Tag Archives: Human Resources

The Rise of Employee Relationship Management (ERM)

The Rise of Employee Relationship Management (ERM)

What’s in a name?

From the early days when HR was referred to as workforce management or personnel management, to the emergence of scientific management and labor unions, the practice of human resources has been constantly evolving.

The name for the practice and principles of getting the most out of people in business has continued to change too, with the latest term ‘human resources’ coming into being along with an acceptance that human factors were more important than physical factors and monetary rewards for motivation.

The Accelerating Pace of Change

But, in an era when the pace of change and transformation are constantly accelerating and innovation is increasingly important to maintaining relevance, should we still be focused on ‘human resources’? Or does our view and language need to evolve?

Every day customer experience becomes more crucial to market success, and more people are talking about happy employees as being the key to happy customers. But, are employers backing up this talk?

Today most digital transformations have at their heart, several elements of an evolved customer relationship management (CRM) approach and often one or more customer journey maps.

The Shift from HCM to ERM

So, should we be shifting our views from a focus on Human Capital Management (HCM) to a focus on ERM (Employee Relationship Management) and EX (Employee Experience) to mirror how we are thinking about the importance of employees as something not to be managed but instead to be empowered, supported and developed?

And how will Generation Z change expectations of employers?

Making a shift in our mindset and our language when it comes to employees, could also cause us to focus on different metrics – shifting from a focus on controlling the costs of salaries and benefits to optimizing employee lifetime value (ELV).

Unlocking the True Value of Employees

Employees are not just a cost, they are a source of incredible value and to unlock their full potential we must invest in helping them maximize the value they can create, access, and translate for customers. Me must go beyond training and invest in even more powerful initiatives like human libraries and internal internships to help each employee not just do the job they were hired to do, but to do the job they were born to do.

Innovators Framework(one of the many concepts introduced in my first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire)

Building on the work of London Business School’s Gary Hamel and shifting to an Employee Relationship Management (ERM) mindset we can get beyond the obedience, diligence and intellect that fear, greed, management and leadership can deliver, and instead focus on unlocking the initiative, creativity, passion and innovation that will drive the organization to higher levels of success and continuing relevance with customers.

Employee Relationship Management (ERM) is the Future of HR

We must reimagine our approach to the humans in our organizations and to recognize and leverage their uniqueness instead of treating them as replaceable cogs in a machine.

The time has come for organizations to manage both the experiences and the relationships with each of their employees as individuals to make the collective stronger, healthier, and more resilient.

Now is the time to build a conscious, measured, professional approach to Employee Relationship Management (ERM).

What say you?


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An Innovation Evangelist Can Increase Your Reputation and Innovation Velocity

Chief Evangelist Braden Kelley

Building upon my popular article Rise of the Evangelist, I wanted to create an article for the global innovation community focused specifically on the importance of the innovation evangelist role.

In my previous article I defined five different types of evangelists that organizations may already have, or may want to hire, including:

  1. Chief Evangelist
  2. Brand Evangelists
  3. Product Evangelists
  4. Service Evangelists
  5. Innovation Evangelists

This specialization occurs when the evangelism an organization needs become too big for one evangelist to handle. At that point, a Chief Evangelist creates the evangelism strategy and manages the execution across the team of brand, innovation, and other evangelism focus areas.

When should an organization focus on innovation evangelism?

To continue to exist as a business, every organization should build an infrastructure for continuous innovation, but many don’t. If you’re not sure what this looks like, here is my Infinite Innovation Infrastructure (which leverages the Nine Innovation Roles):

Infinite Innovation Infrastructure

For those organizations investing in innovation, it is crucial to also invest in innovation evangelism when:

  1. Innovation is part of the company’s strategy
  2. Innovation is central to competitive differentiation
  3. The company wants to share their innovation stories
  4. The company wants to partner with customers to innovate
  5. The company wants to partner with suppliers to innovate
  6. The company wants to engage experts in innovation
  7. The company wants to engage the general public in innovation

You’ll notice many of these points hint at the need for an external talent strategy, and Innovation Evangelism must play a key role. Because of this, I encourage you to download and consult the success guide I created for Innocentive on Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation which focuses on the elements and importance of external talent in any company’s innovation efforts.

Bill Joy, a co-Founder of Sun Microsystems, once famously said:

“There are always more smart people outside your company than within it.”

Any external talent strategy must accumulate energy and then unleash it in a focused direction. And part of the way to do that is by establishing a common language of innovation. The process begins by defining what innovation means to your organization. Consider looking at this as the WHO – WHAT – WHEN – WHERE – WHY – HOW of innovation:

  • WHO is to be involved in your innovation efforts?
  • WHAT does innovation mean to you? WHAT types of innovation are you focused on?
  • WHEN will you be looking for innovation input?
  • WHERE can people go to find out more? WHERE do they go to contribute?
  • WHY should people want to participate?
  • HOW can they participate?

Continue reading this article on InnovationManagement.se

… where we will answer these questions and more:

  • Should innovation evangelism be a role or a job?
  • What does an innovation evangelist do?
  • What makes a good innovation evangelist?


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Rise of the Evangelist

Chief Evangelist Braden Kelley

What is an evangelist?

When many people hear this term, their minds used to picture Billy Graham or Pat Robertson, but this is changing. Why?

Our perceptions of evangelists are transforming as the pace of change accelerates to construct a new reality faster than most human brains can process the changes.

This creates a chasm in understanding and change readiness that evangelists can help bridge in a number of different ways.

Let us look at what an evangelist really is…

Oxford Dictionaries say an evangelist is a “zealous advocate of something.”

