Sunday, July 30, 2006

Focus on Innovation

Innovation is the latest buzzword everyone seems to be talking about. Various Studies have also show that Leders today are more focused on the essentails of coming up with Innovative solutions and ideas to remain in Business.

Daniel Scocco opines that people are using Innovation as a magic word for filling there speech with the term and not concerned at all in understanding the dynamics behind the phenomenon.

The first confusion to dismiss is the difference between invention and innovation. The former refers to new concepts or products that derive from individual’s ideas or from scientific research. The latter, on the other hand, represents the commercialization of the invention itself. It is important to have this difference clearly outlined because an invention may have little economic value, if at all. In order to monetize an invention it is necessary to transform it into innovation, and such transformation is possible once we find a target customer, application or market.

It’s true that the Innovation is the mantra when it comes to Business Strategy. On the brighter side this hype has also brought more focus and serious academic , Institutional interest in the subject. So what was considered sacrosanct and unquestionable practice few years ago is now subject to discussion and new approaches. It’s bound to make the organizational culture more flexible and open to new ideas thoughts and processes for improving efficiency.

Friday, July 28, 2006

HR and Human Touch

EM Sky of Mind Unbound rightly said that it’s the “underlying system of thought on which all business is based”.

The fact remains that Human Resource Dept itself stands for the Human element in the murky world of Business. I’ll go to add that HR should rather be the “Humane” face and custodian of Values, ethics and culture of the organization. It may do so in the form of employee engagement, CSR or any other form but it should take the extra strive to give each individual in the organization an identity which is different from one’s employee no. and role.

Can’t agree with more on what he said “the reality of human nature and the importance of the Human Touch must be integrated into our understanding of "efficiency."

The reality is that efficiency is being associated only with getting things done. Somehow organizations are not prepared to accept the individual nature of each employee into account when it comes to design HR processes. Although being in HR we have little scope for the Human Element in the process and somehow process efficiency is linked to individual and organizational efficiency.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's not just Money

If you thought that employees will settle only for Pay hikes and nothing else then think again.

Consider this “The Hudson Highland Group, a an employee-benefits consulting firm, recently surveyed 10,000 U.S. employees and found that, while three-quarters are satisfied with their current pay, almost half (44%) would change the mix of cash and benefits if given the chance; and of those, the largest group (33%) would opt for more flexible hours.”

It’s true that for employees today give great importance to personal space and flexi timing is just one of the big incentives for the employee’s .However the nature of Job here becomes more critical as it may not be possible for every one is the organization to have a flexi timing. Organizations need to accept and adopt flexi timing as one of the best means for attracting, and retaining talent.

Executive Intelligence

Does Executive Intelligence play a critical role in deciding the Organizations performance?

In his recent book, Executive Intelligence, Justin Menkes proposes another set of hypotheses, among them that too much emphasis has been given to personality and style and too little to types of intelligence that enhance leadership performance."When it comes to predicting work performance, cognitive-ability tests have been demonstrated to be approximately ten times as powerful as personality assessments. . . . Personality is not a differentiator of star talent. It is an individual's facility for clear thinking or intelligence that largely determines their leadership success."

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton cite studies that maintain that no more than 10 percent of the performance of an organization can be attributed to its leader as opposed to other forces.

Menkes claims that executive intelligence, as opposed to knowledge (which is more a matter of experience), can be developed through repeated solving of new, unfamiliar problems using information, both relevant and irrelevant, provided for the purpose.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Are You a Workaholic ?

Fierce Competition, peer pressure and sometimes individual own proclivity to work for extended hours may lead to the situation of becoming workaholic.

According to Juliet B. Schor, an economist at Boston College in Massachusetts and author of the book The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, putting in long hours isn't necessarily problematic. After all, the rewards of hard work-a fatter paycheck, bonus points with the boss, satisfaction from your accomplishments-abound. It's only when the daily grind eclipses other areas of your life that it's time to stop and rethink your schedule.

Paying attention to how you're feeling away from work may offer the best insight, says Robinson. On a scale from one to five, with five being most satisfied, rate your satisfaction with your family life, friendships, health and hobbies. If your total is less than 10 points, it might be time to cut back on work.

