Table of Contents
Marriott’s coup (launching the first real game for employment branding purposes) is going to spawn an enormous wave of nonsense. Built on painstaking reasearch and as a part of a massive problem solving process, the Marriott game is the conclusion of a rigorous process. In a later column, I’ll tell you about the deep investigation that preceded the decision to build a game.
But, that’s not the answer that most software developers want to hear. If it takes expensive research and custom analysis, it’s really hard to license. So, the games will be delivered in advance of problem definition in an awful lot of cases. The mantra of gamification will be repeated, ever loudly in case you didn’t get it the first time.
The silly trend about the so called gamification of daily life will take extraordinary twists. While there is an important lesson to be found in game mechanics, it’s not an idea that will be useful most places. Before it’s all said and done, we’ll see attempts to gamify almost every imaginable bit of mundane minutia.
Most software products and services are developed in the absence of clear understanding of the customers. That’s a good part of why technology adoption rates are so low in practice. As the Software as a Service (SaaS) model shoves success metrics off on the customer, new and exciting approaches to getting user level buy in will be trotted out.
You can bet that gamification is going to figure prominently in the misguided attempts to automate stakeholder commitment.
Instead of wondering why we ask employees to do stupid things, we are about to be deluged with gimmicks that try to motivate with fake money, fake status and fake accomplishment.
Here are some of the kinds of things you should expect to see.
In this game, players are incented to complete the corporate data collection process. A series of badges and titles are awarded to people who fill in expense accounts and the web of HR documents on time (or at all).
- Succession Plans and Zombies
This game is for all of the people who know that they could do a better job than the current management team. Each person is allowed to construct their own corporate succession plan. Then, players wager a percentage of their paycheck on the outcome.
- Angry Boss
Players throw various kinds of boss at pigs. Each level includes a hidden agenda that can be discovered by flipping the boss off properly.
- World of Workcraft
Nothing much actually gets done in this game. But, there are lots of meetings and if you go to enough of them, you can give advice to novices.
- Talent Management Bingo
Who are the most valuable people in the organization? All employees are issued a bingo chart. Numbers are called based on meritorious accomplishment. Unless you are the management team’s favorite. Then you just get to fill it out yourself.
- Wage Slave Trader
Employees earn points for getting to work on time, limiting facebook usage, actually doing work, and eating lunch at the desk. No one wants to be the Mayor of tardy.
Checking in has never been more fun. Monthly bonuses given to the players who leave their desk the least.
Your virtual employee is really the new guy in the department. Help him grow by feeding him orientation papers, HR forms, inside tips about brown-nosing effectiveness and
guides to the best bathroom stalls.
Reviews of food from the company cafeteria and the roach coach.
- Mr. Golden Boy
Points for delegating your to do list the fastest. Lose points for any task left on your list at the end of the first coffee break.
- Sourcer’s Surprise
Sourcers find new candidates then cast resume and interview spells to make them perfectly fit job requirements. The goal is to get paid before the spells wear off. (oops, we already have that one).
Can you think of any other internal processes that will benefit from gamification?
I listened in to a recent Recruiting Animal Radio Show featuring Bill Boorman as the guest. I track Michael Kelemen (the Animal) pretty closely. He has a knack for being on the edge of the competitive recruiting game without drinking absolutely all of the bathwater.
Boorman, if you don’t know, is an amazing guy. He is helping to shape the the face of Recruiting Innovation. Boorman’s international unconferences and cutting edge social recruiting projects set real benchmarks. He’s on our Top 100 influencers list. He was the point man on technology
The conversation was rounded out with input from Jerry Albright who always jumps on stuff that works while maintaining a suspicious eye on shiny new toys. Lots of people think Albright is the smartest guy in Recruiting.
The longer I listened, the more I realized that there is a real disconnect in the marketplace.
Boorman captured the essence of this problem when he said, "People who still publish books about job hunting are stealing money from their readers. The technology changes so fast that a book is out of date the moment it is published. Responsible career coaches should publish eBooks and update them very regularly."
That’s the sort of hyperbole you hear from technology evangelists.
So, the problem is that job hunting advice is bad because the software companies are moving quickly and changing their functionality? That seems like blaming the victims to me.
I suppose that means that Recruiters are out of date and irresponsible because they’re busy recruiting and can’t keep up with the flurry of features and functionality. That seems like another round of blaming the victims.