Nine Innovation Roles EvangelistIn business, the evangelist is a role that any of us can take on (with varying levels of success). Evangelism is very important to innovation success, which is why the evangelist is one of The Nine Innovation Roles™. This is how I define this particular role:

“The Evangelists know how to educate people on what the idea is and help them understand it. Evangelists are great people to help build support for an idea internally, and also to help educate customers on its value.”

Notice at this point we are talking about an evangelist as a role that can be played by one or more people, and not as a job that one or more people hold. Evangelism normally will be a role and not a job, but there are inflection points where this must change.

Outside of an innovation context, evangelism often falls on the shoulders of CEOs, business owners and product managers within organizations. When the need for evangelism is small, this can work. But for most organizations, this is no longer the case.

When should you hire an evangelist?

The time to cross over from evangelism as a role to evangelism as a job is when:

  1. The pace of internal change is accelerating faster than employees can grasp without help
  2. The pace of external change is accelerating faster than customers can understand without help
  3. Your company is facing disruption by new entrants or existing competitors
  4. You’re considering a digital transformation
  5. You’ve already embarked upon a digital transformation
  6. You’re using Agile in product development
  7. Your brand essence is being shifted by you or your customers
  8. You need a more human and personal presence in your marketing efforts to better connect with customers

When one or more of these conditions are true, you’ll find that it isn’t possible for CEOs, business owners and product owners to meet the needs for evangelism in the short spurts of time these people can dedicate to the necessary activities.

As highlighted by Agile Product Development’s presence in the list, organizations leveraging Agile to develop software-based products will find that their product managers are always engaged with the backlog with little time to focus on evangelism. They’re always focused on shipping something.

Some organizations will resist adding evangelists to their team, feeling that such a role is superfluous, but having one or more people focused on evangelism delivers value to the organization by executing a range of incredibly important activities, including:

  • Growing awareness
  • Building a community around the company and/or plugging the company into pre-existing external communities (potentially taking the brand to places it has never been before)
  • Generating interest
  • Working with customers and the marketing team to identify the stories that need to be told and the themes that need to be introduced and/or reinforced
  • Creating desire
  • Building and maintaining conversations with the community that cares about your products/services/brands
  • Engaging in an open and honest dialogue to help gather the voice of the customer
  • Facilitating action
  • Practicing a human-centered design mindset to continuously elicit needs and surface wants and desired outcomes

Depending on the size of the organization you may decide to have a single evangelist, or some larger organizations have more than one type of evangelist, including:

  1. Chief Evangelist
  2. Brand Evangelists
  3. Product Evangelists
  4. Service Evangelists
  5. Innovation Evangelists

This specialization occurs when the evangelism an organization needs become too big for one evangelist to handle. At that point a Chief Evangelist creates the evangelism strategy and manages the execution across the team of brand, product, service and other evangelism focus areas.

So what makes a good evangelist?

Evangelists arrive from a range of different job specialties, but key knowledge, skills and abilities include:

  • Empathetic
  • Passionate About the Company’s Mission, Products/Services, and Customers
  • Comfortable Public Speaker
  • Efficient and Effective Writer
  • Human-Centered Design Mindset
  • Experienced with Social Media, Audio and Video
  • Skilled Content Creator
  • Continuous Learner
  • Self-Directed and Comfortable with Ambiguity

… and ideally your chosen evangelists will already have some presence in the communities important to you, or the knowledge of how to establish a presence in these communities.

Customer buying journeys are notoriously unpredictable, meandering, long and non-linear. Evangelism is a critical part of helping to build relationships with potential buyers and increasing the chances that your brand will be top of mind when a non-buyer finally becomes a potential customer of your products or services.

It’s a long-term non-transactional investment, one that will pay dividends if you see the wisdom in making the expenditure.

Has your organization already invested in evangelists? What learnings would you like to share in the comments?

Are you ready for the evangelists to rise in your organization?

Or do you need help with evangelism? (contact me if you do)

Share the love!

p.s. I wrote a follow-up article for InnovationManagement.se that you might also enjoy — Increase Your Innovation Reputation and Velocity with an Innovation Evangelist


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Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer

Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer

Every company begins as the nimble startup, organized around the solution to a single customer problem and executing that solution better than anyone else in the market (including the incumbents with deep pockets). But at some point the hunter inevitably becomes the hunted and that nimble startup as it evolves and scales, eventually becomes that more complex (but capable) incumbent. Inevitably it finds itself so focused on capturing all of the business for its existing solutions, that it finds itself at risk of missing the next evolution in customer needs.

The companies that last the longest, manage to fulfill existing customer needs with well delivered solutions, and identify new customer needs they can satisfy as customer needs (or wants) continue to evolve. But many companies fail to do so quickly enough, especially in our new reality where it is easier than ever to start and scale a solution around the globe with limited resources. Innovation is the key to remaining relevant with customers. Innovation is the key to remaining alive.

It’s innovate or die, and this new reality leaves all companies focused on Winning the War for Innovation.

This quest to win the war for innovation has led many organizations to begin hiring Chief Innovation Officers (CINO), Innovation Managers, VP’s of Innovation, or Innovation Directors.

But many organizations have done so in haste…

There is a right way and a wrong way to hire a Chief Innovation Officer (or other innovation leader).

In this article we will look at the Do’s and Don’ts of successfully hiring the right Chief Innovation Officer.

First, the Don’ts:

  1. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leadership understands what innovation is (AND ISN’T)
  2. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leaders are all publicly committed to innovation
  3. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leadership have created a budget to fund discrete innovation projects
  4. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before you move beyond the innovation as a project mindset to view innovation as a process and a capability that you need to build (like good governance or operational excellence)
  5. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before you understand how new product development (NPD), research and development (R&D), and innovation will differ in your organization

Being cognizant of the Don’ts will help you avoid hiring a Chief Innovation Officer before you’re able to help set them (and the organization) up for success.