Is HR loosing it's Human Touch ?

Some interesting thoughts on what People think about Human Resources.

Genuine Curiosity questions “How human is your Human Resource “?

The HR folks provided lots of value in hiring and coaching. They also helped talk me through difficult situations. I'm lucky enough to work in a small company now, where I get a lot of this kind of assistance, but in large companies that is harder and harder to come by.

In my last "big" company experience, our company grew to the point where HR was one local person who basically dealt with coordinating insurance forms, paperwork associated with hiring and firing, and proofreading personnel reviews. They didn't feel like a partner any more - just an information desk.

Mind Unbound has some thoughts too..

“Human resources departments should be engaged in supporting employees in their own humanity. They should be about reinventing corporate culture to fit the whole human being, creating fun environments of creativity, innovation, job satisfaction, and personal encouragement. If that sounds too far-fetched, it's only because most HR departments have been trapped by their own "professional," impersonal, unfeeling culture for far too long. It's time they stuck their necks out of their proverbial ivory towers and took a good look around.

It shouldn't be so tough, really. After all, HR employees are people too. All they have to do is think about what kind of company they'd really love to work in--as opposed to the robotic, bureaucratic monstrosity they feel trapped in today--and then realize that the power to make those very changes lies in their own, wonderfully human hands.

Some of the thoughts truly reflect the typical dilemmas faced by HR in large Organization where scaling up to huge number of resources is a big challenge for HR. Typically organizations resort to automation of process to streamline process and to develop matrix on actually tracking HR effectives and effort on various activities.

It’s quite true that HR in small organizations is highly personalized and has the Touch and feel effect, but systems and processes bring some new dimensions and to a great extent reduce the Human Interaction.

The key here is to maintain a mix of both automation and personal touch as the day to day operational stuff can be managed with HRIS tools but certainly when it comes make the HR impact nothing works as much as Human Touch.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Social Tools and Recruitment

One of the things I have often been discussed on this blog is the impact of New Social Networking tools on Organizations. On the other hand these tools are also having a significant impact on the Recruitment and Staffing functions.

This post on has some interesting observation on the latest Buzz in the Virtual world.

“Social Networking is the Internet's latest darling. And throughout the last year it has been moving quickly into the professional arena of recruiting and staffing. The loudest of these entrants is LinkedIn and Jobster. Jobster was first and loudest but LinkedIn and others are making noise and you can bet there will be many more coming soon, including existing recruitment software and services powerhouses adding this functionality to their offerings.In many ways what is currently happening with "social networking" and variations of this business model (like Jobster, etc.) reminds me a little of the dot-com days. Lots of hope and excitement, new and inspiring technology/ideas, yet no clear consensus the model will workfrom a business standpoint - in other words, can the model generate a steady stream of profitable revenue from the business community beyond just advertising dollars?”
I have been an active member of LinkedIn for quiet some time now and although I am yet to see any major impact of my membership on my personal career. However I’ve been approached by numerous people showing their interests in various positions and also asking for personal reference to other members in my network. But I am yet to come across some one who has been able to make a fortune out of it.Althought a recent survey by ERE showed that 8% people used Social-networking sites such as MySpace for recruitment ,but the sample size was only 80 and I'm sure that most of the respondent would be Blog and Social tool savy.

Like all new tools (such as blogs) we may see a bunch of over enthusiastic guys taking on it and making a big noise but eventually things will settle down .But I’m sure this will be useful and a novel addition to the existing sources of attracting talent and employer branding.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Experience or Qualification

Academic qualifications are useful in demonstrating that a person has achieved a high level of knowledge in a particular subject and developed a range of skills, such as analysing or written communication, that can be useful in working environments,"

"However, they should never be used as the sole means of judging whether a candidate has what it takes to succeed in an organization and any business that relies on qualifications in isolation is just taking a short cut.

Well sounds familiar, a typical question which most of us in HR face when we come across CV’s. So what’s more important the qualification, degree or the experience?

A study of 375 major European employers by HR consultancy Cubiks found that fewer than one in 10 (eight per cent) believe that academic qualifications are always a reliable indicator of how a candidate will perform in a role.

