Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Do HR people have value in a Lean Thinking culture? (Part Two)

Let’s be clear. Automated pre-assessment tools that deter unqualified candidates from finishing the application process is a good thing! It reduces the amount of time spent on non-value activities.
But if qualified, talented candidates are not finishing the application process because it is too lengthy or they don’t see a compelling value proposition, your strategic, well placed recruitment media, sourcing, and SEO strategies were all for naught!

Is it the job of HR to figure out how to exclude people in a culture of diversity and inclusion? One should be scared of recruiting processes that filter for exclusion vs inclusion for selection. If top talent can make or break an organization, how often does HR ever ask itself what are they doing that may be an impediment to recruiting it.

Anyway, in the world of automation whether it is monster.com, dice.com or even LinkedIn, HR needs to look at their processes and make them leaner if they are going to win the battle for talent. It goes without saying that the starting point should be the web site that candidates interact with. Below are a few tips that can make things better:

  1. Limit your pre-assessment questions and tools to a few ‘high impact’ questions that eliminate unqualified candidates but are short enough process for your top applicants to finish.
  2. Review your application. Are there questions you can eliminate or ask at a later time once the candidate is engaged in the process? Nothing can be more frustrating than a long, laborious application to fill out!
  3. Are your job postings and online marketing materials compelling? Is there a strong enough value proposition for the candidate to not only start, but also complete the online application process?
  4. For passive candidates, do you provide an online chat feature to allow them to easily gather more information about a position before applying?
Metrics drive the world. If you are experiencing a 30% abandon rate in aggregate, is this good or bad? If your marketing materials aren't compelling and the marketing department focuses on marketing products and services but not talent within the firm, what should you do to influence their approach? Do your job descriptions solely list all of the skills you desire in a candidate and describes the work they will do but doesn't make an emotional connection by describing how they should feel?

There are a lot of questions that HR people should be asking themselves, but aren't. At the end of the day, it is up to HR to also align with the business as IT has a head start and they may not want to be last to the table...

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Monday, November 26, 2012


Do HR people have value in a Lean Thinking culture? (Part One)

Why don’t HR people measure? Surely, they can use many of the best practices learned from the Big Data movement. After all, how many suboptimal timesheet processes exist within large enterprises that can be mined for value beyond their current financial purpose?

How many enterprises make an additional business qualification mandatory for new job postings? Most HR departments do one of two things: They don’t measure anything really or measure every input under the sun with little idea as to why it might be important, and even less idea whose job it is to achieve the output.

Do you measure absenteeism? But of course. Why? We like to know who’s absent. Wrong answer! It should be: we collect and analyze absenteeism statistics to aggregate trends and conclusions for our key business customers so that they can work on reducing absenteeism levels to our 2.4% target.

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Friday, November 23, 2012


Are Information Security Posters another Enterprise Worst Practice?

If you walk the corridor of many large enterprises and peer into the cubicles, you will see an increasing practice of information security posters being hung. A corporate investment in eye-pleasing glossies surely means business.

Reality states otherwise! Why does the glossy not mention the various breaches and information leaks that have happened over the past year? Root cause analysis of majority of the fatalities end up at the ubiquitous "operator error" dead-end. Not one single solitary information security systems audit has addressed root causes or system gaps that have resulted in the fatalities. But there are plenty of posters of Security and Privacy all over the place.

Posters and more posters to implement "communicate, over communicate till the message hits home and results in action". All this is at best wishful thinking. When there are many posters, they will become part of the furniture and people will ignore them. Wouldn't it be fascinating if employees were randomly interviewed in the hallway as to why they hang these posters? I bet many people wouldn't be able to explain security beyond snide remark that some executive felt it was important.

Every bit of communication needs to be well thought out, and certainly not be a space filler or part of some mindless mass campaign with no clear objective. If we are to be successful in evangelizing the importance of information security, it is vital that we assess what each and every poster and visual communication seeks to achieve. To be taken seriously you need to take yourself seriously. In the same way, for visual communication to be taken seriously, it needs to stand out and be connected with other things that are happening at that work place and not be part of clutter.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012


Why you aren't getting full value in attending analyst conferences and webinars

The word conference is derived from the latin word confer. If you look up the definition, you will find something along the lines of: to consult together; compare opinions; carry on a discussion or deliberation. Sadly, industry analyst conferences tend to be highly scripted and filled with static powerpoint in order to stifle different opinions, carry on a discussion or to encourage deliberation...

