Friday 31 August 2012

Workforce Planning is a Necessity…


    I was featured in this article in Training Journal earlier in the month…


‘Ingham suggests that we need to "redefine workforce planning" and said that taking a more creative approach is something we need to look at.

"Five years ago, we saw workforce planning as a very scientific-based way of planning based on analytics. It's still often the case but increasingly I'm suggesting we need to redefine workforce planning as something which is a more creative approach. Because of the rate of change, we need a broader picture and different scenarios.’


What I also talked about in the interview, though it doesn’t appear in the article, is WHY learning professionals in particular need to see workforce planning as a necessity.

My point here is that as WFP becomes more creative, shifting from staff numbers to major capabilities needs, it provides a new and useful focus for L&D.

I also think the areas identified through WFP will provide a new and useful hook for L&D provision as this otherwise gets harder to define, as we move away from delivery towards informal and social learning within organisational communities and teams.


The article was linked to my presentation at HR Performance in a couple of months time.


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Wednesday 29 August 2012

SumTotal & the Definitive Guide to Strategic Human Capital Management


   So Tom Peter’s manifesto is a bit ‘Jurassic Park’ apparently.  Well, I wouldn’t go that far but I did say myself it was far from new.

I’ve been thinking whether there is anything else I can offer you, other than the assembled thinking in this blog, my book etc, which will provide more valuable insight, and so have been taking a look at SumTotal’s ‘Definitive Guide’ to Strategic HCM which came out earlier this year (I think).

And I’ve been so annoyed by what I’ve been reading that I’ve been driven back to my blog.

The first paragraph starts off OK:

“In the realm of human capital management, there’s a new wave of thinking about what it means to be strategic and drive workforce effectiveness.  Riding the leading edge of this wave are the savvy human resources executives, driving their organizations with a forward-thinking, strategic and integrated approach to human capital management. This new wave is commonly known as Strategic Human Capital Management (HCM).”


But it doesn’t take long before the white paper looses the plot:

“At its core, Strategic HCM enables a whole set of so-called “cross-process” workflows, such as integrating recruiting and onboarding or pay-for-performance.  They are cross process because they span the classic silos of HR to provide a more efficient, effective approach to human capital management.”


I’m absolutely not arguing that HCM doesn’t require or enable integration (I can easily evidence the fact that I’m a big fan of this approach and of the use of technology to support it).  And there’s nothing wrong with SumTotal’s suggestions for typical cross-process flows (pictured).  But to try to define HCM in this way misses out on most of what is important in the approach.

At it’s core, Strategic HCM has nothing to do with process workflows at all.  Strategic HCM is about what it says on the tin – strategic management concerning human capital.  Tom Peters was absolutely right – human capital (but not training) really does need to be the top priority.

The other thing people get wrong of course is thinking that this means it’s management of people as human capital (yuck) whereas it’s really about managing people for human capital – creating this capability as a basis for organisational success and transformation.

Strategic HCM is about outcome, not about process / activity.

Yes, once you’re clear about what outcome you need to create it’s easier to identify the processes which will support this, and it’s also easier to define an integrated set of processes this way.

But processes (and by extension, technology) definitely aren’t the core.

So if you’re looking for the definitive guide to strategic human capital management, drop this and the other white papers, and continue reading here.  I know I’ve been a bit quite over the Summer but there’s loads more great insights coming your way soon.  Keep reading!


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Monday 27 August 2012

Tom Peters' new rules on Human Capital

Tom Peters Reframing Capitalism.png  I've just been reading Tom Peters piece in the FT describing 'his' new manifesto for developing human capital.   This links back to his presentation at the World Strategy Forum event in Seoul: 'The new rules: reframing capitalism'

