Thursday, 26 March 2015

Investors in People VI: Outperformance



I posted earlier that I'd previously worked for a Training & Enterprise Council where my role was mainly focused on Investors in People - being an advisor, assessor, internal verifier and centre manager.

After leaving the TEC I became an independent consultant, still working on IIP as well as other HR areas, and doing this for two years before joining EY.  I traded as Strategic Dynamics (a company which I restarted again ten years later, ten years ago, and still work within today.)

As HR Director at EY amongst a variety of other things I led the firm's IIP project.

Then at Penna (previously Crane Davies) I led our support for IIP which involved redeveloping the standard and designing one of the new modules.  We looked at outsourcing workforce development support from some of the Learning & Skills Council offices which had taken over from the TECs and when I left were in the process of setting up a new National IIP Centre.

Last year, I bid to the IIP team now at UKCES, as part of a team from IES, to develop the sixth generation of the IIP standard.  However, although we were interviewed we lost out to PA Consulting.

Still, I know quite a bit about and am a longstanding, fairly loyal supporter the standard and if you're interested, here are my thoughts about Framework VI:




Firstly, the main issue about IIP as a best practice benchmarking tool is to balance something which will stretch leading organisations, eg those that have been accredited for 25 year now, and a large proportion or more average and often smaller companies.  I think the chosen tagline of 'outperformance' is suitably vague enough to achieve both these objectives.  It'll help with the marketing and on this, I'm also glad the team managed to avoid any temptation to call the new generation framework IIP 6.0!




I've not seen all the detail on the standard so I can't comment on how well it models what is important today.  A lot of it is obviously based upon Andre de Waal's ideas about high performing organisations, which I find a bit odd, but probably does give the update a more robust basis than would have been possible to research from scratch within the project budget.




Linked to this is a need to balance being tight enough to be meaningful and useful, and loose enough to be appropriate to a very broad range of organisations and approaches. However the general move within business and society has been towards increased flexibility and the reduction from 28 to 24 to 10 and now to 9 indicators have all been part of this movement.  9 indicators should help organisations work with the standard but may prove to be one step too far?  On the other hand, there are three themes for each indicator (which almost takes us back up to 27 indicators again.)


The integration of bronze, silver and gold level into the main standard to form a maturity model is a bit more of a worry.  I'm not actually a fan of maturity models in any context but particularly in one like this seems to be to impose quite a bit of potentially unhelpful structure.  Do leaders really need to be passionate about delivering the organisation’s objectives and motivating people to deliver against them (stage 3 - advanced) before they can motivate and inspire people to achieve results above and beyond what is expected of them (stage 4 - high performing)?  I'm not sure.  However this probably does help the standard meet the need to support both high and lower levels of outperformance which I noted above.




Linked to the above point on flexibility, I think it's good that IIP is continuing to present itself as a flexible tool where "it’s important to conduct the assessment your way.  With online, offline and options that integrate with your existing staff survey: it’s simpler than you think to start measuring the impact of your investment in people... and achieving Investors in People."  That's a lot better than all the palaver which existed when I worked for the TEC.



It's a big change in the standard and only time will tell how well it takes on.  But this change is probably less risk than no change at all, and even if framework VI doesn't take organisations in quite the direction I'd have pointed them in, I'm sure it'll be close.  More organisations need to start and continue on this journey.  I hope the new framework helps.

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#AHRINC Speaking in Sydney on the New HR




I'll be speaking on the New HR at the Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI)'s National Convention on 27th August.

I'm on with Ram Charan and Dave Ulrich so it should be a good, lively event!

By the way, if you've not seen any of my earlier posts on the New HR, I'm defining this as managing groups of people not just single individuals.  Old HR was managing employees, New HR is managing communities.  So New HR focuses on social capital rather than human capital.  And it redefines the title of our profession, HR, as a focus on Human Relationships.

This seems to come up all the time these days.  For example, Dave has just suggested the future HR operating model is about relationships.  I agree, but think the most important relationships aren't those between HR and the rest of the organisation but between everyone working in the organisation.  We all need love maps!

