Friday 12 August 2011

Social business webinar


   Posting about my forthcoming social innovation webinar reminded me that I’ve not given you the links to the archive or my slides from my Social Business webinar back in the Spring.

So, here you go:



And as a further reminder, here are the links to the same resources for my previous webinar on HR 2.0:




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Tuesday 9 August 2011

Think DiffeHRently: opportunities for HR Innovation


   I hope you enjoyed Friday’s post linking to my HRE article on social innovation.  I do firmly believe that social relationships provide one fruitful opportunity for showing how HR can be done differently.  But there are lots of other opportunities too.

I’ll be talking about all of these in my next webinar, Think DiffeHRently: Opportunities for HR Innovation.  This will aired live on Citrix GoToWebinar at 3.00pm BST, 10.00am EDT on Wednesday 19th October.

You can book here, and I hope you’ll join me in September.


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Friday 5 August 2011

HR Technology and Social Innovations


   I’ve had this article on Social Innovations published in Human Resource Executive as a lead into my presentation at the US’ HR Technology conference this October.

I argue that those responsible for managing and leading people in organisations, and therefore their relationships, need to focus not just on social activities, which tend to be performed within silos, eg HR, OD, Communication, Enterprise 2.0, Facilities Management etc, but on the outcomes of these activities, ie social capital. Doing this helps ensure that these activities can be identified appropriately and more effectively integrated and combined.

I present innovation as an example of one of these social outcomes, and discuss how it can be developed in an integrated way. You can read more about this in the article which is available online here.


My presentation at the HR Technology conference, ‘HR 2.0—What It Means to You’ will focus on how HR can create social outcomes in innovation and other areas. You can find out more about this conference, including a discount code, here.


Cross-posted at Social Advantage.


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Thursday 4 August 2011

Beyond Engagement - part 2: Wellbeing


   The other recent piece of news relating to engagement and the role of the UK government supported Employee Engagement Taskforce was last week’s report from the National Wellbeing Taskforce and the Office for National Statistics.

The Taskforce was set up by David Cameron to create a Happiness Index that would balance the existing measure of GDP.  However the focus is actually a lot more than happiness. This is partly because the taskforce believes happiness is intangible whereas wellbeing is “measurable in the same way our economy is” (I’m not sure that’s true).

But it’s also because happiness is seen as more short-term as well as a bit gimmicky:

“Wellbeing and happiness are not the same thing, although they are sometimes used interchangeably. What we are interested in is overall wellbeing, which the Government has described as a positive physical, social and mental state. It’s not about feeling happy for a few minutes at having won £10 on the lottery or buying a new pair of shoes. It’s about building a sense of long-term wellbeing in individuals and communities that improves quality of life for all citizens across the UK.”


The shift echoes that of Martin Seligman, one of the originators of the field of happiness within the school of positive psychology who’s new book about wellbeing, Flourish, also seeks to move the debate on from happiness which “essentially measures cheerful mood, so it isn’t entitled to a central place in any theory that aims to be more than happiology”.

I also much prefer the concept of wellness or wellbeing to that of engagement (also see my comments in part 1 of this post):

  • Firstly wellness is much more of a two-way, shared sort of concept (“It is essential that the set of measures of well-being is relevant and well-based in what matters to people, both as individuals and for the UK as a whole”).
  • Secondly, the language is more natural and therefore compelling.
  • Thirdly it’s a broader term, incorporating a number of different elements of human capital.


I like the Seligman describes this last point: “Wellbeing theory denies that the topic of positive psychology is a real thing; rather the topic is a construct – wellbeing – which in turn has several measurable elements, each a real thing, each contributing to wellbeing, but none defining wellbeing.”

A good example of these different elements is provided by Gallup Healthways Well-being Index (pictured).

The government also seems to have understood this point about wellness being a construct. The taskforce are defining wellbeing as consisting of these five themes: health; good connections with friends and family; job satisfaction and economic security; present and future conditions of the environment; and education and training.

Also, rather than trying to create a single index, the intent is to report (in July 2012) on eight different aspects of wellbeing. The first four of these are satisfaction; happiness; anxiety and meaning which will be measured through these questions in the government’s Integrated Household Survey:

  • How satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
  • How happy did you feel yesterday?
  • How anxious did you feel yesterday?
  • To what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?


The taskforce is still working on how it is going to measure four other areas of wellbeing: childhood; economy and inequality; health and work/life balance.

I think organisation’s could learn a lot from this research, for example by extending surveys from engagement to something broader, two-way and more compelling – possibly the concept of wellbeing, and by reporting on these different aspects rather than just one overall index alone.



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Wednesday 3 August 2011

Beyond Engagement – part 1: Organisational Health


   I’ve been posting quite a lot about engagement recently, for example on my attendance (1,2) and presentation at an event with the UK government supported Employee Engagement Taskforce.

I do support the concept of engagement and am cheered by the impact the taskforce is having. But I do have some concerns. The main ones are:

  • Engagement is too manipulative an idea – it’s a one-way, controlling sort of approach in which an employee has to give more to an employer without an obvious return. This means engagement is typically limited to added value – creating value needs more focus and more genuine concern for the employee.
  • The language is wrong. Engagement is a flat, non-engaging sort of term. We need to speak more in terms of things which really resonate with people – love, passion, beauty, these sorts of things.
  • It’s only part of the bigger concept of human capital and the even larger one of organisational capability. I’ve never really understood why we limit our focus in asking questions about outcomes rather than activities to engagement when there are so many other things we could survey people upon.


