June 7, 2016 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Empathy, IT, and the Digital Economy

On May 24, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted Jeff Sussna, Founder and Principal of Ingineering.IT on WiseTalk. Jeff specializes in driving quality improvements through practical innovation.  Jeff shared his ideas about using Design Thinking and DevOps to improve customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.

Favorite Quote:

“Empathy does not mean wallowing in other people’s pain. All it means is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. It’s really fairly simple and straightforward.”

Insights:

  • DevOps – In most IT organizations the people who develop software and the people who operate software are separate groups. Software as a service (SaaS) businesses need IT to deliver faster and continuously and this leads to boundaries between these two separate groups to break down. Sussna believes that DevOps is fundamentally about crossing silos and boundaries and getting people to work better by working together- shifting from an old complicated system into something more fluid and dynamic that improves both speed and quality as a result.
  • Design Thinking – After 250 years industrialism we have this very long tradition of how we deliver things and messages. Now we need to learn something new. Companies are losing control because customers are controlling the message and that is a very new thing. Sussna uses an abductive approach to solving problems. This approach is an alternative to analyzing your way to a solution. He shared that it is important to think beyond functionality and that all of the parts of IT and digital business are about delivering service and this service needs to be designed.
  • Resistance – With an iterative approach you start with a hypothesis by engaging a group and allowing them to learn; you are empowering people to adjust and in this process you create momentum. Sussna believes that getting people talking to each other is the simplest and most straight forward way to begin. It is important to create opportunities for them to solve problems together. When you get people together and you give them an opportunity to make things better together, that is an ideal way to overcome resistance.

What We Found Most Interesting:

Leading businesses are making the shift from the complex machine model to the complex adaptive system model. This new model is organized in small cross-function teams with autonomy and the ability to experiment, learn and move quickly. This model also gives us a mechanism for achieving resiliency. The problems we face are becoming more complex with systems and the model organization structures give us a much more powerful mechanism for doing that. They also help us to respond to failure in a flexible and elegant way. The potential is that instead of IT being a friction point it becomes an acceleration point.

To learn more about Jeff’s approach to digital service delivery, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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May 7, 2016 / Strategy / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Leading Change – Are you a decider?

On April 21, 2016, Sue hosted Nick Tasler, CEO of Decision Pulse, a global management-consulting firm, and an internationally acclaimed author of three books including his latest #1 best-seller, Domino: The Simplest Way to Inspire Change. Nick revealed his surprisingly simple framework to align teams around change and achieve new goals quicker than ever before.

Favorite Quote:

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Insights:

  • When managers try to make a change the natural approach is to talk about the new things they are going to do but they don’t get rid of the 10 old priorities.  Team members are all on board and understand why the change is happening but they just went from 10 priorities to 20 priorities.  This is “change by addition”.  With “change by addition” people become unsure about what they should prioritize and everybody gets spread thin.
  • There is confusion between collaboration and consensus. Collaboration is a good thing but collaboration should not be used as an excuse for abdication. In the very well intentioned goal of being a collaborative team nobody can move forward until every single person has signed off.  You need to change your mindset.  What exactly is the point of a decision? What exactly does collaboration mean and what does it not mean?
  • An “Aha! moment” for many leaders is “I really do have the authority to make the decision!” Most leaders try to be inclusive and collaborative because that is what we say good leaders should do. It is up to the leader to make the decision when there is no natural alignment among team members. Under the guise of not being a micromanager, leaders don’t make a decision and that is just as problematic as being too authoritarian.
  • ADAPT is a useful “change by decision” framework. Anticipate – You have to notice the change before you can do anything about it. Decide – The latin root of decide is “to kill” or “to cut”. To decide is to know what to kill.  Align – The easy way to operationalize the decision is to come up with a 90-day sprint and a 90-day waitlist and ask your teams to do the same thing. What are the three things you are going to sprint on and three things you are going to hold off doing for 90 days?  Alignment is really about aligning waitlists. Permit – It is important for people to know that they will not be punished for not working on the things on the waitlist. Test – Whatever the decision, it is only a hypothesis.  The whole point of test is to let people know that when a new direction is announced,  it is possible that it might not work.  Testing is a reminder that this is a hypothesis until the reality proves differently.
  • We always hear about old lumbering organizations who are too short-sighted and get disrupted. Within a disrupter or a startup, the goal is often to be visionary. Disrupters risk getting too far ahead of the industry and too far ahead of what customers want. This farsightedness is hyperopia. It is the opposite of myopia.