Or what about the various conversations about performance management?  Much of this is about the need to focus on the role of teams.  For example at HR Tech Europe yesterday it was suggested that performance ratings be replaced by reputational status within an organisation.

Or take reward.  The CIPD have now suggested most of what we do in reward is a waste of time, and of course, money.  Why? - well as I was tweeting with Charles Cotton, the CIPD's Head of Reward yesterday, it's because we try to pay individuals for performance when the basis for this performance is collective effort.

We need to move on...

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Marcus Evans Talent Capability and Performance Development




I'll be running this training session on talent management in Kuala Lumpur on 1st and 2nd June:
It is the people identified as talent who are going to drive their organisations through the current difficulties and beyond. But many of them may not be planning to stay! So how do you retain this critical resource?
Generating superior business performance in difficult times calls for innovated and integrated approaches to talent management (for example, actions to develop talent need to be supported by strategies to reward and engage, so that those we have invested in will stay.) Attend this workshop to learn how to redesign and update talent management for today's context and your organisation s specific challenges and opportunities.
Learn how talent can be developed in a way that helps drive the success of your HR strategy and organisation. In addition to the interactive learning modules, this event will also be showcasing case studies and up-to-date thinking from around the world.

Come along if you can or let me know if you just want to meet up.

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Employment, Skills and Energy




I've just started blogging for the UK's Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) which I'm thrilled to do, particularly as one of my former roles was with a Training & Enterprise Council - one of the bodies involved in an earlier attempt at stimulating skills development, employment and productivity.

My first post for UKCES developed out of another former role as a chemical engineer and concerns employment and skills in the Energy sector: "Energy and Purpose - how skills keep our lights on."

The report suggests that the supply of talent isn't keeping up with demand, with the resulting gap being made worse by an ageing workforce; lack of young and female entrants; and the challenge of new skills.  But there is also the changing nature of the Energy workforce which is becoming increasingly mobile and more contract based meaning that it often receives less long-term investment than it needs.

We therefore need some innovative and ideally collaborative approaches.  I particularly liked the strategies included in the report of targeting areas of high unemployment and either relocating to these areas or providing packages for people to work away from home, and also of transferring skills from older to younger, entry level employees.

But I think we also need Energy firms to provide a compelling career for the people they need to recruit.  Doing this rests upon companies being really clear about what roles and skills are going to be most vital to their future and using this clarity to drive workforce and succession planning to develop a good understanding of potential gaps between supply and demand for talent.  This planning then needs to be followed by whatever actions are required to give people the skills and roles they need to take advantage of opportunities within the sector.  This might include, for example, offering opportunities to work abroad which fit an employees’ personal needs rather than finding that they leave to move overseas of their own accord, or requiring people to move abroad solely in response to business needs - which often results in these employees leaving a firm and potentially the sector.

I make a few other suggestions for improvement in the blog and there are plenty of recommendations in the report.  Take a look...

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

#SWDS15 - Workplace Design at Google, Ebay and Airbnb



(the solar eclipse in Amsterdam - apparently)


I’ve already posted on the HR experts panel at Fleming’s Smart Workspaces Summit - now for a review of some of the other sessions and my main learnings.

I see strategic HCM as a very human centric way of doing HR and have been posting recently on human centric approaches to engagement and learning.  So you won’t be surprised to hear that I was particularly drawn towards Nigel Oseland’s inputs on Human Centred Design.

We started this session with Tim Oldman’s findings for the Leesman Index that only 53% of employees say their workplaces help them be more productive.

Dealing with this requires that we design for a human scale - not cramming too many people in on small desks.  And that we design for the issues I discussed in my last post (collaboration and creativity etc), not for cost!  We also need to provide variety and flexibility for all individuals.

But we also need to accomodate individual needs and psychological factors.  We select different personality types and then bung people together in the same workplace.  But people are different.  Extroverts prefer breakouts, bars and huddles.  Neurotics prefer quiet and private meeting rooms.  Open minded prefer 1:1 and huddles.  And both open and extroverts dislike formal meeting rooms.

We design for the 'extrovert ideal' and ignore the introverts, which is particularly stupid as the extroverts are always out of the office.

