Organization Horsepower

Thinking Like a Motorcycle Racing Team

Tag: performance improvement (page 1 of 2)

My New Gig – TiER1 Performance

I know a bunch of folks caught my new job title on LinkedIn week before last. I very much appreciate the well wishes and congratulations I received. In case you missed it, I am now a Senior Solutions Consultant at TiER1 Performance. The company is based out of Covington, KY. (Cincinnati), but I will be out of the Chicago office. This involves a relocation for my wife and I, and while I will greatly miss the Lake Michigan shores of my West Michigan location, Chicago is a vibrant city full of excitement and opportunity.

My new role is client facing, and I am really excited to get to know a whole new group of companies. In this position I will be concentrating on solution architecture and engagement management, and will be very hands-on. One of the advantage s of being with a bit larger of an organization, is fewer operational responsibilities allowing me to focus on what I enjoy more and do best.

At the risk of sounding a bit commercial, TiER1 has a cool planning and organization tool called xMap that I am really enjoying. It lets you drag and drop learning or communication events and/or assets into time based buckets so you can take a wide view the experiences you are building for various audiences. Individuals can use it for free at and there is an enterprise version available.

If you are in the Chicago area, give me an excuse to come visit you, I need to figure out where I’m going and it will be good practice.

chicago skyline

Thoughts on My Last Day at Media 1

Today (11/3/2014) is my last day at Media 1 and its related entity Xperiocity. Official notice was given a few weeks ago and I’ve spent the last few weeks making some personal notifications and working through some transition plans. The parting of ways was at my request, and has been completely amicable.

One of the many things that I have learned about myself over the last 11 years here at Media 1 is that I am very good at what I do. That may sound arrogant to some, but believe it or not, I have to beat down a wall of self-deprecation to write those words with confidence and without disclaimer.

One of my skills is being able to shift my perspective and derive clarity from a situation that has a lot of moving parts. The last few months, I’ve gained some clarity on my life and on my role at Media 1. I came to the conclusion that the strategy direction that Xperiocity represents is the best path forward for Media 1, and at the same time requires some skill sets that are perhaps better suited to others. My final strategic recommendation as the Lead Consultant at Media 1 is that they pursue the talent that can best engage in their new cause and direction. My advice to myself is to do the same.

Without disclosing specific work or specific clients, I am incredibly proud of what Media 1 has been able accomplish during my tenure. From continuing to evolve business process and practices, to ground breaking applications of learning technology, the sheer number of initiatives I have been involved with is staggering. The awards and accolades have similarly been humbling. However, none of those things would have been possible without Chris Willis the CEO, and an incredible cast of talent assembled in Grand Haven, MI.

The original team when I joined that consisted of Penny Maki, Robert Willis, Jenni Kossack (Nemes), Brad Pennington, James Barnes, Scott Byers, Thomas Johnson, and Omar Marty. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the majority of those people are still there today. I’ve also had the opportunity to work long term with some incredible talents including L. Micheal Wykes, John Chapin, Kate Prior, Jill Bornemeier, Ben Froese, Jeff Gross, David Fewless, Josh Rourhurst, Steve Barber, Bill Jones, William Hicks, Audra Troccko, AliciaMarie Belchak, Paul Shope, Laura Sample, Aaron Schaut, Jordan McClure, Deb Woudenberg, William Mosqueda, Shanna Reynolds, Erika Jenson, and Sandy Balkema. There have also been an incredible cast or shorter term employees and contractors not mentioned by name with apologies. To some of these people I am a trusted advocate and friend, for other perhaps not as much. It’s never easy to run operations in a small enterprise. The greatest compliment I can give is that I learned from each and every one of you, and you are all part of the fabric that is the Media 1 I will always be thankful I was a part of.

Undoubtedly, many of you are wondering what is next for me, for the time being, I can tell you that I have a plan and to stay tuned. For the purposes of this post, I would like to end by focusing on gratitude for the 11 years of great experiences and opportunities at Media 1.

Organization Horsepower Author Movie

Book Preview on SlideShare

I put up this teaser on SlideShare, if you’d like to learn a little more about the book:

Don’t Confuse a Benchmark with a Goal: Video Blog

The following is a video perspective on the blog post “Don’t Confuse a Benchmark with a Goal,” released last week:

Bersin IMPACT 2013 – Day 2 Recap

I recently attended the Bersin by Deloitte Impact conference in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. We’ve been following Bersin for quite few years and have used Bersin research with client engagements in the past. I chose to attend this particular conference because of its concentration on HR and data analytics in predictive ways. There were four tracks: Manage Develop, Attract and Retain, and Predict and Plan. I spent almost all of my time looking through the Predict and Plan lens since that is where the use of analytics are most prevalent. My comments here will reflect that perspective.

