Midterm Elections: Why #HR and #Business Professionals Need to Pay Attention

Hr Bartender - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 02:57

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, the U.S. has their midterm elections. According to Wikipedia, midterm elections usually have lower voter turnout than the presidential election. Some years, the turnout has been around 40 percent of those who are eligible to vote.

I’ve written before about the importance of being involved in government affairs and the public policy process. What happens in government impacts us personally. What happens in government impacts our organizations, which impacts our work as human resources professionals. To help us understand how the upcoming election could impact our HR role, I spoke with two distinguished members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) government affairs team. Mike Aitken is senior vice president of government affairs and Lisa Horn is vice president of congressional affairs at SHRM, where they play a key role in advocating  on policy proposals that will have an impact on work, workers, and the workplace.

Lisa, my guess is I’m not alone is saying it’s been a long time since my high school civics class. Can you give us a refresher on what a midterm election is and why they exist? 

[Horn] A midterm election takes place between presidential elections and is called a midterm election because it is the midterm of a President’s term in the office. Unlike presidential elections, where the Electoral College determines the presidents, Congressional elections are direct vote by the district and state’s citizens to choose their representative and/or senator. In a midterm election, all 435 members of the House of Representatives and roughly one-third of the U.S. Senate are up for the election. Authority for the midterm elections is set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

Mike, now that we know what the midterms are, let’s get straight to the point. Why are they important (versus presidential elections)?

[Aitken] Midterm elections determine which political party will govern the House, the Senate or both. Congress largely determines what the legislative agenda is going to be for that two-year term, and therefore, Congress controls the legislative issues that are going to be advanced in the legislature.

I would like to think that everyone is tuned into the news. So, people understand there are lots of reasons to vote in the midterms. What’s at stake from a HR and business perspective?

[Aitken] Many of the issues that are before the Congress are workplace issues: immigration reform, paid leave, civil rights issues, healthcare reform, and workforce development. These are critical issues to the success of the workplace: for workers and their work. And, who controls the Congress largely determines the structure, focus and response to these very important issues. 

Lisa, you and I spoke earlier this year about SHRM’s Workflex initiative. And, SHRM recently introduced the “We Are Work” campaign. How do issues like paid leave, the skills gap, immigration reform, and workplace equality factor into the mid-terms?

[Horn] The issues raised in the midterms (i.e. healthcare reform, immigration, harassment, workforce development etc.) can motivate individuals to go out to the polls and vote. For example, people may be motivated to vote by one candidate’s perspective supporting a Medicare for all healthcare reform proposal, while another citizen may be motivated to vote based on a candidate’s views on immigration reform.

As a HR professional, where can I learn more about how the mid-terms can impact my work and organization?

[Horn] HR professionals that want to learn more about a candidate’s perspective on these issues should start by visiting that candidate’s website. If they have time, attend televised or local debates and educate themselves on where the candidate stands on these workplace issues. In addition, SHRM has featured articles and information in our newsletters and SHRM’s Member Advocacy website about some of the issues that are being considered in the context of the midterm elections.

Last question. For HR pros who are looking for some information on voting laws in their state, where can they go to find it?

[Aitken] As an HR professional you should be encouraging your employees to learn more about candidates, and how they are on these issues and encourage them to vote on election day. You can find out all the information you need to know about variety of state voting laws on the SHRM Policy Action Center website or by connecting with the SHRM Knowledge Center.

My thanks to Lisa and Mike for sharing their knowledge with us. It’s not easy understanding everything that happens in Washington D.C. As a SHRM member, I think it’s fantastic that not only do we have a voice on Capitol Hill but that the government affairs team takes the time to educate us, so we can play an active role in shaping what happens from an HR perspective.

If you haven’t already, mark your calendar for midterm elections: November 6, 2018. Your vote could impact your job.

Society for Human Resource Management logo used with permission

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Categories: Blogs

Debating Minimum Wage, and Reflections on a Year of #MeToo

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 12:49

Youngme Moon, Mihir Desai, and Felix Oberholzer-Gee are back with Season 2 of After Hours! In this episode, they debate whether the federal minimum wage should be raised, offer their personal reflections on a year of the #MeToo movement, and share their picks for the week.

Download this podcast

For interested listeners:

HBR Presents is a network of podcasts curated by HBR editors, bringing you the best business ideas from the leading minds in management. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Harvard Business Review or its affiliates.

Categories: Blogs

To Land a Great Job, Talk About Why You Love Your Work

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:00

When interviewing for your next job, how can you impress your recruiter and increase your chances of securing a job offer? Of course you may wish to emphasize your ambitions and goals you hope to achieve as a result of working at the company — your extrinsic motivation for the job. But to what extent should you also emphasize your love for your work and what you hope to achieve as part of the process of working at the company? This comprises your intrinsic motivation for the job, and most of us understand how important it can be to sustained engagement at work; but do recruiters care to hear this?

Our research suggests that they do — and that job applicants aren’t taking advantage of that. Indeed, we have found that people fail to predict the power of such a statement of intrinsic motivation on the impression they make.

To examine this prediction problem — the discrepancy between what candidates think will impress recruiters and what recruiters actually find impressive — we surveyed 1428 full-time employees and MBA students across five studies. Some provided their predictions, guessing what recruiters would find impressive when hiring a job candidate. Others told us what they actually valued when making hiring decisions.

As a first test, we asked full-time employees to view several statements that they could make during a job interview. Some statements emphasized intrinsic motivation, for example, wanting a job that is interesting and meaningful. Other statements emphasized extrinsic motivation, for example, caring for career advancement and financial security. Candidates indicated how impressive they thought each statement was for recruiters. Another group of employees viewed these same statements and told us how impressed they would be by a job candidate who expressed each of these during an interview. Whereas job candidates accurately predicted how impressed recruiters would be by statements of extrinsic motivation, these individuals failed to realize how much recruiters would be impressed by expressions of intrinsic motivation. Emphasizing love for a particular job was more important for recruiters than candidates anticipated.

We found this same pattern — that people fail to predict the value of expressing intrinsic motivation — when the roles were reversed. In this study, recruiters predicted what recruits find appealing in a company and what would convince them to accept a job offer. Specifically, we asked MBA students to view statements about company culture, including current employees’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and predict how useful each one is in convincing an admitted candidate to join the company. Other MBAs viewed these same statements and told us whether they would accept a job offer from a company who expressed each of these in its culture. Whereas recruiters correctly predicted that recruits wanted to work at a company where the culture emphasized extrinsic motivation, they underestimated how much recruits valued working at a company where the culture emphasized intrinsic motivation. Emphasizing that employees find their job interesting and meaningful impressed job candidates more than those in the role of recruiter anticipated.

Why do candidates, and recruiters, underestimate how much others value intrinsic motivation? We found that although people know that they care about intrinsic motivation, they don’t know that others also care about this just as much. People’s lack of awareness that others value intrinsic motivation influences what they say when trying to impress others.

This failure to appreciate that others care to be intrinsically motivated has consequences for what we say in job interviews. In one study, we asked MBA students to choose a pitch for a job interview: One pitch emphasized intrinsic motivation (e.g., “I love doing my work”) and the other pitch emphasized extrinsic motivation (e.g., “the position would be a great place for me to advance my career”). If students chose the pitch that the majority of recruiters (another group of MBAs) selected as more convincing, they could be eligible to win a prize. We found that while only 43% of the candidates chose the intrinsic pitch, 69.5% of the recruiters thought it was superior and more likely to land the job.

How can job seekers ensure they emphasize motivations that recruiters care for? One tip is to take the recruiter’s perspective. We asked employees to view two job pitches that emphasized either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, and to the choose one that would impress a recruiter. Before choosing, we instructed one group to take the recruiter’s perspective. This group first considered who they would hire if they were the recruiter, before choosing a pitch they believed would impress a recruiter. The other group did not take the recruiters’ perspective before choosing. Perspective-taking helped those in the role of job candidate better intuit that recruiters are impressed by intrinsic motivation, leading 45.9% of them to choose this message compared with only 31.7% who did not take the recruiters’ perspective.

The takeaway is clear: candidates interviewing for a job should highlight the meaning they derive from their work, and recruiters looking to attract job candidates should emphasize that their employees do work they love. Engaging in perspective taking — putting yourself in the other person’s shoes — is one way to ensure intrinsic motivation is emphasized.

Categories: Blogs

Help Your Team Measure Customer Experience Data More Accurately

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:00
Tomekbudujedomek/Getty Images

Customer experience (CX) goes beyond measuring the relationship between customers and companies; it is also about quantifying the hundreds of regular interactions and residual memories that influence future behavior. Specific tools like journey mapping and touchpoint management are keys that employees can use to unlock the code for many in-store and in-person experiences. But it’s important for your team to understand the context in which data is being used to make company-wide decisions.

The balanced scorecard was initially popularized in the early 1990s as a way for companies to look at varying aspects of the business, from customer satisfaction, to financial well-being to operational outcomes, all in one simple read-out. It looks like this:


A shortcoming with the balanced scorecard is that it gives companies a “false sense of data.” When leaders have even small amounts of data, it can be easy to assume they know enough to make aggressive decisions, all based on information with sources they don’t control or fully understand. In some cases, a little data can be worse than having no data at all; it can invite hubris.

For example, customer satisfaction scores are influenced by population density — a factor which does not translate into balanced scorecards. Urban environments have peak-time “rushes” when higher volumes of people are all trying to do the same things. Someone entering a pharmacy in the heart of New York City during rush hour will unquestionably have longer-than-desired wait times. This increases both the “perceived wait time” and the likelihood of a negative experience.

Insight Center

Customer scores for stores like this could indicate that the locations need more attention, but they are also typically among the best performing, financially. The long lines frustrate customers, but also indicate that there is a lot of business happening.

A similar store in a part of the country where interactions have less time pressure may have higher scores, despite not performing as well for the company as its New York City counterpart. The reality is that balanced scorecards, as they were originally published, have the potential to punish some of the most economically-valuable businesses.

An “equitable scorecard” (sometimes called a “weighted scorecard”) is an established mathematical process which accounts for environmental and uncontrollable factors in customer experience scores. It can create a relative “pound for pound” benchmark for each individual location of a business, anywhere in the world.

When your team understands how to use equitable scorecard techniques, they’ll be able to calculate a more accurate score for any given location by accounting for variables like clientele composition, location, environment and other localized factors.

For example, a fast food restaurant might serve customers in five different ways:

  1. A customer walks in, orders, waits, and takes their order out.
  2. A customer walks in, orders, waits, and sits down at a table with their order.
  3. A customer orders through the drive-through. The customer drives off and eats elsewhere.
  4. A customer orders through the drive-through. The customer eats in their car in the parking lot.
  5. A customer orders through an app or by phone, then picks up their order.

The needs of the customer and the job to be done by the restaurant in each of these instances are very different. Some value speed above all else. Others require good ambiance to enjoy their meal. Some want a clear and efficient layout of the location. These needs can vary widely from location to location and a single customer can have different needs at different times during the same visit.

So, when the exact same team serves the exact same food in the exact same three minutes, each customer segment will have different reactions. Those identical efforts may yield five very different customer satisfaction scores because expectation is a key determinant of experience.

Companies routinely find that locations rated low-performing by balanced scorecards are actually outperforming reasonable expectations after accounting for uncontrollable operating conditions. The reverse is sometimes also true, where high-scoring stores should, statistically, be performing at an even higher level. The result of equitable scorecarding is a true reflection of staff effort, engagement, efficiency, and efficacy.

When good store managers and employees come under increased scrutiny because of incomplete scorecard data, it can quickly decrease the overall sense of employee appreciation. This tends to increase turnover rates, compound unnecessary replacement costs, impacts business efforts because of additional ramp times and, ultimately, slows revenue growth.

Equitable scorecards measure performance based on expectations, eliminating the engagement-killing notion that people are quantified by decontextualized, inhumane numbers. By establishing reasonable benchmarks for each individual location, companies will also improve the allocations of time and money needed to help a business grow.