It's why I thought Jacqui Grey's session on neuroscience was such an excellent start to the conference - although Jacqui felt that fixed / growth mindsets is a bigger issue for workforce transformation than Nigel's introvert / extrovert point.


Frans Van Eersel, Facilities Manager, Benelux and Poland, Google, Netherlands

I don’t know if Nigel was thinking about Google but they certainly have a very stimulating environment, even in the Netherlands.

At Google, workplace design is about providing Googlers with a happy, healthy and high performing environment.  This is largely about providing choice and accessibility but everyone has their own workspace - there's no hoteling.  People (Frans actually called them users) can personalise their workspaces to provide a sense of belonging eg teams put up flags of their home countries.

Google also try to reduce friction, so for example they providing a tech shop in case people have forgotten a charger etc,

And there’s a big focus on health and wellbeing - allowing for rejuvenation and relaxation spaces, encouraging movement and healthy eating, providing ergonomic setup and focusing on indoor environmental quality (IEQ) - air, noise, daylight etc.  For example there’s a healthy materials programme trying to avoid paints full of toxins etc and limiting the sorts of irritations and allergies and don’t really know where they come from.

Healthy food is provided almost 24/7 - not so much to attract talent but because they wanted their engineers to live healthier rather than having pizzas in the basement.  And because good food stimulates creativity and innovation and also when they sit on long tables they will interact with others, perhaps the CEO or other teams.

There are also nap pods for people to take a quick ten minutes after lunch.  Rejuvenation is also supported by an extensive massage programme and fitness centres.

There are different spaces for people to get their heads down or get into huddles.  And other spaces support quiet work.

Of course workplace design shouldn’t be limited to office workers and one of the things I really liked about Google’s presentation was that it showed how their approach is applied to the types of Googlers wearing labcoats too.



Derrick Bock, Head of Workplace Design, eBay, Germany

My favourite session on differentiated spaces was from eBay who talked about their identification of Base, Creativity, Recovery, Focus, Social Networking and Formal Presentation spaces:
  • Base is a place to call home, not necessarily a desk and could be as simple as a locker. 
  • Creativity is where people can contextualize problems and expand their thinking.
  • Recovery requires a quiet, low-light area where people can close their eyes in comfort for 5- 15 minutes without anxiety.
  • Focus ranges from small booths where people can absorb themselves in focused work, to a stimulating space where they can research and learn.
  • Social networking is where people can gather to hold informal meetings and exchange ideas in a relaxed state.
  • And there’s formal presentation which is the familiar space for hosting formally chaired meetings.

People can use the spaces flexible depending upon their needs and to support wellbeing - we have an energy curve that runs throughout the day – different spaces encourage us to maximize our natural energy cycle.




Spaces are also arranged around people into working networks - as a home area, a neighbourhood, and a community:
  • myHome is a personal space, a desk, a seat, ... any place for a person to work anywhere in their department. This working network is on a team scale.
  • myNeighbourhood is a shared space between adjoining departments where resources are pooled. This working network is on an inter-departmental scale. 
  • myCommunity is the shared resources in a building which all departments use. This working network is on a company scale.


Google provide functional spaces arranged into neighbourhoods  with 'magnets' nearby - micro kitchens to stimulate chance conversations.  It also promotes activity by making people walk to recycling stations.

eBay organise their neighbourhoods withn a grid giving everyone a pace of 1600x1700mm for their home spaces.  There are spaces between the neighbourhoods filled by other activities or destinations (like Google’s magnets.)  And they try to create distinct styles within the neighbourhoods so it's like I'm going somewhere when I come to you.


Mark Levy, Global Head of Employee Experience,
Aaron Harvey, Environments Design Lead,
Airbnb, US

Airbnb provided more detail about how they design in these types of spaces without resorting to the now traditional open plan space of cubicles and hoteling which create so much unhappiness around the world, and creating privacy without diminishing visibility:
  • Belong Everywhere .  This is shared space (not anonymous space) and consists of a mixture of individual, team and social space.  The approach emphasises free desking to connect people to a variety of spaces across the office so belonging is not associated with a single desk. 
  • High contrast spaces depending on needs eg on-demand / quick-access quiet spaces and noisier collaboration spaces allowing individuals to choose a location based on their current needs. 
  • Team hubs acting as shared resources for teams and being flanked by communal tables and lounge seating. These spaces are the default area for team leads and others who l to stick close, team leads etc. 
  • Duck-in spaces for one, two or three people providing acoustic privacy. 