We are now ready to look at the Do’s, the characteristics, skills, and abilities to look for as you search for a great Chief Innovation Officer (and team).

As I’ve written before in Death of the Chief Innovation Officer, when we think about hiring a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) or an Innovation Director, VP of Innovation, or Innovation Manager, it is important to view your innovation leader, not as the person responsible for innovating, but instead as the person responsible for enabling innovation, encouraging it, inspiring it, facilitating it, and coordinating it. In short, what you are looking for is more of an Innovation Enablement Leader.

The implication? This person’s job should be to lead not to manage, and to enable instead of control. What you’re looking for is someone to facilitate the Seven C’s of a Successful Innovation Culture:

  1. Cultivating a Culture of Curiosity
  2. Collection of inspiration and insight
  3. Connections
  4. Creation
  5. Collaboration
  6. Commercialization
  7. Communications

1. Cultivating a Culture of Curiosity

Curiosity drives innovation, and so the more curious people you have in your organization, the more innovation you are going to be able to generate. A good Chief Innovation Officer (Innovation Enablement Leader) can help cultivate a culture of curiosity. Amplifying curiosity in your organization is one of the most important improvements you can make in your culture.

Many of my views on improving your innovation culture have been detailed in this white paper Five Ways to Make Your Innovation Culture Smell Better I wrote for Planview and in my popular book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire.

2. Collection of Inspiration and Insight

Curiosity is driven by inspiration and insight, and so a good Innovation Enablement Leader excels at collecting and sharing inspiration and insight. This can include:

  • Teaching people inspiration gathering frameworks like the Four Lenses of Innovation from Rowan Gibson and idea generation methods like SCAMPER
  • Installing an insight gathering tool (which may or may not be merged together with an idea management solution)
  • Building a Global Sensing Network (click the link to learn more)

Building a Global Sensing Network

3. Connections

Innovation is about collecting and connecting the dots. A good Innovation Enablement Leader is good at building the connections inside (and outside) the organization that help to accelerate the gathering and dissemination of inspiration, insight, and the other elements crucial to effective (and sustained) innovation. Building on the idea of building a global sensing network (see #2), innovative organizations increasingly turn their attention outwards for innovation, recognizing that there are more smart people outside the organization than inside. This leads a good Innovation Enablement Leader to focus on Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation.

4. Creation

The job of an Innovation Enablement Leader (or Innovation Facilitator) is to serve the rest of the organization and to work across the organization to help remove barriers to innovation and to focus on the Seven C’s of a Successful Innovation Culture. This could also mean providing a set of tools and methodologies for creative problem solving and other aspects of innovation work, organizing events, and other activities that support deepening capabilities across the Seven C’s of Successful Innovation Culture.

And because innovation is all about change, a good Innovation Enablement Leader will have a strong organizational change understanding and capabilities, including an understanding of the Five Keys to Successful Change from the Change Planning Toolkit™ (coming soon) and from my upcoming book Charting Change (Feb 2016):

Five Keys to Successful Change 550

A good Innovation Enablement Leader will know when to create a new innovation in-house, when to partner with an external entity like a University, startup, supplier, or other organization, and when to license a piece of technology or to acquire another company or startup in order to realize the desired innovation result for the company’s customers.

A good Innovation Enablement Leader knows which elements of the successful innovation they can best help to facilitate and where they need to call in help. This leads us nicely into #5.

5. Collaboration

Too often we treat people as commodities that are interchangeable and maintain the same characteristics and aptitudes. Of course, we know that people are not interchangeable, yet we continually pretend that they are anyway — to make life simpler for our reptile brain to comprehend. Deep down we know that people have different passions, skills, and potential, but even when it comes to innovation, we expect everybody to have good ideas.

I’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every single person is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role at which they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.

Nine Innovation Roles

Here are The Nine Innovation Roles:

1. Revolutionary

  • The Revolutionary is the person who is always eager to change things, to shake them up, and to share his or her opinion. These people tend to have a lot of great ideas and are not shy about sharing them. They are likely to contribute 80 to 90 percent of your ideas in open scenarios.

2. Conscript

  • The Conscript has a lot of great ideas but doesn’t willingly share them, either because such people don’t know anyone is looking for ideas, don’t know how to express their ideas, prefer to keep their head down and execute, or all three.

3. Connector

  • The Connector does just that. These people hear a Conscript say something interesting and put him together with a Revolutionary; The Connector listens to the Artist and knows exactly where to find the Troubleshooter that his idea needs.

4. Artist

  • The Artist doesn’t always come up with great ideas, but artists are really good at making them better.

5. Customer Champion

  • The Customer Champion may live on the edge of the organization. Not only does he have constant contact with the customer, but he also understands their needs, is familiar with their actions and behaviors, and is as close as you can get to interviewing a real customer about a nascent idea.

6. Troubleshooter

  • Every great idea has at least one or two major roadblocks to overcome before the idea is ready to be judged or before its magic can be made. This is where the Troubleshooter comes in. Troubleshooters love tough problems and often have the deep knowledge or expertise to help solve them.

7. Judge

  • The Judge is really good at determining what can be made profitably and what will be successful in the marketplace.

8. Magic Maker

  • The Magic Makers take an idea and make it real. These are the people who can picture how something is going to be made and line up the right resources to make it happen.

9. Evangelist

  • The Evangelists know how to educate people on what the idea is and help them understand it. Evangelists are great people to help build support for an idea internally, and also to help educate customers on its value.

