Thursday, August 24, 2006

Recruiting with Blogs: A Short-Lived Trend?

Well, it looks as if blogging may take a turn towards more privacy. Blog site Six Apart has launched Vox, a blogging and social networking site "with highly customized privacy settings."

Among other things, bloggers can restrict access to their content according to "buckets" of readers..."friends," "family," or "the world," for instance. What makes this a little unique is the fact that users can mix and match within a single blog, meaning that bloggers can actually aim content at several different readers exclusively of each other.

What will be interesting to see is how blogging behavior changes with these available settings. Will more people opt to allow only select readers enjoy their content? Or will bloggers stick with the "open to the whole world" format that we've become accustomed to?

If you're a recruiter who has been using blogs to identify talent...wonder what will happen if this channel gets shut off?

Of course, we won't know the answer to these questions for the next couple of years. It's highly unlikely that behavior will change that drastically in several months' period.

Of course, with the Internet, you can never be too sure...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Visioneering: The Why

So you've decided that your organization, business unit, or team needs a little innovation. A little spice. Something that will help stave off irrelevance.

Congratulations. You've taken the first step: admitting that you're missing something.

Now for the hard part: taking that thought and executing against it.

Before you can set out and create a world-class organization that gushes with creativity, innovation, or need VISION.

What is vision? It's the ultimate why. As in, "why should we care?" "Why should we do this?" "Why is this so important?" ..."Why should we follow you?" "Why should we trust you?"

Aristotle once said, "the soul never thinks without a picture." That's what a vision is: a clear picture of what could be...what should be. (Incidentally, for those curious about the origins of the word itself, vision in Hebrew roughly translates to "a dream from God.")

Why have a vision to begin with, you ask?

Because there's a problem.

And a the solution to that problem.

But let's back up here, because this is the part where I feel like a lot of organizations screw up the process of visioneering. They don't properly define the problem. It's the classic problem that consultants are confronted with when they start engagements. They have to help clients properly define the RIGHT problem. In some cases, this means correcting previous definitions of what was originally thought to be the problem.

Identifying the problem has an added benefit to the process of visioneering: it engages the minds of the people you're trying to cast the vision to. In fact, the degree to which you can enable people to see the world as you see it...that is the degree to which they will be willing to listen to your solution to the problem.

In other words, by not successfully defining the problem, you can never effectively cast a vision that people in your organization, business unit, or team will follow. After all, why should people even bother if they don't really see the need?

And therein lies, as I've already stated, one of the main purposes of a vision: giving a clear picture of what could be so that people will rally around it and help create what should be. People need to be willing to follow the vision that you cast...otherwise, you will never be able to effectively enact sweeping change.

So...what does visioneering, or the process of creating a vision, have anything to do with ideation?

Because if you ever wish to successfully create a revolution...a movement...a your organization, business unit, or team, you MUST first align them to your vision for ideation.

Without a vision, they won't know the problem. (We're bordering on becoming irrelevant)

Without a vision, they won't see the need. (Our competitors are re-inventing themselves)

Without a vision, they won't know the solution. (We need to re-imagine ourselves)

Without a vision...they won't care like you do. (We're AREN'T fine the way we are!)

And this brings us to the other thing that vision does for all of us: it weaves four (a BIG four) things into the fabric of everything that we do.

1) Passion
2) Motivation
3) Direction
4) Purpose

It's these four things that vision incorporates into our daily routine that makes us care enough to help deliver the solution.

By now, hopefully you have begun to get the idea of "The Why" behind visioneering.

Tomorrow, I will cover "The Who" of visioneering

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The IF: An Ideation Framework

I wanted to start off my framework for ideation by acknowledging those people that helped pave the way for my ideas and thoughts on this matter. After all, I will be the last person to claim that I have created an ingenious roadmap for organizations for decades to come. Rather, I have simply taken what these thought leaders have written/spoken about and added a dash of my own ingredients (analysis, insight, experience, and of course...creativity).

