“That Will Never Work”

Leadershipnow - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 18:35

THE STORY GOES that the idea for Netflix came to Reed Hastings after he was hit with a $40 late fee when he returned his rental of Apollo 13 to Blockbuster. Annoyed, he thought, “What if there were no late fees?” And wham, the idea for Netflix was born.

Of course, we like stories like that. It’s neat and clean, but in this case, it’s not true. It’s useful though, and it captures in a paragraph the essence of what Netflix is all about. Marc Randolph, Netflix’s co-founder, and first CEO says it’s emotionally true. “Reed’s oft-repeated origin story,” he says, “is branding at its finest, and I don’t begrudge him for it at all.”

The real story longer. While it is messy, complicated, it is much more exciting. Marc Randolph shares it all in That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea. I read a lot of business books, and I can say this is one of the best you’ll ever read on starting and growing a business—the emotions, the triumphs, the failures and the lessons learned. The story is a well-told page-turner.

Briefly, the real story is that while carpooling with Hastings to jobs that would soon be redundant due to a merger, Randolph would pitch ideas to him in search of the next act. After a slew of ideas like customized shampoo, dog food, and baseball bats, Randolph hit upon renting VHS tapes online. But, among other things, the costs for acquisition and shipping were too high, so it was ruled out. That is until they learned about an emerging technology—DVDs. Then the game was on.

DVDs were cheaper and lighter, but would they be shipped safely. They tested it by mailing a CD in a greeting card envelope to Hastings. It worked, and they had their idea.

And people said, “That will never work.”

When you start a company, what you’re really doing is getting other people to latch on to an idea. You have to convince your future employees, investors, business partners, and board members that your idea is worth spending money, reputation, and time on.

Randolph risked his time and Hastings risked his money. Now the work began.

I needed to come up with something approaching a business plan. Notice that I used the word “approaching.” I never intended to get there. Most business plans are a complete waste of time. They become obsolete the minute the business starts and you realize how wildly off the mark you were with your expectations. So the trick is to take your idea and set it on a collision course with reality as soon as possible.

Randolph takes us through the whole process from idea to launch day. Any entrepreneur will relate to the journey, and any would-be entrepreneur will find it enlightening. He candidly writes about pitching the idea to investors (what it was like to take a check for 1.9 million dollars to the bank), finding and getting talent, setting up an office, building the basics, building an inventory and the mailer, and building a website.

And creating an innovative culture:

Real innovation comes not from top-down pronouncements and narrowly defined tasks. It comes from hiring innovators focused on the big picture who can orient themselves within a problem and solve it without having their hand held the whole time. We call it loosely coupled but tightly aligned.

He adds this:

Most companies end up building a system to protect themselves from people who lack judgment. And that only ends up frustrating the people who have it.

Launch Day: April 14, 1998

There are a great many stages in the life cycle of a startup. But a tectonic shift happens on launch day. Before you go live, you’re in the dreamy zone of planning and forecasts: your efforts are provisional.

The day your site launches, something shifts. Your work now is no longer predictive and anticipatory: it’s fundamentally reactive. Those problems you anticipated? You didn’t know the half of it. Your planned solutions? They’re a drop in the bucket. And there are hundreds—thousands—of issues that you could have never even imagine, and now have to deal with.

For better and for worse, things never go as planned. And Randolph gives an account of all of it—the possible acquisition of Netflix by Amazon, the potential buyout by Blockbuster, the rethinking of the business model, the ups and downs. Great stories with lessons in them all.

My favorite chapter was, I’m Losing Faith in You. After about 18 months in, Hastings comes to him and tells him that he’s losing faith in his ability to run the company alone. He suggests (really more of an ultimatum) that he come in as CEO and Randolph become president. He writes, “Radical honesty is great, until it’s aimed at you.”

Randolph had to take a look at himself—his strengths and weaknesses, his goals and motivations—and decide what was best for the company. It takes a tremendous amount of humility to do that and agree to what Hastings was asking.