Workplace mobility is supported by the digital workflow and storage solutions for tools and personal belongings.  Eg power and data is distributed throughout so a lounge chair is just as much a work space as the communal table.

I particularly liked Airbnb’s landing / standing desks providing a standing workspace plus room to charge a macbook and store coats and shoes / work slippers to get changed into after cycling into work. 





Mark and Aaron talked about research in ergonomics challenging the traditional desk.  Desks and their accompanying file cabinets were a 19th century solution to the sudden influx of paper brought about by the industrial revolution and allowed people to sort, mark and file this paper.  But paper is not less and less relevant to most work and the desk has become an island of personalisation in otherwise immutable office landscape eg a surface for knick knacks.  There must be better days of building identification at work.  However this is a disruptive concept.  People need to feel they’re getting something much better in return for losing a desk whether this is standing or lying down.

We also talked a lot about the benefits and standing vs sitting and hopefully there’ll be more options for attendees to stand vs sit during the conference next year…




(Picture credit Andy Swann)


More later.


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Friday, 20 March 2015

#SWDS15 HR and Workplace Design





I've been at Fleming Europe's Smart Workspace Design Summit for the last two days.

Although this is billed as an HR conference there's a major lack of HR people here, compared to Corporate Real Estate / Facilities Management.  (Don't get me wrong, the conference was well attended, just not by the people I think needed to be there!)

It's something I focused on in the panel I moderated.

Firstly we ran a poll on the objectives attendees had for their workplace design projects.  I missed the percentage responses, but the order for the top four needs (which note didn't include cost) were:



(picture credit Petronela Zainuddin)


I asked about this because I wanted to point out how core HR objectives are to workplace design and employee engagement hit the nail on the head.  If workplace design is about engagement, then it can't be done separately to all the work HR does on this.

However given that there were so few HR people in the room (and apart from me and Deloitte, a lack of HR experts who were supposed to be on the panel - see the outline from the conference agenda above) I also asked about to what extent HR were involved in attendees' workplace design projects.  51% suggested HR had a minor role, with fewer saying HR acts in partnership and hardly anyone responding that HR has a leadership role.

We came back to this point later on as well with RBS' Head of  Choice and Design suggesting that HR has lost its leadership role because it's not taking a role in this agenda.

We did discuss some good examples of good HR and CRE/FM collaboration throughout the conference too.  For example:
  • Karel Massop, Human Capital Director for Deloitte, Netherlands said Workplace Design work very closely with HR by focusing clearly on outcomes like engagement
  • Nelson Morales suggested GSK got HR on board with their move to the Navy Yard by emphasising the hard financial requirements (the tax issues) as well as the soft intangible stuff
  • Hendrik Grempe, Head of Property for Vodafone, Germany reports into HR (they also piloted their workplace changes in HR as 'if it works there it will work anywhere')
  • eBay Workplace Design worked with HR to look at better feed options to lift employees up the energy curve.



I got asked several times during the event about HR's role in workplace design, and came up with the following suggestions:
  • Identifying the required outcomes and behaviours (selecting from or adding to the list I provided above.)  Both HR and Workplace Design benefit from a clear focus on objectives and the most useful objectives are the human, organisation and social capital required by the business.  HR doesn't need to undertake all of the actions required to create these outcomes but given that they are about our employees, I do believe it should be HR that articulates them.
  • Ensuring that the workplace is designed in conjunction with the rest of the organisation - see my recent post on organisation models.  Workplace design won't work unless it's supported by organisation structures, working styles etc, and in particular focuses on the needs and aspirations of the employees.  And the rest of the organisation design won't work unless the workplace design supports it.
  • Conducting integrated workforce analytics.  Decisions about the workplace and workforce need to be taken together.  We saw that a lot of workplace decisions are driven, or are at least modified, by cost.  But is there any point reducing office costs by giving everyone stroller they can push around if that means you need to increase their pay 20% to recruit and retain them?  One Facilities Manager told me large companies in Germany need to pay 30% more (I'm not aware that this is an HR benchmark) to cover the additional inhumanity of working for a large organisation - dreadful!
  • Managing or participating in the changes involved in moving people into a new workplace.  This can be a huge wrench and quite a few people talked about making people cry when told to ditch their personal belongings and the comfort of their walls. HR needs to be involved in helping with this transition.