Creating a level playing field within a company establishes trust and motivates teams to drive for higher success. By measuring and accounting for uncontrollable factors, companies can promise management and staff that their work will be judged individually based on the cards they are dealt. Fair CX measurements lead to improved experiences, financial growth, and greater engagement, keeping both the customers and the company happy.

Categories: Blogs

Why Doctors Need Leadership Training

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 09:00
STOCK4B-RF/Getty Images

Medicine involves leadership. Nearly all physicians take on significant leadership responsibilities over the course of their career, but unlike any other occupation where management skills are important, physicians are neither taught how to lead nor are they typically rewarded for good leadership. Even though medical institutions have designated “leadership” as a core medical competency, leadership skills are rarely taught and reinforced across the continuum of medical training. As more evidence shows that leadership skills and management practices positively influence both patient and healthcare organization outcomes, it’s becoming clear that leadership training should be formally integrated into medical and residency training curricula.

In most professions, the people who demonstrate strong leadership skills are the ones who take on greater leadership responsibilities at progressive stages of their careers. In medicine, physicians not only begin managing and directing teams early in their careers, but they rise through the ranks uniformly.

Within the first years of graduate medical training, or residency, resident physicians in all specialties lead teams of more junior residents, as well as other care personnel, without undergoing any formal training or experience in how to manage teams. It is rare for first-year resident physicians (interns) to not become second-year residents, for second-year residents to not become third-year residents, and for senior residents to not become fellows or attending physicians, although each step involves more management. And the span of leadership and responsibility grows once physicians enter independent practice.

Insight Center

Although medical trainees spend years learning about physiology, anatomy, and biochemistry, there are few formal avenues through which trainees learn fundamental leadership skills, such as how to lead a team, how to confront problem employees, how to coach and develop others, and how to resolve conflict. Some residency programs across the country are developing career tracks specifically for those interested in management and leadership careers, but these paths are often targeted towards individuals explicitly seeking management positions or healthcare management projects in their training, missing the fact that to be a physician is to lead. The set of individuals who would benefit from leadership skills in daily practice is much wider than those with specific career interests in management.

Despite this lack of focused attention toward development of leadership capabilities in trainees, evidence suggests that leadership quality affects patients, healthcare system outcomes, and finances alike. For example, hospitals with higher rated management practices and more highly rated boards of directors have been shown to deliver higher quality care and have better clinical outcomes, including lower mortality. Enhanced management practices have also been associated with higher patient satisfaction and better financial performance. Effective leadership additionally affects physician well-being, with stronger leadership associated with less physician burnout and higher satisfaction.

These benefits are crucial in a healthcare landscape that is increasingly focused on measuring and achieving high care quality, that is characterized by high rates of burnout across clinical personnel, and that is asking physicians to lead larger, multidisciplinary teams of nurses, social workers, physician assistants, and other health professionals.

Medical schools and residency programs should modify curricula to include leadership skill development at all levels of training — and this should be as rigorous as development of clinical reasoning or procedural skills. Leadership curricula should focus on two key sets of skills. First, interpersonal literacy is crucial for effective leadership in modern healthcare. This includes abilities related to effectively coordinating teams, coaching and giving feedback, interprofessional communication, and displaying emotional intelligence. The centrality of these skills has been recognized by healthcare institutions globally, including the American Medical Association, the National Health Service, and the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

A second, separate set of necessary skills deals with systems literacy. In today’s healthcare landscape, physicians need to understand the business of healthcare organization, including concepts such as insurance structure and costs that patients encounter. Physicians are also increasingly responsible for understanding and acting on quality and safety principles to correct and enhance the systems they work in. Finally, given the sensitive nature of their work, physicians must be comfortable with recognizing, disclosing, and addressing errors, and helping their teams do so as well.

Formal education on these topics could take the form of dedicated didactics during medical school and residency training, orientation sessions, and skill-building retreats, which are common in other occupations that require managerial development. At least some teaching should be delivered longitudinally over multiple years. This is important, because as trainees rise in the medical ranks and gain more responsibility (i.e. supervising medical students for the first time as interns, overseeing teams for the first time as junior residents), their ability to engage with leadership content changes.

Trainee performance evaluations should explicitly assess for adequate progression of leadership capabilities, with targeted remediation available for those not demonstrating competency. Residents should not be allowed to progress in training without achieving pre-specified proficiency in these areas. Assessment systems should also be developed to mitigate biases that downplay or disregard women’s and minorities’ leadership capabilities. And importantly, longitudinal studies will be needed to rigorously assess effectiveness of programs for teaching and measuring leadership skills. A 2015 systematic review of physician leadership development programs found that few reported negative outcomes or system level effects (i.e. impact of training on quality metrics) of their interventions.

While these changes may seem daunting given the vast amount of information trainees are already responsible for and the time-constrained nature of training, studies have found that trainees want to formally develop leadership skills. And several programs stand out as examples of how this can be done.

As first described in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, Vanderbilt’s Otolaryngology program developed a 4-year program for residents consisting of Naval ROTC topics, public speaking training, a micro-MBA course, and a capstone leadership project. This program, which is delivered over morning conferences or dinner sessions (when residents are excused from the operating room), exposes trainees to health care policy, finance, conflict resolution, checklist and debriefing programs, public speaking, and one-on-one communication simulation sessions. Trainees ultimately use the skills they gain for collaborating with Vanderbilt undergraduates, primary care physicians, and others on a population health project during one of their four training years. The program’s founder and Vanderbilt Otolaryngology’s Chair, Dr. Roland Eavey notes that delivering similar content to faculty is key for gaining buy-in regarding the educational importance of leadership and to ensure appropriate modeling of effective leadership.

Meanwhile, at the Uniformed Services University, medical students undergo a 4-year curriculum focused on leadership attribute development. The Military Medical Practice and Leadership didactic curriculum is delivered in preclinical years and focuses on self-awareness, communication skills, and team dynamics. Subsequently, students take part in four multi-day “medical field practicum” experiences, during which they are introduced to their responsibilities as military officers and undergo both lecture and simulation modules focused on patient care, operations, and crisis management. Fourth-year medical  students are ultimately evaluated on medical knowledge and leadership abilities in a simulated tactical field setting.  Although centered in undergraduate medical education, this program is notable for its longitudinal mix of didactic and practical experiences and its evaluative nature, and could with reductions in time intensity be tailored to the graduate medical education setting.

Undoubtedly, enhancing leadership training in medicine will increase the costs of training and assessment. Yet, as we seek to optimize the therapeutics and procedures we perform to reduce mortality and enhance care quality, we should also seek to optimize the skills of the physicians leading all corners of healthcare system. For as the evidence shows, it can make an important difference for healthcare outcomes, experiences, and financial sustainability alike.

Categories: Blogs

How Competition Is Driving AI’s Rapid Adoption

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 08:00
Tomohiro Ohsumi /Getty Images

Artificial intelligence (AI) is engendering all kinds of breathless headlines, from being able to play Go to spotting rare cancer tumors. But how will AI impact the economy in broad terms? The answer hinges on both on what AI can be used for and the dynamics of a competitive race to adopt AI that’s set to unfold between firms.

New research from the McKinsey Global Institute simulates the potential global macroeconomic impact of five powerful technologies (computer vision, natural language, virtual assistants, robotic process automation, and advanced machine learning). It finds that AI could (in aggregate and netting out competition effects and transition costs) deliver an additional $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030, averaging about 1.2% GDP growth a year across the period. This would compare well with the impact of steam during the 1800s, robots in manufacturing in the 1900s, and IT during the 2000s.

The average effect on GDP depends on multiple factors. At the industry level they include (a) the extent of AI diffusion in economies; (b) the build-up of corporate profit; and (c) labor market dynamics.

The modeling and simulation relies on two important features. The first is high-quality data from two corporate surveys conducted by MGI and McKinsey in 2007, one of around 1,600 executives across industries globally on digital technologies and AI to ascertain the causes of economic impact and the likely pace of that impact, and one of more than 3,000 corporations in 14 sectors in ten countries. The second feature of the simulation is micro-estimates of the pace of adoption and absorption of AI technologies.

A faster pace of adoption

We know that technologies often take a long time to diffuse and to deliver benefits. It took more than 30 years for electricity to diffuse and enable industrial plant design that could generate significant productivity growth. It took several decades for steam to drive the rollout of railways services and create a large market of exchanges in the United States. Amazon, born 24 years ago, had captured about 45% of online retail commerce in the United States by 2017, but still stood for just about 5% of total US retail gross merchandise volume in that year.

How does AI diffusion compare with the absorption of the early set of digital technologies such as web, mobile, cloud, and big data? Those technologies started to be used about ten to 25 years ago, and the average level of absorption of these technologies was about 37% in 2017. Our simulation suggests that it may reach 70% by 2035. In comparison, absorption of AI might reach today’s level of digital absorption by 2027—in roughly ten years.

There are two stand-out reasons why AI adoption and absorption could be more rapid this time. One is the breadth of ways in which AI is used, including in areas where digitization is still under-penetrated, such as the automation of services and smart automation of manufacturing processes. Second is that returns for front-runners tend to be large. They will benefit from innovations enabling them to serve (and perhaps create) new markets and, at the same time, gain share from non-AI adopters in existing markets. Perception of cannibalization is high among firms surveyed, in line with their experience of early digitization and the emergence of many new business models.

We simulate that about 70% of companies might adopt some AI technologies by 2030, up from today’s 33%, and about 35% of companies might have fully absorbed AI, compared with only 3% today. The econometrics demonstrate that peer competitive pressure is the largest influencer of the decision to adopt AI and make it work across all enterprise functions. The peer pressure effect on adoption incentive is an order of magnitude larger than the expected profitability impact of AI, or perception of the impact it has had in recent years.

A race between firms

Even if a technology race develops, some companies will adopt rapidly, but others less so—and the benefits of AI will vary accordingly. The pace could be enhanced by sector dynamics and by characteristics of firms such as the size and extent of their globalization, but could also be held back by constraints such as early capabilities in digitization, or by organizational rigidities.

We simulated the economic impact of AI for three groups of companies: “front-runners,” “followers,” and “laggards.” The first group experiences the largest benefits from AI, and the second benefits but only by a fraction of the general AI productivity uplift. Laggards (many of them nonadopters) may witness a shrinking market share, and may have no choice but exit the market in the long term.

Regarding front-runners, our average simulation suggests that about 30% of companies might have absorbed the full set of AI technologies in their operations by 2030. About half of those will do so in half the time, and may more than double their operating cash flows by 2030. This is equivalent to sustaining a long-term growth rate of 6% per year through AI. These companies would typically be growing at the rate of high-growth performing firms. Cash generation is not linear as the impact of AI scales up over time—it might be negative in the early years and only becomes positive and accelerates after a period of five to seven years. In this initial period, front-runners could experience cash outflows as they invest in, and scale up, AI. Over time, however, front-runners will tend to slowly concentrate the profit pool of their industry in a winner-takes-most phenomenon.

Followers are firms that are cautiously starting to adopt and absorb AI technologies, having seen the tangible impact enjoyed by front-runners and having realized the competitive threat of not adopting and absorbing. We simulated that 20% to 30% of firms would be in this group by 2030. For these companies, the pace and degree of change in cash flow are likely to be more moderate, and typically below the average productivity uplift witnessed by their economy. On the one hand, front-runners have already triggered some spillovers that spread some benefits to followers; on the other hand, followers lose market share to front-runners.

Laggards are companies that are not investing in AI seriously, or not at all. Why do laggards not jump into AI? The answer is that they may face short-term constraints and may bet—wrongly—that time is on their side. The cost of investment in and implementation of AI means that the divergence among firms on their stance toward AI adoption may only affect their economics after a few years. This may dissuade them from acting. These companies could lose around 20% of cash flow by 2030 compared with today. Laggards may have major capability issues that prevent them from joining the AI race, and therefore they may need to respond in other ways such as limiting costs and cutting investment. The drop in cash flow arrives last, but it is a major slide when it comes.

