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Top 100 v1.70 Jay Whitehead
Jay Whitehead creates stories that people live in. A long time resident of the media world, Whitehead is a plot maker who generates big narratives. He sees places where people might spend time and sets about creating the reality. His stories become institutions
Eight and a half years ago, Whitehead launched HRO Today Magazine. After noticing that HR Service companies were exploding and that there was no center to that universe, he started publishing. Ultimately, he built out a professional association and a calendar of events. Today, he continues to play a role in the HRO world.
He’s done the same thing for Corporate Responsibility Officers, Silicon Valley VCs, and PCs. Variously, he was involved with Upside, CMP, PC Magazine, the launch of Apple’s Lisa, HRO Today, and Corporate Responsibility Magazine. He’s the author of The Post-Carbon Economy. His projects always seem to include things like the Top 100 Best Corporate Citizens list (which is the the third most valuable such list after the Forbe’s Best Places to Work and Most Admired Companies lists).
When I say that Jay creates stories that people live in, I mean that his creations take on a life of their own. Where there weren’t gathering places, there are now networks, meetings. publications and so on. Whitehead usually puts his stake in the ground and then other things navigate around it. He seems to generate seed crystal that becomes significant chunks of commercial reality.
For the past decade, he’s been doing it in and around the HR landscape. The mainstream HR leadership simply couldn’t embrace the outsourcing movement. As HR Services and Recruitment Processes became more effectively executed outside the organization, the burgeoning movements needed homes, identities, trade associations, customer forums and so on. Whitehead spotted, energized, organized and executed. His creations create industry frameworks.
Jay says that the threads that tie his life together are
- a fascination with media
- the ability to tell a good story
- a genetic proclivity towards helping others work more effectively.
He’s a testament to the notion that communication skills really matter. Coming from a family of union workers and educators, Whitehead is wired to focus on the development of new centers.
We talked at some length about the trends that drive HR. The Corporate Responsibility movement is merging with HR to create an emerging role that accelerates the overall shift to transparency, according to Jay. While not all companies are suited for a transparent management approach, the ones who aren’t are luddites or laggards. Whitehead sees responsibility, sustainability and clear reporting as the foundation of 21st Century business practice.
As HR full acknowledges the fact that as few as 40% of the people who work for a company are employees, the operating definition of Human Capital will open up. Transparency matters in what are now the majority of employment relationships. Payment timing, contract terms and the firm’s ability to deliver on its promises, long beyond the reach of HR, are coming into focus.
Finally, HR is being used as the lever for virtualization. The people who work for a company, regardless of their relationship type, are increasingly operating at a physical distance from the plant. HR’s role is to figure out the optimal places for virtualization strategy and implementation.
We talked briefly about the people who influence HR. Jay pointed quickly to the CEOs of software companies and senior execs in the large consultancies. The vendors have better visibility into smart approaches and have more control of the look and feel of implementation than any of the folks inside an HR function. Whitehead’s view is that the levers that drive most HR performance are well outside the walls of the company.
As I’ve moved through the process of interviewing people in the Top 100 Influencers project, I’ve noticed this same thing. The people who work in HR are not as influential as those who work on it. Whitehead’s perspective is illuminating. The people who work outside the company’s HR Department all tell stories that people live in.
Whitehead is in the midst of a long term project to run 50 marathons. He’s that kind of endurance player. Up to this point in the Top 100 Influencers in HR project, he’s the player who is farthest outside of the box. He’s also the player with the largest sphere of influence over new and emerging ideas and organizations.
In The Know v1.38 About Those People
It’s surprising how little attention gets paid to the people in an organization. All of the falderal about weighing in on strategy seems to lose sight of HR’s fundamental role: the care, feeding and cultivation of the people in the organization. All tools, from software to compliance regulations are guides in this fundamental mission.
This week’s links are designed to make you think about some of the aspects of the real human part of HR.
- How To Manage Employees When They Make Mistakes
“As a leader you need to have both heat and light in your arsenal. You cannot lead all people all of the time through light. In my experience some individuals are the over-achievers who are looking for stars on their foreheads and thrive on constant positive feedback. For these people you need to lead through *mostly* light. There are other types of people (let’s say, prone to a bit of laziness or procrastination) who tend to be motivated more by fear of being in “trouble” and not wanting to look bad. These people are led better through a bit of heat.” Use disappointment and guilt instead of anger, the author suggests.How does that work for you?