Also, particularly for collaboration (third in my list of objectives), you're going to need a collaborative approach to workplace design.  You're not going to achieve that objective if HR, CRE/FM and IT can't even collaborate over the design of the workplace!



And one more point as well - we talked a lot about human centric design ensure a truly people focused approach but speakers still talked about users (even Google) and even worse, desks.  Employee isn't a great term but it's much better than seen as a desk!  Involving HR will ensure whenever forget people are people (as long as they've not been drinking the 'business person first' kool-aid of course!)


The other reason for suggesting this integration is that not all CRE/FM professions are as with it as the ones in the room.  If they're not th en HR should be leading the human centric workplace design agenda that speakers were talking about here - ensuring that people not property are placed at the centre of workplace design.




More about the conference in my next post.

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Monday, 16 March 2015

#atdMENA Jack Phillips and the ROI of Talent Development in Saudi Arabia




I'm not a fan of calculating ROI as I think there are plenty of other probably better things to spend time on.  However when I'm pushed I usually recommend Jack Phillips approach as the way to do it.

I think that after seeing Jack present at ATD MENA I'm now even more strongly of my previous opinion on both of these points.


Why I recommend the approach - if you've got to do it!

Firstly, the approach does make a lot of sense.  CEOs do want to see ROIs as well as analytics and it makes sense to respond with what they want when we can.  So it's no surprise that whilst only 28% of organisations currently try to measure ROI (not many succeed!), 68% intend to do so.

I also like Jack's definition of value (see the slide above) which underpins his approach i.e. qualitative and quantitate, financial and non-financial etc.

I also think that Jack has identified the right levels of evaluation - levels 1 to 4 from Kirkpatrick's model of evaluation, with ROI as an additional level 5 and a 'new' level - level 0 for inputs.    Actually you can see that these levels mark the same points as the steps in my value chain (incidentally, I've always had an 'input' level):




I also like the idea in Jack's V or Alignment model that Talent Development practitioners need to clarify their objectives at each of these levels before they think about evaluating at each of them:




And I like Jack's research into why companies choose to evaluate at levels 4 and 5, particularly the focus on importance in terms of link to strategic objectives:



I'm even fairly comfortable about the ROI methodology, though I do have one fairly large concern that I'll come to below:




But why in many cases you really shouldn't want to

So, on to my concerns,

Firstly, I still think the overall model is limited because it's so fixed.  Yes, application is an example of an outcome objective but it's not the only thing you might want to focus on, or measure, at this step in the value chain.  In particular, the model completely missed the role of human, organisational and social capital, which as I talked about in my session at ATD MENA, are actually the most important things we should focus on in HR and Talent Development.

Also, I still don't like the idea that you should identify objectives for a learning programme in order to evaluate it in Jack's V model ("the challenge is to connect learning to these measures.")  The real thing you need to do is to develop good objectives and measures before you construct the learning.  Doing this also ensures that you pick the right kind of objectives and measures and won't simply end up measuring 'application' because it's in Jack's model.

Apart from these points I can see how the model would apply to something like Jenny's sales training.  But I still worry that the more strategic something is, the less likely it is to be measurable, and therefore mostly ends up in the intangibles bucket.  In which case is it really worth the effort in going through Jack's process, and particularly the effort involved in isolating effects of the programme and converting some of the more tangible benefits to monetary value???