A fierce competitive race among companies appears to be in prospect with a widening gap between those investing in AI and those that are not. This divide can facilitate “creative destruction” and competition among firms so that the reallocation of resources toward higher-performing companies improves the vibrancy of overall economies. But there is no doubt that the transition may cause disruption and shock in the economy. These tradeoffs need to be understood and managed appropriately in order to capture the potential of AI for the world economy.

Categories: Blogs

How to Decide Which Data Science Projects to Pursue

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 07:24
DNY59/Getty Images

In 2018, every organization has a data strategy. But what makes a great one?

We all know what failure looks like. Resources are invested, teams are formed, time goes by — but nothing comes of it. No one can necessarily say why; it’s always Someone Else’s Fault.

It’s harder to tell the difference between a modest success and excellence. Indeed, in data science they can they look very similar for perhaps a year.  After several years, though, an excellent strategy will yield orders of magnitude more valuable results.

Both mediocre and excellent strategies begin with a series of experiments and investments leading to data projects. After a few years, some of these projects work out and are on their way to production.

In the mediocre strategy, one or two of these projects may even have a clear ROI for the business. Typically, these projects will be some kind of automation for cost savings, or applying machine learning to an existing process to improve its efficiency or performance. This looks a lot like success, and it may suffice, but it’s missing out on the unique advantages of an excellent data strategy.

In an excellent strategy, more data projects have worked out, and they were surprisingly cost-effective to develop. Further, the process of building the first few projects inspires new project ideas. In an excellent strategy, the projects will include automation and efficiency and performance improvements, but they will also include projects and ideas for new revenue generation and entirely new businesses driven by your unique data assets. The data teams work well together, build on each other’s work, and collaborate smoothly with their business partners. There’s a clear vision of what the machine-learning driven future of the business can look like, and everyone is working together to achieve it.

Building an Excellent Data Strategy

Crafting a data strategy requires many parties at the table, including data experts, technology leadership, and business and subject-matter experts. It also requires leadership support that goes beyond just wanting to check off a “machine learning” box.

Here’s how most companies decide which data projects to pursue, which alone is a recipe for the mediocre data strategy. Management identifies a set of projects it would like to see built and creates the ubiquitous prioritization scatterplot: one axis represents a given project’s value to the business and the other axis represents its estimated complexity or cost of development. Each project is given a spot on the chart, and management allocates the company’s limited resources to the projects that they believe will cost the least and have the highest business value.

This is not wrong, but it is also not optimal. An excellent data strategy moves beyond a straightforward evaluation of each project in isolation to consider a few additional dimensions.

First, an excellent data strategy includes a well-coordinated organizational core. It’s built on a centralized technology investment and well-selected and coordinated defaults for the architecture of data applications. This centralization of defaults allows for each application to make different decisions if necessary while maintaining maximum compatibility across the organization and flexibility over time by default.

For example, one global media company I worked with had grown dramatically through acquisitions. Each business line had a different technology stack and independent IT group, leading to challenges integrating data that already existed, and different architectures for all future investments. Centralizing this practice was key to their ongoing success.

Second, an excellent data strategy is specific in the short term and flexible in the long term. We know quite a lot about what the machine learning capabilities of tomorrow look like, but less about what the capabilities of next year will look like. We can only guess what will be possible in five years. Similarly, the business landscape is transforming, leading to new competition and new opportunities. Organizations that engage in five-year planning cycles will miss the opportunities that emerge in the meantime. An excellent strategy is one that is adaptable and considered to be a living document.

The best strategies are strong in directional conviction, but flexible in the details. You want to know where you want to end up, but not necessarily pre-define each step you need to take to get there.

Finally, an excellent data strategy takes into account one key insight: data science projects are not independent from one another. With each completed project, successful or not, you create a foundation to build later projects more easily and at lower cost.

Choosing Between Data Science Projects

Here’s what project selection looks like in a firm with an excellent data strategy: First, the company collects ideas. This effort should be spread as broadly as possible across the organization, at all levels. If you only see good and obvious ideas on your list, worry — that’s a sign that you are missing out on creative thinking. Once you have a large list, filter by the technical plausibility of an idea. Then, create the scatterplot described above, which evaluates each project on its relative cost/complexity and value to the business.

Now it gets interesting. On your scatterplot, draw lines between potentially related projects. These connections exist where projects share data resources; or where one project may enable data collection helpful to another project; or where foundational work on one project is also foundational work on another. This approach acknowledges the realities of working on such projects, like the fact that building a precursor project makes successor projects faster and easier (even if the precursor fails). The costs of gathering data and building shared components are amortized across projects.

This approach makes higher-value projects — those that would perhaps have seemed too ambitious — look less like an aggressive, expensive push forward. Instead, it reveals that such projects may indeed be more efficient and safer to proceed with than other lower-value projects that looked attractive in a naive analysis.

Put differently, an excellent data strategy acknowledges that projects play off of one another, and that the costs of projects change over time in light of other projects undertaken (and new technology, as well). This allows more accurate planning and may expand the organization’s capabilities more than expected. You can revisit this planning process quarterly, which is in line with how quickly machine learning technologies are changing.

We’re currently at a moment in the development of machine learning, AI, and data where the technology isn’t commoditized and it’s not entirely obvious where to invest. Companies with excellent data strategies will be more likely to choose well.

Categories: Blogs

Brands Shouldn’t Believe Everything They Read About Themselves Online

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 07:00
Michael Heim/Getty Images

“Don’t believe everything you hear” is good advice — especially in an era of fake news and alternative facts. The same goes for managers who often rely on social-sentiment analysis to get a handle on what consumers think of their brands.

Social-sentiment analysis is the process of algorithmically analyzing social posts, comments, and behaviors and categorizing them into positive, negative, or neutral. Many companies use it to understand how their customers are feeling about their brands.

We recently conducted an extensive social-sentiment analysis with a team of researchers at Boston University’s Emerging Media Studies program as part of our Experience Brand Index research this past spring. In that research, we asked 4,000 consumers in the United States and United Kingdom about their actions and interactions with a wide range of brands over the last six months. These experiences were rated across more than a dozen dimensions, and we rolled up the results into a single Brand Experience score from 1 to 100.

The index graded nearly 100 different brands on how well consumers believed they were fulfilling the promises they make, how well they stood out from their competitors, and how likely consumers were to recommend them to friends and to stay loyal. Overall, our top 10-rated brands have a 200% better net promoter score (NPS) than the bottom 10, and have consumers who are 25% more likely to say they’re going to stay loyal.

To round out the research, we enlisted a group of graduate students in Boston University’s Emerging Media Studies program to run social sentiment analysis against the brands, fully expecting to see high-scoring brands receive high levels of positive sentiment and low-scoring brands receive high negatives.

We were wrong.

There appears to be very little predictive power between how people appear to feel online and how consumers who have experiences with those brands rate them.

We think social-sentiment analysis has value as a part of a brand’s consumer intelligence plan, but we have some advice for those using it or about to embark on the journey:

1. React, but don’t over-react. The type of consumers moved to post and share statements about brands (or about anything, for that matter) are not necessarily representative of the entirety of your customer base. Social-media users tend to be younger and more female than overall online audiences, and emerging research into social behavior suggests that people who post on social media tend to hold more extreme positions — they tend to be motivated by strong feelings, either positive or negative.

A recent study by Engagement Labs in the Journal of Advertising Research pointed out that online conversations about brands and offline conversations (as measured by their TalkTrack tracking study) were not strongly related.

In a recent interview, the lead investigator pointed out that online reaction to the Dick’s Sporting Goods decision to stop selling assault rifles and require all gun buyers to be 21 was met with a large degree of negative sentiment online but more positive sentiment offline.

More recently, Forbes did an in-depth analysis of the social reaction to Nike’s decision to feature Colin Kaepernick in an advertising campaign. It found a significant spike in negative sentiment online in the hours after the ad was first released. But, within two days, the sentiment shifted to positive.

So, while it’s important for your brand to react to specific negative customer-service posts immediately and address any specific issues consumers are having, we don’t recommend you react immediately to spikes in sentiment you see on a given day — especially if it’s in reaction to something new, like an ad campaign. If you do, you run the risk of over- or under-correcting for issues that just aren’t there.

2. Drill into specifics. What exactly does the sentiment analysis say and how does the tool you use define sentiment? In our experience, different tools — whether it’s NetBase or Brandmonitor or Hootsuite — will give you vastly different results for the same brand over the same period of time. Every platform defines sentiment differently and scores words and phrases in unique ways. And, despite significant advances in AI and sentiment algorithms, all of the platforms continue to have problems recognizing and correctly categorizing sarcasm, irony, jokes and exaggerations.

For example, a sarcastic post that says, “Great product, right?” and contains a picture of a broken cell phone is likely to be mischaracterized as positive.

As a result, it’s important to use your tool to listen for the right things. Again, the Nike example is instructive here. Rather than just look at the overall sentiment, the company examined tweets that had any purchase-intent statements — either positive (“going to buy”) or negative (“will never buy”) and found that positive outnumbered negative by 5 to 1. And the sales numbers appear to bear that out — with Thomson Reuters reporting a 61% increase in the amount of sold-out merchandise at Nike stores in the 10 days after the campaign launched compared to the 10 days before the ad appeared.

So, specifics matter. Look for spikes in volume and sentiment around specific hashtags to understand what might be going on.

3. Compare to what (and who) you know. The point of sentiment analysis is to give you a quick, directional perspective on what online chatter about your brand is all about. We believe it’s crucial to utilize other ways of tracking how consumers feel about your brand — whether it’s a brand tracker, tracking surveys, or analysis of customer service logs. It’s always best to have a mix of methods that deliver a well-rounded understanding of the voice of your customer.

It’s also best to have a sense of the cultural context during the time you’re measuring sentiment. Online sentiment can be driven by the negative actions of a specific brand — like a large retail bank illegally creating savings and checking accounts without customers’ consent — or it can be influenced by broader conversations in the culture that have little to do with a specific brand. For example, around the time we fielded our survey in the United States and United Kingdom, consumer tech leaders were testifying about privacy practices in the two countries, impacting the online conversation about that entire category of brands.

So, while there’s a ton of discussion about fake news and the role of bots and trolls in political news, we found an equally cautionary tale for brands. When it comes to social sentiment, listener beware.

Categories: Blogs

How to Blow a Presentation to the C-Suite

Harvard business - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 06:05
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Divya, a director who leads a large engineering team, was invited to a two-day retreat with the CEO and senior executives of her Fortune 50 company. She and 30 of her high-potential peers were excited to rub shoulders with the leadership team.

The purpose of the retreat was to expose up-and-coming leaders to broader challenges, expand their network across silos, and, of course, give them an opportunity to connect personally with C-suite executives.

The session kicked off with participants dividing into small teams to tackle company-wide strategic challenges. This was a rare opportunity to present directly in front of the CEO, so Divya and her teammates worked hard to research their assigned topic, frame the specific challenge, and debate different ideas and solutions. Instead of hanging out at the bar after dinner, they worked far into the night finalizing their presentation. Divya was selected as the spokesperson for her group, and the next morning, she made their pitch.

The team’s idea was met with a lukewarm reaction and what, at best, could be called a polite round of applause. Naturally, they were disappointed in the tepid response.

Divya and her team are all smart, do great work in their current jobs, and have promising careers ahead of them. So, what went wrong?

Based on my experience watching hundreds of presentations made by high-potential leaders, I can tell you that Divya and her colleagues are not alone in failing to land a key pitch. When presenting ideas to the CEO, even seasoned leaders who don’t regularly interact with the C-suite fall into a few common traps that can be easily avoided.

Trap #1: An Idea Without Its Problem

Smart, successful people tend to have great ideas. It’s natural for you to be excited about your ideas and eager to share them with your executives. But place yourself in your CEO’s shoes: She’s on the receiving end of endless smart ideas. For yours to stand out and be useful to the CEO, it must solve a problem.