The article suggests that countries' prime source of growth, productivity, wealth creation and social stability is the way local organisations maximise the 'gross domestic development 's their workforces.  This means that developing human capital should always be the top priority – for countries, organisations and individuals.
It's a good article with some interesting ideas, for example that generic brain-work is no longer enough and that the real differentiator is imagination and innovation.  I'd agree, though I also think countries, organisations and individuals probably need to apply that imagination in different ways / in different areas.
But I also found the article to be a rather depressing read.  The reason I wrote 'his' (in quotes) above is that there's really nothing new in all of this - we already know how important human capital is, but Peters is right to note that it's still unlikely to be mentioned, other than very superficially, in a meeting with a CEO.  It's this gap between rhetoric and action that's still the most critical thing to be addressed.
So it's disappointing that there's nothing in the article about how to deal with this.  But for me it's a mixture of:
  • Continuing to focus on better measurement and collecting the case studies which emerge from this.  The Engaging for Success taskforce in the UK is a good example of this approach.
  • Continuing to nudge the business community in the right direction through programmes like Investors in People - not training levies.
  • HR functions being more assertive about changing the organisations they work within - and ending this 'business person first, HR person second' nonsense.
I also disagree with Peter's focus on training ('the chief training officer becomes the top staff job in a business).  Training is just a part of an organisation's focus on learning, and an even smaller part of its development of human capital.  It's human capital that needs to be placed atop the enterprise agenda (well above capital expenditures and it's the human capital / talent officer who needs to be given a charge equivalent in gravity to that of the chief financial officer or chief information officer.
I do agree, however, that the imaginativeness of the training must be subject to a quantum leap and that would enable this to take on a bigger role within the broader human capital development agenda.



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Sunday 12 August 2012

Team GB’s Golds / On Competition


    After a bit of concern in the British press last week about our earlier lack of gold medals, the national mood seems to have swung very rapidly towards pride and joy in our achievements at the Olympics.

I do think the pride is justified – for a small if crowded island, this has been a terrific performance and it’s been great to see that we can fight above our weight in sporting competitions with other countries as well as warring with them (thinking about frequency rather than success rates necessarily here).

But to me the whole tone of the recent press coverage is rather unfortunate really.  I’d been trying to use the Olympics to reinforce to my daughters the importance of taking part in sports and other competitions rather than just winning and this argument has been blow out of the water by the press focus on gold medals (even silver has received a bit of a sniffy treatment at times).

And now even the UK government is on the band wagon with Jeremy Hunt performing another government U-turn (on practice if not policy) by arguing for an increase in the amount of physical education in the UK’s schools.  David Cameron in particular wants to see a focus on competitive sports which is a fairly obvious suggestion from a Conservative politician with a deep belief in the power of competition honed no doubt from his own experience at Eton.

But I’m not so sure this is what is needed by the country.  I’ll share two experiences with you to try to explain why not.



1.   One of my favourite competitions this week was the race walk.  Actually I think it’s a pretty stupid form of sports and hate to think what it does to the competitors’ knees.  But after sitting at the back of the Olympic park, Wembley and Excel stadiums it was great to be so close to the competitors.  And the Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin clearly deserved his victory. But actually it wasn’t him who received the most applause (we were supporting him because we’ve got a special connection with Russia but I didn’t see many others cheering for him).   The people who did get the most support were:

  • The Australian Jared Tallent for coming out of the pack close to the end to take silver
  • Spain’s Benjamin Sanchez for completing after nearly collapsing with just a couple of rounds to go.
  • The UK’s Dominic King who came in last.


Our support for Sanchez and King in particular had nothing to do with competition – it was simply their personal achievement that we valued (their taking part, even if they never had a chance of gold).


2.   Taking the train into London has been am amazingly positive experience over the last couple of weeks – firstly because there has been less people on the normally over-packed trained, but mainly because most people have been happy, courteous and have actually been talking to each other.

It’s a big shift from the normal atmosphere on the trains and I think one of the big factors has been that there’s been more support and LESS competition.

I first noted this on the way back from one of my trips into London last week.  What normally happens as we get towards our station is that people stand up and move towards the door a couple of minutes before we arrive.  In fact on a crowded station the departure of the train from the preceding station is often the signal for people to stand up and jostle each other into position.  The ‘winner’ of this informal little competition can then stand in the middle of the double doors blocking anybody else from exiting until they have done so.  I find it all very sad so it’s been great to see it NOT happening and I’d love to see an ongoing reduction in the amount of competition.


So I agree with Seb Coe that we need to focus now on capturing the feel-good factor from the games, but I’m less sure that requires more competitive sports.  I’d suggest the country’s kids can gain just as much out of Indian dancing as they can through football or boxing.