Try it:

Host a session or a day-long strategic planning workshop called a “Decision Day”. The whole point of the day isn’t to come up with a plan or a list of priorities. The point is to arrive at a decision of what the team is going to do and what they are not going to do. The name Decision Day changes the mindset of participants to prime them for the purpose of the day.

What we found most interesting:

Leaders often go right into communication mode when they make a major decision.  The equivalent analogy to driving is turning on the hazards and getting everyone’s attention but nobody in the organization knows what’s going on.

A blinker is different. It signals a change and a specific direction. The thing that gets everyone’s attention is taking something away and not adding something new. The questions is – what do you take away? It has to be something that is important and will get people’s attention.

To learn more about Nick’s research, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

 

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February 2, 2016 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Managing for Disruption

On January 27, 2016, Sue hosted Ragini Parmar, VP of Talent Operations, at Credit Karma. Credit Karma has set out to disrupt consumer finance and as a disruptive business experiencing hyper growth, they consider their culture fundamental to their success. Credit Karma’s culture is not built around free lunches, but common principles that act as their compass, and is a foundation of how they want people to work together.

Scaling their culture is as important to Credit Karma as scaling their business, and to that end, Ragini talked about their collaborative hiring process. This innovative process helps them avoid bad hiring choices that could change the internal culture instantaneously. Ragini shared why their culture is key to their success, how they structure the interview and debrief process, and how they involve employees.

Favorite Quote:
“You have to trust that you have smart people at the table who are invested and want to make a difference. If you don’t trust that, then there’s probably something broken there.”

Insights:

  • Credit Karma’s disruption as a company is focused on recreating the finance industry around people. The company wants to put the credit industry into the hands of the people by giving them free and comprehensive access to their financial data and empowering them to manage personal finances and make financial decisions. Internally, they mirror this disruptive philosophy by placing all decisions around corporate culture in the hands of employees.
  • When asked how a culture built by employee-driven decisions is a disruptor in their industry, Ragini spoke about the importance of trusting the employees. Because Credit Karma is growing so fast, if hiring or retention decisions were left to top management , they might be disconnected from employees because there are so many new voices at the table. Ragini commented on the richness of qualitative data that employees can offer, which can be overlooked if decisions are made solely based on quantitative data. Because culture is an abstract concept, it can be hard to define culture fit, and finding that trust in employees can be hard. But, Ragini said at some point they had to trust their hiring practice, that they were bringing on the right people who have an innate responsibility to want to take care of the culture.
  • One way Credit Karma involves employees in the culture decisions is through a collaborative hiring process. The company currently has more than 100 people on their interview team; any of those people can get pulled to interview at different stages of the process, depending on their experience and the position. Each interviewer has a different responsibility and at the end of the interview process, a discussion brings together all the perspectives. They decided in the beginning that they would always be collaborative in their hiring decisions. Even if a hiring manager says they want someone on the team but the team members who were part of the interview process say no, they will not override this. The benefit is employees select who they want to work with, leading to an investment in that person’s growth with the company and better retention.

What we found most interesting:
When Sue asked how they balance finding people that fit the culture with diversity, Ragini said, “You have to trust the values you have (as a company). Our cultural values are our guiding compass. They tell us how we’re supposed to do the work, how to collaborate and how to get the work done in an efficient way, and keep us all moving in same direction. If you really believe and embody those values, then you’re looking for people who naturally would be able to step into Credit Karma and embody those values as well. They could come from all different types of experiences and walks of life. It’s really about looking at that.”

