Table of Contents
Precise forecasts are always wrong. The old line, often attributed to Eisenhower, is “The plan is nothing, the plan is everything.” That means that the plan will always fail in the field. But, the planning process is the only way to come close to guaranteeing preparedness. Planning is essential. Believing the plan is folly.
That’s where scenario planning takes its cues. A scenario is never designed as a way to get to a precise prediction. Rather, it’s the only successful method for making the planning process account for the stuff outside the envelope.
The way to use a scenario (or, a set of five) is to suspend belief and assume that what you are reading is an accurate description of the future. From there, you consider your current view and examine it to see if the scenario sheds any new light. This is how Shell Oil, alone amongst its competitors, was able to profitably navigate the oil crisis of the 70s. Since then, the technique is widely used in situations where making future plans is important.
Scenarios are supposed to help you think outside of the box.
Scenarios emerge from a ground of current trends. While the economic situation dominates the public consciousness, a large number of things are undergoing structural change. These trends will drive the evolution of Recruiting into the future.
Here are the major trend areas and their key sub components:
Overall – The Northern hemisphere is getting older; the southern is getting younger
- Guild cities: Increasingly, people move to cities where other people in the same profession work.
- Aging Boomers: Career changes in light of a realistic retirement age of 75
- New work styles: Telecommuting, independent contractor status, portfolio jobs
- Educational Choice: Fewer and fewer technologists, more and more liberal arts
- Supervision: Increasingly younger workers are supervising their parents’ peers
- Organizational Design:
Overall – The post-industrial organization is emerging; it looks more like a coral reef than a supply chain
- Flattening: Networks obliterate hierarchies
- Synergies: More and more work is hard to describe and multifunctional
- Contract Management: The key to intra-organizational communications and vendor management
- Matrix Management: More bosses for everyone is becoming the norm
- Culture: Recruiting and mobility programs that favor culture over expertise
Overall – Regardless of size, all companies are global.
- Work hours and work week: redefined to customer – colleague convenience
- Talent: Finding the right person is no longer a ‘single origin’ question
- Value: Created in the place with lowest cost/highest effectiveness
- Culture: Sensitivity is a technical issue. Naming data properly is critical in cross-cultural workforces
- Economic Environment – Some reason to believe that the New Normal means slower growth
Overall: The flow of technology not only remains overwhelming but increases
- SaaS: Zero external investment and the promise of technology agility make SaaS the tool of the time
- Search: Emergence of Recruiting databases that precede the Applicant Tracking System
- Mobile: Sourcing is a mobile business
- HTML5: Websites fight back; the future is not all Social Media
- Implementation: Contract administration is a core HR discipline
- Acquisition: Requirements documentation and internal change management are core HR capabilities
- Enterprise: Unwieldy ‘big iron’ systems take heat from more agile SaaS tools
- CRM: Recruiting workflow is about maintaining relationships; plucking the fruit out of the orchard
- Social Media
Overall: Twitter nation or twitterbation. The jury is still out
- Blogging: Preceded the rise of the kind of journalism that isn’t so ‘ism’
- Death of Publishing: The niche editor is the new power broker
- Social Graph: The new background check and referral system
- Collaboration: The promise of a voice for everyone is overextended
- Job Boards: Finding their ground. Job boards aggregate opportunity and opportunists in a way that has no peer.
- Search For Better Returns
Overall: Leaner, meaner businesses pursue effectiveness relentlessly
- Outsourcing: If it’s a process, it will be outsourced. Cost always wins when value is equal
- Definition of Employment: 40% of the workforce is independent by 2020
- HR Metrics: Emergence of proactive HR metrics that drive organizational performance
- Lean Disciplines: Ever increased focus on bottom line results
- Energy and Sustainability
Overall: Energy and sustainability practices will shape the workplace
- Energy choice: Determines where we work
- Energy Source: Shapes technology
- Telecommuting: Perfected through Globalization
- Foundation: Many trends (above) depend on energy price and availability
The first step in getting this process right involves getting your help to cover all of the important underlying trends. What did I miss? What do you think should be on the list?
Trends are one part of the equation. Next week, I’ll draw a very simple map of the marketplace that allows us to have a conversation about how the future impacts specific areas.
The Five Scenarios project is sponsored research that ends with a presentation, a conversation and a white paper. PinstripeTalent is our first sponsor.