I realized that there were really two dreams, and I might need to sacrifice one of them to ensure that the other came true.

The company was one dream. Me at the helm was another. And if the company was going to succeed, I needed to honestly confront my own limitations. I need to acknowledge that I was a builder, someone creative and freewheeling enough to assemble a team, to create a culture, to launch an idea from the back of an envelope into a company, an office, a product that existed in the world. Now we were going to have to grow, and rapidly, and that took a different skill set entirely.

And that was Hastings strength. Hastings became CEO and Randolph became the president in 1998. His self-knowledge made is easier for him to know when it was time to go as he eventually did in 2003 not long after Netflix went public. He realized that he liked building things more than the finished product. In the end he writes, “I missed the late nights and early mornings, the lawn chairs and card tables. I missed the feeling of all hands on deck, and the expectation that every day you’d be working on a problem that wasn’t strictly tied to your job description.”

As far as “that will never work” goes, Randolph says, quoting William Goldman in Adventures in the Screen Trade, “Nobody knows anything.” Which he claims is an encouragement. “If nobody Knows Anything, then you have to trust yourself. You have to test yourself. And you have to be willing to fail. Not only had all of the people who told me that Netflix would never work (including my wife) gotten it wrong, but so had I. We all had. We’d known that the idea could work, but in the end, nobody knew anything about how—until it did.”

Randolph is conversational and generous to others throughout. There is a lot of experience-based wisdom in this book. Here are a few more insights:

We were always trying to avoid one of the number one pitfalls of startup entrepreneurship: building imaginary castles in your mind, meticulously designed, complete with turrets, drawbridges, moats. Overplanning and overdesigning is often just overthinking—or just plain old procrastination. When it comes to ideas, it’s more efficient to test ten bad ones than spend days trying to come up with something perfect.

Here’s what I’ve learned: when it comes to making your dream a reality, one of the most powerful weapons at your disposal is dogged, bullheaded insistence. It pays to be the person who won’t take no for an answer, since in business, no doesn’t always mean no.

You have to learn to love the problem, not the solution. That’s how you stay engaged when things take longer than you expected.

The most powerful step that anyone can take to turn their dreams into reality is a simple one: you just need to start. The only real way to find out if your idea is a good one is to do it. You’ll learn more in one hour of doing something than in a lifetime of thinking about it.

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Categories: Blogs

FLSA Games: Exempt Salary Threshold Moves from 23K to 35K...

Hr Capitalis - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 09:09
Heads up, HR friends at all levels... Employees who make less than $35,568 are now eligible for overtime pay under a final rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The new rate will take effect Jan. 1,... Kris Dunn
Categories: Blogs

How to Be Less Distracted at Work — and in Life

Harvard business - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 09:08

Nir Eyal, an expert on technology and psychology, says that we all need to learn to be less distracted into activities that don’t help us achieve what we want to each day. Unwelcome behaviors can range from social media scrolling and bingeing on YouTube videos to chatting with colleagues or answering non-urgent emails. To break these habits, we start by recognizing that it is often our own emotions, not our devices, that distract us. We must then recognize the difference between traction (values-aligned work or leisure) and distraction (not) and make time in our schedules for more of the former. Eyal also has tips for protecting ourselves from the external distractions that do come at us and tools to force us to focus on bigger-picture goals. He is the author of the book “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.”

Categories: Blogs

How Companies and Governments Can Advance Employee Education

Harvard business - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 09:00

Advice for organizers, speakers, and attendees.

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What It Will Take to Improve Diversity at Conferences

Harvard business - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 07:00

Advice for organizers, speakers, and attendees.

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The Top 20 Business Transformations of the Last Decade

Harvard business - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 07:00

Netflix, Adobe, and Amazon top the list.

Categories: Blogs

What 1,000 CEOs Really Think About Climate Change and Inequality

Harvard business - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 06:05

The good, the bad, and the surprising from a new report.