- Jim Holincheck’s Field Trip
Holincheck, the preeminent industry analystin our space, visited PeopleClick/Authoria for their user’s conference. His trip report offers good insight into changing perspectives on Recruiting. As the craft gets professionalized, it is deconstructing into niche expertise. What began as a distinction between sourcers and recruiters is now a framework with multiple moving parts. Holincheck acknowledges Gerry Crispin’s research and analysis.
- The Effect of Mergers and Acquisitions on Employee Engagement
While I remain unconvinced about the whole engagement notion, I’m ready to acknowledge that it’s an interesting thing to consider as a proxy for morale problems that happen in M&A. This article, from the director of Kenexa’s Research Institute, details the terrain. The article is on a site called Changeboard which appears to be a really interesting combination of job board and HR guide.
- The Principle Of Indirection
Increasingly, HR is responsible for basic literacy skills. The schools are not doing a great job of shipping workers with the right skills. This piece talks about fundamental data literacy, particularly communications choices involving links and pointers. The basic idea is that there is real productivity to be gained in the making of simple communications decision like whether to send a list or a link to a list (sending a link is smarter). Some of the generation gap that is showing up at work has to do with the fact that the younger set does some technology intuitively. The older set, who weren’t served as well by their schools, make odd unproductive choices because they haven’t been shown the new literacy.
- Why You Should Care About Your Company’s Culture (via Paul Hebert)
Strategic recognition is the art and science of using incentives to mould and reinforce your desired culture. This is the basic argument.
There’s something about breaking bread that appeals to a timeless side of us. I get the sense from these experiences that it must be just as enriching today as it was eons ago. Over the summer HRExaminer hosted two Salon Dinners in Boston and then New York City. It was a great chance for Human Resources, Talent Management and Recruiting Leaders to catch up on industry trends and practices over a good meal.
As I look back on the photos that Heather captured, I think on the friends I caught up with and made anew, and I smile. Despite all the hard work and travel to bring us together, I want to do it all over again to see you.
Now for some memories that Heather Bussing has captured for us. Enjoy.
First, our event in Boston (links to Boston Photo Gallery)
Salon HRExaminer Dinner Boston
Appearing in these photos: Mike Hennessey, Adam Bleifeld, Kent Plunkett, Neal Bruce, Colin Kingsbury, John Sumser, Kevin Martin, Jim Miller, Mike Hennessey, Via Matta, George LaRocque, Jim Miller, Jay Hargis, Madeline Lurano, Kevin Clark
and next our event in New York City (links to New York Photo Gallery)
Salon HRExaminer Dinner New York City
Appearing in these photos: Jay Whitehead, Steve Levy, Gerry Crispin, Adam Bleifeld, David Manaster, Art Kleiner, Lisa Kloster, Paul Mladineo, Park Ave Bistro, John Sutton, Dave Willis, Jeremy Shapiro, Anne Berkowitch, Mike Hard, Dave Opton, Michael Lee Stallard, Peter Clayton, Linda Galloway, Sig Shirodkar, John Sumser, and George LaRocque
Have you ever seen a demo come off without a hitch? There’s something about the combination of people trying to make a good impression and technology that creates really funny moments. Implicit in the notion of a software demonstration is the idea that there will be some level of failure. All software breaks during a demo. It’s a law of nature.
What’s amazing about those moments of failure is that they show you the true nature of the team behind the software.
When things go wrong, what surfaces is the corporate culture, the way the organization handles problems, embarrassments, and other snafus. More than anything else, what you want to know about a potential subcontractor is how they behave under these circumstances. How people behave during a s**tstorm is one of the most important things you can discover.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve noticed the HRDemo Show logo on the HRExaminer and JohnSumser.com websites. It’s a new project, done in a partnership with sharedXpertise, the events and publishing company. You’ll recognize sharedXpertise as the publisher of HRO Today and other tightly focused periodicals.
The HRDemo Show is all software all the time. Held on the 8th and 9th of December at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, the event is a first of it’s kind. For two days, we will be featuring nothing but demos from the biggest and most innovative firms in the HR Software Industry. Each day, there will be multiple tracks of 6 Hour Long Demos.
At most trade shows, the vendors are a second thought. Shoved into the vendor ghetto, they subsidize the conference hoping for an opportunity to discover interested customers. It’s a numbers game with its roots in direct marketing. If you yell loud enpugh and give away 50,000 plastic objects, you’ll discover some warm leads. The vendor component of the trade show (which is the trade part of the nomenclature) is not very interesting for either the vendors or the participants.
