do we need all our employees to have selling and marketing skills? Does HR need to have good selling skills?

If you are an HR professional and you suggest your line manager about having a workshop for its front line production people about selling, chances are you will be labeled as nuts. On the other hand if HR were to undergo a same kind of training skill do you think it will make any difference in its ability to sell this idea to your Line manager?

One of the things which we safely assume about marketing is that people in technical or HR roles need not have the same set of selling skills which people in sales teams have, but the truth is that as an internal partner HR also has to hard sell its concept, ideas, suggestions as effectively as a typical sales team. As an HR guy who has some experience in concept selling I sometimes feel that HR needs that attitude, vision and aggression in terms of selling itself.

Few reasons why I feel that this approach will help HR do few things very effectively in the days to come.

Technology is playing a very crucial role in HR operations today, most of the typical maintenance and routine process driven work is based on the technology we are using.

Regular recordkeeping are already being outsourced.

HR will effectively play a key role in coming up with effective solutions to attract, retain, motivate, upgrade and nurture talent for effective talent management.

It will need to ensure that HR technical competencies are effectively used for the purpose of aligning with the overall organizations strategy and vision.

It should be ahead of its competitors in coming up with innovative products (ideas, solutions) which will make it a great place to work.

It will need to hard sell its concepts and ideas more effectively with its business partners for creating niche role.

Training is another area in which convincing the top management about imparting input based on future roles is hard to convince.

On of the things which sales skill helps you understand is end user perspective about the concept or product you are trying to sell. This gives you a great insight about functional and qualitative approach towards such prospective solutions. Although HR may not have apparent market competitors or targets as sales has, but in some roles like recruiting and training, we already have predefined no/targets to achieve. With the usage of metrics and scorecards its actions and results are also being monitored and mapped.I’m sure selling skill is one such competency which will effectively help all professional compete more effectively and aggressively in the days to come.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lessons for HR

The history of management is often traced to the techniques, theories and strategies used by Army for creating a winning force. Today’s global market place is second to no war interms of strategy, preparation and desperate remedies. Be it marketing, growth strategy, merger or acquisition every corporate action has its root in military warfare. Terms like suicide pills, hostile takeovers, and blitzkrieg are perfect indicator of this.

An interesting article by ET draws similarities between army and HR practices in corporate organizations.

There are hierarchies and functions, leaders and followers, teams, meetings and strategy sessions, very high emphasis on ‘delivering the goods’ and above all, a sense of organisational social responsibility that makes it our most reliable asset during times of crisis.

Perhaps the only differentiator between the armed forces and corporations, then, is the raison d’etre. The objective of the armed forces is task-orientation instead of profit-orientation. The attitude is to do ‘whatever-it-takes’. “The army’s rules and procedures are rigid,” admits (retd.) Maj Gen. Satur. adding, “But the rules in the corporate world are bent at the drop of a hat.”

Some lessons which HR can learn from Army are:

On Recruitment
Recruiting a candidate is extremely crucial. You have to be sure he/she can handle duress, and actually relish it to an extent.

Resource Utilization
Responsibilities shouldn’t prevent you from going out of your way to do something that needs to be done. Also, put your people in the job that best suit them. If you have an energetic young executive on your hands, give him a position that best utilises his energy. Don’t forbid mistakes, it only encourages quick-fixes and shoddy work.

Training and Development
Specialization and continuous practice is the key. People wonder what the army does during peace time. The answer is, train harder, improve learning to ensure that people and equipment don’t fail when the hour of reckoning comes.

Organisational Pride and Values
Reinforce pride in the organisation through fair and equal treatment. It is important for the administration to reach every person, instead of the other way round. Only then would he or she want to work with you.

New Taj Mahal for India

Infosys Global education centre has been featured in the Fortune 20th March Edition. Julie Schlosser was in Mysore few days back to cover the story. GEC has been featured as the new Taj Mahal of Training in India.

