Keynote: Pfeffer Breaks Conventional Wisdom

Posted on March 12, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |

IMG_1351 Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of twelve books. In the summer of 2007, Harvard Business School Press published his most recent book, What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management, a collection of 27 essays about management topics.

Pfeffer discussed causes of leadership shortages in many companies. The Department of Labor is projecting a 10 million person work shortage by the end of the decade. He cited a several critical reasons for it:

  • Demography
  • Workplace management that leaves employees unhappy, disengaged and leaving. Pfeffer cited toxic workplaces…
  • Not enough resources and attention are available to workers for development

Some statistics.

  • 40% of workers feel disconnected
  • 2/3 of workers do not identify with who they work with
  • More than 50 percent of workers don’t trust their bosses or what the company has to say

All of the many factors cited create attitudes and values that no one believes in.  And they decide to leave.  Therefore, the talent shortage makes sense.

Evidence Drives Management

IMG_1356 To resolve this issue, evidence-based management should be employed.  Today’s management defies evidence. It continues to enforce bad programs that don’t work.  Industries adapting evidence based approaches include medicine, criminology, education and social policy.

Evidence-based management is a way of thinking.  It’s:

  • Being data-driven and committed to making decisions based on the facts. 
  • Treating your organization as an unfurnished prototype: Keep experimenting
  • Challenging conventional wisdom

Pfeffer cited the airline industry, the teaching profession as examples.

Instead of evidence, companies use casual benchmarking.  Pfeffer says GE and SouthWest use casual benchmarking.  There is a copycat syndrome.

Barriers to using evidence based management:

  • Not willing to admit we don’t know
  • Unwillingness to face the facts, particularly when they are unpleasant
  • Too much information, much of it contradictory, and much of it presented in ways that make it impossible to remember
  • Belief that it takes too long
  • The fact that data and a commitment to EBM changes power dynamics
  • An implicit that management is not a science like for instance medicine is

Talent management is too focused on stars… As a result, there is a corresponding under emphasis on developing the right talent inside.  The lesson the quality movement, quality and improvement comes from the system not the people.

Failure is not an end. It’s a beginning.  Responding to failure is a growth opportunity to master the goal, master the effort.  It can lead to phenomenal development.

Moving forward, we need to invest in people, let them make decisions, and give them responsibility.  We also need to beware of grass is greener.  Scarcity makes the search very difficult. Outside talent often doesn’t fit the culture.  Hire for fit… It’s much more predictive for success. 

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HCI Summit – Susan Slater of McKesson Corp Talks Talent!

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |

Amanda, live blogging on the Newman Groups session, the last in today’s Talent Management lineup.

Susan Slater, the Vice President of Talent Acquisition for Mckesson Corporation is talking about “What Does it Take to Compete for Talent? Lessons from an Industry Leader”. This session is sponsored by The Newman Group, a Futurestep Company.

Mitzi Adwell, the Talent Management Practice Leader for the Newman Group introduces Susan – Starting off with a bang as usual. 00000006

So Who is McKesson?

Susan asks: Who really knows McKesson? Don’t worry, if you’re not sure she’s not offended. TMP their partner has actually gone on the road with a camera crew asking people on the street if they know who McKesson was – no one did – and they kinda’ like that. They are 175 years old and the largest pharmaceutical distributor in NA, they are the nations leading health care IT company and employ more than 30,000 people around the world (although they don’t consider themselves a global company).

Lets start from the beginning – After doing a systems audit of their company they were told that 70 % of what they do is pushing paper – that’s good right? No, because hiring is administrative in nature and they weren’t doing it correctly.

So what did they do about it? 00000005

The Challenge to Evolving Talent Operations

Too many moving parts

Constantly evolving technology

Changing business needs

Lets talk about the four fundamental elements that drive talent success

Branding (9-12 month process for them)

if your branding is real and done right you will have bottom line impacts. Employees should get excited, customers should get excited when they see your brand! If you can do something and get it done right you’re there states Susan! EVP brand – You have one whether you know it or not. It’s more than a logo or slogan it’s a disciplined approach. The implications? A well defined EVP gives you the ability to reach relevant talent, support changes in your business model and stay competitive.