As you can see, creating and maintaining a healthy innovation portfolio requires that you develop the organizational capability of identifying what role each individual is best at playing in your organization. It should be obvious that a failure to involve and leverage all nine roles along the idea generation, idea evaluation, and idea commercialization path will lead to suboptimal results. To be truly successful, you must be able to bring in the right roles at the right times to make your promising ideas stronger on your way to making them successful. Most organizations focus too much energy on generating the ideas and not enough on developing their ideas or their people.

A good Innovation Enablement Leader will recognize which of the Nine Innovation Roles they excel at and bring in other people into their organization that can help create a well rounded innovation team, and utilize the Nine Innovation Roles to build well-balanced innovation project teams during the execution phase.

Successful Innovation Enablement Leaders typically will be strong Revolutionaries, skilled Evangelists and passionate Customer Champions, but they also must work hard to be an impartial Judge.

At the same time, skilled Innovation Enablement Leaders will build strong relationships with the heads of strategy, digital, customer insight, research and development (R&D), new product development, and operations to both understand where to focus on creating new and differentiated value for customers, and how to create innovation that the company can successfully make, distribute, and support at scale.

6. Commercialization

You are hiring an Innovation Enablement Leader (whether that is a Chief Innovation Officer, VP of Innovation, Innovation Director, or Innovation Manager) not to shepherd a single potential innovation project from insight to market, but to build a sustainable, continuous source of innovation, and a culture that reinforces your method for creating continuous innovation. One tool I’ve created for all types of Innovation Enablement Leaders is the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation™, which as you can see, places inspiration at the center of looping, infinite process (see #2).

Eight I's of Infinite Innovation

7. Communications

Most organizations have innovated at least once in their existence, and in many organizations people are still innovating. A true Innovation Enablement Leader is more of a coach, supporting emergent innovation, and helping people test and learn, prototype and find the right channel to scale the most promising insight-driven ideas (or work with the organization to create new channels).

A good Innovation Enablement Leader excels at helping to define AND consistently communicate and reinforce the organization’s common language of innovation. Several companies all around the world have purchased my book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire in large quantities for their senior leadership team (and even substantial parts of their organization) to help build their common language of innovation, or brought me in to help facilitate innovation workshops and knowledge transfer to help jumpstart their innovation program.

Conclusion

Are you seeking to control innovation with a Chief Innovation Officer or to facilitate it with an Innovation Enablement Leader?

Ultimately, the responsibility for innovation should remain with the business, under an innovation vision, strategy and goals set by the CEO and senior leadership. It’s okay to bring someone in from the outside to help get things off to a strong start, to build a strong foundation, and to set your Innovation Enablement Leader up for success.

Many organizations will want to have someone full-time on their payroll facilitating their innovation efforts, but as I’ll describe in my next post, some organizations may feel more comfortable bringing in a fractional (or part-time) Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) or Innovation Enablement Leader because of their size or their innovation maturity (or readiness), and that’s okay too.

So, stay tuned for an article on fractional or part-time Chief Innovation Officers (CINOs), and keep innovating!


P.S. If you’re looking to hire a Chief Innovation Officer (an Innovation Enablement Leader) on a full-time or part-time basis, drop me an email and I can either tackle the role or find someone else who can!


Image credit: blog.internshala.com


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A Peek Inside the Broken Corporate Hiring Model

A Peek Inside the Broken Corporate Hiring ModelI was reading with interest some of Linkedin’s recent #HowIHire series and in doing so it was interesting to see how many people are still operating under the old, broken hiring paradigm when it comes to the labor market.

The best of the bunch that I read was Beth Comstock’s You’re Hired. Now What which has more to do with what she thinks people should do after she gives them a job rather than how she hires, which I thought was a good angle to take.

My day job was recently eliminated in a budget reallocation, so I’m out there in the market looking for my next new challenge. Throughout this process (and my consulting work over the years), I’ve observed a number of different challenges that companies face with hiring, and identified some opportunities for companies to increase their return on human capital:

Challenge #1:

Scanning resumes and online applications for keywords is a very bad way to find talent. It’s very good however at finding people who at least know how to spell the keywords.

Challenge #2:

The way most organizations handle human resources is very much a product of the industrial age. Hiring new employees is still a very bureaucratic affair, a far cry from reflecting an Internet Age approach, and farther still from what’s needed in the era of Social Business and Digital Transformation. Having an outdated, bureaucratic hiring approach prevents many organizations from growing (or changing) as fast as they may need to maximize revenue and profits.

Challenge #3:

Building on Challenge #2, the hiring process is incredibly slow. It can take weeks or months to finalize and post job descriptions. It can take weeks to source candidates. It can take weeks or months for a hiring manager to get around to interviewing anyone because they are too busy. This can result in the loss of the best candidates, can lead to the loss of current employees picking up the slack (leading to more job openings), and impacts the financial performance of the organization.

Challenge #4:

With the exception of professional sports franchises, companies are so risk averse that they would rather hire someone with a lot of experience doing something in a mediocre way than someone with limited experience but a higher upside (higher capacity and capability). Following this analogy, most companies would never have hired a high school kid like Lebron James.

Challenge #5:

Automated and recruiter-led screening systems are better at identifying people that fit the job description than they are at identifying people that will thrive in the company culture and be a productive team member. You can’t train people to be a good cultural fit, but you can train smart people to do just about anything.

Opportunity #1:

Every company whether it likes it or not, is a technology company. So, if you’re running a technology company, and ideally a social business, shouldn’t you want to hire people who know how to use technology (or at least how to build a Linkedin profile)? And if they have a Linkedin profile, why wouldn’t you use that instead of asking them to create another profile on your careers site?

Opportunity #2:

Things are changing at an increasing rate. Hire people who embrace change and like to learn, because you’re always going to be asking people to learn something new as the world continues to change around you.

Opportunity #3:

Looking around the landscape, it seems like we’ve created more ways to help people find the ideal new romantic partner than the ideal new employee. Are there things that the recruiting industry could learn for the romance industry?