Ideas always start from a foundation, and hopefully I can give credit to those who helped create that foundation. Many don't know who I am today...but hopefully someday I'll have the honor of meeting them. ;) Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, Tom and David Kelley, Seth Godin, Joey Reiman, Andy Stanley, God, and my family are just some of the people that have helped create this foundation.

Hopefully this framework will help you and your organization...and help revolutionize the HR and Recruiting industries in the process.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing the first step in "The IF," or The Ideation Framework. I decided to call it
(tentatively...if everyone hates it I might be tempted to change it;) "The IF" for this simple reason: creating an organization that constantly innovates is only possible IF you actually do something about it. Otherwise, it's just another thing you read and don't internalize. Another thing that sounds nice but is never used. And that's what I don't want to see...

So what's the first step?


What is it?

You'll have to read tomorrow to find out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Non-Traditional HR Leaders

Before I get to my ideation framework, I wanted to write something that I read about over the weekend.

My thoughts stem from an article by Jack and Suzy Welch, which talks about elevating HR to the front of an organization. ...For those of you who don't know, Jack Welch is one of those executives who passionately believes that HR should be the most powerful part of any organization.

One of the more interesting thoughts presented in the article: getting someone to lead an HR organization who has experience leading a function OUTSIDE of HR. In Jack's opinion, these people truly get business...its "inner workings, history, tensions, and hidden hierarchies in people's minds."

This idea creates so much controversy on the conventional HR Management front that I almost want to say it's a GREAT idea by that fact alone. ;)

But in all seriousness, perhaps this is a good strategy to get more business-minded people to lead HR functions. Like in my previous rants, I think one of the biggest drawbacks for HR functions is the fact that they are often filled with people who have no concept of how business operates. They might contain people who have received their MBAs...but when's the last time an organization has allowed an MBA-only person take the helm? MBAs must be accompanied with experience, and this is precisely where traditional HR heads are found lacking. They've rarely had to lead other operations within the organization...and as a result, don't truly understand the P&L responsibilities, hierarchies, turf wars, etc. that might be going on within an organization.

So here's a thought: if you are thinking of making someone head an HR function, make it a prerequisite that they successfully lead another non-HR BU for a few years. My thought process is that if they can successfully lead a non-HR BU, then they can take those lessons learned "in the trenches" and truly understand how to leverage those insights within an HR capacity.

...I'll have to research this a bit more to see if any organizations currently do this already.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ideation in Recruiting and HR: A Basic Framework

In my last post, I posed the question of whether or not creativity contributed towards the bottom line. We saw some interesting points of view from Robin Hanson and Richard Florida.

Regardless of which point of view you agree with, I think we can agree on one thing: in business, one can't afford to NOT innovate. It doesn't matter that you focus on the big idea or several "small" ideas...what matters is that an organization is constantly trying to improve itself. Without this, they go one step closer to irrelevance.

So here's my next question: how do you become an organization that is capable of constantly creating new ideas? More importantly, how can you become an organization that creates ideas that will be used?

In the coming weeks, I'll be posting some steps that organizations can take towards achieving this. Consider it a framework that organizations can adopt. The beauty of it is, it's a framework that can be adopted by business units within organizations....or a framework that can be adopted by an entire organization as well.

With that said, I'll be creating this framework with an eye towards recruiting and HR. I think out of a lot of internal functions within an organization, these are the two that don't have ideation built into their DNAs. And if you ask me...if these functions continue to NOT innovate from within, they will increasingly become susceptible to being irrelevant.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Does Creativity Contribute to the Bottom Line?

After a bit of a hiatus from my series on innovation and creativity in HR and recruiting, I'm back with a new entry.

My last entry spoke about firing your internal clients a la Crispin Porter + Borgusky. It was a good look at how thinking outside the box (for some, this was an example of thinking way outside the box) can sometimes be healthy for your organization.

Now for a completely different take on this debate.