Strategy effects everything and it’s much more than talent acquisition, in fact they want to change it to talent management. Evolution is critical and you have to keep looking at what’s next and never settle. Are recruiters getting lazy? You can’t just post jobs on boards – get out there! It boils down to best practices vs. next practices. The key focus remains fundamental: Building relationships and knowing the candidate.

Organizational Structure (it’s about)

Bringing the strategy to life

Centralized or de-centralized – the pendulum shifts

The reality – combining elements of the two (centralized and de-centralized)

Supporting Technology

You have to have a sound technical infrastructure – if any click takes more than 5 seconds to display the page, it’s too long. Alignment with the people and the process – as people use the tool all necessary data is captured. No extra steps. These are important pieces to the puzzle.

You HAVE to have the ability to get data for reports and metrics…or else the spreadsheet becomes the system of the record. A continuous change management process, also key – communication, training, problem solving, tailored to each stakeholder (not one-time, not one-size-fits-all).

Lessons for Success

Never stop improving

People drive the process

No shortcuts – Don’t email a candidate, build a relationship

There are no black and white answers.

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Dr. Thornberry Discusses New Value Creators

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |

Neal Thornberry Ph.D. and author of “Lead Like an Entrepreneur: Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive Within the Corporation” kicked off the leadership track today with his “New Value Creators” speech. He spoke about companies developing and sustaining innovation as an enabler of both human and organizational performance. Specifically, how do you infuse entrepreneurial spirit into companies and employees.


Thornberry focused on the state of innovation. Innovation is only a tool to help the company grow, but it is not an end result.

He also indicated middle managers have suffered greatly. This is a mistake because middle management can be the biggest font of change. Yes, they can be barrierIMG_1325s, but they can also know the company well enough, make things happen and innovate. Dr. Thornberry cites the xxx for Dummies series of books as an example.

No words can describe how engaging Dr. Thornberry was. Lots of colorful stories were told sans PowerPoint, and he engaged the audience directly often walking the front of the room and parts of the aisles.

One of his colorful stories highlighted how some of the most square people can innovate great entrepreneurial ideas. And some of the most qualified people can bomb out. He cited an example of two Stanford MBAs who could not innovate. High potential does not equal high innovation.

More than 2000 people went through Dr. Thornberry’s innovation program. Only 10 or 15 developed really functional businesses. It’s important for cultures to create processes to vett and identify great innovation. A chief innovation officer cannot work. Such top down approaches usually kill middle management inspired innovations.

Dr. Thornberry believes Culture shifts aren’t great. A good way to shift opportunities is to go after challenging opportunities. By going after new opportunities, new products, new developments, the company changes the way it acts and behaves. That’s the way to develop a culture shift.

Value systems are critical. But you have to believe them and act on them. Without the right belief system and value systems you may as well take the value statement off the wall, said Dr. Thornberry.

More Insights

  • 90% of all firms are unable to sustain high growth rates beyond a few years.
  • Innovation is a tool not a destination, there is no 6 sigma for innovation. Ideation is where the fun stops. Can they execute, can they find the ideas>
  • Entrepreneurship always involves innovation; but innovation does not always involve entrepreneurship.
  • Great ideas do not equal great opportunities.
  • The entrepreneur identifies opportunities, shapes them, and then captures them. This process is self-admittedly much messier than the chart Dr. Thornberry used.
  • Entrepreneurs have to balance the opportunity, the team and the resources. You always start with the opportunity, then figure out how to execute it.
  • You can teach people the entrepreneurial thinking process.
  • Telling people no is a great way to inspire entrepreneurial types to get them to engage. They question the very basis of ideas.
  • Value creation is the heart of entrepreneurial development
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Haiyan Wang Delivers Talent Management Keynote – HCI National Summit

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers, Trends |

Amanda here, live-blogging the Talent Management sessions. Settling in for our keynote…

Haiyan Wang, Managing Director of the China India Institute and Co-author of The Quest for Global Dominance speaks about “Cultivating a Global Market”.


Ms. Wang  starts off with a bang, asking the question: Do mindsets matter? They do! But what is a mindset? It’s a cognitive map (assumptions, logic) of the world around us.  Without this we can paralyze into “inaction”. Although they can be double edge swords and blind us to reality. For example: In the year 2000 a successful auto businessman from a well known company visited China and came back saying “call me when you have some roads” it’s projected that in 2015 China will have more cars than any other place in the world.

What About Organizations?