For more insights on Ragini’s chat, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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July 16, 2015 / Strategy / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

On June 25, 2015, Sue hosted Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership and Learning, the Chair of the Organizational Behavior department, and the founding director of “The Leadership Transition” executive education program at INSEAD. Herminia is the author of the new book, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader and was named a Thinkers50 most influential business guru. Herminia helped us understand the common traps that get in the way of stepping up to bigger leadership positions. She explained how change really works when we are attempting to grow professionally, and how applying the “outsight” principle reshapes our image of our selves, our jobs and our potential.

Favorite Quote:
“Until you can feel it in your bones, it’s very hard to have thinking drive your behavior.”

Insights:

  • The “outsight” principle means learning by going outside the norm. It’s an external perspective that you get from doing new things and experimenting, by interacting with new people, going outside your past experience, outside your usual network of contacts and getting a more external perspective to open your eyes to a different reality.
  • Traditional leadership development methods tend to emphasize learning through introspection, which is the opposite of the outsight principle. Sue inquired about this juxtaposition. While there is a place for introspection in developing leaders, Herminia’s research showed that behavior that drives attitudes and thought processes as opposed to other way around, particularly when the end state is unclear. When transitioning from A to B, and B as the end state is known, it’s easier to plan the steps to get to B. But when the end state is unknown or murky, all the thinking in the world is theory and likely to not match reality. When transitioning to a leadership role for the first time, Herminia explains the only way to aspire to that goal in a way that’s motivating, is to get closer to it through experimentation. Only then will you have fresh material for reflection afterwards.
  • To gain outsight, Herminia suggested three areas for aspiring leaders to create some experiments: redefining your job, extending your network away from the usual suspects, and being more playful with yourself. Getting started with experiments in these three areas, especially with job activities and network building, will help you gain positive momentum. The people you meet along the way make a huge difference because they become kindred spirits or people who can guide you or you can bounce ideas off of because they are going through something similar. The more time spent thinking about it and conceptualizing this concept, the slower the learnings will come. But those who take action even if they aren’t sure where they are going, or because it feels unnatural, will learn more quickly.

What we found most interesting:
As people try to step up to leadership, they sometimes experience the authenticity trap. Things that don’t feel comfortable for people tend to feel inauthentic. But Herminia explained authenticity can be a defense against learning and a defense against getting out of your comfort zone. Authenticity can be defined in a number of ways, but when people hide behind it they tend to mean, “being as I’ve always been.” Which is not great, because you can be authentic and change a lot. She says, “The way you actually become really authentic is by changing and adapting and by doing so, mean you remain true to yourself in an evolving way…we all want to be ourselves at work but we want to be ourselves in a way that takes into account growth and evolution.”

To learn more about Herminia’s experience, listen to the Wise Talk recording.

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April 28, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on The Future of Work and Talent Management

Our April WiseTalk guest was Jacob Morgan, author, speaker and futurist. From Jacob, we learned about the five Macro trends driving the Future of Work, which are giving rise to other trends such as the freelance economy and the collaboration economy. The trends shaping the Future of Work will shift power from organizations to the employee, and in many ways this shift is already underway. Our key takeaway from this conversation is companies need to be thinking now about how they can create a workplace that people want to work in, to attract and retain talent and stay relevant in the future.

Favorite Quote:
“In the future, companies that want to hire employees will need to create an environment where people want to work instead of need to work.”