The last point is one Lauri Bassi is talking about at the moment – the buckets she uses are shown in the picture above.

But the best cross-organisational attempt to broaden our questioning on outcomes comes from McKinsey.  In their new book (based on an old survey), Beyond Performance, Scott Keller and Colin price present the firm’s Organisational Health Index that the authors suggest has a proven correlation to financial results and that therefore help create lasting change, excellence and competitive advantage:

“The pace of change is faster than ever, so organisation’s ability to adapt is more crucial than ever.  Furthermore, information is so readily available that most aspects of any organisation’s competitive advantage can be fairly easily copied by competitors.  What can’t be so easily replicated is the ability to grow from within through better ideas and better execution, ie better health.  This is why the authors call organisation health ‘the ultimate competitive advantage’.  And healthy organisations’ success isn’t in business alone: They serve a greater good, enabling workers to unlock their full potential in the workplace.”


(So organisational health is what I’ve been referring to as a capability, but in some ways it could be seen as more ‘ultimate’ than these as it could be seen as the capability which enables an organisation to create new capabilities [“organisational health is about adapting to the present and shaping the future faster and better than the competition”].)

The index is based on 9 elements which themselves consist of 37 management practices:

  • Alignment:
    • Direction
    • Leadership
    • Culture and climate
  • Execution:
    • Accountability
    • Capabilities
    • Motivation
  • Renewal:
    • Innovation and learning
    • External orientation.


It’s not a perfect tool.  For example, I’d have preferred an approach that actually describes these elements as organisational outcomes and measures these through the survey too.  Without this, health is just something which is developed through effectiveness in the 37 practices that leads to higher financial results (a bit like Gallup’s approach to engagement).  I think organisational health could be a lot more.

And I can’t agree with McKinsey’s suggestion that organisations need to demonstrate effectiveness in all of these practices.  As they note, there’s no such thing as a one size fits all approach, but to me a focus on doing some things extra well has to be balanced with an acceptance that some other things will be done less wonderfully.

But I do think that the OHI shows the direction in which the engagement measurement field needs to develop.



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Tuesday 2 August 2011

ConnectingHR tweet-up #4


  Last Thursday was the ConnectingHR community’s fourth tweet-up.

As usual I was involved in lots of entertaining and provoking conversation, most of which I can’t unfortunately remember (one reason why I personally prefer our unconferences!).

Give this, my main source for reviewing the event has to be other peoples’ tweets and blog posts on their experience of the evening.  So I’ll just make this brief and note how rewarding it was to note that while both Rob Harrison and Jules Jackson both commented how difficult they find networking events, ours seemed to make them feel a bit warmer.  I’d personally go so far as to suggest that ConnectingHR isn’t about networking but, as it says on the tin, connecting.  (Paraphrasing Tony Hseih, networking is about appearing interesting, connecting is about being interested.)  I also loved Jules summary, ‘there was love in the room’ – a theme I’ve commented on previously as well.

If you want to get connected too, do put the date of our next unconference in your diary – this will be Thursday 20th October (bookings will open at in September).

And why not join us all at too?


PS If anyone can remind me of any of the conversations we were having that would be neat!!


Also see:


Picture credit: Matt Alder


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Monday 1 August 2011

4 years on


   Last month marked 4 years of my blogging and an opportunity to reflect on how this blog is going.   I had therefore intended to note the anniversary last month but never quite got round to it.  But then I had this comment on my blog:

“The reason you need agencies is because you are spending all your time telling everyone about how clever you are.”


Errm.  I’m not too sure about the comment re the agencies, but what do you think about the clever thing?

The anonymous commenter may have been influenced by me writing about my ‘bigger brain’?  Well if so, I’d like to emphasise that this was only because I wanted to be transparent with you about why I write this blog.

Or it may have been because I do quite a lot of posting about about my speaking around the world, but that’s because I want to meet you, and hope you’ll come to some of the same things that I do.

Or I suppose it may have been down to me telling you about some of the other things I’ve been doing, eg my contribution to this book.  But I only do this if I think it’s something that you might be interested in(you read this blog so you may like some of the other things I’ve been writing too).

Or perhaps because I do quite often post about how well this blog, and sometimes I as a blogger, are perceived.  But I can’t really help it if I keep getting recognised!  And I think sharing these recognitions is appropriate, don’t you? - I’m sure your usual newspaper (if you still read one) would let you know if they were to win a newspaper or journalist award – well I’m doing exactly the same thing.


And perhaps I am just the teeniest bit proud of how well this blog’s done, and even, can I say?, of the originality and quality of thinking which supports it (I do offer insight based consultancy after all!).  So the anonymous commenter has probably got a point and I’ll try to keep indications of my cleverness toned down!

But if there’s anything else you’d like to see: more about this, less about that, longer, shorter, whatever it may be, do please let me know.  I’m keen to continue to develop this blog, and keep it fresh as well as hopefully insightful.  So I’d be really interested in knowing more about your views.

And I hope you’ll keep on reading as we enter into year 5.  Do remember, if you’ve not done so, that you can subscribe to this blog in a RSS reader, or have posts sent to you by email too.



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