Maybe, there’s something really wrong with the pace of technology. You could be forgiven for simply giving up and waiting for things to settle down. Perhaps, the rate at which features are being added makes it impossible to effectively utilize the tools that are emerging. Perhaps a piece of software that needs to add new features so routinely that users can’t keep up with it was broken before it was launched.
This is an increasingly common complaint from users about technology.
Agile software development and continuous streams of competitive features (without regard to the actual needs of users) is driving people away from Firefox 5 and the latest editions of Microsoft Office. While subscription based software is all the rage, little is known about the users’ ability to keep up with the flow of changes. That doesn’t seem to stop the uninterrupted (and impossible to understand) flow of features and functions
Recruiting is a particularly interesting case.
At the hyper-competitive edges of the battle for great talent, it’s important to be aware of and using the latest in technology. That’s where those candidates are. It’s not so important for other kinds of Recruitment.
There’s no real reward for being at the bleeding edge unless you absolutely have to be. The problem isn’t a failure of career-coaches or so called laggard recruiters. Rather, our amazing scouts at the far edges of the profession are frustrated with the pace of technology adoption by the infrastructure.
Today’s article comes from Auren Hoffman, the CEO of Rapleaf and an angel investor in more than 30 technology companies. You can catch more of Auren’s insight at Summation
Position Players verses All-Around Athletes
Hiring managers face a dilemma similar to coaches: Should you hire someone who’s really good at one particular thing – or someone who is more of an all-around player? The question is: should a company optimize on experience (people you are confident that will get a specific task done) or on potential (people who are great all-around athletes but not as good at a task you need to get done now)?
Above all else, you should always hire A-Players exclusively. Never hire people that are “good-enough.” You want GREAT people in your organization — people that you love work with and people you’d walk through walls for.
The Position Player
The position player is someone who is amazing at one core thing that your company needs. A professional football team has a ton of position players. These are some of the best people in the world at their position (and they are highly compensated because of it).
When building a great football team, you need a great quarterback, linebacker, wide receiver, kicker, coach, groundsperson, doctor, and more. You need people that are incredibly good at one key role and do it great consistently.
The All-Around Athlete
The all-around athlete is someone that is good at many positions but may not the very best at any particular position (like a winner of the Olympic decathlon). A great athlete on the field is someone that has burst speed, endurance, hand-eye coordination, court-sense, and is a team-player. In a company, a great all-around athlete is likely someone who is crazy smart, works really hard, has a great attitude, communicates well, and is a team-player.
So should your organization recruit the Position Player or the All-Around Athlete?
Answer: it depends on where your company is now.
If your company is in scaling mode and you know what you are going to be doing for the next three years, you should optimize for position players. While great position players are usually very expensive, they know how to do get their thing done extremely well.
If you are putting together the world’s best football team, you know you are going to need a great kicker. It is going to be extremely hard to win without someone who can kick long field goals consistently, so it is extremely important that you find this person. A kicker is highly specialized (they are probably not going to play any other position) and would be extremely difficult to retrain.
So you only want to invest in getting a kicker if you are sure you will need one for the years to come.
Suppose your company is an ad network looking to build a portfolio of publishers. Someone who’s extremely familiar with the internet advertising space (perhaps someone who has helped build publisher networks in their last two jobs) would be the ideal choice. They won’t come cheap, but they may have the experience to attract world-class publishers.
Change mode (pivoting)
When you are in start-up mode (which might be for many years depending on the company), your business model is likely to change frequently as you pivot based on customer research and an evolving market. When you are in change mode, it’s best to optimize for hiring all-around athletes.
There’s no sense spending time and effort recruiting the best field-goal kicker if next year you decide you want to play basketball instead of football. Avoiding early mistakes – and how to step on the gas One of the common mistakes start-ups make is to immediately bring position players on board.
It’s a risky proposition.
While hiring position players will significantly increase the chance of success for your current model, it gives you little room to pivot. Any significant change in your business model might force you to swap out your team. If you are tech company in change mode (or even if you are developing a "start-up" within a large company), start by finding talented software engineers. (Regardless of the company’s shifts, it’s a safe bet you’ll need people that can write great code.)
Don’t get too specialized, though.