Begin the presentation with the problem you’ve identified and spend time upfront creating context, surfacing the pain points, and building a sense of urgency around addressing the challenge. Many presenters often move straight to solution and neglect to build a sound case for immediate action. It’s the problem, not the idea, that executives want to hear first. Spend the first quarter of your allotted time calling out the problem and the next quarter on the idea. The more urgent the problem appears, the more eager your audience will be for the solution.

Unfortunately, in Divya’s case, her presentation started with an idea. She didn’t realize that pitching a solution outside the context of its founding problem left it wide open to criticism. In a world where executives have a host of responsibilities and crises to manage, they need to triage which ones they’ll act on. They’ll be more motivated to prioritize your idea if they can see a direct connection to a problem that won’t go away or that will become more significant without their attention.

Trap #2: An Idea Without a Clear ROI

Once you’ve established the problem in your presentation, the next step is to prove that your idea will not only solve it, but do so in ways that grow the business. First, show how your initiative will self-fund within a short period of time. Next, project how it will grow in revenue to support both its expansion and begin to fund other parts of the organization. Make sure you include estimates for the often-overlooked money needed for infrastructure and setup.

Divya’s team started with an idea and proceeded to explain the way they would implement it. They were excited about the technical merits of this idea but didn’t mention how the solution might be helpful to the company in the marketplace or against the competition. What’s more, the idea would require a heavy investment in tools that currently didn’t exist.

Trap #3: A Presentation Without Interaction

As with all good presentations, you want to meet your audience where they are. But when speaking with the C-suite, presenters often overexplain obvious things and don’t leave enough time for interaction.

Divya spent four minutes out of their allotted 20-minute slot reviewing their research process and what the group learned. Since none of this was new information to the executives, she lost their attention. The entire presentation took 17 minutes, leaving a precious few minutes for questions and follow-up.

Reserve the second half of your allotted time for questions. While that seems like an outsized chunk, used well, it can be the most valuable part of your talk. Rapid-fire, blunt questions are a sign that executives are interested in your idea. They’re processing what you said, testing various angles and hypotheses, and generally want to know more. A common misconception is that if there are no questions, then things went well. The opposite is usually true. The more questions you receive, the better the presentation.

One word of caution: Don’t count critiques framed as questions as healthy interaction. For example, “How can this possibly work? You haven’t accounted for extra headcount.” That’s not really a question. If your audience is curious and engaged a genuine question will sound more like, “How would you deal with headcount if your growth projections are accurate?”

Trap #4: Data Without Attention to Detail

Even when you set aside enough time for interaction, you can run into trouble if you don’t have the correct answer to an executive’s question. Presenters can be imprecise or sloppy with details when questioned, especially when it comes to numbers.

During the Q&A, Divya’s teammate Josh made a claim about the number of current customers using a particular product. He missed the actual number by 12% because of a calculation error.

Once you present an incorrect number, your executives will tend to write off the rest of your data. Be sure of your facts, be prepared with the source of your information, and, if there’s an error, be ready to quickly follow up with a correction. And if you don’t know the answer, don’t waste time. Simply admit to that, and tell them you’ll look into it and follow up.

If you’re in a position to present to the most senior executives in your organization, you’re already considered smart and capable. You don’t need to prove it by launching directly into your idea and sharing endless details. Instead, give your audience what it really wants: an overview of the problem and how you think it can be solved for the benefit of the company. Give them plenty of time to interact with you, and you’ll prove that you’re as smart and capable as they thought.

Categories: Blogs

John Kerry on Leadership, Compromise, and Change

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 12:21

John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State, shares management and leadership lessons from his long career in public service. He discusses how to win people over to your side, bounce back from defeats, and never give up on your long-term goals. He also calls on private sector CEOs to do more to solve social and political problems. Kerry’s new memoir is Every Day Is Extra.

Download this podcast

Categories: Blogs

How Storytelling Can Help Young Doctors Become More Resilient

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:00
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I recently stood in front of a group of emergency room residents at my hospital and asked an unusual question.  “Has any of you ever judged your attending physician for not trying hard enough to save a patient’s life?” Then I looked around the room. But like every time I’d given this presentation, there were no takers.

I can’t say I was surprised. I was piloting a new program which uses storytelling to help young doctors reflect on how they handle the emotional and psychological toll of caring for suffering patients. In my experience, engaging in honest exchange about these dimensions is rare in medical culture—in fact, it is tacitly discouraged.

“Well, let me tell you about a time when I was that attending,” I said.  Then I steeled myself, and launched into my story.

The patient was a young woman, healthy up until the moment of her cardiac arrest. As the ICU attending on service, I was responsible for running her code. Despite all of our best efforts, her heart fluttered ineffectively on and off for hours, unable to pump blood to her starving organs.  Multiple rounds of adrenaline, electric shocks, and manual compressions by a string of exhausted interns had not succeeded in restoring her heart rhythm. As a result, her blood had become acidic, her kidneys had failed, and her liver was dying. Unbelievably, she remained intermittently awake over that first day, moaning occasionally. We hadn’t considered sedating her, as any medications for pain or sedation might drop her flagging blood pressure further. We had been pedal-to-the-metal for hours, but she was steadily deteriorating. I was confident that we had passed the point of no return.

Insight Center

Medical teams function much like fire departments. The chief, or attending, is counted on to lead her troops straight towards the fire, to do the job that needs to get done. We are expected to be brave, confident, and above all, to never give up.  And all the more so in particular cases, such as when a patient is young, previously healthy, or has a condition that appears reversible on admission. And in cases when our well-intended but risky interventions might have actually made things worse, it is almost impossible to let go. I knew how difficult it would be for my team to consider anything less than everything for this patient. I also knew what I would be up against if I suggested changing our approach. I remembered my own tendency as a resident to sink my frustrations into more fight. I had myself judged attendings who had suggested shifting course, even questioned their fitness as leaders. But now, at the helm myself and convinced that this patient would not survive, I knew it was time to rethink our frantic scramble to save her.

A nurse ran by me to retrieve another syringe of epinephrine. I took a deep breath. “It’s time for us to stop,” I said. “I’d like to start pain and sedation meds and not restart compressions the next time her heart stops.”

These were hard words to say.  Harder still when the team turned to stare at me in astonishment.

“She’s only fifty,” said one of my interns incredulously. “I think she deserves more time.”  Another intern swore under her breath and rushed passed me, slamming the door on her way out. My heart sank. There was a veritable mutiny in progress. And within seconds, I began to question myself. I could hear the voices of my colleagues and others who heard of this, possibly directly asking me, more likely talking behind my back—why I hadn’t tried this technique, that intervention, a whole host of options that would never have saved this woman.  They probably would have agreed that these measures wouldn’t have worked. But performing them would have been fighting to the end, the way real heroes do.

In the end, I couldn’t stand up to my own inner voices. I caved, and we continued on.

It didn’t go well. The patient died a terrible death. It took longer than I had expected—she didn’t die for another 24 hours.  That fact further eroded my team’s confidence in me: my prognosis was off by a day.

But the fact is this woman suffered more than she needed to, and it was under my watch. Worried about her blood pressure, we had only minimally attended to her pain and anxiety. I look back on that day as a failure on my part—a time that I succumbed to my own internalization of a culture that prioritizes doing everything over doing what will actually help most.

And that is how I found myself, years later, speaking to this group of residents about this case. Our current medical culture often sets us up for the kind of moral distress I experienced that day. It is not only the witnessing of profound suffering, it is that we often feel unable to question or diverge from scripted approaches — ones which may actually cause more suffering than benefit. This surely contributes to the high levels of depression, suicide, and substance abuse among physicians.

Healing Stories

One way to address this trauma is through storytelling, the approach at the heart of my pilot program. The Narrative Medicine movement, started at Columbia Medical School in 1990, has introduced storytelling into an increasing number of medical schools and training programs. Data show that the use of stories to process the challenging experience of being a doctor increases empathy, enhances wellness and resilience, and promotes a more humanistic health care culture. By p­­­­rovidin­­­­­g a safe space for telling stories and listening to each other about our pain and personal conflict, we restore ourselves, and are better prepared for that next encounter.

In that vein, this program draws on my own experiences to invite others to reflect on this cure-at-all-cost culture in which we physicians have been steeped. Using my own stories, and a Netflix documentary set in our ICU, this multimedia experience aims to expose some of the emotions and fears that hold us back from doing what is best for our patients.

That day, after telling my story to the ER residents, I waited through an uncomfortable silence. I imagined I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. Even after all these years of writing and speaking on this topic, I felt the familiar tug of anxiety. Were they judging me?

Finally, one of the residents started to speak. Hesitantly, as if worried this would come back to bite him. “I remember a time when we were coding a patient,” he said. “The code had been running for fifty minutes and the attending decided to call it. Everyone was relieved at first. But then someone said that he wasn’t comfortable stopping yet. So we restarted the code. It went on for another twenty minutes and the patient eventually died. But there was an awkward feeling in the room, like the attending had been found out. I felt bad for him because I think he was embarrassed that he’d been the first to give up.”

There were a few tentative nods. Another resident raised his hand. “I remember a time in the ER when a patient came in after a serious car accident,” he said. “We coded him on and off for hours. We’d done everything we could think of and he was about to die. Someone suggested that we open up his chest to see if there was anything we could do to restart his heart—remove some fluid, anything. It was crazy. There were even some snickers in the room. No one thought it would work. And even if it did, his organs had already died. The attending said no. And then I got pissed at the attending. I remember almost hating him. I remember thinking that he was giving up on this guy.”

I looked around the room. The residents who had spoken looked a little shocked, even sheepish. But the others looked relieved. And then a genuine conversation proceeded, one which addressed the emotional pitfalls and psychological challenges of this work. Once again I saw how our battlefield mentality affects us all: patient and healthcare provider, trainer and trainee.

It is crucial that we provide safe spaces for healthcare professionals to reflect on and process their own suffering. Then we will be fully available to do the hard work of patient-centered decision making in the moments when it is really needed — at the bedside of a dying patient.

Categories: Blogs

Using the Power of Supply Chains to End Sexual Harassment

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 10:00
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In the year since allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein shocked the public, the #MeToo movement has exposed widespread workplace sexual harassment—not just in the entertainment world, but across industries.

Last week, we at New America’s Better Life Lab published what we believe is a novel, forward-thinking report on the reality that harassment is “severe, pervasive, and widespread” across low and high income jobs and male- and female-dominated occupations. We also published an accompanying toolkit, called #NowWhat?, aimed at stakeholders invested in changing this reality. Among the recommendations we offer, one in particular is salient to businesses: supply-chain reform.

In a nutshell, this means leveraging consumer, worker, and corporate power to drive change at the companies you do business with.

Consider the Fair Food Program, which leverages farmworker and consumer pressure to demand that food buyers, like fast-food companies, demand that their food suppliers take harassment and other workplace abuses seriously.

In 2011, the Coalition of Immokalee workers banded together to get consumers on board to pressure the agricultural industry to improve working conditions. Workers organized to lobby consumers to buy only from food sellers that have been certified as a “Fair Food Farms,” placing pressure on Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wendy’s, and other food sellers to “sign legally-binding agreements promising to only source tomatoes from Fair Food Farms with no outstanding wage theft, trafficking, sexual harassment, or other issues.” Certified farms then comply with auditors and participate in worker-education programs to “ensure farm workers have the right to work without violence and the opportunity to create a workplace of respect and dignity.”

How’s this approach working so far? Journalist Bernice Yeung found that “in the program’s seven years, 35 supervisors have been disciplined for sexual harassment, and 10 have been fired.” She continues: “Since 2013, two incidents of sexual harassment have been identified. The program’s most recent annual report notes that during the 2016–17 growing season, more than 70% of participating farms reported no incidents of sexual harassment.” These findings are significant, given that our review of the research on sexual harassment in male-dominated, low-wage industries such as farm work found evidence of widespread rape. A 2010 study showed that 80% of farm working women report experiencing sexual harassment.