Do organizations have mindsets? Yes! What about a global mindset? Here’s the concept: It’s the balance between a parochial mindset and a diffused mindset. You have to integrate between diversities, that’s the key. Ex: Microsoft. In 1992 when they entered China, for a couple years it was a disaster. When they started to adopt a global mindset things started to turn around. They realized that the piracy issue would improve and that the purchasing power in China would not. Once they did this they started being a friend to China. One important thing they did was to mandate that an operating system on every machine that was shipped to China be loaded. This GREATLY changed the relationship.

Here are Some Stats:

50% of world GDP growth from emerging countries.
Emerging growth countries’ share of world exports = 43% and growing
End of 2007 China’s GDP was 3rd largest in world and it will surpass the USA around 2035. India will surpass the USA around 2045.

Wang says that this is another industrial revolution. Although what took 100 years previously, this one will happen in 30.

Transformation of Industries:

Even slow moving, low tech industries get radically transformed in 20 years. Tale a look at Beer (SAB Miller), Steel (Arcelor Mittal), Cement (Cemex). Who will be the major players and how will that impact YOUR business? You have to take a look at your own business environment and that of your customers. Geographic location of yourself, your customers, your value chain activities. Are the emerging companies going to be your competition?

Cultivating a Global Mindset:

The key is to build a strong “one company” culture, infrastructure and processes. You have to have clear values and a clear corporate identity. You also have to develop a deep knowledge about different cultures and markets. Don’t just observe problems SOLVE problems. How can you do this? Unleash web 2.0 within the company, have cross border assignments… And finally the most important mechanism is to globalize the nerve centers of decision making. Close the gap between where opportunities sit and where the decision power sits. You can’t drag opportunities to you, you have to go to them. And since things are happening at a rapid pace… hurry!

Tomorrow’s Leading Organization:

Build a global integrated enterprise with roots in many countries.

Bottom Line?

When asked by a member of the audience how to convince a high level executive-naysayer about the change that’s going to occur in 20 years Wang responds to tell him to go to sleep and wake up in 20 years, when he wakes up he’ll find that he no longer has a job. Touché

Oh, they can also buy her book 🙂

The world is your oyster do you have the right fork? 

For more information or questions please feel free to email Ms. Wang hwang@chinaindiainstitute.com and visit the website www.chinaindiainstitute.com

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Packard Keynote: Successful Hiring Traits and Great Cultures

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |

 Susan Packard 005Susan Packard, President of Brand Outreach, HGTV President got right into  it and laid out her agenda.  It was two-fold:

1) what kinds of people should orgs be hiring?

2) what principles will help guide your org to greatness?

Part I: Hiring Traits

Susan spoke on how to hire.  She said it’s more than just hiring, it’s identifying traits of hiring.  There are four key traits of successful people:

  • audacity
  • push
  • humor
  • upside thinking 

Trait one:  Audacity.  Audacity is willingness to take risk.  You need audacious ideas and people grounded in sound business practice.  Apple’s iTunes was cited as a case study. Audacious people are needed throughout the organization, from start-up to mature enterprise, from line mangers to executives.

Audacious people can be hard to manage, and their ideas are often disruptive.

Susan Packard 008Trait two: Push. Making employees and executives get out of their comfort zone is essential.  Push creates broad thinkers.  Short sighted focus hurts the ability for people to develop.  Create systems to allow people to develop, and give them time to adapt.

There are no four generations of workers in our companies: veterans, baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y/millenials.  Broad thinkers, with broad levels across the organization bridge these generations.

Trait three: Humor. Humor makes for an easier environment. Laughter and humor make a safer, more physiologically healthy environment.  Great leaders bring lightness to the workplace, cites Packard.

Trait four:  Upside thinker.  Optimists are essential.  There is no place for negative, naysayers in this world.  It’s important to embrace mistakes, to engage them as an opportunity to grow.  Cites GM and Toyota and Chrysler as different cultures.

Part II: Achieving Greatness Through Culture

Susan Packard 007 Create a defining culture through mission, values and actions… Mission statements are very, very difficult.  They are hard to write, but they are critical.  You have to invest the time to get these done correctly.

Next you have to know what your core values are… You have to stick with them, and make sure decisions are based upon them. Communicate those values, demonstrate them in your action.

Creating a defining culture is not easy. New influxes of workers or acquisitions can absolutely challenge those values and mission. Integrating can be hard, but the values can guide you through it. 