In The Know v1.03
Five links to expand your definitions and challenge your assumptions
- Amy Mullins and Her 12 Pairs of Legs
Mullins was born without fibular bones, and had both of her legs amputated below the knee when she was an infant. Watching the video is a ten minute instruction in human capability. It raises the question, “Why isn’t human improvement and optimization the core of HR?” Mullins is an example of transformative returns from an investment in Human Capital.
- Intelligence Integration in Palantir
This is the next level of analytical tools being made necessary by the data tsunami. Soon, our analysis of workflow, requirements, biz ops and workforce deployments will resemble this toolset currently proposed for Intelligence in Afghanistan. Without being heavy handed, there is clear similarity between the way you use information to manage a counter-insurgency and the way you plan for, acquire and utilize human capital. The key is knowing the environment, watching emerging trends and having open source data collection capabilities. That way, relevant content gets under the microscope at the right time.
- Have Women Changed The Workplace?
A recent article in the Economist declared victory in the ongoing battle for gender equality. This piece says hold on a second.
- Where were you during the war?
Does the Google departure from China signify the beginning of the time when companies and countries went to war with each other? Another piece suggests a range of motives for the decision. What’s clear is that the playing field is changing before our eyes.
- The Age of External Knowledge
If you want a heady diet of ideas, check out Edge’s annual question. One of the more interesting answers this year suggests that the key to understanding our times is knowing that knowing where to look is better than knowing the answer. The era of external knowledge is the idea that we can really put our minds to work if we let the machines handle the minutiae.
Last week’s piece on Infohrm was the first of three. I’ve been having a great conversation blended with demos. The company, which has roots in Australia and in Washington, DC, is an interesting amalgam. Part of what they do is provide software in a classic SaaS (Software as a Service) subscription model. Over that, they layer an effective implementation consulting team.
Making metrics of any form work in an organization is, first and foremost, a planned change project. Metrics can be threatening. They introduce new levels of accountability and transparency where there was once a more comfortable way of doing things. The process of introducing metrics always creates a reaction. It’s just like any change in the status quo.
From my perspective, Infohrm offers two sorts of services: Workforce Planning /Analysis and Standard Metrics. (That may well be because that’s how I started to look at the company. I don’t believe that they offer separate product lines. The third part of this series will cover the baseline Metrics toolset).
At Infohrm, they believe that workforce planning is supposed to be ‘directionally correct’. That is, too much precision voids the utility of a good workforce plan. Rather than explicit forecasts of headcount, Infohrm facilitates a process that results in useful insights. Executives get a better sense of how to allocate resources when they do workforce planning with Infohrm. The Infohrm workforce planning tools help companies get their arms around current skills inventories and emerging needs.
Great workforce planning is where HR stops being a cost center and starts acting like a player in the business conversation.
At it’s heart, the Infohrm tool set cobbles together data from vast uncoordinated data resources into a single set of metrics and dashboards. The workforce planning toolkit works like that. They like to say that evidence based decision making is what they make possible.
The dashboards themselves are intuitive and simple.
Part of the amazing value associated with the Infohrm product line is embedded benchmarking. While I’d argue that benchmarking is the road to mediocrity, having a clear picture of industry practices is quite useful. Infohrm anonymizes data so that all of its members can benefit from seeing a bigger picture.
Using the Infohrm Workforce planning toolset, an HR leader can quickly move into an advisory role, helping other leaders understand the actual feasibility of strategic plans. Infohrm provides a method for making the process systematic.
When we complete the Infohrm evaluation in a couple of weeks, we’ll look at the overall package.
On The Go v 2.03
Watching successful careers to understand what it takes to be a VP of HR.
- Monica Chestnut Rauls (SPHR) has joined Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) as the new Vice President of Human Resources. Rauls has over 20 years in healthcare and human resources positions. Prior to her arrival at PBMC, Ms. Rauls held the positions of Assistant Executive Director at Forest Hills Hospital, Human Resources Business Partner at North Shore University Hospital – Manhasset and key positions in Finance. An alumna of Herbert H. Lehman College in the Bronx, Rauls is an active member of the Society of Human Resource Management and the Executive Women’s Golf Association. She is a member of the SHRM Long Island Chapter Workforce Readiness Committee.