I asked Jack about this at the end of the programme and was pleased Jack seemed to agree with me that it wouldn't be.  He gave me two examples, one where a company didn't do any evaluation and one where they did :


  • Firstly, Jack's ROI Institute has been working with EDF Energy.  They've been putting a few tens of thousands of people through 3 hour sessions to support culture change - which has been a huge investment.  So they asked Jack how they should evaluate it.  But most of the benefits are intangible and would be hard to link to the development activity.  Jack's advice was to decide not to evaluate it - but to communicate this decision in advance to stop problems cropping up later on.
  • There's another organisation which has been putting its leaders through the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard for the last 5 years but they've not been doing any evaluation.  Again the outcomes are intangible so Jack got them ask participants to bring along a project then tracked participants'  success in implementing that, using their new skills.

I quite like the first example.  Some people might criticise the company suggesting that it shouldn't have done the development if it wasn't able to measure the impact.  I'm glad that Jack agreed that this shouldn't be something which would stop them doing it.  (The fact that there are much smarter ways of changing culture would be a much better reason for not doing it!)



I'm less compelled by the second example.  Yes this company can now do some evaluation but actually they've completely changed the nature of their programme so they're not evaluating what was happening before.   Also whatever business results participants produce are much more likely to be a result of as more discipled and measured approach to business improvement than they are the learning that participants had to support this.  The ROI from the learning will only be a small part of the ROI of implementing the business projects but it will also be bigger than that small part as the execs will hopefully be able to solve other business problems too.  So Jack may have got a number from the evaluation but it doesn't really correspond to the value of the development that's taken place.


Finally there's Jack's findings that more organisations intend to invest in calculating ROI in the future:




It certainly looks impressive that the proportion of organisations measuring ROI is due to leap up from 4 to 74%.  But even more intend to focus on measuring business impacts - up from 8 to 96%.

Yet, this is 60 years after Donald Kirkpatrick first tried to get organisations to evaluate at level 4.  If the proportion that do is still only 8% after all this time, I think 'the future' is some considerable time off!

There's a lot of talk about ROI and analytics and both Jack's and Jenny's approaches have utility and value in certain contexts.  But we shouldn't pretend that we're going to start doing this outside these limited contexts.  It's just not going to happen.  So we need to find other ways of articulating the value provided by HR and Talent Development instead.

Some of this goes back to Jack's definition of value - we need to be able to measure qualitatively as well as quantitatively, and non-financially as well as financially.  It's these areas which I think provide the greatest opportunities to improve.


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Friday, 13 March 2015

#atdMENA Jenny Dearborn and Big Data Analytics in Saudi Arabia




One of my favourite sessions at ATD MENA in Riyadh where I've been speaking about people focused talent development and creating human capital was Jenny Dearborn's on the value of data and analytics: it's data science, not rocket science.

Jenny is the CLO of SAP and has just written a book, Data Driven, but most of her session focused on a sales capability development programme at SAP.

Jenny started with a quick review of the changing business scene - technology, social, mobile, MOOCs and content ubiquity: "if we try to control learning, to lock it down, we're only going to increase the rate at which learners are running away from the Learning department."

We then moved on to data: companies which use data driven decision making have 5-6% higher performance, and this affects us too: "big data and analytics are the only things bigger than technology shaping the future Learning function."

The CHRO role now requires data analytics expertise.  So it's therefore disappointing that 70% of companies surveyed by the ATD don't use data to predict or assess staffing needs.  And no surprise that CEOs would rather appoint someone from sales than from HR to be CHRO!  (My own perspective on this is that Jenny's premise is true but that her solution is flawed - the fact doesn't mean we need to be more like Sales i.e. more analytics based, it means we need to educate CEOs why HR and Talent Development are different to Sales (or Finance), i.e. our area is more qualitative and subjective in nature - which doesn't necessarily take away from the need to get to grips with big data - see below.)

Jenny then took us through her six step process for results focused evaluation:

1.   Define business results.  If these aren't clear it means tapping executive insight and working out which measures are missing.  In SAP Jenny identified there was a need was to decrease the time to quota for new sales people by 50% in two years.

2.   Identifying leading indicators including both performance variables e.g. the sales close ratio, and behavioural feedback.

3.   Disccover critical behaviours supporting these indicators.  Jenny spoke with top sales reps - the best and the worst - to discover the actions, behaviours and competencies of the best performers.  For example this included quickly establishing internal networks.




4.  Design the solution.

5.   Continuously measure - allowing comparison before and after and including the use of a control group with all the variables other than the training programme the same.