The survey also revealed that lies and exaggerations have become common features of application forms and CVs with almost nine out of organizations encountering both of these on a regular basis.

To compound the difficulties for employers, it appears that dishonest or inappropriate candidates are not being identified and rejected early on in the recruitment process. Six out of 10 employers said that they have had to withdraw job offers at the very last minute following the receipt of a poor personal reference.

The most common reasons for businesses rejecting candidates are because they lack the core abilities needed to do the job or because of a poor personality fit.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Changing Culture

Your culture -- and the mission, vision, values and behaviors that produce it -- must be unique to your company. You have to build them into your company and measure them. Senior leadership has to be creatively repetitious in preaching them. You have to talk them up again and again. You have to get them into your company's bloodstream. But once you do, you have the basis for a high-performance organization.

William C Finnie says that “Success can begin with explicit statements of mission, vision and values unique to each company but to Change a Culture, Start with Changing Behavior”

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jack Welch on HR

As a HR person one interview which you must send to your CEO is the one by Jack Welch, in which he talks about what HR has been doing and what it should do.

Amazing insights and one liner which we really make you wonder how interesting it would be to be a part of this man’s HR team.

Read this….

At too many companies, unfortunately, the human resources department gets it wrong.Either it operates as a cloak-and-dagger society or a health-and-happiness sideshow.Those are extremes, of course, but if there is anything we have learned over the past five years of travelling, it is that HR rarely functions as HR should.

“Look at the companies today where the CFO reigns supreme and HR is relegated to the background. It just doesn't make sense. Sure, the accountant can tell you the financials.

But the director of player personnel knows what it takes to win: how good each player is and where to find strong recruits to fill talent gaps.

That's what HR should be all about. And, as you point out, it's usually not.

Type of HR Folks which we need “What's needed are people who are one part pastor, hearing all sins and complaints without recrimination, and one part parent, loving and nurturing, but giving it to you straight when you're off track.

Leaders should also make sure that HR fulfils two other roles. It should create effective mechanisms, such as money, recognition and training, to motivate and retain people.

And it should force organizations to face into their most charged relationships, such as those with unions, individuals who are no longer delivering results, or stars who are becoming problematic by, for instance, swelling instead of growing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Employee Compatibility

As study by Vodafone's Working Nation report, based on a survey of more than 2,500 workers, employers and entrepreneurs, found that six out of 10 British workers exhibit chameleon tendencies whereby their personality and identity changes when they walk into the office.

Some of the other tendencies which the study reported are:

· A hardcore of employees (some six per cent of the sample) who felt compelled to change their identity completely to fit in at work.

·The reason for this tension is a major incompatibility between the values of the individual and those of their employer.

·Nearly two thirds say they simply don't believe in what their company stands for and more than half say they have changed something about themselves to adapt to their working environment.

· "Identity-stressed" workers are three times more likely to work for companies whose values they felt uncomfortable with and twice as likely to lie to succeed and let colleagues take the blame for their mistakes. They are also twice as likely to be very dissatisfied at work.

This typically demonstrate the incompatibility factor which individuals and organizational are facing today when they are trying to grow at exponential rate.

Generally any organization develops its culture over a period of time based on its core ideology and value system. As it grows it gets more experienced lateral resources from the job market, which typically leads to such situations.

Individuals who have stayed with any organization for a longer period of time find it difficult to make the adjustments in the new organization. Cultural compatibility is one of the biggest challenges which HR in organizations face when it comes to inculcate the organizational value system.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Measuring Innovation Footprint

One my earlier post mentioned about Innovation Footprints. Harm Joose is trying to come with an an assessment tool to measure innovation footprint.

He outlines 3 steps to evaluate and measure innovation footprints based on the Innovation Footprint mode.

-Leader - Member exchange: trust, mutual liking and respect in a supervisor-subordinate relationship
-Role expectations: degree to which a supervisor expects subordinate to be innovative
-Support for Innovation: degree of perception of the individual that the organisation is supporting innovation
-Intuitive Problem Solving Style: generating solutions by having looking from different perspectives

·Evaluating measurements
·Creating an assessment question list
·Translating the measurement ranking to a figure that can be used for peer-comparisons
My thoughts on evaluating measurements.