- Directors of technology must look like good human resources leaders. For the second time in three years, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Roelle is recommending that the Katonah-Lewisboro school district’s director of technology — in this case, Carol Ann Lee — be promoted to assistant superintendent for human resources. Ms. Lee was named director in 2008, after former director of technology Jocelyn Humphries was promoted to the same position.
- Comcast promoted Grace Killelea to the new post of senior vice president of talent for Comcast Cable. Killelea previously had been vice president of talent management and leadership initiatives for Comcast Cable and vice president of human resources for Comcast Spotlight.
- Top 100 Influencer Steve Boese recently joined Knowledge Infusion. Steve will be leading the product strategy, tools, and thought leadership for the forthcoming KI OnDemand service. Steve will play a critical for Knowledge Infusion to transform the advisory and consulting market by developing knowledge, tools, insights, and an open innovation community. Steve comes to Knowledge Infusion with an extensive background in HR, payroll, financials and procurement applications consulting. He has led implementation teams deploying technology solutions including Oracle iRecruitment, Self Service, General Ledger, and SAP R/3. More recently, Steve has done an amazing job building the HR Technology program as a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
- Danette Heffner has been promoted to vice president and director of human resources. Heffner began her career at Citizens National Bank in 2008 as deputy human resource manager. In her newly expanded role she will assume direct responsibility for managing the bank’s human resource department. Heffner has 13 years of experience as director of human resources during her tenure in the banking industry. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Tyler.
Social Media has turned a range of things upside down. Like all publishing innovations, the baton passes first to the heaviest users. It’s only time that rearranges the players to adequately reflect real value. In the early days, like now, the opportunity for young unknown players to make their mark is significantly different than it is at other times.
Kurt Lewin, the psychologist founder of force field analysis and action research, is credited with the “Freeze-Unfreeze-Freeze” model of social transformation. In that view, the status quo is held in place by a series of counterbalancing forces. Change is only possible when there is an interruption in the force field. The window for change is short and closes as a new status quo emerges.
That’s where we are. The old order is undergoing an unplanned rapid evolution driven by the arrival of new social media tools. Yes, there’s a lot of noise. Yes, there’s a lot of well intentioned crap. But, new paths of influence are being created while we watch. Today, it is possible for a young person with limited experience to command the attention and bandwidth of an entire profession.
There are all sorts of new and interesting phenomenon. Trolls, people who look to interrupt conversation for the joy of conflict and the love of their own voice, have free reign in an environment that tries to be egalitarian. Wikipedia describes a Troll “someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” As yet, there are few governance mechanisms that allow administrators to deal with the disturbance.
One of the interesting challenges facing us all is how to tell the difference between what’s important and what’s the result of a Troll or an overenthusiastic geek with diarrhea of the mouth. There are amazing nuggets of novel insight and truth hiding in plain sight. The noise, growing more severe as blogs continue to proliferate, obscures much of what’s potent. At the same time, more and more amazing stuff is just under the radar.
I spent an hour talking with Lance Haun about how he finds new and interesting material in the deluge of information. Lance’s formula is that a piece has be about solving a unique problem by a unique person. He searches and sifts for exactly this kind of information. “The net is cluttered with repetitive topics and lists of stuff. I’m looking for something authentic that works.”
What Lance thinks matters. One of the top two or three voices in the online HR environment, Haun is nearly everywhere. He blogs, he talks, he chats, he advises. He has been able to convert a young career into a platform for developing expertise for a couple of reasons. One, he’s willing to work late into the night, well after his HR job at a startup is done. Two, he asks questions, looks for answers and celebrates the new.
As number 3 in the Top 25 Online HR Influencers, Lance was described as:
“Lance Haun is one of the industry’s most prolific bloggers. He practices what he preaches by reaching back and reevaluating what he says. One of the folks who is working in HR while writing about it, Lance predicts that 2010 will be the year of the HR Rock Star. He’s one of them. Recently, he began working for MeritBuilder as their VP of outreach. He’s in the business of “Helping companies understand and influence their culture and employee engagement through positive and portable recognition.”
In Lance’s view, it’s all the product of hard work. I asked him if he actually had a social life. He allowed that he likes to sleep late on Sundays and squeezes in a social life before he works through the night.
His current company, Merit Builder is a startup in the recognition program space. Lances is enthusiastic about the product, the project and the team. He’s enjoying a level of influence that few people his age have tasted in this profession.