Categories: Blogs

Employees Want to Work with Technology In the Modern Cloud

Hr Bartender - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Managing your workforce just got a lot smarter with Workforce Dimensions, a solution designed to provide both a world-class employee experience and unprecedented levels of operational insight. Enjoy the article!)

In the first part of this series about the future of work, we talked about the need for organizations and individuals to work smarter. Part of working smarter is using the right tools. This is where decisions about technology have an immediate impact on work.

In a study published on Training Magazine, respondents talked about employee stress and burnout being linked to using outdated technology. I hate to say it, but this totally makes sense. Employees who are forced to create workarounds because they’re dealing with old technology are quickly going to get frustrated. They’re doing double or triple the work and still being held accountable to the same performance standard.

According to CIO Magazine, 93 percent of Millennials consider technology to be the most important aspect of work. And I’ll just add that I honestly believe this feeling extends beyond Millennials. No one wants to use 2-3 programs to get something done. So, what do employees what in terms of technology tools? Two things:

  • They want to work in the modern cloud. This means providing technology and tools that empower employees to reach their full potential and work smarter while working their way.
  • It also means configuring technology to align with the employee experience so it can create better outcomes for the organization, harness workforce innovation, and deliver exceptional results.

This may sound great in theory, but it’s actually really hard to execute in practice. That’s because legacy solutions are often hard to integrate. I asked Mike May, senior director of the Workforce Dimensions Technology Partner Network at Kronos why technology integrations are such a challenge when they’re so common in today’s business environment. “While tech integrations are commonplace in any organization, they’re often limited to batch-based data sharing at pre-determined times. Sometimes, the entire system actually has a blackout period where no one can use it.  That’s just for data sharing. It’s even more challenging to embed one solution inside another to offer employees a single user experience. Instead, they’re still forced to master multiple applications, often left feeling frustrated by the friction this creates with their actual priorities at work.”

Technology Partnerships Bring Together Strengths

The good news is that organizations don’t have to build a customized solution. Technology solutions like Workforce Dimensions are creating it through strategic partnerships and features that apply specifically to your business and to your culture.

EXAMPLE #1: Microsoft and Google. While the Microsoft Office Suite is widely used for business, Google’s G Suite is also tremendously popular. Both platforms integrate with Workforce Dimensions, giving managers the ability to work with tools they are comfortable with.

Here’s an example of how they could be used alongside Workforce Dimensions. Instead of tacking up a paper schedule on the breakroom cork board or emailing the team a spreadsheet schedule, department managers can empower employees to sync their schedules with a feature such as Google Calendar, where they already track and plan their personal lives. This provides anytime access to their schedule and makes it easier to plan work around life events.

Similarly, for managers who already spend all day working in Microsoft Outlook, Workforce Dimensions integrates directly with the wildly popular email client. This means they no longer have to leave Outlook and log into Workforce Dimensions to review and approve time-off requests. Instead, they get all the information they need in a special sidebar, saving them clicks – and more importantly, time – while also responded to employee time-off requests even more quickly. 

Instead of logging into Workforce Dimensions every time an employee requests time-off, managers can review and respond directly from Microsoft Outlook.

EXAMPLE #2: Rodio. If you’re not familiar (I know I wasn’t), Rodio is an artificial intelligence chatbot that facilitates conversations (like shift swaps). In today’s workplaces, email is not the most predominant form of communication. And everyone’s emails are not prioritized the same way, meaning people often delete emails without reading them. In a traditional office, this may not be a big deal…that person will go out of their way to convey the message. But what about employees in the field services industry who spend all day on the road, traveling from location to location with possibly little contact with their colleagues? Think telecom installation techs, home health givers, and janitorial workers. Or transportation and logistics, where long-haul truckers may be on the road for days at a time.

Rodio segments or compartmentalizes information so employees are part of the right conversations. The ones that make sense for them. The ones they need to pay attention to. An added benefit in the Rodio technology is that it will auto-mute when the employee isn’t working. Then send an ICYMI (in case you missed it) message when the employee returns to work.