To being with we must define what are going to measure and how we types of innovation footprints we want to capture.

A descriptive questionnaire for capturing thoughts, awareness and present understanding on innovation footprint in organizations.

Leader, peer and other member can maintain a incident based dossier to track and evaluate footprints and use forced ranking method for comparative ordering and elimination of some non critical events or actions.

Reward and recognition system in process to encourage such process.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Memorable Exit

How do you make your exit memorable? Well certainly not the way France's football hero Zinedine Zidane ended his glorious career

BBC has an Interesting article which suggest 10 things to do on the last day of your career .

·Use your leaving speech to deliver a verbal Zidane-style headbutt. Affairs, expenses scams, inflated bonuses, wigs, how the place has gone to the dogs.

·Leave a challenge for your successor.

·If David Beckham can cry when he's leaving his job (as England captain) then so can
I. Don't. Bad move.

·Leaving speech II. Talk at interminable length about your own glittering career - that time you really showed them who was boss over the faulty photocopier - and
deliver rambling anecdotes about characters who left years ago.

·Hand your identity dog tag to the craziest frother in the shopping centre and tell them where they can get free coffee and meet lots of new and hospitable friends.

·That "exit" interview. This will be the first time you've come across the gleaming 20-storey office block occupied by floor upon floor of the "human resources" team. It's your big chance to tell them exactly... Are they listening? Hello?
Umhhh some food for thoughts for our HR folks….just hope and pray that your next exits interview you don’t come across a Zidane fan. J

Mittal Speaks

Mittal steel made history by finally acquiring Arcelor in tough battle which went well over 5 months before finally the $32.2 billion deal was finalized.

Knowledge at Wharton spoke to Aditya Mittal on what was Mittal Steel's strategy in pursuing this acquisition? When the company encountered resistance, how did it frame its negotiation strategy? What will the deal mean for the world steel industry?

The most important thing is that this is a merger of equals, and we truly and deeply believe in that. I think a merger of equals can be successful if we have an open, transparent and performance-oriented culture, and that is what we will be instilling.

At the end of the day, I do not believe that the cultures of Arcelor and Mittal Steel are that disparate. We obviously come from different backgrounds, but the vision has been the same. In the global steel industry we operate within the same markets.

Our market conduct has been the same. Our attitude towards operational excellence has been the same. Our attitude towards purchasing has been the same. So from an
organizational structure [decision-making strategic vision] I think the fit is very strong. Clearly both of us need to ensure that we can work together better - that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Celebrating Failures

Yesterdays I’d posted on Accidental innovation and the positive roles which organization can play in fostering a learning culture by helping individuals come with innovative thoughts on different processes and ideas.

Another interesting article on Business week has a story on how everyone fears failure, but breakthroughs depend on it. The best companies embrace their mistakes and learn from them.

"Getting good" at failure, however, doesn't mean creating anarchy out of organization. It means leaders -- not just on a podium at the annual meeting, but in the trenches, every day -- who create an environment safe for taking risks and who share stories of their own mistakes. It means bringing in outsiders unattached to a project's past. It means carving out time to reflect on failure, not just success.

In addition to making sure performance evaluations take a long-term view, managers should also think about celebrating smart failures. (Those who repeat their mistakes, of course, should hardly be rewarded.) Thomas D. Kuczmarski, a Chicago new-product development consultant, even proposes "failure parties" as a way of recognizing that it's part of the creative process. "What most companies do is put a wall around a failure as if it's radioactive," says Kuczmarski.

Do organizations spend time analyzing failures?

Do we need case studies on failures to make amends for such errors?

I think it will really set the context of a dynamic and self learning organization if we were to think about implementing such ideas.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Accidental Innovation

Is Innovation always planned or is it merely accidental?

In their recent working paper "Accident, Innovation, and Expectation in Innovation Process," authors Robert D. Austin and Lee Devin explore the concept of accidental innovation, how it works or doesn't, and how good accidents can be encouraged.