You have to assume your organization will change.  Your culture will change. New context and situations change the company.  That doesn’t mean that your values are gone.  Even GE is shifting its culture.

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Deloitte’s Reynolds on Engaging Millenials, Open Cultures

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: Speakers |

IMG_1304Deloitte’s Leah Reynolds works as National Practice Leader for Generational Change and Total Rewards Communication on behalf of Deloitte’s clients. Yesterday, Leah also spoke on a panel with Lisa Orrell and I on Attracting and Retaining the New Economy Workforce: GenX and Y. There she shared some of Deloitte’s Multi-Generational Initiatives group’s experiences (run by Stan Smith) generational change. Deloitte is applying what the knowledge learned internally at Deloitte (truly leading-edge ideas) to client engagements.

Leah discussed (four minute plus podcast here):

  • The very successful Deloitte’s Film Festival campaign, which engaged more than 30,000 or almost 25% of Deloitte’s staff
  • Some of the challenges of engaging and keeping Deloitte
  • The customization of individual career paths within Deloitte
  • Deloitte’s open and respectful culture

Also see the Deloitte Film Festival Channel on YouTube.

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Lisa Orrell Discusses Retaining Millenials

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: Speakers |

Lisa Orrell, a marketing expert who focuses on Gen. Y and millenials, recently wrote a book called Millenials, Inc. Yesterday she spoke on a panel with me on Attracting and Retaining the New Economy Workforce: GenX and Y (photo includes Lisa Orrell, Human Resource Executive Editor and Publisher David Shadovitz and myself). Her insights were outstanding and she dropped by for some more conversation.


In our podcast, Lisa discussed (download here):

  • Tools to retain millenials
  • Changing management approaches to working with millenials
  • The need for multiple contacts in one day
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George Mason’s Zaccaro and Horn on Leaders Need to Learn Adoptability

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: Speakers |

IMG_1243 GMU Professor of Psychology Stephen Zaccaro (see part I and II of his speech yesterday) and Zack Horn, MA dropped by for some more discussion of their presentation yesterday on adaptability.  Here’s what they had to say!

In Professor Zaccaro’s podcast we discussed (Zaccaro download here):

  • “The ability to change frames” and perspectives, which creates adaptive expertise
  • The need to provide new adaptive learning strategies for executives
  • The importance of failure in development

Zack talked about the research he conducted with HCI members.  We discussed (Horn download here):

  • Top findings include how forced situations and stretch assignments created adaptive skills
  • Leader development curriculum can now be developed
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Gallup’s Tim Hodges on Talent Management

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |


IMG_1250 Tim Hodges, Executive Director
of Gallup University at the Gallup Organization spoke with me briefly before his panel at the Human Capital Summit.

Specifically we discussed:

  • The biggest challenge facing the talent management industry
  • Human Sigma
  • Social media’s impact on talent management, particularly with Gen Yers and Millenials

Overall the podcast is a short 3:10 in length! You can download the podcast here.

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Zaccaro Discusses the Change "Adaptability" Environment Part 2

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |

Hey – It’s Amanda from HCI. I’m here live-blogging with Geoff. After Geoff left, Zaccaro went over two studies. Here’s the summaries: 

Study 1

Using 229 managers and executives which measured the experiences with developmental assignments, cognitive flexibility and complexity and meta-cognitive skills as well as a adaptive problem solving exercise. They did this by distributing a survey through HCI.

In this study the managers and executives were asked to complete three sets of business decision scenarios, each having two parts. The result confirming that adaptive performance = the quality of performance on both parts of the problem.

Zaccaro goes on to define self development of adaptability skills for leaders:

"The development of adaptability skills through self development requires well constructed learning contracts that emphasize greater experiential variety."

Study 2

Using 241 managers and executives from multi level marketing company which measured the descriptions of self development activities. The results were that business leaders with greater experiential variety in their development activities had greater performing teams and leaders with greater experiential variety in their self development activities performed better on the adaptive problem solving exercises.

As the end draws near we conclude by going over the "prescriptions for developing executive adaptability" which include the integrated use of developmental assignments and self development activities. Zaccaro says that before beginning such assignments and activities, build skills in self regulation and meta-cognitive thinking and have significant experiential variety in your development assignments and self development activities. 

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