You can download PDF International version of the story from the link here.

Another link that shows us what the story looks like in the US version.
Note that the software needed to view this takes a little while to load.

Indian Stocks on Fire

CNN Money has an interesting stuff on the rise of Indian IT stocks titled “Searching for India's Google and Yahoo!”

Investors trying to find the next hot Internet stock aren't looking for companies based in Silicon Valley...or anywhere else in America for that matter. They're looking to India.

While many large U.S. Internet stocks struggle this year, shares of Sify (Research), a Chennai-based Internet content and networking firm, are up nearly 20 percent so far in 2006. Shares of (Research), a Mumbai-based portal, have surged 35 percent.

George Mihalos, an analyst with Gilford Securities, said that since India has only about 40 million Internet users among a total population of 1.1 billion people, it's easy to see why investors are excited, especially since Rediff and Sify are the only Indian Internet stocks that trade in the United States.
On reasons why Indian stocks are hot as compared to China .
"The opportunity in India is drawing parallels to the Chinese market. The Indian market is probably about five years behind China," said Mihalos. "But scarcity value is playing a role here. There are only two companies to buy

Success Secrets

If you can't rise at dawn, you might just reconsider your goal of making it as a CEO.:Fortune

Well this really put me off since I’m another late riser.
Cait Murphy talks about the secrets of being a successful Guru in “Secrets of greatness: How I work”.We have folks , ranging from jazz maestro Wynton Marsalis to jurist Richard Posner to Goldman's CEO, Hank Paulson, sharing on what they love to do.

Common denominator here, it is that for all the whizz-bang gadgetry that makes it possible to nag people in a dozen time zones in a single day, the human touch still matters.

The challenge is to continue to do it well, when the responsibilities and complexities keep increasing. One common answer is to get up early -- real early. Another answer is the creative use of technology .Technology can help people perform, after all, but it is people who inspire technology -- and each other.

My Take: Technology will continue to be a great enabler and its individual passion for innovation, excellence and creativity which will enable one to scale heights.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Six jobs that won't exist by 2016

Fast company article says that by 2016 on of the 6 jobs which will cease to exist is Indian call-center operators: “American customer service is rescued from oxymoron status as companies realize that being nice to the people with the money is the only way to win”

The other 5 are:
TV schedulers, A&R guys, Wall Street researchers, cool hunters. As punishment, now it's our turn to ram stuff down your throats. Hope you like Bon Jovi!
Pay someone to write snarky comments? Do you think we're getting paid for this?
Advertising creatives
Talented amateurs making ads for fun and posting them online seem to be better at your job than you are. Bonus: No more "whither the 30-second spot" whining.
Auto mechanics
As cars run on software, the grease monkey will need a makeover.
U.S. high-tech jobs
But software engineers can always get a job down at the garage.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Leadership Paradigm

In my last post I gave an overview on the study about leadership perception . In a book written by Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria which is due out next month they dwell about what are the elements of this alloy we call "leadership"?

Mayo and Nohria identified 1,000 great chief executives and company founders of the 20th century; they then surveyed 7,000 business executives, asking them to evaluate and rank the original list of 1,000. Out of this, they produced a ranking of the top 100 business leaders of all time.

All Business masters had more than their fair share of what Mayo and Nohria call "contextual intelligence." That is, they possessed an acute sensitivity to the social, political, technological, and demographic contexts that came to define their eras. And they adapted their enterprises to best respond to those forces. Their outsized success at sensing opportunities and capitalizing on them had a dual effect: Just as the times profoundly influenced these business masters, they, in turn, profoundly influenced their times.

Nohria shows that there is more than one path to becoming a great leader. In fact, there are three.

1. The Entrepreneurial Leader: C.W. Post

"At the turn of the last century, C.W. Post was an itinerant salesman who traveled through Michigan, which was the Silicon Valley of its time. It was the epicenter of more than 300 car companies, which spawned scores more companies. Entrepreneurship was in the air. Post didn't directly exploit these technologies, but he did sense a gathering of forces that created the possibility for a new business opportunity.