Q: How important is the role of accident in the creative process? Does this happen often?

Part of the problem is that the word "accident" is rather imprecise; not all accidents are equally accidental. They propose a way of defining the "intensity" of an accident, by which we mean, roughly, how far outside intentions (and expectations) an outcome really is.

Q: Is there a way innovators can encourage good accidents? In other words, is there anything we can control to foster this process?

A: Artists think they develop a talent for causing good accidents. Equally or perhaps even more important, they believe they cultivate an ability to notice the value in interesting accidents. This is a non-trivial capability. Pasteur called it the "prepared mind."

In business, there's a saying that goes "if you don't know where you're going, any map will do." You can almost always get managers to nod in agreement with this suggestion that you might as well not start something if you don't have its end objective well defined. Working without a clear definition of your objective is considered wasteful, inefficient. But if you are trying to get outside what you can anticipate and see in advance, if you are going after the truly new and valuable, this way of thinking can be a problem. This is one truth about innovation that artists seem to understand a lot better than managers.

Interesting thoughts as Innovations may not be always planned. The best part is do we encourage such accidents to happen more often?

As Pasture called it “prepared minds” organization need to accept accidents as a process of learning as accidental learning has always been part of one’s learning curve.

Friday, July 07, 2006

HR's impact on Strategy

HR experts explore the most often asked question ,which every HR professional, student ponders about at one or other point in his career.

What effort does it takes to make organizations take HR roles seriously? Peter Cappelli shares his experience.

About 25 percent of those being interviewed reported that their HR groups were marginalized in their organizations. Whether that is a lot or a little depends on your perspective, but it is, if nothing else, interesting that even those inside a function were aware that there were more important tasks that HR should be handling, which means that they could see what those other tasks should be.

Not surprisingly, those who were cut out of the action reported it was because they were concentrating on transactional business, the "must do" topics in the function.
It’s a common situation being faced by most of us, now the next question is how we do change the scenario and what does HR leaders needs to do to change this perception.

#The best way to get access to the strategy process was to demonstrate that HR could add value to those outcomes that were of interest to top decision makers in the business.

#Build a credible story about the role that HR can play in running the business has to go beyond goals traditionally associated with HR.

#Senior leaders in the business have to buy into a new set of priorities for the HR function so that they can be accountable to the new standards.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Innovation Footprints

The “Carbon footprint” concept which tries to answer how much carbon do you consume and release into the atmosphere.Where is that carbon going and what impact does it have on the planet? It has being extended in the context of Innovation by Jeffrey Phillips.

If together we can think about pollution and how we, each of us, can contribute to reducing our carbon footprint through simple actions, then certainly each of us can think about our "innovation footprint" at work. What actions or projects are you working on that could have an "innovation footprint"?In the "Carbon footprint" example, there are inherent rewards. Each of us gets to breathe cleaner air or enjoy a more pristine Earth. Participating in the activity brings rewards to yourself, your family and to all mankind. Likewise, an "innovation footprint" program needs to have rewards.

How do the people within your organization enjoy the rewards of increased innovation? Increased profit-sharing? Larger bonuses?

The knowledge that the firm they work for is considered an industry thought leader? As the carbon footprint example points out, all rewards don't have to be monetary.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Work life Balance

How important is the issues of work life balance when it comes to decide your next career move?

With senior executives around the world complaining that their work is encroaching ever more damagingly on their personal lives, almost nine out of 10 say that work-life balance considerations are now critical in their decision whether to join, or remain with, an employer.

A survey of 1,311 executives in the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) have revealed a sea-change in the attitudes of corporate high-flyers, with a growing number rejecting long hours and the scramble up the corporate ladder in favour of better quality of life.

More than half (53 per cent) of those questioned said they have not achieved a satisfactory work-life balance and a similar proportion (46 per cent) felt that their work-life balance had changed for the worse over the past five years.

The AESC findings confirm a trend noted last year in a global study by Burson-Marsteller and the Economist Intelligence Unit which found that more than half of senior business figures around the world would turn down the chance to be a CEO - with the impact of the role on their work-life balance the major
reason for shunning the top job.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Answer this ....

