Monday, March 11, 2013

Innovative Management Update: Reinventing HR and Restructures

Need a does of innovation? Here are the best articles on innovation from March 4 to 10th:

Does Free Food make for a Happier Workplace?

Want to create a happier workplace?
Give your employees free food!
That is a conclusion drawn from a new survey of 1200 employees working in companies of 20 employees or more and conducted by Seamless, an online delivery and takeout service in the U.S. and U.K.

Among the survey results are:
  •  60% said that having company-provided food around the office “would make them feel more valued and appreciated;”
  • More than half said that a free lunch “would strongly influence their decision to accept a job offer;”
  • 60% said such free lunches would encourage them to chow down with their colleagues; and
  • One third said that free food at meetings would prompt them to attend optional meetings.

Granted these survey results come from a food service provider (Seamless), these findings do point out that it does not take much to incent and motivate employees. And as surveys such as these do point out that it is often the little things that stimulate interest and help employees feel better about their workplace.

7 Lessons From The Beatles' Biggest Failure

The words "failure" and "the Beatles" seldom appear in the same sentence. But the Beatles' early career was actually a series of failures--a record that culminated in their unsuccessful audition with the leading record company of their era, Decca Records. This particular failure nearly caused the band to break up.
Here are start-up lessons you can take from the Beatles' biggest setback.
  1. Know your product.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Gather the right team.
  4. Timing is everything.
  5. Know what you're getting into.
  6. Set expectations.
  7. Critics can be wrong.

The Dirty Laundry of Employee Award Programs: Evidence from the Field

Timothy Gubler, Ian Larkin, Lamar Pierce have conducted a provocative new study regarding employee awards.  They collected data about an attendance award program at a private commercial laundry services company in the Midwestern United States.  One of the company's five plants chose to implement an award for good attendance.   Managers wanted to reduce absences and tardiness.   The other four plants did not institute this program.   The program was rather simple.   All employees without an unexcused absence or tardy in the prior month received recognition before their peers, and they became eligible for a drawing for a $75 gift card.  The program lasted for a bit less than a year.  Senior executives at the company eliminated the program because they felt it rewarded behavior that should be expected of everyone.
The scholars studied this program, and they found that the award produced two important unintended consequences.  Here is an excerpt from the paper's abstract:
First, employees game the program, improving timeliness only when eligible for the award, and strategically calling in sick to retain eligibility. Second, employees with perfect pre-program attendance or high productivity suffered a 6% to 8% productivity decrease after program introduction, suggesting they were demotivated by awards for good behavior they already exhibited. Overall, our results suggest the award program decreased plant productivity by 1.4%, and that positive effects from awards are accompanied by more complex employee responses that limit program effectiveness.

IT Skills Shortage: The Other Critical Cliff Facing Enterprises

A gulf created by the information technology (IT) skills shortfall in such areas as Java, .NET, and C++ could severely curtail future U.S. economic growth, says Harvey Nash CEO Bob Miano. "We careened over the 'IT skills cliff' some years ago as our economy digitized, mobilized, and further 'technologized' and our IT skilled labor supply failed to keep up," Miano says. A recent IBM study found that the most pressing need for IT skills is in the areas of mobile computing, cloud computing, social networking, and analytics, while security skills also are in demand. A shortage of security experts with leadership and communications skills poses a direct challenge to global organizations, according to a recent International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium study.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's work-from-home memo is from bygone era

In a statement released to employees at Yahoo, head of Human Resources Jackie Reses wrote:
"We need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."
This is an odd way forward, not just in the world of work in general where telecommuting is rapidly on the rise, but particularly in computer, engineering, and science fields where home-based work has risen 69% between 2000 and 2010. That makes itthe fastest growing telecommuting industry (pdf) in the country, according the Census Bureau.

The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

Leadership is learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time.  For example, leaders can make several important decisions about an issue in the time it takes others to understand the question.   Many people wonder how leaders know how to make the best decisions, often under immense pressure.  The process of making these decisions comes from an accumulation of experiences and encounters with a multitude of difference circumstances, personality types and unforeseen failures.
  1. Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up
  2. Make Decisions
  3. Communicate Expectations
  4. Challenge People to Think
  5. Be Accountable to Others
  6. Lead by Example
  7. Measure & Reward Performance
  8. Provide Continuous Feedback
  9. Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent
  10. Ask Questions, Seek Counsel
  11. Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination
  12. Positive Energy & Attitude
  13. Be a Great Teacher
  14. Invest in Relationships
  15. Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities

Three Questions That Could Save Your Career

Vincent Peale discuss in their book The Power of Ethical Management. In that classic best-seller they also offer an “ethics check,” three questions you should ask yourself when faced with an ethical choice point. Asking yourself these three questions could save you from making a decision that ends your career.
·       Is it legal?
·       Is it fair and balanced?
·       How will it make you feel about yourself?