6.   Optimise.


Through this process SAP identified that what drives quota isn't what they thought.  Eg looking at quota achievement by ensure shows that some sales people hit quota very early and others still didn't do this several years later.




Giving their sales reps more training had been wasted effort - it was actually the recruiters who had been failing and therefore needed more training as they'd been hiring against the wrong profiles.

They also developed a 'ramp to quota' sales on boarding programme.


I thought it was a quite interesting case study, however:

  • I missed how SAP identified how the lack of correlation between quota and tenure indicated that this was a recruitment problem - as opposed to inconsistent coaching or performance management etc.  (I was probably concentrating on my own session which followed on from Jenny's at the time.)  But quota vs tenure doesn't really qualify as big data and if we don't have this I think we have to be really careful about relying on data to construct strategy.
  • There are areas of HR and Talent Development which lend themselves very easily to analytics, sales training being one.  It still doesn't mean that other areas of Talent Development will ever benefit from the same approaches as Sales of Finance.  Sorry, CEO, but I think you're going to be disappointed if you think you can use the same type of analytical process for leadership development or culture change too.




I talked about the second of these points with Jack Philips in his session on ROI and will post on this on Monday.


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Thursday, 12 March 2015

With DECODED: Code_in a Day




I posted a couple of weeks ago that I would be attending DECODED's Code in a Day training which I did a couple of weeks back and had such a great time I thought I'd give you a resume of the day as well.

My course was attended by a small group which included other people from Facebook, the FT, Capital Radio and a guy from Saudi Arabia where I've just come back from.

We started with the history of the web which brought back some happy / frustrating memories of ZX Spectrums (and some blank faces from younger people in the room).  We moved on fairly quickly to Tim Berners Lee and the development of the web (also see posts on my trip to CERN - 1, 2 - and especially Robert Cailliau's rant.)

Things then got a bit more serious as we moved onto CSS; Javascript and PHP; libraries, frameworks and APIs, AJAX; HTML (5); and mobile first.  This was through a combination of input / discussion sessions, and actual coding.

I really liked the input sessions.  I knew quite a lot about the topics, but not enough, and hadn't really appreciated several aspects of the way the web has developed which we covered.  In particular I hadn't picked up on how much today's devs rely on cutting and pasting existing code or pulling in data which has been made publicly available.  And I hadn't realised how easy (relatively!) web apps has made designing for a mobile world.  I had brought myself a book on Objective C a few years back and got nowhere, but knowing what I do now I feel pretty good about continuing.

I also enjoyed adding in a couple of HR and Recruitment related inputs.  For example when we were talking about different browsers I explained Evolv's experience suggesting that in at least one call centre environment, big data has suggested that people who have downloaded their own browser tend to make better agents.  And I added to the conversations on the reputation economy noting that recruiters are also acting on this reputation, particularly in the IT space, using tools such as Gild to pull in data from Stack Overflow, Github and Linkedin.  The other thing I realised is that given that devs spend 20% of their time cutting and pasting, the ability to search using good Boolean is an important skill as well, so again there's another overlap with recruitment.

But the real game changer for me was the opportunity to try out HTML, CSS and Javascript to design (or pull in from W3schools, Jquery, CDNJS etc)  a mobile web app which we've also come away from the course with, supported by ongoing access to DECODED Playto's HTML editor to continue developing it.

As yet, I've not had a chance to go back to, finish off and do more on the app, but I am going to do so!  My app allows participants on my training courses with Symposium Events to check-in at the training venue (which is going to be the Jumeirah Carlton Tower) so it may even have a future practical application.

I'm also going to carry on developing my knowledge and capability designing an app that will be truly useful for people.  The obvious opportunity that spring to mind to me is to use the UK CES's labour market information available on their API, LMI for All.

I may even take a look at my retro Strategic HCM blog and website designs, although as I posted last time, my current focus is on a new Joomla website for myself and my wife, which we both feel more confident about tacking as well.

So a great, really interesting and informative day, developing a very useful skillset and resulting in some practical benefits as well - a session I'd recommend to anyone who wants to understand and work within today's web based, mobile first world (which should be just about everybody!)


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