I also think businesses might benefit from switching their focus from competition to achievement too.  It might not make us any richer but we’d all be a lot happier – all of the time.



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Wednesday 8 August 2012

Melcrum Summit: Re-engineering Internal Communication for Agility, Productivity and Impact


   One of the conferences that I’ll be attending in person for the first time, though I’ve been a regular virtual tweeter at for several years now, is Melcrum’s annual UK Summit, titled for 2012 as ‘Competing on the Curve: Re-engineering Internal Communication for agility, productivity and impact’.

The Summit addresses five key areas which are also being focused on by IC functions which are successfully reinventing their role, moving from craft experts to strategic partners to organisational connectors:

  • Redefining the role of Internal Communication
  • Enhancing the leader-manager-employee relationship
  • Supporting business transformation
  • Building a collaborative organisation
  • Making measurement more transparent and compelling.


Of course these are all areas that I write about here quite regularly, emphasising the connection between Internal Communication and (the rest of) Human Capital Management, which is why I’ve long been meaning to attend this event, particularly as it’s already the main event in IC practitioners’ calendars.

The summit take place in London on 10 to 11 October and it’d be great to see you there. If not, I’ll be blogging on some of the following sessions (let me know if there’s a particular speaker / topic you’d like to see me post on):

  • Global Vision 2020: Redefining organisational communication in a new era of transparency, mobility and digital fluency, Anne-Lise Kjaer, Futurist & Founder, Kjaer Global


  • Using data to empower IC function to shift from outputs to outcomes, David Harrington, Vice President Internal Communications, Shell


  • How to have an honest conversation about strategic change, Flemming Norrgren, Professor of Management, Chalmers University, Sweden


  • Shifting the role of IC from messenger to change agent, Antje Burbach, Director Communications, Europe Speciality Care, Pfizer


  • Establishing IC as a disruptive force to drive cultural change, Benedikt Benenati, Group Internal Communications Director, Kingfisher


  • Building employee engagement and managing change to deliver sustainable business goals, Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business and Clair Foster, Head of Internal Communications, Marks & Spencer plc.


  • Channeling the energy: The critical link between engagement and internal communications, Oliver Strong, Group Director of Internal Communications & Engagement, RSA


  • Refocusing the IC function to support a new era of communication, Julie Langford, Academy Manager, RBS Communications


  • Three steps to engagement through organisational collaboration, Andy Brown, CEO and Nick Crawford, Senior Consultant, Engage Group


If you do want to book for the Summit, the link you’ll need is here.



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Tuesday 7 August 2012

Talent Management in Management Thinking


    I thought you might be interested in this post from me on the Economist’s Management Thinking blog, referring back to their Talent Management Summit this Summer which I spoke at and blogged on as one of their official media attendees (and the sole social media one).

It’s great to be involved in the Economist’s great conferences (I’ll also be attending the High Growth Markets Summit in September and the Diversity Summit in December) and now to be featured on their great Management Thinking blog as well!



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Thursday 2 August 2012

More on Social Media in HR Summit


   I’ve received an update on the programme for Fleming Europe’s Social Media in HR Summit taking place on 27th and 28th September in the ‘internet capital of Europe’: Dublin, Ireland (base for international headquarters of companies such as Google, Facebook,LinkedIn, eBay, Zynga, Twitter and Gala Networks).

Confirmed sessions / speakers now include:


  • From Traditional Recruitment to Web 2.0 Recruitment..., Alfredo Donati, HR Partner and Recruiter,  Lufthansa, Ireland


  • Philosophy of Recruitment 3.0, Matthew Jeffery, Head of EMEA Talent Acquisition and Global Talent Brand, Autodesk, UK


  • Sustainable Social Media Recruitment Strategies - ...or how to prevent your strategy from failing after 3 months, Ted Meulenkamp, International Program Manager, Employer Branding and Social Media Recruitment, Hoffmann-La Roche, Spain


  • The Human Face of Your Organization, Jean-Marc Mickeler, Partner and Head of Employer Branding, Deloitte, France


  • Exploring the Future of Talent Acquisiton, Christoph Fellinger, Talent Relationship Management, Beiersdorf, Germany