Opportunity #4:

There is more to an employee than their intersection with the job description. In fact employees often have knowledge, skills and abilities that intersect with multiple job descriptions. Below you’ll find a visual depiction of this and of the increasingly less well-defined organizational boundaries:

Organization of the Future

Opportunity #5:

As the boundaries of the organization become less well-defined (see above) and as business makes increasing use of open innovation, partnerships, and co-opetition, hiring managers should consider not just matching the job description but also consider their ability to build and leverage external networks, and investigate the scope and quality of their existing networks.

Conclusion

Of course there are many more challenges and opportunities than I have space to list here, but I find these to be an interesting start to a conversation. What challenges or opportunities would you like to add to the conversation?

Image credit: businessnewsdaily.com


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The Wonderful World of Downsizing

Stikkee Situations - Downsizing Cartoon

In Stikkee Situations we’ll try to take a humorous look at a lot of different serious business topics.

In this episode we poke fun at the wonderful world of downsizing.

Employees hate workforce reductions (aka downsizing), but some CEOs (even in profitable companies) seem to love these traumatic events as a tool to save their job and to drive short-term movements in the price of a company’s stock price, often coming on the heels of a company missing their earnings estimates.

But the positive short term stock price effects of an across the board workforce reduction come with heavy consequences, several of which greatly affect the innovation capacity of the organization, including:

  1. Destruction of trust within the organization
  2. Reduction in collaboration in the organization
  3. Loss of forward momentum on project work
  4. Loss of some of your best talent as they proactively find themselves jobs elsewhere
  5. Reduction in passion, creativity, and engagement among those who remain
  6. Elimination or reduction in the organization’s commitment to innovation

Now of course sometimes workforce reductions are necessary to avoid bankruptcy or for strategic realignment (removing human resources from business areas you are exiting), and they can be potentially healthy for the organization.

But, when downsizing is done purely to please wall street and in an untargeted way, in the long run I would assert that the organization suffers more than it benefits because any reduction in forward innovation momentum is an invitation to competitors and startups to speed past you.

So, keep innovating!

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What Should the Role of Personal Branding be in Recruitment?

What Should the Role of Personal Branding be in Recruitment?I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal branding, in part because several people have told me that I seem to do it pretty well, in spite of the fact that I would never call myself a personal branding expert or endeavor to make my living as a personal branding consultant.

While I think the personal branding topic is an interesting one, it is more because I am curious about:

  1. The role of personal branding in helping organizations achieve innovation success
  2. Whether or not organizations should be factoring in personal branding strength as part of their recruitment considerations

Now that we’ve hopefully made the case for the role of personal branding in helping organizations achieve innovation success in my previous post, let’s investigate whether or not organizations should be factoring in the strength of personal brand as part of their recruitment considerations.

Is the personal brand of an individual important to the brand of a collective and the brand equity that the organization is trying to build?

Well, look no further than organizations like Nike and Adidas that harness the personal brand equity of elite athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Derrick Rose.

Look no further than organizations like Target that harness the personal brand equity of Michael Graves, Isaac Mizrahi, Mossimo Giannulli, Jason Wu, and Phillip Lim. Meanwhile Macy’s has the Martha Stewart Home Collection (but JC Penney, Sears and Kmart also have Martha Stewart collections). So, harnessing the personal brand of designers and celebrities is obviously seen as beneficial to the brand of the collective in the minds of these organizations.

But it doesn’t stop there, the University of Phoenix is attempting to harness the personal brands of Clayton M. Christensen, Jeff Dyer, and Hal Gregersen to try and save their accreditation, London Business School harnesses the personal brand equity of Gary Hamel, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management harnesses the personal brand equity of Philip Kotler, and several consultancies harness the personal brand equity of famous professors to lend credibility to their consulting brands.

So, if at the highest levels, the organization’s brand equity benefits from harnessing the strength of the personal brands of certain individuals, shouldn’t organizations be considering the personal brand strength of applicants in the hiring process?

Not just for the reasons detailed above in relation to the increasingly open and interconnected organization, but also as content marketing becomes an increasingly important way for organizations to tell their brand story, and as innovative organizations seek to do the value translation component of innovation, shouldn’t the strength of personal brand equity be a consideration?

Now I don’t want to make this about me, or to say that my personal brand is nearly as strong as any of the individuals referenced before, and so I’ve made this as generic as possible:

  • Wouldn’t a McKinsey, Booz & Co., Deloitte, PWC, Bain, BCG, Innosight, Strategyn, ?WhatIf!, IDEO, Frog, Idea Couture, Fahrenheit 212, Jump Associates, or other consulting firm be better off (all other things being close to equal) hiring a consultant that could not just do great client work, but also a public evangelist for the firm at conferences and events, and bring visibility to the firm in print in the various media outlets that their personal brand has given them access to?
  • Wouldn’t a university be better off bringing in a candidate into a PhD research effort that would not just create a purely academic piece of research, but benefit more by partnering with a candidate that has a pre-existing publishing track record, pre-existing public visibility to help promote it, and whose personal brand equity could also bring potentially greater visibility to the degree granting institution?
  • Wouldn’t a company (all other things being roughly equal) be better off bringing in someone to lead their innovation efforts who has a strong personal brand in the innovation and/or startup communities, than someone who might have great program management capabilities, but limited personal brand equity and visibility? I mean, if one of the goals of an innovation program is to gather more insight-driven dots than your competitors, shouldn’t you base part of your selection criteria on the insight capacity of the individual and the connections that their personal brand equity brings?

These are just three examples of where organizations (and HR professionals) should be factoring personal branding into their recruitment criteria, but there are many more.