While there was not clarity around how the acquisition of Bersin by Deloitte will affect the service offering, one benefit that was evident at the Bersin IMPACT conference was that Deloitte will contribute its best people and thought around talent management. Cathy Benko is Vice Chairman and a Managing Principle at Deloitte, and wrote The Corporate Lattice. Cathy delivered a keynote on “The Shifting Ethos and What It Means for Talent Leadership”. We all must face the truth that talent leadership is changing, and we need to have the data and analytics to help steer the ship. But we also need to adapt to a continuously changing workforce that values corporate citizenship. How we change, plan and react is critical to the “engagement” that we all claim to seek.  According to Cathy in order to succeed we need to address three key principles:

  1. Dismantle the corporate ladder
  2. Connect the dots
  3. Forge a co-operative

The principles tie back to her model of the corporate lattice. Linearity gives way to flexibility and work is encompassed in interconnected ways. She highlighted 3 applications of the lattice in this diagram.

To embrace the lattice model, and fundamentally change the way we lead work and function in HR, we will need to be more agile. Gloria Stinson from Adobe presented a session on the topic of agility. Gloria laid out how her team adapted the principles of agile software development when addressing human-based work issues and flows. Deloitte threw in their agile manifesto for good measure. Looking at their service delivery model through an agile view point, Adobe learned that while they had a great team, the physical and organizational structure was holding that team back. Adobe learned 5 key lessons along the way:

  1. Transformation is a journey
  2. Leadership is needed
  3. Equipping is essential
  4. Communicate & leverage
  5. Always be cognizant global/legal considerations

When data, systems, tools, agility, and attitude all align at the top of the organization, new ways of work become possible. Imagine a company where PTO doesn’t exist and people take time off when they need it. In fact, the 8 hour workday is even a thing of the past. Ryan is a global tax services firm that, under the direction of EVP Delta Emerson, blew away all traditional interpretations of work life balance. They created accountability for work while allowing the flexibility for life. Enabled by a system of dashboards on both the employee and management levels, productivity is measured not in terms of hours but by goals related to revenue or support tasks that agreed to in regular collaborations. Low performers are quickly identified, and predictive modeling is enabled through projected productivity.

While much of the talk about predictive analytics at the conference was directly related to projecting and reducing attrition, Lowe’s, the home improvement giant, presented a case study on leveraging analytics to improve end to end process with their store development teams. The result was that Lowe’s was able to cut almost in half the time it took to open a store, improved the accuracy of the projected cost, and even produced workforce planning models for stores that hadn’t even opened yet. One issue I have with Lowe’s model was their characterization of HRBPs as generalists. I agree that HRBPs need to be consulted and worked closely with. But HRBPs need to be so much more than generalists. HRBPs should be your organization’s internal consultants that have tangible expertise that they can bring to bear strategically.

The conference wrapped up with Dr. Paula Caligiuri on “Cultural Agility“. She spoke on the importance of agility, and how to build, attract, and retain talent that can help you operate in the new global talent model. She referenced a 2010 IBM CHRO study which can be found here. She had some great tips on where to look for globally agile talent, and how to recognize the skills and abilities that are common among these people. She has a book on the subject, which can be found here.

We are now in a time where HR transformation is no longer optional but a business-based requirement. We no longer have the luxury of waiting for seat at the table. We need to embed ourselves in the core business of our companies and provide real value through strategic and predictive data-backed initiatives. In short, we will provide value by transcending our delivery models and cost-cutting efficiencies, and begin to directly engage our lines of business for meaningful and sustainable improvement.

Read my recap of day 1.

Bersin IMPACT 2013 – Day 1 Recap

I recently attended the Bersin by Deloitte Impact conference in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. We’ve been following Bersin for quite a few years and have used Bersin research with client engagements in the past. I chose to attend this particular conference because of its concentration on HR and data analytics in predictive ways. There were four tracks: Manage, Develop, Attract and Retain, and Predict and Plan. I spent almost all of my time looking through the Predict and Plan lens since that is where the use of analytics are most prevalent. My comments here will reflect that perspective.