Insights:

  • According to Jacob, most organizations want to know why things are changing in the workplace, but are not always aware of the five macro trends shaping the Future of Work:
    • New behaviors are entering organizations, which are being shaped by social technologies. They are changing the way we collaborate, communicate, and share.
    • New technologies, such as collaboration platforms, big data, wearable devices, and the Internet of things, are entering companies.
    • The Millennial workforce: by 2020, an estimated 50% of the U.S. workforce will be Millennials. This will drive a huge shift as this demographic doesn’t know what it’s like to sit in a cubical, to commute an hour to and from work, and to use legacy technology.
    • Mobility: anytime, anywhere and on any device. Jacob explains the new theme for the Future of Work is “connect to work” because access to the Internet is all anyone will need to be able to do work.
    • Globalization: we are operating in a world where boundaries do not exist, making it easier to transact work and collaborate with anyone in the world.
  • In Silicon Valley, many companies are already challenged with attracting and retaining top talent. But according to Jacob, retention will become less relevant in the future. He believes people will work for a portfolio of companies rather than one company, and citied examples of the freelancer economy, such as Uber. When Sue mentioned that model may not be as ubiquitous for engineers, as companies may not want to share that top talent, Jacob mentioned a number of organizations are already using a high percentage of freelance engineers. However, his experience indicates that most organizations are not willing to be public about their contingent workforce.
  • Before companies think about the Future of Work, they need to think about where they are going. The key is to understand how the workplace is changing, before thinking about a strategy and tactics for change. Look at the world around you to see what is changing, then ask what experience you want to create so that you can make sure your company stays relevant.

What we found most interesting:
Jacob explained the biggest driver of the Future of Work is a changing assumption about why companies exist. Because people have expenses and bills, they have traditionally needed to work at a company. This assumption held as true until recently. Now, people have options, such as starting their own company or freelancing, which means the war for talent has never been greater. Because of this, organizations have to create a place where people want to work, not need to work. That “want” is causing these changes. Companies need to consider how they get people to want to work for them. Rethinking management practices, flexibility policies, technologies, and what your company stands for all help to create a place that people want to be.

To learn more about Jacob’s experience, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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April 8, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Hiring Top Talent

On March 30, 2015, Sue hosted Lou Adler, CEO/Founder of The Adler Group, a training and search firm which helps companies make hiring top talent a systematic business process, and author of the books, The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired: A Performance-based Hiring Handbook and the Amazon best-seller, Hire With Your Head. Lou explained why the wrong talent strategies hinder the ability to hire the right talent, and shared an overview of how performance-based hiring can bridge that gap.

Favorite Quote:
“If you want to hire a great person, you need a great job. It’s not a bunch of skills. Skills and competencies describe a person, not a job.”

Insights:

  • When it comes to hiring the A-team, Lou has seen many companies use the wrong strategy. It starts with an assumption of a surplus of talent. Then, a boring job is posted, candidates are interviewed and companies hope they can hire someone from that pool quickly. According to Lou, this is fundamentally a bad strategy. A top person is not looking for a lateral move and not looking for speed. Companies are too focused on the cost of hiring rather than on the impact of hiring good people. Instead, they need a strategy that goes after the A-level person.
  • Because top people are looking for career moves, a generic job description, with a generic listing of skills and competencies, does little to attract the talent companies are looking for. Instead, Lou says to focus on the work, make the work impactful and customized to the person. Tell them what they’re going to do. For example, “build a team of accountants to go IPO in 6 months” has more impact than “5 years of experience with CPA from Big4 accounting firm.” Stop trying to force fit people into generic job descriptions.
  • Performance-based hiring is impactful because it starts with a mindset of talent scarcity, and is a systematic business process. Job descriptions reflect the work to be done. A talent-centric sourcing process establishes an ideal candidate profile of the person taking the job at the onset to identify passive candidates and build a talent pool. Interviewing questions are tied to related performance objectives. According to Lou, this method leads to no more than four candidates for interviewing. It’s a quality over quantity approach.