Enter Robin Hanson of George Mason University. For Professor Hanson, there's a myth of creativity that has been overblown in Corporate America. Executives have been issuing this innovation war cry for the last few years..."pleading" with their employees to put their creative thinking caps on.

But for Hanson, this is all for naught. Among other things, Hanson argues that there are too many people focusing on "big ideas"...and not enough people focused on the "millions of small changes we constantly make to our billions of daily procedures and arrangements." You can read the whole thing for yourself here.

It's a very pragmatic view of this whole debate...and a very tempting stance on innovation and creativity.

Is he right? Perhaps. Can he be wrong? There's always the possibility, of course.

If you're interested in who might disagree with Hanson, look no further than Richard Florida. Click here for a full rebuttal to the above stated viewpoint.

Looks like a feisty intellectual debate!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Firing Your Gatekeepers

Question: who or what keeps you from doing remarkable things for your organization?

In most companies, there are gatekeepers...those people or processes that have become so ingrained into an organization that they prevent things that go WOW from happening.

In one company, it's the technology that everyone has to use on a daily basis. The technology bogs down innovation, productivity, and inspiration.

In another firm, it's the person who always says "we can't do that." "We can't change the reporting structure." "We can't send them a large fruit costs too much." "We can't create a different work flow process because it will screw up all the other business units." "We can't hire this person because we don't have approved headcount." "We can't...we can't...we can't..."

The funny thing is, these gatekeepers somehow stick around without getting noticed. And when they are noticed, organizations do little to remove them.

Why is that?

Sometimes organizations become insular and comfortable with the status quo. They don't see the gatekeepers because they have become a part of the organization itself. Thus, people within the organization have a harder time seeing these gatekeepers. As a result, the gatekeepers stick around and lay waste to ideation, WOW projects...and overall remarkability.

Sometimes organizations spot the gatekeepers. But then after much lip-service, the effort to eradicate them fizzles and never really achieves its end goal. Most of the time, it's because the effort lacked a champion to help drive the effort through to the end. Everyone in the group effort agrees that it is a worthy cause to go after, but as gets in the way. People have other projects to complete. Corporate silos prevent certain things from happening as smoothly. Bumps along the road cause people to slowly lose passion. And normal. Perhaps some slight modifications are added to the regularity of business as you know it. But nothing too drastic.

I mention all this not to just address business in general (although it applies perfectly to it). I mention all this to also speak to those individuals responsible for the talent within their organization.

Think about the gatekeepers you face on a daily basis.

Is it the sluggish process? Tough to get-in-contact with hiring managers? The incredibly non-user friendly ATS system? The organization's inability to accurately predict how many people to go out and hire?

Fire them. Fire all the gatekeepers. If you need help, you can read this. Or this. Or this. Or this.

And then you can start doing some things that go WOW.

And if you're thinking to yourself, "We don't have too many gatekeepers around here," what's keeping you from doing something remarkable?

Could it be...that you've become a gatekeeper yourself?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Recruiting in The Age of Creation Intensification

If any of you have read any of my previous posts, you've probably read a few where I bash Microsoft for some of their more block-headed moves.

Well, today I want to applaud them for a very smart move.

Today Microsoft is getting ready to announce the availability of software tools for aspiring young game developers. With this move, young generations of game lovers can create their own games on their PCs using XNA Game Studio Express...and then play them on their Xbox 360s or computers running Windows operating systems.

What's even more cool than creating your own video game? How about selling it on Xbox Live for the whole wide world to play? Call it the YouTube for video games.

Obviously Microsoft is hoping that this will create a big push behind its Xbox 360 game system. But something also occurred to me while reading articles about this announcement.

This is a great magnet for young talent.

Whether Steve Ballmer and the rest of the Microsoft crew realize it or not, they're planting seeds in the next generation of game developers with XNA. And what's the first thing that these kids will see as they create numerous editions of their own creations? The Microsoft brand, no less.

Call it a genius marketing ploy.