  • Expanding and Enriching your Social Media Footprint, Stephen Jio, Social Media and Community Professional, Dell, Ireland


  • From Best Practice on Earth to Best Steps forward in the ’Cloud’, Courtney Shelton Hunt, Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs), USA


  • Legal issues to be aware of “Rules of Befriending” on FACEBOOK, Dan Manolescu, Protection and Privacy Advisor, European Commission (Data protection Officer‘s Office), Belgium, Data


  • How Individual HR Professionals can and should use Social Networks and Digital-Virtual Technologies, Carrie Corbin, Associate Director of Strategic Staffing & Talent Attraction, AT&T, USA


It looks like a great event and I’m looking forward to catching up with Matthew Jeffery again and meeting all the other speakers – particularly Courtney Hunt as I’m in her SMinOrgs groups and we have tried to get together before – particularly in a joint proposal for a presentation to the US’ Enterprise 2.0 conference which unfortunately didn’t happen. So it’ll be good to team up for this.

And I hope I’ll also get to meet you there too?

If you’d like to attend the event you can book at



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Wednesday 1 August 2012

London 2012 – taking a sickie / playing the game


   I’ve spent a couple of non-Olympic days in London this week and have been pleased to see travel disruption significantly down on what had been feared – in fact away from the Olympic venues and major train stations there seem to be less people around than there are normally.

The other big fear of many organisations was that sickness absence would rise to Robbie Grabarz heights as employees take unathorised leave to attend the games in person or more probably watch them on TV.  Badenoch & Clark’s not thoroughly believable survey even suggested that a quarter of young employees (18-24) were likely to take sick time.

Of course the issue isn’t really about management of sickness absence as it is about more progressive employee support.  For example, Nicola Linkleter, MD at Badenoch & Clark comments:

"To discourage employees against pulling a 'sickie', employers might consider embedding the London 2012 Games into the workplace. Showing events on big screens in breakout areas; allowing workers to take breaks to coincide with coverage and organising socials around major events could all help to increase employee engagement during the six week period."


Indeed, and I still think this sort of informal support would provide much more value than big, high profile corporate sponsorship schemes.

You could extend things beyond this too.  Some progressive organisations already provide duvet days for employees who on some ocaisions just can’t be bothered to make it in. (I don’t think that should be seen as a criticism – the more engaged an employee is on an ongoing basis probably the more likely it is that they’re going to have the odd disengaged spell.)  So how about ‘ticket days’ for those employees lucky enough to get one (perhaps only for the £20 tickets so it doesn’t just reward the richest).

What I don’t think organisations have to do is organise their own mini-Olympics.  It can work in some organisations but just because your school kids have done it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to work for your employees!

So, yes, there is a lot of talk about gamification around these days and there should perhaps be a link between the games and organisations’ use of gamification.  But gamification isn’t just about playing games (on an ipad or on a soccer field). It certainly doesn’t have to involve being given points and league tables as this article by the normally sound Will McInnes sort of suggests.

Gamification is simply about learning what makes games (including sporting ones) so compelling to make employment a bit more exciting too.  Part of this is about striving for the best possible performance. As Lord Coe put in during the Opening Ceremony:

“The Olympics bring together the people of the world in harmony and friendship to celebrate what is best about mankind…  There is a truth to sport, a purity, a drama, an intensity, a spirit that makes it irresistible to take part in and irresistible to watch…  In every Olympic sport there is all that matters in life. Humans stretched to the limit of their abilities, inspired by what they can achieve, driven by their talent to work harder than they can believe possible, living for the moment but making an indelible mark upon history.  To the athletes, gathered here on the eve of this great endeavor, I say that to you is given something precious and irreplaceable. To run faster, to jump higher, to be stronger.”


What games aren’t about is traditional reward. Though it’s interesting that some countries pay their gold medal winners up to £600k the UK doesn’t and I think that’s the right approach.

This is perhaps the real lesson from Olympic Games-ification – we need to make employment less about the salary and more about the mission of, performance development opportunities in, and the potential to have fun within, our organisations too.

More breaks, social events and ‘ticket day’ type flexibility are all examples of how organisations could make this sort of change.


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