If you hire a killer iPhone developer, that may backfire if you end up building back-end billing systems for large businesses. For non-engineers, change-mode companies should optimize for people who are really smart, get stuff done, and can easily communicate complicated concepts. These people are likely going to be valuable in any setting.
When you finally enter scaling mode, you’ll be well-positioned to accelerate by hiring key position players. You’ll also likely have found that many of your all-around athletes have morphed into position players themselves. With a few additional hires, you can augment their strengths.
If your company is on a straight road and you want to accelerate growth and propel the company forward, add position players. If the road ahead is cloudy, optimize for all-around athletes.
Just as I hit the pothole in front of the shuttered Borders, the Radio newsflash says that Amazon is canceling the associates program in California. Over 10,000 people curated Amazon stores to offer their friends and readers goods through Amazon in exchange for a small slice of the transaction. The notice was abrupt and instantaneous.
Amazon terminated their program in order to avoid paying California sales tax. Under a recently passed law, any retailer with an observable physical footprint in the state is required to collect sales tax. Rather than acting like a good corpoate citizen, Amazon huffed off the playing field leaving disappointed customers and associates.
What the behavior makes clear is that Amazon is not able to compete with the likes of WalMart and Target based on economic performance. The internet giant is so dependent on the implicit subsidy that it has to weasel its way out of the legal requirement for doing business in California.
It’s sort of what you come to expect. Subsidies are never temporary, are they? Any time you try to cause a subsidized group to come up to par with the rest of its peers, you get a lot of guff and a ton more bad behavior.
Apparently, the freedom from collecting sales tax is an entitlement. Amazon is huge and no longer requires the subsidy. These are hard economic times and the tools necessary to get something started just aren’t going to work the same in this environment.
So, I’m going to find Amazon alternatives. I want to do business with companies that honor and respect the communities they serve. It’s a harsh environment and my community needs it’s members to help out. By refusing to participate, Amazon is telling the world exactly where their priorities are.
File this under employment branding.
The recent LinkedIN API dustup (they blocked Monster, Branchout and a host of others from using ‘their data’) and Facebook’s decision to limit the exporting of Friend data are gearshift moments. (A gearshift moment is a predictable part of evolution: once your engine is moving at a certain speed, you shift gears). They indicate the realities of the future of social media.
The issue has been pooh-poohed as boring; and dramatized as war. The whole thing will never have the attention of more than a few hundred OCD followers of the tea leaves. One could be excused for seeing the actions as simple exercises in competitive dynamics.
This move by LinkedIn will not greatly hurt either BranchOut or Monster’s services in any big way — importing a resume was just a convenience for their users, who can still create profiles the old-fashioned way. But its a clear sign that LinkedIn recognizes that these services are taking aim squarely at its market, and that it won’t just roll over and let them do it.
While the vendors posture amongst themselves and for their bankers, I’m wondering something different.
This weekend, I invested a bunch of time trying to figure out Google+, the new ‘Facebook killer’. Like any new digital tool, the thing only works if you use it. You can only make sense out of what it does when you try to solve a problem that will harness one or more features. Throughout the process, I wanted to be able to harvest the investments I’ve made at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Guess what? It’s really hard to leverage the actual work I’ve done. I can’t easily import or export pictures, tags, comments, friends, links, connections, recommendations or messages. I can’t build on the actual work I’ve done. Somehow, the fact that I’ve worked within a system gives the owner of that system what amounts to a virtual title to my work.
I don’t like it very much. I want more control over my work product. I want my investment to be worth more than zero if I choose to move to a new place.
What are my options? I can destroy it. I can export it into a form that can’t be imported elsewhere. I can copy and paste stuff (if the old material is even available). But I can’t seamlessly build on the work that I’ve done.
That’s a bad idea.
In the beginning of the Internet explosion, there were a lot of closed systems. Compuserve, Prodigy, AOL, the Well each had their turn in the limelight. Several of them grew to astonishing size and clout.
All of them peaked and failed. Why? They were closed systems with no way out.
And so, what we’ve learned this week is that we are dealing with a bunch of closed systems that are going to peak and fail
It’s easy with “All You Can Post” from Beyond.com, the world’s largest network of niche career communities. Advertise all of your jobs on all relevant sites across the network for a low fixed price.
“All You Can Post” is based on your specific recruitment needs, so you won’t overpay. In fact, our quarterly trial is a great way to stretch your remaining 2011 recruitment budget.