In many ways the topics at this conference are the same topics people in both L&D and HR spaces have been talking about for ten years:

  • How do we get people to be better?
  • How do we get “a seat at the table?”
  • How do we show return on investment?

But who asks the question (and the way the questions are answered) is undergoing a monumental shift.

Instead of asking, “How can my department have a greater impact on my little segment of the business?” we are now asking holistically, on behalf of the entire enterprise, “How can we reach and affect the fundamental ways we do business?” with the full realization we are talking about people. We still call them cryptic names, like talent assets and human capital, but as a whole we understand more what those terms actually mean.

For the world’s best companies, looking holistically at people means looking globally and trying to understand what it takes to operate our people-fuelled and dependent enterprises across cultures. This global theme was pervasive throughout the conference and started off with Josh Bersin’s The World is Local: A New Model for Human Resources article that was released just prior to the kickoff keynote. It’s an excellent paper that I encourage you to read. My favorite snippet from the article:

So while companies spend a lot of time focused on reducing HR costs and improving service delivery efficiency, the big value occurs when the HR team directly engages with managers and leaders to help the business run better.

Directly engaging with line of business becomes immediately evident when you start talking about analytics that matter. The business rarely cares about the measures that HR uses to measure itself. The numbers that really matter are the ones that directly link to the business.

Jonathan Ferrar from IBM presented a session on “Big Data in HR” that addressed making connections between business data and HR Strategies. The data maturity model from the book Competing on Analytics was explained, as was how it fit into IBM’s five pillar data source model which consists of Social, External, Internal, Predictive, and Enterprise-wide. IBM used a predictive model to project $9M in savings by strategically reducing attrition by 2.7%. This represents a significant shift in how the enterprise leverages HR and how HR can respond by transforming from a retrospective reporting model and showing real value in a predictive sense.

The theme of using predictive analysis was carried into the next session with representatives from Pfizer. In this case, Pfizer analyzed attrition from a socio economic lens and the predictive models were able to project factors that correlated with high attrition. One of the clearest indicators, rehire status, confirmed a long held cultural belief – if they left you once, they’ll do it again. However, as someone in the crowd aptly recognized, correlation is not the same thing as causation. Predictive data gives us insight, but not absolute truth. We need to be diligent and careful with its application.

Despite some excellent examples of how predictive HR analytics have been used at IBM and Pfizer, both of those companies cited that their analytics capabilities were very much early stage efforts that they were trying to expand and grow. On the theme of building capability, there was an excellent panel with representatives from Alliance Data, eBay, and Aleris. As these three companies have taken a head first approach to embracing analytics, it’s important to note that two of the three panelists did not come from HR roles within their companies, and none of them started their efforts by sitting down and asking what HR needed. They all started by sitting down with business leaders (engaged directly with the business) and digging into ways of measuring things that mattered.

Myank Jain from eBay said to start with the basics, Revenue per FTE. But I have to add, don’t underestimate what it will take to get that data. With multiple systems and varying definitions of roles within the business, it might be a bit of a process to define FTE, revenue, or even a definite headcount for the enterprise as a whole until your data maturity gets to a point where you have reliable data. However, it’s worth it, and as Jeff Buchmiller from Alliance Data put it, “The big wins are not usually exclusive to HR data.”

As important as analytics are becoming in the HR landscape, these efforts are not being driven up through the organization. They are intentional top-down efforts led by a new breed of C-level HR executives that are fully engaged with the business that they lead – not the “business” of HR. Another panel at the conference was called “the bold new CHRO,” but I found it interesting to note that only one of the four actually had the job title CHRO. The market is moving so fast, and this new HR is so important, that there is no time to wait for job titles to catch up. The panelists were:

  • Bruce Boucher, Extra Space Storage, CHRO
  • Richard Hughes, United Health, SVP
  • Garry Randall, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive HR, SVP
  • Steven Rice, Juniper Networks, EVP HR

What these gentlemen all had in common (other than being white males, but that’s another story) is that they all had bold new visions for HR. In their vision, HR is a partner to its business, an enabler of strategy, and a driver of business performance. All four speakers were highly engaged, charismatic, and knew that they were on a long path that would require continuous improvement. While all spoke with passion on their organizations, Steven Rice from Juniper Networks is someone to watch. His plain language approach to making things work and work right is highly admirable and will lead to great things in our industry.

Read my recap of day 2.