The way the Coalition of Immokalee Worker and Fair Food Program ensure success is by creating user-friendly, independent reporting processes for sexual harassment, conducting peer-to-peer training about sexual harassment and workplace rights in an accessible manner, taking regular climate surveys to inform the co-creation of civil workplace practices and enforcement of respectful workplace norms, and making sure employees know that they’re more important than any one harassing foreman or farmer. Notably, the Fair Food Program food addresses many other issues beyond sexual harassment, including wage theft and human trafficking, but their efforts use supply-chain reform to eliminate sexual harassment provides a novel example of how to prevent and address workplace abuse—a strategy that other industries and organizers can use.

So how can firms like yours get ahead of the curve and encourage reform across their own supply chain before they face activist pressure?

First of all, take stock of the many corporations that rely on your company’s business, either as a buyer, a retailer, or a contractor. These are companies you might have enormous influence over, even if they don’t technically operate under your management.

Second, using resources like our report, find out what kinds of factors are letting sexual harassment flourish in companies you do business with. No two industries are alike. This might be a matter of workplace hierarchies, lackluster HR policies, or longstanding cultural assumptions about who belongs in one occupation or another.

Then, it’s time to make your priorities and values about harassment and workplace culture known. This might entail drawing up a clear, written statement on what you expect from your partners and suppliers, and consequences for when they don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

Lastly, make it official. You can do this by asking your partners across your supply chain to sign onto an agreement about what is and isn’t tolerated in their workplaces, and then, and this is important, come up with a collective way to enforce that agreement. Will there be annual climate surveys and audits of how your partners are doing? And if so, are you ready to follow through on the consequences you laid out and potentially take your business elsewhere? This is where the power your firm has to influence change across your own industry and others’ really lies.

Of course, supply-chain reform is just one of a multitude of ways a single company can improve workplace culture beyond its own walls. But none of this will be effective unless a firm takes care of its own workers first. It’s one thing for McDonald’s to sign on to the Fair Food Agreement and use its power to protect farmworkers who are picking the tomatoes they buy. But as the strike against McDonald’s for its lackluster response to sexual harassment in September showed, it still has work to do in protecting its own workers from workplace abuse.

With the right research, dedicated partners, and a plan of action, a company can change not only its own workplace culture—but also all those linked to it.

Categories: Blogs

How to Actually Put Your Data Analysis to Good Use

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 09:00
MirageC/Getty Images

Data and analytics professionals seem to be at the center of the next big race for talent. In 2015, there was a surplus of people with data science skills. Now there’s a significant shortage. By 2020, IBM expects broader demand for data and analytics talent to reach 2.7 million positions in the U.S. alone.

The competition for talent will be especially intense for companies for whom advanced analytics forms a core part of their proposition — think e-commerce giants, hedge funds and complex system engineers. For them, a dedicated, in-house team of data specialists can be a necessity.

But the rest of us? Not so much. Consider the findings of a Rexer Analytics survey in which more than a third of data analytics professionals say their company never, or only sometimes, puts their analyses to use. This calls into question the practicality of funnelling analyses through centralized teams focused on big-picture challenges.

Complete Integration with the Business

In our experience, most companies don’t need a small army of data scientists or bleeding-edge analytical techniques. What they do need are analyses that solve key commercial and operational problems. The good news is that the tools to do so are readily available — and relatively inexpensive. The same is true for processing power. Meanwhile, the vast majority of companies already store (but don’t analyze) vast amounts of commercially-relevant data and are collecting it at a faster rate than ever before.

What’s missing, more often than not, is a clear strategy and operational model for using these capabilities in ways that are specific to the company’s business requirements. Any such effort depends on three basic components:

  • People who can combine their commercial expertise with advanced analytics methods and applications in an effective way
  • An evidence-based approach that translates analytical know-how and an understanding of the business problem into actionable insights
  • A small team of analytics professionals (not necessarily data scientists) to develop appropriate analytical tools and techniques and enable the organization to deploy them through internal training and advice

Together, these form a solid foundation for closing the gap between technical skills and commercial thinking so that businesses can extract value from analytics. 

Building Internal Capabilities

So how to get started? We suggest taking your cue from companies that have been down this road before.

Start small. Aim for a single, key problem or an important (but limited) area of the business where predictive analytics can have a valuable and immediate impact. Then use the results to build credibility, excitement and momentum.

Brewing and beverage company SABMiller (now a division of Anheuser-Busch) took this track when they decided to make data and analysis available to their business units. To manage risk, they kept their initial investments modest. That way, they could readily abandon the failures while expanding the rollout of the tools and approaches that worked.

Keep it commercial. Tie analytics to the commercial and operational heart of your organization. (If it doesn’t address a core business need, analytics can be a hindrance more than a help.) While you’re at it, place the analytical capability as close as possible to those doing the commercial thinking.

Insight Center

Berlin-based Zalando, for instance, empowered its business units with a self-service analytics infrastructure paired with embedded analysts focused on product development. The result? Teams ranging from Fashion Store to Logistics now can extract the data-informed insights they need to make smart decisions in line with the firm’s top business priorities.

Identify your analytical capabilities — both existing and potential. Many companies already have functions dedicated to strategy, financial planning or business insights, as well as individuals who use analysis to solve business problems. Build on these assets by empowering them with new capabilities. Special qualifications aren’t required — just the ability (and desire) to become data literate and proficient in the tools you select.

When Jaguar Land Rover discovered pockets of self-service analytics activity across its departments, the company began offering in-house analytics training. The first 60-seat course offering filled to capacity. By last year, an estimated 1,800 and 2,500 employees had become “citizen analysts” — business users who created their own analytics as part of their day-to-day work.

Build a toolkit. Encourage business users to tap into analytics with self-service tools that preclude the need to learn how to code. The most effective of these have built-in algorithms to navigate company data, create charts and dashboards, and deliver insights to different audiences.

Nike put together a tailored set of software tools for business intelligence, analysis and visualization—all with an aim to reduce technical barriers and bring insights to users in the business.  The toolkit had to cover the full range of user requirements from those just wanting key dashboards to those looking for as much data as possible to perform their own ‘exploratory’ analysis.  All users benefit from a central team that provides the governance necessary to ensure a stable, secure and up-to-date environment.

Create evangelists. Don’t leave business users to figure out the commercial value of analytics on their own. Show it to them instead, via a network of advocates across the organization. Through these advocates, companies can proactively introduce the capabilities available to the business and provide expert support for those finding their way.

That’s what UK supermarket Sainsbury’s did when they created a new 60 strong internal team called the Humanalysts. The group’s mission? To identify data-driven opportunities for improvement—such as predicting shopper responses to new pricing strategies — and, along the way, make believers out of often-skeptical business users.

Making Use of What You Have

Wherever you start your journey, keep this in mind: Democratizing analytics is an unavoidably iterative process. Every step requires a look back to ensure the appropriate controls, training and delivery mechanisms are in place and working the way they need to be. As Voltaire famously observed, with great power comes great responsibility.

It’s also a good idea to borrow liberally from those in similar situations to your own. Make generous use of relevant case studies. Prioritize the insights that generate commercial benefits. When reporting back within your organisation, focus on output and impact rather than the underlying models. Inspire, and be inspired.

Finally, don’t give in to pressures to build great teams of scarce, highly-paid specialists without working out what makes sense for your business. There’s nothing so special about analytics that they must be kept from those most intimately familiar with the problems you need to solve, and who work for you already. Analytics should inherently empower anyone with the means to comprehend it. Put another way: Data analytics is for everyone — not just the few.

Categories: Blogs

9 Words and Phrases You’re Probably Using Wrong

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 08:50
Topic Images Inc./Getty Images

Many times, especially in business settings, people use words that they think they know — but don’t. Although they do this in an effort to sound intelligent and sophisticated, it backfires badly, because even one small slip-up can cause an audience to focus on only that, not their ideas. Sure, saying the wrong word (usually) isn’t a game-changer. But if you make that kind of mistake, it sets you up for a question that no one wants clients, coworkers, or employers to begin asking: “Are you really that smart?”

Think it can’t happen to you? We’ve heard horror stories: people laughing behind a prominent CEO’s back for his not understanding the correct use of a business term; a corporate lawyer saying “tenant” (a renter) instead of “tenet” (a belief); an employee toasting her supervisor as the “penultimate” leader (which doesn’t mean “ultimate” but instead means “next to last”).

Here, excerpted from our new book, That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means, are nine terms or words that sound smart but when used incorrectly make you sound the opposite, along with real examples of their being misused, drawn from business news reports, research publications, and corporate press releases (though we’ve omitted attributions to protect the well-meaning writers who unwittingly committed the errors).

begs the question

“Fidelity might have fired the last salvo by eliminating fees entirely. This begs the question as to whether Fidelity’s new funds incur any hidden costs or fees.”

In spite of popular thought, “begs the question” is not a smart-sounding way of saying “raises the question.” It’s actually a formal logic term that means trying to prove something based on a premise that itself needs to be proved, rather than raising a question. So leave “begs the question” where it technically belongs — in the realm of logic and law — and use the (correct) “raises the question” when that’s what you’re trying to say.

impacts on

“They can clearly and simply explain what we have done and how it impacts on our interpretation of the data, ensuring our reports are understandable and actionable.”

In a 2015 American Heritage survey of language experts, 79% disapproved of using “impacts on” to mean “affect.” Another 39% disapproved of using “impact” to mean “affect” even without that preposition “on.” The original (and still most common) meaning of “impact” involves collisions. But nowadays, you can use it to mean “to affect” (without any collisions). But leave out that preposition “on.” That might impact (affect) your business presentation.

in regard(s) to

“[I]n regards to the new well, the production capacity of this first large size production well is remarkable.” 

This sentence is wrong. Not regarding the remarkable production capacity, but regarding “in regards to,” which should be “in regard to.” Even better, just say “regarding” or “about.” (For the record, “regards” with the “s” is correct in the phrase “as regards,” where “regard” is a verb.) In regard to the phrase “in regard to,” regard is a noun, and the singular — without the s — should always be used. The exception is when sending someone good wishes — “best regards” — or giving your regards to, say, Broadway, as in the song. After all, you probably wouldn’t want to wish Broadway only one regard.


“[S]tart-ups are leaving the heartland and are employing less people.

Technically, at least according to some word snobs, it should be “fewer people,” not “less people.” Why? It all depends on if and what you’re counting. A few basic rules:

  • Use “fewer” for numbered, countable things, especially people or other plural nouns. (“Fewer than 20 people were there.”)
  • Use “less” for things that can’t be counted, at least reasonably. (“There’s less sand at the beach.”)
  • Use “less” with numbers when they are a single or total unit, usually with “than.” (“Less than 50 percent of us went to the meeting.”) This can be tricky, because often you’ll see numbers in the plural, as in “He has less than a million dollars,” that presumably have been counted (as in rule 1). But since here we’re really talking about total amounts of nonhuman things, use less. (Don’t blame us — those are the basic rules that many people follow. Still, it’s all less — not fewer! — difficult than you’d think.)


“We have…failed to require that the IRS utilize only secure and reliable authentication methodologies…” 

Methodology is an annoying word that has oozed into a lot of places, especially government documents and annual reports, probably because it sounds important … and pretentious. The word to use instead is “method.” The “-logy” tacked onto the end of method transforms it into the study of methods. (The -logy ending comes from the ancient Greek λογίa “the study of”). So methodology has its place in English — it’s just that it should stay there and not substitute for method. [One interesting note: The IRS itself, in contrast to the senator speaking about the IRS, almost always uses the word method instead of methodology. Count on tax professionals to use a more economical word.]