I have to say that too much of the focus on personal branding these days is from a social media perspective and making sure that the individual is not damaging their personal brand with careless social media involvement, or is focused on encouraging people to gather as many ‘friends’ as possible, or on the clothes that someone should wear, as if these things by themselves create a personal brand.

I’ve already given my thoughts about what the organization should do with personal branding.

Now here are my personal branding recommendations for the individual:

  1. Determine what your personal brand is. Start by thinking of the three words that define you. What do you want to be known for?
  2. Once you determine what your personal brand stands for, then make sure that all of your online profiles and other kinds of digital and physical assets (including your appearance) reinforce it.
  3. Create content for your online portfolio on the topics related to the three words that define you.
  4. Join the communities that intersect with your personal brand and your passions.
  5. Get out there and meet people. Look for those intersections of skills, abilities, talents, and passions that you have with others that are also consistent with your personal brand.
  6. Look to pursue activities that will strengthen your personal brand, not weaken it.
  7. Be authentic!
  8. Have fun!

Let’s close with a few questions:

  • What would you add to this list?
  • What is your personal brand, how strong is it, and how are you going to leverage this to power your career success?
  • How is your organization viewing personal brand when it comes to its recruitment efforts?

Keep innovating!


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New White Paper on External Talent Strategies

Innocentive - New White Paper on External Talent StrategiesFollowing on the heels of a recent thought leadership webinar (link to recording) on the same topic, this white paper explores the intersection of talent management and open innovation strategies. The paper dives into why having an external talent strategy is becoming increasingly important and how it can help your company accelerate innovation, shows how leading organizations manage their open innovation and crowdsourcing efforts (including case study examples of companies like P&G), and provides proven strategies and steps to take for attracting talent to your organization’s innovation efforts.

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Innovation QuickStart Guide

Innovation QuickStart GuideYou know how sometimes when you order a product you get this inch-thick instruction manual that you never read, but also how there is sometimes a QuickStart Guide of 5-10 simple steps to get you up and running quickly?

Well, Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire is the instruction manual that an increasing number of organizations are ordering for teams to help them with their innovation efforts. But, I’m sure companies could also use an Innovation QuickStart. So, here is one you could use (excerpted in part from my book):

10 Steps to Get Your Innovation Efforts Off to a Good Start

1. Conduct an Innovation Audit

How can you know where you are going to go with innovation if you don’t first know where you already are? For this reason I created a 50 question innovation audit and linked it to an Innovation Maturity Model from Karl T. Ulrich and Christian Terwiesch of Wharton Business School.

Innovation Maturity Model

2. Define What Innovation Means for Your Organization

Here is a simple exercise you can do next time you get together in your organization to talk about innovation. Have everyone in the group write down what their definition of innovation is, and then compare that to the official definition of innovation for the organization (if you have one) and the innovation definitions of others in the group. Defining innovation as an organization is important because it helps you determine what kinds of innovation you are focusing on as an organization, and what kinds of innovation you ARE NOT focusing on.

3. Create a Common Language of Innovation

Creating a definition of innovation is the first step in creating a common language of innovation. The importance of creating a common language of innovation is that language is one of the most important components of culture. If people in your organization don’t talk about innovation in a consistent way and see communications reinforcing the common language, how can you possibly hope to embed innovation in the culture of the organization? Ensuring consistent language in presentations, emails, etc. and having people read the same book on innovation or taking the same training courses are just some ways to help create and reinforce a common language of innovation.

4. Define Your Innovation Vision

A startup begins life as a single-minded entity focused on innovating for one set of customers with a single product or service. Often as a company grows to create a range of products and/or services, the organization can start to lose track of what it is trying to achieve, which customers it is trying to serve, and the kind of solutions that are most relevant and desired by them.

Jack Welch, CEO of GE once said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Vision is about focus and vision is about the ‘where’ and the ‘why’ not the ‘what’ or the ‘how’. A vision gives the business a sense of purpose and acts as a rudder when the way forward appears uncertain. An innovation vision is no less important, and it serves the same basic functions. An innovation vision can help to answer some of the following questions for employees:

  • Is innovation important or not?
  • Are we focusing on innovation or not?
  • What kind of innovation are we pursuing as an organization?
  • Is innovation a function of some part of the business?
  • Or, is innovation something that we are trying to place at the center of the business?
  • Are we pursuing open or closed innovation, or both?
  • Why should employees, suppliers, partners, and customers be excited to participate?

When people have questions, they tend not to move forward. For that reason it is crucial that an organization’s leadership both has a clear innovation vision, and clearly and regularly communicates it to key stakeholders. If employees, suppliers, partners, and customers aren’t sure what the innovation vision of the organization is, how can they imagine a better way forward?

Pre-Order Nine Innovation Roles Card Decks

5. Define Your Innovation Strategy

Many organizations take the time to create an organizational strategy and a mission statement, only to then neglect the creation of an innovation vision and an innovation strategy. An innovation strategy is not merely a technology roadmap from R&D or an agenda for new product development. Instead, an innovation strategy identifies who will drive a company’s profitable revenue growth and what will represent a strong competitive advantage for the firm going forward. Under this umbrella the innovation goals for the organization can be created.

An innovation strategy sets the innovation direction for an organization towards the achievement of its innovation vision. It gives members of the organization an idea of what new achievements and directions will best benefit the organization when it comes to innovation. As with organizational strategy, innovation strategy must determine WHAT the organization should focus on (and WHAT NOT to) so that tactics can be developed for HOW to get there.

Innovation Vision Strategy Goals

6. Define Your Innovation Goals

Just as managers and employees need goals to know what to focus on and to help them be successful, organizations need innovation goals too. Clear innovation goals, when combined with a clear innovation strategy and a single-minded innovation vision for the organization, will maximize the instinctual innovation that emerges from employees and the intellectual innovation that occurs on directed innovation projects.