Bersin IMPACT 2013 – Day 2

To keep up with the Bersin IMPACT conference in real time, follow Media1der Harrison Withers on Twitter at @harrisonwithers.

Here’s a summary of yesterday’s session, courtesy of Harrison’s twitter feed, in reverse chronological order. Make sure you take a look at his photos too!

thank you @CornerstoneInc for a great reception. Another Fort Lauderdale time elapse picture to celebrate. #impacthr

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trying to think of something clever to say about big data and big boats, but brain is full… #impacthr

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Finally the clouds break and we are enlightened with knowledge and warmth (and ideas about analytics) #impacthr

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Congratulations to Bersin “What Works” award winners! #impacthr

Steven Rice “Benchmarking is interesting but not helpful” #impacthr

Steven Rice, Juniper networks, what a great down-to-earth no BS approach. #impacthr

Free Return On People maturity assessment#impacthr

“Distinctly Disney, Authentically Chinese” -J. Bersin. Great characterization of Global/Local operating model that we aspire to. #impacthr

The best way to predict the future is to create it. So, what does your business need tomorrow to be? #IMPACTHR

“entrepreneurs of talent” sounds like the makings of reality tv show. Part joking, but it might actually help #impacthr

Only one of the four on the panel has the title of CHRO, is the title important or the mindset? #impacthr

the BOLD CHRO panel with Disney, Extra Space Storage, United Health, and Juniper Networks #impacthr

the business will see HR as a cost until HR shows a profit. #impacthr

Revenue Per Employee, simple measurement that can be deceptively hard to get. #impacthr

My personal hobby of building guitars and HR Measurement meet in this blog post:  #impacthr

Which system would you go to for an employee count? Is there more than one? Would you get the same answer? #impacthr

the big wins are not usually exclusive to hr data – Jeff Buchmiller, Alliance Data #impacthr

Analytics starts with the business and not the needs of HR. Who do you talk to first? #impacthr

2 of 3 panelists in predictive analysis didn’t come from HR roles. #impacthr

Step 1 to analytics: get smarter about the question. #impacthr

Thought I recognized Mayank Jain, IRC correctly he presented at #learning12 on behalf of amex, now with eBay. Mobile talent. #impacthr

building capability in predictive analytics at #impacthr with Alliance Data, eBay, and Aleris

Social people search is the new recruiting nirvana, is knowledge management next?How do we “recruit” internally for capability. #impacthr

from the crowd: correlation is not causation. true dat. #imapacthr

Return on People Analytics maturity is a slope not a step. Get what you can and utilize it to enable the next step. #impacthr

Dear CLO, read what the the CHRO reads, worry about what the CHRO worries about, or get called to the table on it. #impacthr

Distributed HR does not necessarily mean decentralized, does not mean disconnected, and absolutely does not mean inconsistent. #impacthr

Pfizer data shows rehire status is strong predictor #imapcthr

Being predictive with analytics requires a shift from being reactive to being proactive. #impacthr

71% of surveyed executives express very high (43%) or high concern (28%) about losing critical talent. (Deloitte) #impacthr

Whatever we say about “learning” almost always transcends into HR. Learning plans are annual, just as well be HR, Talent, Etc. #imapcthr

learning that doesn’t lead to performance =  #impacthr

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38% of respondents cite “lack of understanding of how to use analytics to improve the business” as barrier to adopting analytics #impacthr

Newsflash: Nobody has time for anything (including learning) they don’t derive value from. #impacthr

measurement inexorably leads people to mistake the measures themselves for the things they were intended to measure. -C. Green #impacthr

IBM used predictive model to project $9M in savings by strategically reducing attrition by 2.7% #impacthr

“Heat Map” hurts my head but clearly shows differentiation #impacthr

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Does your company have a set definition of what an FTE consists of? Most of my clients do not, and it is not uncommon. #impacthr

Waiting for somebody to do something about that? Wait … aren’t you somebody? #impacthr

5 levels of analytics: Social, External, Internal, Predictive, Enterprise-wide #impacthr

From book: Competing on Analytics, Davenport and Harris #impacthr

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According to IBM study 71% of companies cite human capital as a leading concern #impacthr

Waiting for somebody to do something about that? Wait … aren’t you somebody? #imapcthr

Analytics Driving Action with Jonathan Ferrar, IBM #impacthr

Agile Performance Management- Shift from competitive ranking to continuous coaching #impacthr