“Whether you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer or not is a mute-point. “

Actually, it’s not a mute point at all because a point isn’t speechless. It should be moot not mute. But even spelled right, moot is tough to use correctly. The use of moot is, well, moot … and we’re not being cute. What we’re saying is that the meaning of moot is “open to debate” — which is the time-honored definition of moot. But by the mid-1800s, moot also began meaning “something not worth considering.” The idea was that something debatable is of no practical value so not worth bothering with. So sometimes “moot” is used to mean “definitely not debatable” because the point is so immaterial. This change in meaning is primarily North American and it is one that has stuck, although language purists argue about it. Our advice: choose another word.

statistically significant

Facebook is ‘a positive, significant predictor of divorce rate….’ [T]he study’s authors feel they’re noticing something that’s genuinely statistically significant.”

You see it all the time nowadays: A study has shown something worrisome! The findings are statistically significant! Uh oh! But statistically significant doesn’t necessarily mean that the results were significant in the sense of “Wow!” It just means that they signify that whatever was observed has only a low probability that it was due to chance. The problem is, in non-statistical use, significant means something noteworthy or important. So non-statistical types see “statistically significant” and think it refers to something big. But actually a study can find something statistically significant that has only a tiny effect. For example, Facebook could increase the risk of divorce by a statistically significant 1 percent. Big deal.


“The Skyline Group of Companies is one of Canada’s fastest-growing and most unique investment management organizations…

Unique means being the “only one of its kind; unlike anything else.” So something can’t be the “most unique,” it can only be unique. But times are changing. Some dictionaries, like Merriam-Webster’s, now also define unique as “extraordinary,” although Webster’s says that this “common usage is still objected to by some.” Include us in the ranks of the “some” (although we’re not as impassioned as a New York Times book reviewer who called this usage of unique an “indefensible outrage!”). Let’s keep unique meaning, well, unique. For plural things that we want to call unique, we can instead say “unusual” or “exceptional.” So we could say that Skyline is an “exceptional” investment management organization…but let’s leave that to their PR department.


“Among the goals of the partnership will be to utilize Vium’s technology to track digital biomarkers…”

Substitute “used” for “utilized.” Does it make a difference? The only one we can see is that utilized is longer. So why use it? Yes, utilize can be distinguished from use when it’s used to refer to using something that serves even if it wasn’t intended for that purpose (“She utilized her dead tablet as a doorstop”), but it’s a slight distinction and “use” can still work. Utilize can also mean “to convert to use,” most often in scientific writing. (“The body utilizes carbohydrates.”) Even here, “use” can work, although it sounds a lot less scientific for some reason. In general, utilize is a just a fancy way of saying use, and is usually best not u̶t̶i̶l̶i̶z̶e̶d̶ used at all.

These nine words are only the tip of an iceberg. From “a priori” to “untenable,” words can work for you, or against you. And that’s our last (not penultimate!) word, at least in this article, on the words that can trip you up.

Categories: Blogs

The Tightrope Google Has to Walk in China

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 08:00
HBR Staff

With over 1.3 billion people, the Chinese consumer market is a tempting target for Western technology companies. Of course, it’s also a risky place to do business. The recent news that Google is considering a re-entry into China further highlights a troubling balancing act faced by technology companies looking to do business there. The company last entered China in 2006 with a censored search engine, but pulled the plug on the operation four years later after it discovered that human-rights activists’ Gmail accounts had been hacked. While the economic opportunity in re-entering China could be massive for the firm, there are very real dangers for Google or any internet firm in underestimating the threat posed by Chinese meddling.

Any internet platform company doing business in China has to negotiate a major business and ethical dilemma: The Chinese government enforces overbearing regulations that censor speech in the name of national security and, under common conceptions of international norms, violate human rights. Reports indicate that Google has discussed some of its re-entry plans with Chinese government officials, including offering a search service that would “blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.”

Google’s bind is a common one. Apple, for its part, gave in to a new, privacy-impinging Chinese data security regulation last year when the firm announced it would build a data center in Guizhou, partner with a Chinese cloud service provider, and accommodate Chinese government demands that it should be able to examine private data held by Apple. The potential loss Apple would have sustained had it not caved and, in the view of many, compromised human rights interests, was huge — its access to the vast Chinese market for devices, as well as its manufacturing base there. Reportedly, Facebook has also attempted to enter China, though it has faced tremendous public outcry and difficulty in doing so.

Google’s departure in 2006 and the maneuvers of other tech companies trying to negotiate this minefield illustrate the difficult choices their executives face. Companies are compelled to maximize shareholder value; should the firm’s executives ignore human rights concerns and seize economic opportunities, or should they take the ethical course and forego the profits to be had?

While ethical considerations should rightly be a central concern, there is an array of potential threats internet firms would be wise to think through as well as they seek to balance the costs and opportunities of entering China.

  • Intellectual property theft. It is well-known that the Chinese government engages extensively in IP theft. For internet firms like Facebook and Google that collect personal data and monetize it using proprietary algorithms, state theft of corporate secrets — and their potential exploitation by Chinese rivals linked to the government — would pose a serious threat.
  • Escalating government demands. It is now clear that companies operating in China are kept on a short leash even when they comply with governmental demands. Indeed, the government can be expected, over time, to make increasingly invasive demands. Qualcomm, despite its compliance, has received heavy regulatory fines succeeded by significant merger blocks. Apple, which complied with Chinese regulations last year, was subject to threats that the government would shut off access to the Chinese labor market should the ongoing trade war with the United States escalate.
  • Regulatory creep. Political backlash against the leading internet platforms is increasing. In the last year, we have seen novel rhetoric and regulation from governmental authorities in Brazil, India, the United States, and elsewhere. Internet companies desire open markets and unconstrained internet service. But by making concessions to China’s censorship and regulatory demands, companies will surely encourage other governments to impose their own restrictions on the industry. When questioned about its China plans on Capitol Hill, Google dodged. But moving forward, U.S. firms will have to maintain stronger lines of communication with policymakers to resolve regulatory concerns on the front foot.
  • Alienating employees. Until a few months ago, Google’s plans regarding China were a closely kept secret. When employees learned that the company was considering censoring the search platform for the Chinese market, many signed a condemning internal letter — a petition to which the company’s CEO replied by noting only that Google doesn’t have immediate plans to launch a censored Chinese search service.  Employees’ influence within technology corporations is growing; present and past Facebook employees (including former president Sean Parker) likewise have publicly condemned the company’s leadership for its lax data privacy practices; at Google some employees have left the company in protest of its policies.

China has long enforced a strict media and information regime. It’s unlikely that this policy framework will change any time soon. The ethical case for resisting Chinese regulation is clear. But Internet companies need to also think carefully about the business costs of conceding to Chinese rules. In addition to the threat to their reputations, there are material risks that are equally dangerous.

Categories: Blogs

How Deloitte Consulting LLP and Salesforce Are Using Technology to Transform the Employee Experience - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DELOITTE’S CONNECTME AND SALESFORCE

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 07:00

Today’s employees are digital consumers who expect to connect at work with the same ease with which they connect at home. Deloitte’s ConnectMe enables a digital workplace by using insights to connect the workforce to what they need, where and when they need it. ConnectMe leverages the world’s leading CRM cloud solution, Salesforce, to help organizations navigate the changing workplace and deliver an exceptional employee experience. To find out more, please visit

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Angelia Herrin, HBR

Welcome to the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Quick Take. I’m Angelia Herrin, Editor for Special Projects and Research at HBR. And today I’m talking with Michael Gretczko, Principal, National Offering Leader, Human Capital as a Service at Deloitte Consulting, LLP, and with Jody Kohner, Senior Vice President of Employee Marketing and Engagement at Salesforce. We’re focusing today on how new challenges and new technologies are changing human capital management, and how to ensure that this key resource becomes a sustained competitive advantage for your company. Michael and Jody, thanks so much for joining us today.

Jody Kohner, Salesforce

Thanks so much for having us.

Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

Likewise, happy to be here.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

Michael, you’ve seen a lot of changes in the workplace and the workforce over the past few years. How are those changes impacting business leaders, and what does that mean for human capital management?

Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

It’s a great question, and one that we’re working on with our clients day in and day out. And when we talk with business leaders, what we really hear and what we talk about is how external pressures are really fundamentally changing the way organizations do business. And we call this a move from a business enterprise to a social enterprise—one where businesses need to understand what’s happening in the broader society, in their workplace, and with a rapidly changing workforce.

And it’s that last part, that rapidly changing workforce and the change in work, that really leads to some very significant human capital issues. And we really think about those in five buckets. The first is that our client organizations are trying to figure out how to transition to the future of work, as technology is really fundamentally changing how work gets done.

The second one is they’re really trying to create what I’ll call a simply irresistible experience for their employees, to engage them and get them working toward the company’s mission and objectives.

Third, they’re focused on optimizing what I’ll call the human capital balance sheet, making sure their workforce dollars are creating the right kind of impact in the way that their workforce is showing up day in and day out in the workplace.

Fourth, they’re activating the digital organization—taking advantage of the new digital tools that are available in the market, to work in very different ways and to leverage those digital technologies to create efficiency.

Fifth, and last, is sustaining organizational performance—constantly reevaluating how you’re using your workforce and your people to drive performance in the organization that doesn’t rest. That keeps on driving more and more impact on the bottom line.

Jody Kohner, Salesforce

You know, I would add that I think, as someone who’s living this every day, we all know that the talent market is just so tough right now. You have to work really, really hard at these things that Michael was pointing out to be able to attract the very best talent, and also to keep them. There are some interesting stats out there that we really watch closely around attraction and engagement and retention that show that 45 percent of employers report difficulties in filling jobs, that 85 percent of employees self-report as being disengaged, and—a really scary thought here—that 90 percent of them are open to new opportunities.

So really kind of getting ahead of what these issues are and how you’re managing them, and how you’re creating these simply irresistible experiences that Michael referred to—it’s critical work.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

You’ve outlined a lot of challenges. How could HR executives, working with other leaders, really turn human capital management into a sustained competitive advantage?

Jody Kohner, Salesforce

I think that you really have to focus on investing in your employees. That investing in employee engagement is an actual business imperative, and it has real, measurable ROI. The author Kevin Kruse, who wrote a book called Engagement 2.0, which talks a lot about the engagement profit change, which roughly translated shows how happy employees lead to happy customers, which ultimately results in happy stakeholders. And one of the things that I think we notice all the time is that there are companies all across the globe, in every single industry, that are really focused right now on the customer experience, and really trying to drive digital transformations for them. But what they’re under investing in is the employee experience and also driving digital transformations for those employees who are servicing all of those customers.

Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

I absolutely agree. I think what Jody said is exactly what we see as well. And I’ll just add that I think that as we think about employee experience and engagement as a business issue, to really make that a reality, there has to be collaboration between the business and HR leaders. HR leaders need to help business leaders sense those markets trends, understand the workforce composition, and collaborate to attract and retain those workforce capabilities—and to do that, they need to address those very sobering stats that Jody pulled together.  There’s always been some form of collaboration, but now it’s mandatory; HR and the business need to be working hand in hand to tackle some of these very tough issues.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

You talked about engagement. Where should leaders be focusing to really keep today’s workforce meaningfully engaged?

Jody Kohner, Salesforce

We definitely do not have all that figured out. It’s a working formula. But the formula that we have been using, I do believe, is generating a lot of success for us. It’s a little tough because it’s human, it’s very personal, and people are messy. But the formula that we like to use is that if you take one part culture, one part technology, and one part data, you will ultimately drive more engagement. And let me just give you an example of how we do that.

When it comes to culture—I mean at Salesforce—we really believe that this is our single greatest differentiator and it is our competitive advantage. And so we focus a lot on this. We are very intentional. We write it down. We prioritize it. We build programs around it. We measure it.

And we’re constantly innovating on it. This is something that is not owned by HR; it is owned by every single employee across the globe.

I’m not talking about ping-pong tables and snacks; this is really about meaningful work. It’s about purpose and belonging. And that’s all really nice, but it can result in only words, if you don’t put a lot of action behind it. And so one of the things that we have found is that this is where the technology component comes in. Because a great culture and beautiful words and wonderful sentiment are just not enough. Today’s employees also want social, mobile, intelligent, and connected technologies—the same as the ones they are using outside of work. They can go through their life and have these relationships with their favorite brands in a really efficient and awesome and meaningful way, but they need to be able to come into work and have those same experiences.