2. The Leader as Manager: Louis B. Neumiller

"Whereas entrepreneurs are company creators and charismatic leaders are agents of change, managers are value maximizers -- they make the most out of something that already exists. Such is the case with Louis B. Neumiller, who rose through the ranks of Caterpillar and became its chief executive in 1941.

3. The Charismatic Leader: Lee Iacocca

"Our fascination with the CEO as a celebrity leader dates back to Lee Iacocca. He captured the moment because he saw and seized on a series of secular changes that crept up almost unnoticeably.

Gladwell on Freakonomics

In an interesting post Gladwell talks about his views on Freakonomics .He says” In fact, "Freakonomics" specially singles out for ridicule the theory of broken windows, which I suggest in the Tipping Point played a big role in New York City’s recovery. So what gives? Why do I love a book so much, if it contradicts my own book? Have I renounced the theories I put forward in the Tipping Point?
The Freakonomics argument starts off very much like the argument I make in The Tipping Point. The startling decline in crime in major American cities in the mid-1990’s is a mystery. No one predicted it. Everyone thought that high crime rates were a permanent feature of urban life. And the standard arguments to explain why crime falls don’t seem to work in this case. Levitt and Dubner go through all the usual explanations for crime decreases—a booming economy, decline in the crack trade, innovative policing strategies, tougher gun laws, aging of the population—and find only two that they think really matter.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Perception about Leadership

Leadership is a complex and highly debated topic; we have many theories, concepts and views about leadership. In an effort to understand students' perceptions of leadership a study was carried out by Greenhalgh and Maxwell.They asked 1,918 freshmen enrolled in Management 100: Leadership and Communication in Groups to select or design an image that represented leadership.

In a recent report called, Images of Leadership: The Story Emerging Leaders Tell, Greenhalgh and Maxwell discuss the students' responses. First, the students selected what Greenhalgh and Maxwell called the "sort of images we might expect" -- namely, images of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela.

While the study confirmed that male and female students agree on many word choices, Greenhalgh and Maxwell discovered some subtle, although important, differences between the sexes. Among their key findings:

Female students show sensitivity to gender when selecting adjectives and nouns.

The verbs used by males and females to talk about leadership action are largely transformational rather than transactional. Transformational verbs such as lead, make, follow, inspire, achieve, believe and become are more prevalent in the students' essays than transactional verbs such as take, order and give.

According to Greenhalgh, transformational leadership reflects "leadership with the capacity to direct others to undertake new tasks, as opposed to transactional leadership, which we tend to associate with top-down hierarchies. Transformational leadership is more of a pull; transactional leadership is more of a push."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Startegy for Success

Strategy is the key to success for any business venture. Organizations work out different strategic models before making important decisions.

What is it that drives successful strategy?
How are organizations going to scale up to the big picture?
How are organizations going to cater up to the challenge of coming up with different strategies for developed and developing market.

Ram Charan gives insight about “Sharpening Your Business Acumen” to answer these challenges ahead.

A company’s strategic choices are made today, without the benefit of knowing the future. Leaders have to be comfortable making decisions with unknown factors; survival depends on those choices producing viable outcomes whatever may happen.

The ability to construct and act upon the mental model of the big picture requires plenty of practice. The essence of the skill is to find patterns from among a wide variety of trends and to posit the missing ingredients that could catalyze convergence. Many great leaders began to practice this exercise when they were younger, in less complex contexts, and over the years they have developed the requisite skills and judgment.

Trends that may at first seem disparate are not unrelated; they must be considered in combination. Executives must learn to fill in the gaps and to iterate this mental process until a complete picture comes into focus. And the way to do that is not only to consider the direct effects of change on an industry and a company, but also to rethink the changes through the lenses of other industries and other players.