7 Uncommon Ways To Be A Positive Influence On You and Your Team

The psychology of leadership simply fascinates me, and no more so than when leaders have a positive influence on their team. You may not class yourself as a leader, but you are a leader, whether you’re leading a team, a family or even yourself. In your role, as a leader, the energy you emit is vital, and cannot fail to affect yourself and others.
  1. They owned a deeply held vision
  2. Inner and self- directed, they listened to their intuition and the world around them became secondary if it didn’t accord with their inner guidance.
  3. What they did/shared benefitted the greater good, even if they didn’t realise it at the time.
  4. They were committed and dedicated; in fact most, if not all, view their achievements as their life’s purpose.
  5. They weren’t deterred by popular opinion,
  6. They acted fearlessly, even if inside they felt fearful
  7. They are aspirational, they dare to attempt “the impossible,” feats and successes which any rationale mind may have said weren’t possible.

Inspirational people lead others by letting them see that their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and values are not only desirable, but are possible, by demonstrating they can be done. Once you have seen impossible being achieved, then the world has changed.

Beyond Marissa Mayer: The Future Will Blend Work and Home in New Hybrid Places

For many knowledge workers, working virtually is already a fact, whether they happen to be working from home, in the office, or elsewhere. We are all dealing with networks of information technology and data streams that connect us both within office buildings and across time zones. We all have been shifting to lighter, more mobile devices and platforms that allow us to connect in multiple ways from many kinds of settings. These capabilities certainly call into question the logic of being there in an office full-time. They even call into question the very logic of office space and furniture. What is a desk for when you can find everything you need on a tablet?

Yet real places keep coming back to haunt us, almost as if to remind us that they are still where it really happens. Places where people can work together face-to-face are still fundamental to the most critical aspects of work performance and creativity. And that is why Marissa Mayer wants people back in the office. Technology and networks have not at all replaced the value of getting together in physical locations for the sparks of creativity that doing so creates.

Technology has not replaced place. Rather it is augmenting the places where the most important things happen. That is why cities, as the ultimate networks of networks, have reasserted themselves as the central drivers of creativity in our economy. It is why the technology industry in New York may now be giving Silicon Valley a run for its money, as technology firms, both big and startup, rush to get closer to other industries, to their users, and to the talent and experience of the city, as they create new ideas for products and services.

How Google Is Using People Analytics to Completely Reinvent HR

“New path” firms dominate by producing continuous innovation. And executives are beginning to learn that continuous innovation cannot occur until a firm makes a strategic shift toward a focus on great people management.

A strategic focus on people management is necessary because innovations come from people, and you simply can’t maximize innovations unless you are capable of recruiting and retaining innovators. And even then, you must provide them with great managers and an environment that supports innovation.

“Top 10” of Google’s past and current people management practices to highlight its data-driven approach:
  1. Leadership characteristics and the role of managers
  2. The PiLab
  3.  A retention algorithm
  4. Predictive modeling
  5. Improving diversity
  6. An effective hiring algorithm
  7. Calculating the value of top performers
  8. Workplace design drives collaboration
  9. Increasing discovery and learning
  10. It doesn’t dictate; it convinces with data


In February, 1,800 people gathered at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco for a four day conference on mindfulness called Wisdom 2.0 Summit.  This is a unique gathering of people trying to answer the following question “How can we live with greater presence, meaning, and mindfulness in the technology age?”. The speakers ranged from technology luminaries like Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn CEO) and Bradley Horowitz (Google VP), industrial titan Bill Ford (Ford Chairman), political heavyweights Congressman Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) to wisdom practitioners Jack Kornfield (Spirit Rock) and Soren Gordhamer (Wisdom 2.0 Founder).  

All of the main stage presentations were recorded and are available for viewing online
Below is a selection of some of the best presentation, I hope you can find something of value in these videos:

Arianna Huffington famous for founding The Huffington Post summed up this conference, at which she was a speaker and participant, with the following “Last weekend I went to Disneyland. Not the actual Disneyland, but my version of Disneyland. Like a kid at "The Happiest Place on Earth," I wanted to go to every session and talk to every other speaker and everyone attending. And like many a Disneyfied kid, I was primed for overstimulation leading to an eventual meltdown.
Fortunately, given the nature of the conference, there were ample breaks for things like meditation, breathing exercises, yoga and healthy snacks. Which, of course, just left me that much more energized. I was in a mindfulness spiral!

If you are interested in learning more, connecting with like-minded Microsoft employees or sharing your own mindfulness practices please join the email alias “Wisdom@Work”.

Microsoft Lync’s bottom-up restructure

Financial Times  (registration might be required)
In most organisations, senior executives design structures and roles that they then allocate to people. It is an efficient process, but it ignores the fact that every individual has their own particular skills and motivations. By shoehorning individuals into predefined roles, senior managers do not get the best chance to let people use their full set of skills, and they risk demotivating and even losing them.
The WeOrg approach turns this logic on its head: first, hire a bunch of really good people, then allow them to self-organise to make full use of their skills.
The process takes longer, but it leads to greater engagement and harnesses the skills of the team far more effectively. It also requires managers and employees to trust one another fully.