Bringing Partnerships to Reality Benefits Employee Performance

We regularly talk about the need to align talent management strategy with business strategy. Organizations can do that through the use of technology.

A month ago, I introduced you to a company called Passport that helps organizations increase productivity when it comes to responsive scheduling and driving routes. Well, I recently heard about a partnership where Passport, Rodio,, and Kronos partnered together to build a home health services application on top of the Kronos D5 platform, which is the foundation of Workforce Dimensions. The app is called FieldCentric and it brings patient administration, route assignments, and schedules together into a single, easy to use app. Employees no longer have to log into several apps to get their jobs done. They can focus on taking care of patients.

This is becoming a bigger and bigger focus for a dedicated team at Kronos – they’re developing a partner ecosystem to not just create integrations but bring together multiple technology partners to leverage what each does best to rapidly build new solutions that solve unique workforce business challenges on top of Kronos D5. This is exactly what we’re talking about. Giving employees a technology experience in the modern cloud will not only benefit them but the organization’s bottom-line.

P.S. If you want to learn more about the Workforce Dimensions solution and how it can benefit your organization by helping your employees work smarter, visit the Kronos website and request a demo.

The post Employees Want to Work with Technology In the Modern Cloud appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

What Will It Take to Solve the Student Loan Crisis?

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Understanding Hong Kong’s Turbulent Summer

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Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson on Work, Joy, and, Yes, Coffee

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Chick-fil-A: Observations from the Road About Talent and Culture...

Hr Capitalis - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 05:24
I travel a lot for work. Over the last nine years, that's meant a bit of travel fatigue and recent attempts to reduce my total number of nights in hotel rooms. Reducing nights in hotel rooms generally means getting up... Kris Dunn
Categories: Blogs

The New Employee – Employer Social Contract

Hr Bartender - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 02:57

One of the workplace-related conversations that’s happening with more frequency is focused on how new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing jobs. There are people who say that computers are going to take away our jobs and others who say computers are going to create new and different jobs. I’m kinda sitting in the camp of “both”, meaning new technologies are going to eliminate some positions while at the same creating new opportunities.

But it has occurred to me that the jobs conversation is only one piece of it. I just finished reading Peter Weddle’s book, “Circa 2118: What Humans Will Do When Machines Take Over” while at the same time, taking the massive open online course (MOOC) from MIT on “Shaping Work of the Future”. While Weddle and MIT don’t always agree on the future, I must admit that I enjoyed experiencing these two different views at the same time. It helped me to realize that new technologies are changing not only jobs but the employee / employer social contract.

For many decades, the employee / employer social contract has been about employees receiving a living wage in exchange for their work. And in turn, this would help employees achieve a stable life. That philosophy is changing, because of society which includes technology.

Work is becoming – if it’s not already – a social interaction. What happens to us at work impacts our well-being. This means the entities that influence what work looks like need to change to keep up with the times. For example, when it comes to technology:

Businesses can make investments in technology to benefit the operation. Organizations can use technology to make decisions and augment work. And the strategic use of technology can increase the profit line, allowing organizations to provide a better employee value proposition (EVP).

Education can shift toward a “lifelong education for all” not just in schools but for organizations. Individuals must continue to own their career development. This includes not just taking classes but learning how to identify skill needs like an increased focused on collaborative skill building as well as learning how to fail.

Government can be a catalyst for innovation. They can reduce bureaucracy, encourage public and private partnerships, be more open to invocation and change. Their efforts can be a catalyst for reducing global issues such as income inequality.

Labor can be agile, modern, flexible, and adopt a focus on career advocacy. We’re not talking about our parents’ unions. Unions have an opportunity to be strategic partners with business versus adversaries and help organizations achieve their goals.

Technology advancements are shaped by us, so we do have influence into the future of jobs. As HR pros, we need to be sure that the jobs we’re creating have quality. Jobs will still exist in the new technological environment and we know that the look of those jobs will be different. That includes what skills will be required. Better education is a must. But this means that with better jobs, better pay must come along with it.