Or a great PR campaign.

Or...a potentially cool talent pipeline builder for years to come.

It's no different than some of these programs that firms like Deloitte or Intel run for younger generations. Deloitte participates in a program called "Virtual Enterprise" that helps high school students set up virtual businesses with the help of local businesspeople. Intel has long sponsored its "Intel Science Talent Search" in order to identify tomorrow's class of aspiring engineers and math gurus.

These initiatives are all about engaging the New Economy workforce.

And when you engage talent, you're more apt to attract talent.

So it'll be interesting to see how XNA develops through Microsoft's efforts. If Microsoft is smart, they'll figure out how to create this thing into a juggernaut of engagement for talent.

...because in the Age of Creation Intensification, talent is all that matters.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Google Flexes its Muscle

Seems Google just landed a deal with MySpace to provide Internet search and keyword advertising software to the tune of $900 million in revenues (over 3 years) for Fox Interactive's new baby.

As a result of this sweet deal (for Fox), Google beat out Microsoft and usurped Yahoo! for access to MySpace's 52.3 million users.

My question: did Google grossly overpay for MySpace? After all, it has yet to be seen whether MySpace's torrid growth is sustainable over the long term. Google may be celebrating now, but Microsoft may have the last laugh if this proves to be a short-sighted move. But regardless of what happens, you know these two guys in the photo are laughing all the way to the bank...

The good news is Google didn't commit too many years to this deal. So perhaps that's why they were willing to go over the top with a bid, knowing that 3 years in the grand scheme of things isn't that long. Of course, 3 years for anything on the Internet is still pretty long. ;)

My next question: we've got Web 2.0...but are we headed towards a new Bubble 2.0?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Art of Connecting Dots

After writing a few posts about ideation in the HR/Recruiting industries, I got to thinking about some issues that professionals in these jobs face on a daily basis.

One of them is the fact that HR/Recruiting is still not seen as a strategic partner among corporate executive leadership. There have been countless things written about this topic, so hopefully I won't be beating a dead least, not too much. ;)

But it occurs to me that one of the problems is that these two departments (HR and Recruiting) have historically done a horrible job at "connecting the dots." In other words, seeing patterns and themes as they emerge and making sense out of them.

At the most basic level, that's one of the things every leader must do. Make sense of all the "stuff" flying around and then connect the dots for their people. On top of this, great leaders string these threads together faster than anyone else does. They communicate these threads in a manner that makes sense to the people that follow them, and in a manner that motivates them to do something.

Question: how fast can you thread together what you just read on Google News, the conversation you had last night with a colleague in the paper mill industry, a recruiting idea that you just talked about with your team, the latest quarterly earnings statement of your organization...and figure out what you as a leader need to do in order to position yourself, your team, and your organization for what needs to be done in order to survive in the New Economy?

The sad thing is, the recruiting and HR functions I've personally witnessed have always RE-acted to everything. Is this a symptom of something else? Perhaps it means that these functions aren't doing such a great job connecting all the dots. Perhaps these functions are being led by leaders who haven't been able to string the external threads together fast enough to keep up with the rest of the business landscape.

An example? What about the Director of Recruiting within a large Fortune 500 firm that, when asked, can't really articulate what is going on in other functions within the organization? Worse yet, what about when the Director of Recruiting really can't articulate how the actions of other BUs affects his/her department?

Is that an indication that the pulse of the organization is not being kept by such leaders? Or is it an indication of something deeper?

...that perhaps, as numerous people have already said...people in HR and Recruiting just don't "get" business?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Firing Your Internal Clients

In my last post, I gave an example of an organization that utilized "borrowed" best practices from many various industries in order to achieve premier employer branding status. The organization? PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Now I'll give an example of an organization that is doing things a little radically. Keep in mind, however, that this isn't a specific example as it relates to the HR/Recruiting industries. It IS, however, a good example of how re-imagining things can rock your client's world. Thus, it's a great example of what internal HR/Recruiting functions could do to achieve premier status within their respective firms.