While an innovation vision determines the kinds of innovation that an organization, and an innovation strategy determines what the organization will focus on when it comes to innovation, it is the innovation goals that break things down into tangible objectives that employees can work against. Let’s look at P&G as an example to see how these three things come together at the highest level:

Innovation Vision

  • Reach outside the company’s own R&D department for innovation

Innovation Strategy

  • Create a formal program (Connect + Develop) to focus on this vision

Innovation Goal

  • Source 50% of the company’s innovation from outside

The 50% goal gives employees and management something to measure against, and it sets a very visible benchmark that the whole organization can understand and visualize how big the commitment and participation must be in order to reach it. It is at this point of communicating the innovation goals that senior management also has to communicate how they intend to support their efforts and how they will help employees reach the innovation goals.

7. Create a Pool of Money to Fund Innovation Projects

Product managers leading product groups and general managers leading business units typically have revenue numbers they are trying to hit, and they will spend their budgets trying to hit those numbers. As a result, there are often precious little financial resources (and human resources) available for innovation projects that don’t generate immediate progress toward this quarter’s business goals. As a result, many organizations find themselves setting money aside outside of the product or business unit silos that can be allocated on the future needs of the business instead of the current needs of the product managers and general managers. This also allows the organization to build an innovation portfolio of projects with different risk profiles and time horizons. But, however you choose to fund innovation projects, the fact remains that you need to have a plan for doing so, or the promising projects that form your future innovation pipeline – will never get funded.

8. Create Human Resource Flexibility to Staff Innovation Projects

Some organizations allow employees to spend a certain percentage of their time on whatever they want, but most don’t. Some organizations allow employees to pitch to spend a certain percentage of their time on developing a promising idea, but most organizations are running so lean that they feel there is no time or money for innovation. Often this is true and so employees sometimes work on promising ideas on their own time, but they shouldn’t have to. And if you make them do so, it will be much more likely that they will develop the promising idea with others outside the company and the organization will gain nothing from these efforts.

Don’t turn your motivated intrapreneurs into entrepreneurs.

You must find a way to create resource flexibility. Organizations that want to continue to grow and thrive must staff the organization in a way that allows managers to invest a portion of their employees’ time into promising innovation projects. One model to consider is that of Intuit, which allows employees to form project teams and to accumulate percent time and then schedule time off to work on an innovation project with co-workers in the same way that they schedule a vacation. This allows the manager to plan for the employees’ absence from the day-to-day and allows the employee to focus on the innovation project during that scheduled leave from their workgroup. But that’s just one possible way to create human resource flexibility.

Pre-Order Nine Innovation Roles Card Decks

9. Focus on Value – Innovation is All About Value

Value creation is important, but you can’t succeed without equal attention being paid to both value access and value translation because innovation is all about value…

Innovation = Value Creation (x) Value Access (x) Value Translation = Success!

Now you will notice that the components are multiplicative not additive. Do one or two well and one poorly and it doesn’t necessarily add up to a positive result. Doing one poorly and two well can still doom your innovation investment to failure. Let’s look at the three equation components in brief:

Value Creation is pretty self-explanatory. Your innovation investment must create incremental or completely new value large enough to overcome the switching costs of moving to your new solution from the old solution (including the ‘Do Nothing Solution’). New value can be created by making something more efficient, more effective, possible that wasn’t possible before, or create new psychological or emotional benefits.

Value Access could also be thought of as friction reduction. How easy do you make it for customers and consumers to access the value you’ve created. How well has the product or service been designed to allow people to access the value easily? How easy is it for the solution to be created? How easy is it for people to do business with you?

Value Translation is all about helping people understand the value you’ve created and how it fits into their lives. Value translation is also about understanding where on a continuum between the need for explanation and education that your solution falls. Incremental innovations can usually just be explained to people because they anchor to something they already understand, but radical or disruptive innovations inevitably require some level of education (often far in advance of the launch). Done really well, value translation also helps to communicate how easy it will be for customers and consumers to exchange their old solution for the new solution.

The key thing to know here is that even if you do a great job at value creation, if you do a poor job at either value access or value translation, you can still fail miserably.

10. Focus on Creating a Culture of Learning Fast

There is a lot of chatter out there about the concept of ‘failing fast’ as a way of fostering innovation and reducing risk. Sometimes the concept of ‘failing fast’ is merged with ‘failing cheap’ to form the following refrain – ‘fail fast, fail cheap, fail often’.

Now don’t get me wrong, one of the most important things an organization can do is learn to accept failure as a real possibility in their innovation efforts, and even to plan for it by taking a portfolio approach that balances different risk profiles, time horizons, etc.

But when it comes to innovation, it is not as important whether you fail fast or fail slow or whether you fail at all, but how fast you learn. And make no mistake, you don’t have to fail to innovate (although there are always some obstacles along the way). With the right approach to innovation you can learn quickly from failures AND successes.

The key is to pursue your innovation efforts as a discrete set of experiments designed to learn certain things, and instrumenting each project phase in such a way that the desired learning is achieved.

The central question should always be:

“What do we hope to learn from this effort?”

When you start from this question, every project becomes a series of questions you hope to answer, and each answer moves you closer to identifying the key market insight and achieving your expected innovation. The questions you hope to answer can include technical questions, manufacturing questions, process questions, customer preference questions, questions about how to communicate the value to customers, and more. AND, the answers that push you forward can come from positive discrete outcomes OR negative discrete outcomes of the different project phases.

The ultimate goal of a ‘learning fast’ approach to innovation is to embed in your culture the ability to extract the key insights from your pursuits and the ability to quickly recognize how to modify your project plan to take advantage of unexpected learnings, and the flexibility and empowerment to make the necessary course corrections.