To download the complete article click here

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Your Startegy for Negotiations

Deepak Malhotra’s views on Negotiations: “Concessions are often necessary in negotiation," says the HBS professor . "But they often go unappreciated and unreciprocated." Here he explains four strategies for building good will and reciprocity.

1.Label your concessions:

Your concessions will be more powerful when your counterpart views your initial demands as serious and reasonable.
Second, emphasize the benefits to the other side.
Third, don't give up on your original demands too hastily. If the other side considers your first offer to be frivolous, your willingness to move away from it will not be seen as concessionary behavior. By contrast, your concessions will be more powerful when your counterpart views your initial demands as serious and reasonable.

2. Demand and define reciprocity

Labeling your concessions helps trigger an obligation to reciprocate, but sometimes your counterpart will be slow to act on that obligation. To increase the likelihood that you get something in return for your concession, try to explicitly—but diplomatically—demand reciprocity.

3. Make contingent concessions

One hallmark of a good working relationship is that parties don't nickel-and-dime each other for concessions. Rather, each side learns about the interests and concerns of the other and makes good-faith efforts toward achieving joint gains.

4. Make concessions in installments

When trust is low or when you're engaged in a one-shot negotiation, consider making contingent concessions.

HR Strategy without Disruption

Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. talk about "How to Implement a New Strategy Without Disrupting Your Organization." In Harvard Business Review 84, no. 3 (March 2006).

“Throughout most of modern business history, corporations have attempted to unlock value by matching their structures to their strategies: centralization by function, decentralization by product category or geographic region, matrix organizations that attempt both at once, virtual organizations networked organizations, velcro organizations.

But none of these approaches has worked very well. Restructuring churn is expensive, and new structures often create new organizational problems that are as troublesome as the ones they try to solve.

It takes time for employees to adapt to them, they create legacy systems that refuse to die, and a great deal of tacit knowledge gets lost in the process. Given the costs and difficulties involved in finding structural ways to unlock value, it's fair to raise the question: Is structural change the right tool for the job?

The answer is usually "No," Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton contend. It's far less disruptive to choose an organizational design that works without major conflicts and then design a customized strategic system to align that structure to the strategy. A management system based on the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) framework is the best way to align strategy and structure, the authors suggest.
Managers can use the tools of the framework to drive their unit's performance: strategy maps to define and communicate the company's value proposition and the BSC to implement and monitor the strategy.

In this article, the originators of the BSC describe how two hugely different organizations—DuPont and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—used corporate scorecards and strategy maps organized around strategic themes to realize the enormous value that their portfolios of assets, people, and skills represented. As a result, they did not have to endure a painful series of changes that simply replaced one rigid structure with another.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Trends in HR Outsourcing

HR outsourcing has been growing at a fast pace in the last few years, more and more companies today have outsourced HR Processes to vendors .It’s a challenge as well as an opportunity for Hr folks to stamp the role of Hr in business today.

Pamela Babcock talks about the aspects of HRO in SHRM article.

HR professionals looking to purchase outsourced services may be able to gain both lower costs and improved service at the same time, as they capitalize on providers’ efforts to offer competitive pricing and as providers expand their skills and processes through mergers and acquisitions.

The total value of all HRO contracts in 2005 was nearly $6 billion—up from $2 billion in 2004, according to the TPI Index, a quarterly report on global outsourcing. And Martorelli predicts that the market for multiple-process HRO will continue to increase by 15 percent to 20 percent annually for the next few years.

The factors which have led to the increase in in Demand for HRO are: Marginalized perceptions of human resources, increasing globalization and the fact that existing vendors have a captive audience with organizations they already support.

Technology: Another key factor is rising information technology (IT) costs. HR executives facing the prospect of high costs to install, support, upgrade or consolidate Enterprise Resource Planning software often opt instead to outsource.

Click here to read more.