As we envisioned the HRDemo show, we tried to imagine just the opposite. We wanted to create an environment where vendors and customers could really get to know each other. Rather than a screaming throng wedged into a sea of visual and auditory stimulus, we hoped for a thoughtful showcase for competitors. At the HRDemo Show, 400 to 500 customers will divide their time between four choices during each hour of programming.
Each ‘presenter’ will have an hour in which they get to tell their story to an audience that wants to hear it. This approach brings transprency and flair to the sales process. An audience of 125 or so potential clients will all hear the same story and have the opportunity to interact with the teams behind the product.
Rather than a game of who can yell the loudest in the mob, the HRDemo Show will involve a competition on the quality of the product and the character of the team.
If you want to really understand the changing face of the industry and the people who are making it happen, this is the place to spend some time.
On Monday, October 18, I was a part of the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the HR SaaS Consortium. The HR SaaS Consortium is a membership organization devoted to the issues and opportunities surrounding the use of Software as a Service (SaaS) tools by the HR Community. The organization is open to users, prospective users, suppliers, consultants and media people.
The Consortium provides a forum for people to figure out emerging practices in architecture, implementation and deployment of SaaS in HR. The idea is to create a collegial space that allows members to capitalize on each other’s experience. Members have the opportunity to learn about emerging trends in the market and to build a network of contacts with industry leaders.
The transition from on site software which is operated by the customer to leased tools that live ‘in the cloud’ creates a number of opportunities to rethink the use of HRIT people. SaaS deployments alter the scale and schedule of organizational change associated with new installations or new processes.
The HRSaaS Consortium will gather as a part of the HRDemo Show in LAs Vegas (December 8th and 9th). Charter membership in the Consortium is included in the admission price
Purpose: Provide the industry standard forum on HR SaaS education, procurement and performance, delivering specific value to all segments of the HR SaaS community There are three primary audiences and inter-related objectives:
- For current or prospective HR SaaS clients and users: Get advantaged access to learning best practices in performance and procurement of HR SaaS solutions.
- For solution providers: Update existing and prospective clients and users on features and best practices.
- For analysts, consultants, and media: Stay aligned with trends in HR SaaS solution requirements, procurement and use.
Member Benefits will vary by the type of participant, but generally include:
- Access to latest thinking and content from the HR SaaS Consortium, as well as a network of contacts including leaders in all segments of the market
- Access to Executive Seminars through HRSaaS.org
- Access to members-only social networking to facilitate interchange of ideas with membership community
- Charter Member status at HR Demo Show 2010, plus lifetime Charter Member benefits
- Subscription to HRSaaS.org online library of content
- Ability for Analysts, Consultants, and Media to contribute research and white papers
- Subscription to HRO Today Magazine
Announcing: HR Tektonic Awards
The HR Software Ecosystem is a complex maze of silos. There are Fully featured suites, HRIS, Recruiting Tools,Assessment Toolkits, Performance Management Systems, Compensation Management Tools, Learning Systems, Labor Markets, Crowd Sourcing, Collaboration, Workforce Planning and Analytics. Some of these services maintain the status quo while others move the ball forward. In a world where standing still is death and incremental improvement is a baseline strategy, we are looking for the tools that really make a difference.
Technology is changing the way that HR operates and the terrain that it covers. The tools that we are implementing are shaping our views of the function itself. Some of them simply automate existing processes. Others unleash unseen synergies and are the engines of transformation.
At the HRDemo Show this December 8th and 9th, we will announce the winners of the First Annual HR Tektonic awards. These awards are given to companies whose services disrupt and innovate. The awards are given to technologies and suites that change the way the game is played.
Awards will be given in the following categories:
- Talent Management/Recruiting
- Performance Management
- Compensation (Payroll, Benefits)
- HR Social Media
- Vendor Management Solutions
- Workforce Management (time/attendance)
- Workforce Planning
- HRMS Suites
Nominations are due by October 27, 2010. Please e-mail your nomination to Debbie.Bolla@SharedXpertise.com. The application process for nominated software providers involves the completion of an online questionnaire by each nominee by 5 customers, the submission of an analyst report and a description of why their product is disruptive. The application process must be completed by nominees by November 19, 2010.
The award winners will be featured in the December issue of HRO Today Magazine and on the HRExaminer.