Try It:
Try reframing your typical job descriptions into performance-based jobs. Ask your company’s hiring manager these questions:

  • What does the person need to do to be successful doing this job? What would they need to do within 30 days to indicate they’re on point to get there? Once you understand the objectives, then process the steps to get the final objective.
  • Alternatively, look at job description language, i.e. 5 years of X or X personality, such as “must be aggressive,” and ask, “What does this look like on the job?” Here, you are converting important skills and experiences to how they make an impact on the job.

What we found most interesting:
Many companies still use behavioral interviewing to hire. However, Lou said there is lack of research to prove it predicts performance, that technique only minimizes mistakes. He believes generic competencies are not universal, due to many situational issues that determine if someone will be successful or not in a position. He went on to say, “Few people are motivated to do every type of work, under every situation, in every circumstance, for every person.”

To learn more about Lou’s experience, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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March 3, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Disrupting Talent Management

On February 26, 2015, Sue Bethanis hosted Steve Cadigan, a Silicon Valley talent, people and culture expert, founder of Cadigan Talent Ventures LLC, a Silicon Valley-based talent strategies advisory firm, and former Vice President of Talent at LinkedIn. Steve helped us understand why traditional talent sourcing and hiring methods are in need of disruption, shared his vision on how disruption can benefit both prospective employees and employers, and shared innovative ideas for changing the way employers source talent.

Favorite Quote:
“If you want to win the war for recruiting, you have to change the game.”

Insights:

  • The process of recruiting and building an organization is still in its infancy of what it can be and could be. The traditional model is “I have a need”, put a job description together, hire a recruiter, and the recruiter hunts for talent. Steve thinks the reason this model perpetuates is due to priority and ownership. He believes talent drives value creation but rarely sees the right investment of priority, attention and time from executive teams. It’s the last thing on their agenda, the people systems are an afterthought bolted onto an ERP solution, and boards of directors rarely have people serving on them who have a strong understanding of the powerhouse muscle of talent. He believes ownership of talent belongs with the whole company, not just human resources, especially in Silicon Valley, where the biggest thing a company needs to be great at is building a great team. It should be a core responsibility and the biggest muscle being working on.
  • Steve believes the employee-employer relationship is changing, and power is shifting to employee, particularly in Silicon Valley. Potential employees have more information available to them, more choice, and can decide where they want to go to. He argues that an employer brand in a company that’s growing is almost as important if not more important than your product brand. Consumers want to buy from someone who treats their employees well and is providing a good work environment. Brand can’t be spun anymore. It’s the collective voice of Glassdoor, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, bloggers, all of which is the manifestation of the voice of your employees.
  • In an increasingly transparent world, instead of investing in a huge recruiting team, Steve argues the better investment is to try to make your organization the desired destination for the best people in the world. This is different from needing a few hours to source and interview every week. This is about what kind of environment, culture, organizational structure, communication plan, relationships, how the workspace is designed, etc., which contribute to a differentiator in answering the question, why does someone want to come work here? Steve believes if companies do that well, and they know what kind of person they’re looking for, they’ll create a magnetic pull for talent. Hunting for talent in the traditional sense won’t allow a company to scale fast enough.

What we found most interesting:

Inherently, Steve thinks recruiting is broken because, as has been proven time and again, the traditional hiring process is not the best indicator of job performance. The best hires he’s made were those hired through internships, where the candidate is interviewing the company and the company is interviewing the candidate.

To learn more about Steve’s experience, and hear some of the innovative ideas for recruiting, hiring and building company culture, listen to the recording here.

 

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February 19, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Capturing Rookie Smarts

To kick off our 2015 Talent Management theme, we invited Liz Wiseman to join Sue Bethanis as a guest on WiseTalk. Liz is a highly regarded leadership expert recognized by Thinkers50 and author of the new Wall Street Journal best seller Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work. She is the President of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, California.