The faster you get at learning from unforeseen circumstances and outcomes, the faster you can turn an invention into an innovation by landing smack on what the customer finds truly valuable (and communicating the value in a compelling way). Fail to identify the key value AND a compelling way to communicate it, and you will fail to drive mass adoption.

Summary

When you start with an innovation audit and creating a common language of innovation (including a definition of innovation), it sets you up well to create a coherent innovation vision, strategy, and goals. And then if you build in the financial and human resource flexibility necessary to create a focus on value creation, access and translation – and support it with a culture that is focused on learning fast – YOU WILL have built a solid foundation for your innovation efforts to grow and mature on top of. Are there more things that go into embedding innovation into your culture and creating sustainable innovation success? Absolutely. But, if you work diligently on these ten items you will get your innovation efforts off to a strong start.

What are you waiting for?

Image Credits: Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire


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External Talent Strategies for a Global Talent Pool

Why Having an External Talent Strategy is Becoming Increasingly Important

External Talent Strategies for a Global Talent PoolThe old way of winning the talent wars was to search for and hire the very best talent and keep them inside your own four walls by offering them competitive compensation, benefits, and perks. Your hope was that your talent is better than your competitors’ talent. But over the last couple of decades, companies have increasingly found that employees who pursue what they do with passion will outperform an employee with a gun to their head every time. Circuit City learned very publicly that people are not commodities and went out of business from treating them as if they were. At the same time, we know that diversity is very important and hard to foster internally. And so it is to get to this diversity of thought in order to accelerate product launch and innovation timelines that companies must open up – it is a global economy with a global talent pool.

The question becomes: what is happening at the micro level with this global talent pool? Well, the world continues to move away from being a place where employees expect to have jobs for life, and fight against any change to this paradigm, to a world where portfolios, personal branding, and project-based work will become more common in an increasing number of industries. The evolving world of work is becoming a world in which individuals will need to be really good at collaborating and playing well with others, while also honing their skills at standing out from the crowd. At the same time, the external perception of your network value will expand from a focus on internal connections to also include the talented minds you might know outside the organization that can be brought in on different projects or challenges.

At the macro level, we are also confronted by an economy right now that is characterized by high unemployment – especially for the young. And for those that have jobs, many are underemployed. Meanwhile, at the other end of the age spectrum, many baby boomers will continue to look to make money and stay involved in the workplace in significant numbers. And for those not retiring who still have jobs, many employees now are doing more work but feeling less engaged. When you combine the macro and micro pictures, you can see that there is an army of talent out there looking to build their resumes or their balance sheets by working on interesting challenges and projects.

As your organization opens up and crafts a formal external talent strategy, there are several ways external talent can help benefit your organization.

Increased Speed:

  • External talent networks can form an expanded rolodex of experts that you can consult with to expand your knowledge on a particular search area or market and give you a running start instead of a standing one.
  • You can use your external talent strategy to find existing solutions from outside your industry. One example of this is a tire company adapting existing technology for cutting cheese to cutting rubber. Another is InnoCentive client OSRI, who used concrete construction principles for the purpose of oil spill cleanup (see sidebar).
  • To accelerate innovation and product development timelines, many companies strategically partner with external talent to advance their projects and help fight through roadblocks or work on other components when the lead team is off the clock. Dissecting work and distributing it to the individuals, groups, or partners that can best complete the work is an essential component of open innovation strategy.

Increased Success:

  • You can form a relationship with a particular expert and work together to solve a problem, to evaluate a range of potential solutions from internal folks, to tap expertise you lack currently in your organization, or to add diversity of thought.
  • You can use your external talent strategy to engage a large number of potential solvers on a tough problem. Through open innovation and crowdsourcing, Roche found a solution to a problem it had been struggling with for fifteen years by engaging the InnoCentive global solver community. At the same time, the company validated that the approaches it had already tried were the logical and correct ones.
  • When you engage external talent, you can collect lots of little ideas from outside, and connect them internally, uncovering some really big ideas that properly applied and executed can lead to some great new breakthrough innovations.

Increased Learning:

  • An under-appreciated and under-utilized benefit of working with external talent is to use it to learn new problem solving techniques by analyzing how the external talent solved the problem, to learn new technical skills not held internally by having external talent train internal talent, and by encouraging information sharing from the outside-in from external talent working in different disciplines.

Teamwork and Collaboration:

  • An increasing number of problem solvers are working together to solve challenges posed by organizations and this collaboration and teamwork is yielding higher quality solutions. Research by EMC into their own internal innovation challenges has shown that teams were more likely to successfully create winning challenge entries. InnoCentive, for instance, has responded to this behavior by creating more collaborative features for its global solver community to use in responding to challenges.

Consider scale for a moment. A person delivering a ton of value does not need a ton of headcount anymore if they are employing an effective external talent strategy. In an era where organizations are focused on increasing productivity and output without changing the number of headcount (focusing on revenue or profit-per-head), smart employees and business units will increasingly focus on being a force multiplier – getting more work done with the same number or even less headcount.

Two of the most important job skills in this new world of work will be the ability of the individual and the organization to deconstruct the work into portable units that can be executed by a mix of internal and external talent, and construct a project plan for distributing, aggregating, integrating, and executing the component parts to achieve the overall project goal.

But to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your work with outsiders – as well the output – you need to be strategic in your approach because the speed of adaptation (your ability to adapt and integrate work from outside into the inside) will become more important. And the flexibility you show as an organization and the ability of your employees to execute under immense market and customer pressures will become increasingly important as well. You must be strategic because ultimately you want to design scalable external talent strategies, policies, and processes.

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