So we’re doing things like avoiding endless meetings and emails and instead leveraging a community for communications. We don’t have an intranet at Salesforce, we use apps. They’re all built on the Salesforce platform. We don’t have help desk tickets into black holes where nobody can get help for anything. We have self-service apps in which 95 percent of employee needs are instantly answered in real time.

And the beauty of all of this is that if you get out of some of those older and more archaic technologies that people are sometimes forced to work in, and you work in apps, then you get data, which is the third component of engagement for us. Because when you’re in apps, and you’re in communities, and you’re putting people on email journeys, you get a substantial amount of data. And you can aggregate this, and you can analyze this, and you can help make smarter talent decisions. And to Michael’s point, how does HR partner with the business? It’s through data. Data is the language of the business, and if you can change the system so that you have more data, you can really many more meaningful experiences for employees.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

Measurement and metrics challenge every company, so how do you measure efforts to build a great experience for employees?

Jody Kohner, Salesforce

That’s kind of funny, because when I first took this job and was thinking about taking this job, my mentor said to me, “Oh, you’d better be careful, because if you don’t have data, you’re never going to be successful. I’d really think twice about that.” And I had this fear that I wasn’t going to be able to rise to that occasion. And so we have dug in really, really deep on the data chain. We do things like employee surveys—we do those twice a year. We also do a lot of analysis around help tickets that are being logged and what employees are struggling with. We monitor conversations in our own social internal networks. We measure attrition numbers and patterns. We also look at outside sources like Glassdoor reviews and LinkedIn talent flow data trends. And all of this combined can tell a really robust story that shows tangibly why investing in culture engagement is a really smart business decision. It’s not just a “nice to have.”

And we run our employee surveys here a little differently than most companies I’ve seen. We do them twice a year, and all of the data is actually put into an app that every single employee has access to. This really fundamentally changes the ownership question—you know, who owns the culture? If it’s a survey that’s run by HR, then what you find is the whole business goes back to HR and says, “Okay, well, what are we going to do about it?”

But if I put that data into an app and I make it “drill downable,” so that every person on every team across the globe can look at the survey results, now that manager is really the one who’s on the hook, who has to admit, “Wow, the culture on my team isn’t where I’d like it to be.” This becomes really important from a price perspective; it’s another performance metric that we measure against.  A company that’s growing must be able to retain its talent and show them different career paths. And if you’ve got a score that indicates your team isn’t engaged and having fun, that’s going to work against you. So again, it’s not an HR thing to own—everybody owns it, and the data is what makes that possible.

Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

And I’ll just add that I think everything that Jody and the team at Salesforce are doing is leading edge and is what we’re seeing that the most progressive organizations are doing. I think one of the takeaways is that we’re starting to see organizations taking marketing technology and marketing thinking and applying it to this talent problem of engagement. It’s things like using data to segment your population and understand the texture of your workforce so that you can drive different programs and different engagement with those employees based on their profiles and based on what they need as individuals, and starting to really highlight the individual within your workforce.

We also think there’s a need to really focus on what we call interaction analytics which is—like some examples that Jody shared around employees—what are they clicking on? What are they consuming? How are they talking to each other? Who is talking to whom? It’s really getting this other level of texture around what’s happening out in the workforce. We find that allows you to be much more predictive in how you service your employees as an HR function, how you understand the tone of how your employees are thinking about a new business initiative, or a new product, and to use all that data to really enrich your management decision-making as you navigate these very turbulent waters that many companies are navigating right now.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

So, Michael, where do you see new technologies like AI and cognitive having real impact on the way work gets done, and on employee experience?

Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

You know, I think there are really three big buckets of technology that are specifically transforming this employee experience. The first one is what I’ll call a digital workplace, which is a little bit of what we’ve been talking about here—how these technologies are changing, how the workforce engages, how teams communicate and manage work, and how leaders engage with team members.

And this is really about bringing those consumer and social technologies into the workplace and making them part of the fabric of how work gets done. The second thing I think is really important is cognitive and AI, which is radically transforming how lots of different work gets done. It’s automating tasks, it’s optimizing processes, it’s taking over work that teams don’t necessarily need to do that is relatively routine. And it also allows machines to learn perhaps more quickly than humans and develop new capabilities based on those patterns that they detect. Cognitive and AI are really changing the kind of work that employees are doing in the workplace. And it is likely that work will be much more interesting, and much more focused on humanistic capabilities and abilities than some of the more routine work that gets done today, and that is frankly less engaging to employees.

And the third area, which we talked a little bit about here, is really this whole area of what I’ll call sensing and insights, cognitive and AI. Digital workplace helps with that, but it’s about really sifting through the notes and finding the signal, finding the intelligence and the insight using that employee data to understand how employees are impacting each other and their leaders, and how they’re interacting with the external world.

In response to the first question, I talked about the rise of the social enterprise, and that understanding how your employees perceive your organization and what they say about your organization outside of its walls is a really important indication of how well you’re doing around engagement. And you can use that data and those interactions to really craft very personalized experiences that speak to individual employees and their career objectives, and that’s when you really hit nirvana of engagement and experience.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

So, what does it mean to create a digital workplace, and who drives this transformation? Is it HR? Is it IT leaders? Who’s in charge here?

Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

I define digital workplaces as a smart, intuitive, and empowering set of technologies that really help employees do their jobs really well and feel good about where they work. One key characteristic of this is that it needs to be a consumer-grade, social media-like experience, very similar to what employees experience outside of the workplace. It’s something that we’ve invested in, and we built a product we call ConnectMe—built actually with Salesforce technology and leveraging all the innovation that Salesforce has brought into this space—to really allow employees to access and consume HR services and content that are relevant to them, and to help guide them through things like the moments that matter when they’re in the workplace, such as getting married or getting promoted or starting a new job or taking on a new set of responsibilities or moving to a new location.

We really want to enable them to be successful in those clear transitions—helping employees to team better to get work done, and helping employees get information about how to improve their own effectiveness and raise their own capabilities. And we’ve enabled all that in this digital workplace platform by taking these various technologies we’ve talked about here and aligning them around some of the common problems and issues that we talked about in the beginning that our clients are starting to experience in the marketplace.

The last part of your question was, how does this get driven? In our perspective, it needs to be close collaboration (this will be a theme for today) between HR and, in this case, IT. HR needs to really understand the programs it’s pushing out to its employees—really understand its workforce and what they need, and understand even the workforce outside of its walls, the gig workers. And IT really needs to help by stitching these technologies together and making sure they create a comprehensive, easy-to-use experience that’s modern-technology-accessible, in all places at all times, to employees to really meet the expectations of those employees. And we don’t believe either function can do this well on its own. And the best solutions that we’ve seen were about close collaboration and goal alignment between those two functions.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

A lot of companies are facing this digital transformation. So what advice would you give to HR executives and other business leaders to ensure they don’t get left behind in this fast-paced transformation?

Michael Gretczko, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

I can take first stab at this one. I think one of the things that we see all the time is that the workforce is changing dramatically right now, and very, very quickly. The composition is changing, the kind of work employees and the workforce are doing is changing, and the way we do that work is changing. And employees recognize that in this world of constant change, a traditional career trajectory probably doesn’t set them up for success. They’re more looking for experiences—developmental experiences that help them build the skills of the future. And that requires a level of empowerment. You’ve got to empower employees to go off and take on these new experiences and express themselves, and our research suggests that only 59 percent of executives have rated themselves as effective at empowering the individuals.

So you’ve got a large portion of the management workforce saying, “I don’t know how to create experiences for my employees,” yet that’s really the way employees will learn and develop in the future, and that’s really the expectation they come into the organization with. I think some of the best organizations are empowering individuals with those valuable experiences, focusing on raising the skill sets of their managers and their HR professionals who are trying to nurture and guide this. They’re really trying to focus on making sure there’s this constant focus on new experiences—taking advantage of the disruption within and outside your walls, so that you’re prepared for the changes that are coming.

Jody Kohner, Salesforce

I agree with everything you’ve said. I also think that there is obviously a heavy dose of technology that is going to be the key to evolving, but you can’t forget about just the plain, simple human factors. And it really starts with having meaningful work—making sure that your employees deeply understand the company vision, the plan to get there, and most importantly, what their share of the task is. This is what creates a sense of purpose and belonging.

The other thing that I would note, though, is that we also need to make sure that employees have a purpose just beyond profit. I think one of the most remarkable things that the founders did from the very first day the company was started was to create our 1-1-1 model, wherein we give away one percent of our time, one percent of our product, and one percent of our equity to the communities that we live in and we serve. Being able to state company goals around this and activate employees to be out in the community and to be participating, it creates a higher purpose. More recently, we actually elevated equality to be another core value of our company, in addition to giving back, because it was important to the employees—the employees told us that, we heard them, and we changed the culture of the company because this needed to be prioritized.

I also would add that you could never underestimate the power of just focusing on some fun and some well-being. These are things that millennials are demanding from their employers, but honestly, I don’t think these are just millennial things; I think these are human things. I think the millennials are just bold enough to ask for them.

Angelia Herrin, HBR

Michael and Jody, this has been a great discussion. Thanks so much for joining us.

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Categories: Blogs

Should You Give Your Star Employees Star Treatment?

Harvard business - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 06:05
Francesco Sassetti/Getty Images

How vital are your vital few? In any team or organization, a small number of individuals will account for a substantial amount of collective output. These “stars” are able to systematically outperform the majority of their peers and confirm the well-established Pareto effect whereby 80% of collective output can be attributed to 20% of the people in a group, or even fewer.

Contrary to popular belief, there are universal traits that predict whether individuals will be part of an organization’s vital few, such as their higher levels of intelligence, work ethic, and social skills. In other words, people who are smart, nice, and hard-working tend to outperform their peers. They also learn faster and are more likely to adapt to new demands, which means they have higher levels of potential even for jobs they have not done in the past.

Because of this, stars are more likely to be in demand than their peers, so they will be approached by recruiters and rival organizations, who will try to entice them with better job offers and career opportunities. As McKinsey predicted 20-years ago, there is a War for Talent, and, in the age of human capital, a company’s stars are the commodities being fought for. This is particularly critical in high-complexity jobs, where the average output difference between average and star employees is 800% (as opposed to 50% in low-complexity jobs).

So, what can you do to keep your star performers motivated? Since engagement is a critical driver of performance, minimizing the gap between what your stars can do and actually do will be vital to achieving the highest level of collective output. Here are a few data-driven suggestions:

Know who they actually are: This may sound obvious, but since most organizations rely on subjective ratings of managers to identify their star performers, false positives are the norm. Unfortunately, this unreliable methodology turns the pivotal exercise of internal talent identification into a popularity contest whereby politically astute employees who manage up and take credit for others’ achievements are more likely to emerge as high potentials — though they more faux po’s than hipo’s. Consider that a seminal meta-analysis on the main predictors of career success identified that political skills are the strongest predictor. As I argue in my forthcoming book, this is one of the reasons why men are more likely to emerge as leaders, even when they are incompetent. In order to ensure that you know who your star performers really are, you should: (a) put in place reliable quantitative performance indicators to compare people’s relative contribution to the team’s performance; (b) use valid psychological assessments to identify their potential (beyond their past performance); and (c) pay attention to your employees’ reputations, particularly what their peers and colleagues think of them (you can’t fool all people all the time). And remember: some people will always get annoyed when they find out they are not regarded as stars, but fair rules and transparent criteria will significantly reduce the number of complainers.