When I was an employee of The Hartford, I used to speak at a lot of industry conferences on a variety of controversial topics. I, however never spoke at conferences but on by Gartner, Celent or other analyst firms with one exception (more on this later). Gartner did approach me for one of their events, but had asked for something I haven't ran across in other conferences. They wanted to schedule prior to the event, a rehersal session. Rehersal means that they wanted me to get down exactly what I would say to particular questions in advance. I am unsure as to whether this was a compliment or insult. You know, I get to use a teleprompter like Barack Obama to wow the American public enabling me to wax poetically while delivering well-polished bullshit or did they think of me as a B-rated actor in need of acting lessons. Interestingly enough, this behavior isn't contained to just Gartner. As I also frequently participate in many insurance vertical events, I have noticed on more than a few occasions that webinars put on by firms such as Celent, Novarica and others have similar practices where the analysts are reading their responses to moderated questions. As an audience participant, you will find that the questions you may ask, will never be seen by others participants until it goes through moderation. So, much for the definition of conference.

Anyway, to be fair there are a few analyst firms that hold true to the definition of what a conference is meant to be. The two personal experiences, I have had in this regard are with Kuppinger Cole, an analyst firm in Germany and the 451 Group in the United States and London. They manage to hire talent that actually knows their subject matter deeply, who over-prepare and therefore have no fear about getting pummeled with questions they are blissfully ignorant about. The name Kuppinger Cole is derived from the names of two individuals while 451 Group describes something very fascinating. 451 is the temperature that paper burns. I wonder if this a word play on all those other analyst firms who need to burn the scripts that their analysts read on webinars that rob their attendees of higher value...

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Saturday, November 17, 2012


Why do Mobile Phone Users tolerate security worst practices?

Magazines bash Microsoft for their frequent patching of Microsoft Windows (which is a good thing) yet they tolerate almost criminal behavior for their mobile phone providers without ever making the slightest complaint...

Consumers need to slap mobile phone providers silly when it comes to security. Consider this... Google first patches something, and then the mobile device manufacturer (Motorola, Samsung, etc.) vet the patches, and then it goes the respective mobile carriers (AT&T, VZW, etc.) where they supposedly do the same thing. Eventually the patches are rolled out by your mobile carrier.

OK, it's bad enough that the poor user is at the bottom of this long food chain, but to top it off, the mobile device manufactures and mobile carries both have a vested interest in NOT patching your Android smart phone. The reason, is they want you to wait and upgrade to some newer model, meaning more $$ for both of them.

Consumers need to demand changes to this model if we expect information security to protect our privacy and provide us with information security...

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Thursday, November 08, 2012


Is Revolutionary Industry Analysis possible for Vertically Focused Analyst Firms?

Industry Analysts such as James Governor (Redmonk), Tony Bryne (Real Story Group), Ray Wang (Constellation) and Charlene Li (Altimeter) have brought innovation to the world of industry analysis by providing alternative choice, thought leadership and simplier ways to engage an analyst when compared to traditional approaches.

The impact of these thought leaders has done wonders for those who seek out futuristic thinking surrounding horizontal business and technology challenges, yet if your problem is industry vertical in nature, you still have no choice but to accept traditional status quo...

Is it possible to create a new vertical focused analyst ecosystem that will do more than  just  the status quo of giving speeches at industry conferences, producing reports filled with easy to gather survey results and sorting vendors into arbitrary boxes?

If you wanted to create a new Industry Analyst firm focused on industry vertical challenges, what would it feel like? Here are a few models to consider:
When you look at this list, does it somehow wake you up and help you understand not what you are getting but what you are missing?

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Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Project Management Worst Practices (Part One)

Contrary to popular myth, Project Management is not a job, a profession or a career path. It is an illness, a disorder characterized by delusion, specifically a desire to control people and outcomes and a belief that the future can be predicted accurately if only everyone did what they were supposed to do.
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