The war for talent means greater efforts on part of employer to brand organizations for attracting talent..How do you answer the question “Why Should I Work for Your Company”

Howard Adamsky & Danielle Monaghan say that “ Examine your corporate culture, rewards, career paths, and corporate citizenship to get the answer.

• Has your organization evolved to meet their needs, or is it business as usual?

• Do you have a compelling employee-value proposition covering all the
facets that will attract and retain employees?

•Can your recruiters and hiring managers articulate this consistently to all candidates?

•Can your recruiters determine what is most compelling to each candidate they decide to pursue?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Innovation and your Organizational System

Joyce Wycoff the Co-Founder of the InnovationNetwork, an organization which helps organizations build competency in innovation talks about the Top 10 reasons which kill Innovation.

-Not creating a culture that supports innovation
-Not getting buy-in and ownership from business unit managers
-Not having a widely understood, system-wide process
-Not allocating resources to the process
-Not tying projects to company strategy
-Not spending enough time and energy on the fuzzy front-end
-Not building sufficient diversity into the process
-Not developing criteria and metrics in advance
-Not training and coaching innovation teams
-Not having an idea management system

He also gives Ten Practical Steps to Keep Your Innovation System Alive & Well.

-Remove fear from your organization. Innovation means doing something new, something that may fail. If people fear failing, they will not innovate.

-Make innovation part of the performance review system for everyone. Ask them what they will create or improve in the coming year and then track their progress.

-Document an innovation process and make sure everyone understands it as well as his or her role in it.
-Build in enough looseness into the system for people to explore new possibilities and collaborate with others inside and outside the organization.

-Make sure that everyone understands the corporate strategy and that all innovation efforts are aligned with it. However, also create a process for handling the outlier ideas that don't fit the strategy but are too good to throw away.

-Teach people to scan the environment for new trends, technologies and changes in customer mindsets.

-Teach people the critical importance of diversity of thinking styles, experience, perspectives and expertise. Expect diversity in all activities related to innovation.

-Good criteria can focus ideation; however, overly restrictive criteria can stifle ideation and perpetuate assumptions and mindsets from the past. Spend the time necessary upfront to develop market and success-related parameters that will take you into the future.

-Innovation teams are different from “regular” project teams. They need different tools and different mindsets. Provide enough training and coaching so that when people are working on an innovation team, they can be successful.

-Buy or develop an idea management system that captures ideas in a way that encourages people to build on and evaluate new possibilities.

Social Tools and Employer Branding

My take on GG's post on the impact of social tools on employer branding.

He says “Feelings about an employer can be positive and negative. These are shaped by two factors. The individual's values and perceptions, and the organizations policies and processes.

Agree with this but I would like to add another factor. Apart from Individuals values and perception its Individuals personal aspirations which makes the critical difference.

One of the problems with the people joining in IT industry today is that many of them lack the patience, resilience and core values to contribute effectively and consistently toward the organizational success.

The supply crunch has created a situation which typifies the Gresham’s Law “Bad money drives the good money out of market.”

The organization values and employee’s values must match to have a long lasting association. One of the reasons why we see employees getting highly dissatisfied with organizations is because of complete mismatch between employers and employees values. Unfortunately Employer’s /Organisation's value system is the last thing which people look at while accepting job offers and this I strongly believe is a strong reason for dissatisfaction.

Again dissatisfaction among employees may not be totally linked to organizational internal policies and systems .

Today it has also got to do with external market situation. I have seen people working in the same organizations for 18 yrs are still very happy and I've also come across folks who remain unhappy even though they change job as often as every year. It's got to do more with individuals than the organisation.However orgnizations do need to go on alert if it happens more often and to a growing no of people.

The essential factor which Organizations /HR need to do is to communicate more effectively about the value, systems and culture to prospective employees.

Social tools will undoubtedly play a very critical role in shaping people’s opinion about organizations but let's accept the fact the MNC organizations which operate at large scale from multiple locations and people from diverse background will face such situations more often than not.

Freedom of expression and misuse of free access to social tools is something which we have to accept in virtual world.I guess we have to be more cautious and focussed on what we are considering as serious and genuine opinion.