You and Your Team Series Retention

Let them know that you know they’re valuable: Although many organizations refrain from telling their stars that they are stars, there are several problems with this approach. First, if your concern is that by telling your stars that you consider them stars they will become entitled, then you should note that true stars have the capacity to remain motivated and humble even after their contribution to the firm is acknowledged. In other words, if their performance decreases because you told them, then they were not real stars (and you will not lose too much if they go). Second, fairness is not treating everyone the same, but treating them as they deserve to be treated: if you make your stars feel that they are just like everyone else, they will feel unfairly treated, and rightly so. Third, no matter how much potential people have, they will need to be developed in order to live up to it. This means investing in them, and since you cannot invest in every single employee — and investing in your stars will produce the biggest ROI — you will probably want to tell them that they are worthy of investment. And if you are worried about the risk that they might leave after you invest in them, remember that, as Henry Ford noted, “the only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

Make an effort to engage them: With global estimates suggesting that only 13% of employees are engaged, and that the major cause of engagement (and disengagement) is their manager, it is essential that you minimize the risk that your stars fall into this category, and this will require special attention. First, you will need to ensure that they regard their role and contribution as meaningful, which requires aligning their activities with their core values and drivers. Second, provide them with opportunities to develop their curiosity, including the freedom to learn and to nourish their hungry mind (top performers are often more naturally curious, which means they will have lower tolerance for boring and repetitive jobs). Third, focus on the universal drivers of engagement, namely autonomy, affiliation, and achievement. That is, give your star employees resources and leave them alone (as opposed to micromanaging them); make sure they experience a sense of belonging and camaraderie with others and the wider organization; and help them perform beyond their expectations (engagement boosts performance, but performance boosts engagement).

Remember that money isn’t everything: While money is the main vehicle organizations use to keep their star performers happy, it is generally a poor driver of satisfaction. In fact, meta-analytic studies indicate that there is just 5% overlap between pay and pay satisfaction, and merely 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction. In fact, when you pay people too much for doing something that they enjoy, they may end up enjoying it less. And even if that isn’t the case, your stars will likely habituate quickly to your financial rewards — so a fat wallet is unlikely to buy you their love in the long run. Fundamentally, there are many other psychological drivers people will want to fulfill at work, including their need to help others, to influence others, and to enjoy what they do. And since one size does not fit all, you will need to devote enough time to decoding the personal values and drivers of your stars if you truly aspire to motivating them and keeping them happy.

Regardless of the approach you take to managing and retaining stars, it is essential that you make everyone aware of what the rules of the game are. To be sure, nobody likes to find out that they are not part of the vital few, but the proportion of individuals who will accept this will increase systematically if you are very explicit about what it takes to be part of the vital few, and you enable others to verify that those criteria are actually put in place. At the end of the day, even if everyone wanted to be a star performer, it is not the case that everyone is willing to do what it takes to attain that.

In short, your stars do deserve star treatment, but there is a rational, data-driven, and fair way to provide it, which will minimize perceptions of a rigged or nepotistic culture in your team or organization. For sure, having no approach or avoiding the issue will decrease rather than increase the perception of fairness.

Categories: Blogs

Learning Opportunity: FREE #HR and #Payroll eSymposium

Hr Bartender - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Check out the latest research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos how employees across the globe view their relationship with work. Part one, “The Case for a 4-Day Workweek?” explores how employees spend their time on the clock and if the standard 40-hour workweek is most effective. Enjoy today’s article!)

Professional development is important. But sometimes as human resources professionals, we’re so focused on employee and manager development that we forget to carve out some time for ourselves. That’s why I wanted to share with you some information about an upcoming event dedicated to HR and payroll professional development.

Agenda: Kronos HR & Payroll eSymposium

Our friends at Kronos are hosting an HR & Payroll eSymposium on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern. It’s absolutely free. (That’s not a typo. It’s really free.) The eSymposium is designed to bring HR and payroll pros education on the topics we deal with most. This one-day experience will offer separate HR and payroll tracks with many sessions eligible for recertification credits (more on that below). As participants, we can follow one track or switch back and forth to explore the topics that we think matter most. I checked out the agenda and there are five sessions that caught my eye, some HR and some payroll.

The True Cost of Bad Hires: HR pros are under increasing pressure to find qualified candidates without sacrificing time-to-fill and cost per hire metrics. But trying to speed up this process can lead to costly hiring mistakes unless companies put the right tools in place to provide a strong candidate experience. Learn how modernizing your talent acquisition processes with a unified, end-to-end technology solution can help reduce your risk of bad hires and create an experience that welcomes, nurtures, and engages new talent. 

Competing in an Era of Choice: Today’s HR systems and technologies can help employers meet their “people” goals and demonstrate that the things their candidates and employees value most have been thoughtfully incorporated into the work experience. Find out how these modern systems better enable you to attract the right candidates, develop and retain top talent, and drive engagement and productivity — all while meeting your strategic objectives and providing consumer-like work experience. 

Wage and Hour Done Right: The exempt versus non-exempt employee classification issue continues to be a common area of confusion among employers, and it’s important for you to know and follow the rules for properly paying workers. This session will identify key policies to put in place to help ensure that employees and managers understand the details of time tracking and payment of non-exempt employees.

Classifying and Paying Exempt Employees: There has been more attention than ever on proper classification of employees. So how do you know if you’re doing it correctly? This session will look at the most commonly used “white-collar” exemptions and how to determine if any of them apply to your employees. They will also explore how to avoid jeopardizing the exemption and common mistakes such as improper salary deductions and erroneous time tracking. Find out what every employer should know about properly classifying employees.

The Future of HCM: A unified HCM software platform has it all in one system: HR, payroll, talent, and timekeeping. Say goodbye to administrative hassles, poor data quality, limited visibility, and cumbersome employee management processes. And say hello to a single source of truth that can help you hire more strategically, onboard employees faster, drive efficiencies, and deliver a great experience for both you and your employees.

Now, I couldn’t list the entire agenda. This is just a sampling of the sessions being offered. You’re going to notice when you check out the complete agenda on the Kronos website that there are more sessions than time. Don’t let that discourage you!

Can’t Make the Live eSymposium? Listen to the Recordings!

Kronos told me that there will be recordings of each session and you’ll be able to download the session materials. So, if you’re not able to listen to all of the sessions on November 14 OR your learning preference is to listen to one session a week, you can.

As an HR professional, there have been a few times in my career when I’ve been responsible for payroll. Whether you are or not, this is a great cross-learning opportunity. Because the event is free, I could see this as an opportunity to bring in lunch and listen to a session as a group. After the session, the group could do a quick debrief together. It allows HR to learn more about payroll and vice versa.

Bonus! Earn Recertification Credits!

I did confirm with Kronos that participants will receive a certificate for attending.Most of the sessions have been pre-approved for recertification credits with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI), and the American Payroll Association. If you’re certified, this event covers the trifecta of learning: 1) free, 2) high quality programs, and 3) approved for recertification credits. You know this doesn’t happen very often.

I can speak from experience that Kronos delivers quality professional development. I’ve attended their KronosWorks conference for a few years now and it always delivers. So, I can say without hesitation that I’ll be signing up for the eSymposium. The price is right and recertification credits are a plus. Hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity as well.

Kronos HR & Payroll eSymposium

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern

Registration and Details:                                                                    

The post Learning Opportunity: FREE #HR and #Payroll eSymposium appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Perfect Is the Enemy

Harvard business - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:17

From the Women at Work podcast:

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If you’ve worked your way up in a competitive field — or are anxious by nature — you may have perfectionist tendencies. Maybe you’re a hard-driving, obsessive worker who thinks a task is never quite done. Or maybe you’re avoidant, struggling to start a project because you want it to be done just right.

We all know society holds women to a higher standard than men and rewards us for not making mistakes. But internalizing other people’s expectations — or what we think they expect — will only burn us out. To keep rising in our careers, we need to get in tune with our own standards for what’s a good, or good enough, job.

It is possible to keep our perfectionist tendencies under control. We talk through tactics with our guest expert, Alice Boyes.

Alice Boyes is a former clinical psychologist turned writer and author. Her books are The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit.

● “How Perfectionists Can Get Out of Their Own Way,” by Alice Boyes
● “How to Focus on What’s Important, Not Just What’s Urgent,” by Alice Boyes
● “How to Collaborate with a Perfectionist,” by Alice Boyes
● “Perfectionism Is Increasing, and That’s Not Good News,” by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill

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Our theme music is Matt Hill’s “City In Motion,” provided by Audio Network.

Categories: Blogs

Should Everyone Be Allowed to Invest in Private Tech Companies?

Harvard business - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 10:00
Beata Bernina/Getty Images

The SEC Chairman recently announced a policy initiative to enable the ordinary investors to invest in private companies. Currently, only  wealthy accredited investors are allowed to invest in private companies. His stated goal is enabling small investors to get access to alternative high-quality investments, such as in private tech companies like Uber and AirBnB. But in our view this policy, even if implemented, will not work as intended because the ordinary investors may not want to invest in private startups and private companies, especially digital ones, may not want ordinary investors.

It’s worth noting that the average investor does have alternative options to indirectly invest in digital startups. While most of the private equity companies are private, a few like Blackstone Group, KKR, Carlyle Group, and Apollo Global Management are traded on stock exchanges. Many public traded companies, such as Alphabet, Intel, and Apple are, in part, venture capitalists in disguise. While investors may not have the opportunity to invest in Uber, they can potentially invest in similar ventures via KKR or indirectly invest in similar businesses such as Waymo or Titan by investing in Google and Apple, respectively. Furthermore, pension funds are increasingly looking at investments in private equity funds. This may be a better model for average investors to get exposure to private companies, for several reasons.

Digital startups often seek to grow quickly and so report large losses. They therefore seek investors who understand their initial losses and can facilitate secondary rounds of funding when their operations grow. In addition, given their quest for organization leanness, digital startups seek investors who have the expertise to help outsource their noncore business functions, such as production, distribution, marketing, and payroll processing. In addition, venture firms are constantly scouring for opportunities to get their invested company acquired, which is an increasingly attractive exit route for digital entrepreneurs, given the IPO’s long-drawn process and mandated holding-period requirements for initial investors.

Thus, digital entrepreneurs choose their financiers not only for their contributed capital but also for their partnership value and exit options they create for the company. Available capital now significantly exceeds viable investment opportunities so digital entrepreneurs can afford to be picky in choosing their funding partners. By 2017, the number of total private equity funds reached 7,700 and the amount of free investible funds reached $1.7 trillion. With so much private capital chasing good investment opportunities, digital entrepreneurs prefer to remain in private hands until the time they are ready for regulatory compliance, quarterly financial reporting, and public investors’ demand for regular profits, as required post IPO.

Gone is the heyday of the 1990s when firms with simply an idea and little or no revenues could do an IPO. The median age of technology firms, backed by venture capitalists, doing an IPO has reached eleven years and is increasing. Eleven years is a long period for a surviving digital company, during which time, the value of its initial investments can jump several folds. For example, the initial investments of $25 million, made by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital in Google in 1999, increased by more than hundred folds by the time Google went public in 2004. Thus, the most lucrative investment opportunities, with the highest payoff potential, never see the light of public market. They are cornered and nurtured with patient capital by private investors, some of which make huge killing in those investments. By the time, those opportunities reach public markets, if at all, they are fully priced. Public-market investors, therefore, cannot hope to become wildly rich as can some lucky private equity investors.

But a lack of wildly profitable investment opportunities does not justify the opening of private market to public-market investors. Opportunities pursued by private funds carry large risk and require long time horizons.  The median holding is five years, some investments take ten years. General partners of private funds extract large management fees, but it takes a minimum of six years to evaluate their performance. In contrast, investments in public equity markets, through mutual funds for example, diversify risks and impose low management fees. Their performance can be assessed almost on daily basis and the investments can be quickly liquidated through stock markets. Thus, the economics of private equity funds do not favor the investments from ordinary investors, who do not possess the surplus wealth, ability to pay high management fees, and have the patience and risk-bearing capacity of rich investors. Moreover, can the average public investor stomach losses that VCs incur when their investments fail?

In sum, SEC’s chairman’s proposal mentioned at the beginning of this article, while laudable in intent, is unlikely to work. We do not expect ordinary investors to come running to digital startups nor do we expect digital startups to start welcoming ordinary investors, even if the regulations were changed.

Categories: Blogs


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