Social people search is the new recruiting nirvana, is knowledge management next?How do we “recruit” internally for capability. #imapacthr

30-35% higher returns on process when shift from annual performance reviews to quarterly. Agree, but how measuring “return” #impacthr

Agile Performance Management- Shift from competitive ranking to continuous coaching #imapcthr

changing from “learning” to “capability and performance” #impacthr

Experience design note: I sat in the middle so I could see Josh, screens are now too far away to read infographics. #imapacthr

Bersin drivers: 1. gaps in leadership, skills, and ed. 2. Explosive role of technology 3. Disparities in economic growth & opp. #impacthr  -very wise words from @Josh_Bersin #impacthr

Wise words from others:

@hirevuejosh Steven Rice, EVP HR at Juniper Networks – If I can’t deliver content on a mobile device, my execs won’t read it. #impacthr

‏@charlietierney #hranalytics 2 ways 2 do it. Small group doing cool stuff OR embed the analytics into hr culture…everything u do. #ImpactHR

@StaciaGarr #impacthr Speed of accessing info is most determined by having clear data definitions. #hranalytics

@emmajs24 HR orgs should build networks of expertise, not centers of excellence #impacthr

@bollinger Best quote today -Extra Space Storage – “our competition is the dumpster” – Bruce Boycher – CHRO #impacthr

@rgravelin #impacthr Metrics change based on the needs of the business partner. “If it’s not measured, it’s not real.” — Yetter

@rgravelin #impacthr We get locked into annual learning plans, but the business changes more frequently that annually.

@davidkoehn #impacthr …map the global local L&D model to the overall operating model of your business… CLO Fishbowl

Bersin IMPACT 2013 – Day 1

To keep up with the Bersin IMPACT conference in real time, follow Media 1der Harrison Withers on Twitter at @harrisonwithers.


Here’s a summary of yesterday’s session, courtesy of Harrison’s twitter feed, in reverse chronological order. Make sure you take a look at his photos too!

From bootcamp, Bersin seeing a lot of interest in abandoning performance ratings. I bet trend grows this year. #impacthr

Well there’s nothing to lose And there’s nothing to prove And I’m dancing with myself -Billy Idol #impacthr :)

Good to see maturity come up, but it’s more than learning. Comes into play on many other dimensions in HR and Return on People. #impacthr

Bersin by Deloitte playbooks releasing this week and look very promising. #impacthr

What use social media for membership interaction? That’ll never work ;) (Insights Boot Camp) #impacthr

Love the hotel, seriously slow elevators. #impacthr

Concentrating on the “Predict and Plan for Agility” track. Looking forward to hearing from eBay, Lowe’s, Pfizer, and Adobe #impacthr

Calm before the data storm? Off to registration at Bersin Impact. #impacthr

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Wondering what the Return On People formula is for beach time, I know it’s there somewhere. #impacthr

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Live tweeting this week from Bersin-by-Deloitte Impact HR conference. My spin and the best thinking from people I respect. Tune in #impacthr

Fort Lauderdale by night on the eve of the Bersin Impact conference. 50mm, f1.7, ISO100, 30 second shutter. #impacthr

Why Measure HR?

Think about this for a second. Are you measuring HR? What are the measurements you are tracking?

If you aren’t measuring HR, why would you want to start?

Many companies are trying to track employee satisfaction with HR services or transactions. Even more are capturing volumes of services.  Those are excellent measures if you are trying to diagnose efficiency of a specific function or process for targeted improvement, but do you send those numbers to your boss? Do those numbers reach the C-suite?

The brutal truth is that the only reason you would ever send volume or satisfaction numbers up the line is to justify your own existence, to “prove” you are doing work of value. The problem with that approach is that it is very transparent in an “emperor has no clothes” sort of way. If you are fighting to justify yourself, it casts a shadow of doubt on your numbers. It does nothing to show the value HR brings to the business. It doesn’t matter how insightful your take on the numbers is, the business has no reason to trust you.

If you are going to measure HR, and you really should, you need to pick metrics that speak directly to the function of the business. Or at bare minimum, ones that can be directly correlated to a business measure. An employee being happy with a process is valuable to that process, but the business wants to know if that happiness made the company more profitable.

If you’re measuring the wrong things for the wrong reasons, stop. You are part of the problem by adding costs (labor) to something that undermines your credibility and at the end of the day isn’t helping your company be better.

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