If you asked anyone in the advertising world who the hottest firm is right now, the majority would probably say "Crispin Porter + Borgusky!" They've been around since 1965, but it wasn't really until 1999 that this firm really started turning some heads...and creating some raised eyebrows...and some polarization among consumers.

CP+B's most recent campaign involves the venerable Volkswagon brand. This brand has been resurrected twice already by two other firms in previous decades past; now, it's CP+B's turn to re-focus, re-align, and re-imagine a brand that has seen sales drop steadily from a peak in 2001.

So what exactly does CP+B do that prompted me to write about it?

They fire clients who treat them like vendors!

They turn away organizations who don't give it access to every part of the company!

Come again?

As CP+B sees it, everything it does for a client is "with an eye toward gaining media attention for the brand." To that extent, the firm insists that clients break down corporate silos...otherwise, CP+B doesn't feel that the business is worth pursuing.

...not worth pursuing.

Now that would be a novel concept within internal corporate functions.

So I ask this question: what would happen the next time a hiring manager refused to get back to his/her recruiter in a timely fashion, and that recruiter then refuses their "services" to said manager?

Would all hell break loose? Probably.

Would a point be made? Perhaps.

It's a fine line, but I'd be really interested to see if any recruiting or HR function would be daring enough to do this. There's no question that as a recruiter in particular, there are certain inter-dependencies that require attention from a variety of people. If those people don't do their parts in a timely fashion, the whole recruiting process gets mired in a bottleneck that may take days or weeks to get out of. And by then, key talent may have been lost.

If the argument can be made that recruiting/HR will be one of the most important issues in this New Economy, then why can't an internal function demand that internal clients do their part?

Is it any different than how Crispin Porter + Borgusky does business in order to achieve remarkable success?

So there you example of something more "sexy," more paradigm shifting, more intrusive.

The question is: which is the more effective approach?

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Innovation in Recruiting and HR

A while ago, I asked whether the HR/Recruiting space was following one of two lines of thought concerning ideation.

So here's my first jab at that debate: PricewaterhouseCoopers. Consistently listed among the top "ideal undergraduate employers" in Universum Communication's annual employer survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers is a glimpse into how execution and a genuine understanding can help vault an organization's "employer brand" into the stratosphere.

Students consistently cited the firm's care and attention to its employees as a big reason they were sold to come on board. Intern training is another highly recognized program that helps people gain a glimpse into how PwC conducts business from within. Overall, students liked the firm because it "provides a basis for anything that you want to do in life."

And PwC has some cool programs to boot. Flexible Fridays over the summer, tailored performance coaching/mentoring/teaming, and partner-staff relationship programs are just a few of the things that the organization has developed to help its talent grow internally.

So why all the fuss? PricewaterhouseCoopers is an example of an organization that doesn't necessarily focus on that paradigm shifting idea, per se. No...Pwc would rather work around the fringes and create programs based on some best practices already out there, with a tweak or two.

Sexy? No. Effective? No doubt.

More to come...!!!

The End of Social Networking Sites?

Some of you may know that the Senate last week passed a law meant to enforce Internet safety regulations for children and teenagers.

Unfortunately, some of you may also know that this law is an ill-conceived (yet well-meaning) piece of legislation.


Rather than attacking the root of the issue (online predators), it curbs children and teenagers from using social networking sites at public places like schools and libraries. I gotta wonder what the logic is in all this.

It'll be interesting to see how this law affects the popularity of sites like Facebook or MySpace. My guess is it won't drastically undercut the population that's become addicted to these sites. At the same time, however, I wonder if we're cheating people out of potentially using network systems that could be used to foster collaboration and innovation in school settings.

The real problem, in my mind, is not the use of social networking sites at schools or libraries. It's the use of them at home. Which is why I'm confused about why a law such as this was passed, which seemingly does little to eradicate the issue that pervades our world today.