Sue and Liz had a rich dialogue on the research and findings in her book Rookie Smarts. One of our biggest a-has from the conversation was about the value of the inexperienced. It could be said that those who are new to something for the first time can’t bring value, but we learned that this is essentially a myth. Those who are inexperienced operate from a “hungry state.” They lack expertise so look outward to a network of experts to get ideas and leverage their knowledge a project, much more so than experts.  We also learned in the tech world, where everything is changing so fast, the value of the experienced leader is in how fast he or she can learn, not what they know.

Favorite Quote:
“When I’m quick to say yes to something I don’t know how to do, I don’t need a personal development or learning plan that tells me to go work in certain ways that are against my nature, I’m just forced to do it.”

Insights:

  • Liz’s definition of a rookie is being new to something important and hard, regardless of age. Whether you’re 21 or 71, it’s doing something you haven’t done before. The value of a rookie doesn’t come from bringing fresh ideas. The value comes from bringing no ideas. When one comes in and has a gap in knowledge, it puts them in a predictable hungry state. They tend to point outward, ask more than talk, they lack expertise so seek it out in others. Liz mentioned an interesting data point: the inexperienced bring in 5x level of expertise on a problem then experts. The reason is because they lack expertise, so they point outward and ask for help. Rookies mobilize a network of expertise and bring it back to bear on a problem. When they ask others how they do something, they receive a diverse set of voices that they have to reconcile. The process of reconciling is when some of our best thinking is done and is why rookies get so smart in the space of relative ignorance.
  • In her research, Liz found that experience leads to success but rookies are surprisingly strong performers and in many cases outperform people with experience. Those cases are the knowledge industry, where work is innovative in nature and where speed matters. Why? Not because rookies are more skilled, but because they are more desperate. They have “no points on the board,” they are the new kid on the block, so work quickly to deliver quick wins and proof points to see if they’re on track. The most successful veterans and rookies operate in fundamentally different ways. When she looked at low performing cases, they failed in very similar ways.

Tips for capturing rookie smarts:

  1. Individuals: Liz suggests individuals try not to linger too long in a job that you’re qualified for. Say yes to things you don’t know how to do. When we keep putting ourselves out there in rookie situations, we are forced to ask questions and seek help, because we don’t know what we’re doing. She also suggests refreshing your assumptions by practicing “naive” questions, such as, what are we doing this for? Who is the real customer here? What happens if we don’t do anything? A fun exercise to audit our assumptions is to ask, what is it we believe to be true about this? Our work? Our customer base? List out the assumptions and see if you have evidence to support them or if you have evidence to the contrary. Also, swapping jobs with someone for a day will build empathy for what others do, as well as leave you with fresh ideas that can help you innovate.
  2. Feed a diet of challenge: In Liz’s research, she found, on average, it takes someone about three months to wrestle down a new challenge, and about three months after to be ready for the next one. The real practical way to keep you and/or your team rookie smart is to continue to feed yourself or your team a diet of challenge. Ask every three months, am I or is this person ready for a new challenge? Not more work, but harder work. Liz’s research also correlated satisfaction with challenge. As challenge goes up in a job, so does satisfaction and vice versa. If leaders want to drive satisfaction up on their teams, give them harder things to do.
  3. Power combinations: At team level, one suggestion Liz offered is for leaders to be deliberate about how power combinations are created. There is value in the way that both rookies and more experienced talent work. Partnering this talent is important, such as reverse mentoring and being clear about giving veteran leaders a chance to learn from rookies on their team. Try pairing a team of rookies anchored by expert, or put an empowered rookie on a team with more experience.

What we found most interesting:
In Liz’s research, when she looked at high-performing rookies, she found the most valuable/highest performing of the rookies were experienced executives taken out of one domain and put into a different one. They know enough to know the good questions to ask, how to manage people, and have their “sea legs” but are placed in a different sea so don’t know all the answers. This is where she found executives are at their best.

To learn about Liz’s approach to the extensive research, the four rookie mindsets, and more interesting insights from Liz and Sue on mid-career professionals and the world of work today, listen to the recording here.

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