We have an opportunity to educate people on how to see and manage this big business altering change. We can do that by adopting more of a both/and (versus an either/or) approach. Both at a business level as well as with individuals. Our goal shouldn’t be to become “robot proof”. In fact, the goal might be to collaborate with robots. Think of it as working with Janet to get out of the “bad place” instead of fighting with Janet. (Can you tell I’ve been binge watching “The Good Place”? ha.ha.)

I know this is a big bundle to unpack and I admit that I don’t have all the answers. I do know that technology is changing work. All technologies aren’t necessarily great for business and we need to make sure technology works to realize its full benefit. We also have to ask ourselves, “Is the new social contract realistic?” HR professionals will want to keep technological trends on their radar and proactively develop an opinion about them before being forced to react to whatever is happening.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference in Washington, DC

The post The New Employee – Employer Social Contract appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Feedback Notes on KD From the Speaker's Circuit: If Everyone's Happy, You Didn't Do Your Job...

Hr Capitalis - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 10:25
My friend Jennifer McClure is a speaker and loves to share actual feedback that's been gathered by organizations that bring her into speak. Overall ratings that are numbers-driven are appropriate and you have to have them for overall measurement. But... Kris Dunn
Categories: Blogs

6 Ways to Set Boundaries Around Email

Harvard business - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 09:00

You don’t have to be OOO to set an OOO message.

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Why Asking for Advice Is More Effective Than Asking for Feedback

Harvard business - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 08:00

According to results from four experiments.

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How the Value of Educational Credentials Is and Isn’t Changing

Harvard business - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 07:00

Degrees still matter, but online programs are playing a complementary role.

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Research: Quantifying the Cost of Brexit Uncertainty

Harvard business - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 06:05

UK CEOs are spending more than a week a year preparing for it.

Categories: Blogs

Workplace Warrior: 5 Steps to Better Productivity

Hr Bartender - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 02:57

I’m always looking for ways to be productive and I’d like to think that most people are as well. No one wants to waste their energy. That’s why I was intrigued by this infographic from Lucidchart. They conducted a survey to determine the ways people are more productive.

While some of their findings we can’t change, like being the youngest makes you less productive. There were some common themes worth mentioning. Here were my five big takeaways:

  1. Stepping away from the computer. We regularly hear that finding time to disconnect from our technology is good for us. It doesn’t have to be for days or weeks. Simply setting clear boundaries can be just what we need to be more productive. For example, no devices during meals. Or no devices on date night.
  2. Curate your workspace. Personally, I love this one. I like being surrounded by fun things when I work. It makes me happy and I think my productivity is better. Even if you work in a traditional office environment, is there something you can do to your office space that will make you smile.
  3. Working from home. Not everyone has the ability to work from home, but if you can even have an occasional day away from the office…take it. I won’t lie; there’s something wonderful about working from home in your pajamas. Changing up your office environment can be a huge boost to productivity.
  4. Practice self-care. The infographic mentions diet and while I can see hunger being a distraction, I do believe in practicing good nutrition. I know I’m more productive when I eat right and exercise. I’m also more productive when I get a good night’s sleep.
  5. Breaks, lunches, and vacation! It may be tempting to postpone or not take time off because of the emails that will be waiting for you when you return. Resist this urge. We need our breaks, lunches, and time off. It allows us to turn off our work brains and return refreshed and perhaps even more prepared to tackle a big project.

Some of you might be saying, “This isn’t really a new list.” And that’s exactly the point. The things we can do to make us productive have been around for a while. Our challenge is often sticking to them. When we get busy or a big deadline is approaching, we might start to abandon these steps. Which impacts our productivity. Ultimately, it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, consider today’s post a reminder. Take care of yourself and your productivity will take care of you.

The post Workplace Warrior: 5 Steps to Better Productivity appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs


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