The New Blackberry Is Out - Here's What It Tells Us About Change...

Hey Gen Z!

You love your smart phones. Did you realize the boomers and a good part of your Gen X brethren grew up in corporate America with a device called the "Blackberry?"  It had an actual physical keyboard on it that the old people swore by, and at one time in corporate America, IT departments refused to deploy iPhones and Androids to their workforces, citing reasons like, "not designed for business" and "not secure".

Here's the market share this relic used to have:  (See graph below, click through if you don't see)

Chartoftheday_8180_blackberry_s_smartphone_market_share_n

I shit kid you not. BlackBerry got swallowed up by the iPhone and Android.  Guess when the first iPhone was announced?

2007.  Market share was in the high 40's and had already dropped to the low 20's by the time the chart above picks up the action.

I'm compelled to share this story, kids, because BlackBerry used to rule.  Ask your parents who used to ride or die in corporate America.  I'm also sharing it because Blackberry reacted to the iPhone/Android/touchscreen/smartphone threat poorly.  That's obvious, right?

But Blackberry just announced a new phone, and they're dancing with the girl (actually probably a guy) that brought them to the dance.  The double pleats crowd that appreciates a QWERTY keyboard.  More from TechRadar:

BlackBerry’s new BlackBerry Key2 is the successor to last year’s KeyOne. Yes, BlackBerry is still making phones, but these days they’re running on Android and pulling in a handful of BlackBerry’s security features.

A quick look at both phones, and it’s clear they’re BlackBerry handsets. Full QWERTY keyboards leave little room for doubt. But, as BlackBerry aims to please faithful users who want a secure smartphone with a physical keyboard, its ability to compete with the likes of the Galaxy S9 or iPhone 8 is diminished. The result: the best phone to compare the new BlackBerry Key2 to is last year’s BlackBerry KeyOne.

Here's a pic of what the new Blackberry looks like:

Bb

Other than making fun of Blackberry users, I'm writing this to talk a bit about change:

1.  At one time, iPhone and Android users couldn't make it past the IT dudes approving devices for the network.

2. Back in the day, corporations really were ringing their hands about allowing access to email through someone's personal phone.

3.  Back in 2009, IT people thought they actually had control over networks.

Today, the following is true:

1.  IT and hardware management is not longer has the power they once did.

2.  We're amazed when companies don't allow access to email everywhere.

3.  If anyone really cared, the new Blackberry would have the same problems getting approved by IT that the iPhone did back in the day.  Fortunately, RIM (makers of Blackberry) gave up on their own platform and are running on Android.

The lesson? You think the world the way it is now is destined to continue forever.  It's not.  It's going to change. Disruption is the only certainty.  

Google will end up fading.  Apple will cease to be design and market share darling they are now.

I'd bet on voice to overtake it all as the next big shift.

Laugh at the dinosaurs and their Blackberries, Gen Z.  Soon, you're going to look up and have a mortgage, two kids and be living ITP (in ATL, that means outside the perimeter).

We'll be smiling from the nursing home.

 


Does Your Company Have an "Unconscious Bias" Problem?

Do you believe that "Unconscious Bias" exists?  Let's start with some definitions:

Psychologists tell us that our unconscious biases are simply our natural people preferences. Biologically we are hard-wired to prefer people who look like us, sound like us and share our interests. Social psychologists call this phenomenon "social categorization‟ whereby we routinely and rapidly sort people into groups. 

This preference bypasses our normal, rational and logical thinking. We use these processes very effectively (we call it intuition) but the categories we use to sort people are not logical, modern or perhaps even legal. Put simply, our neurology takes us to the very brink of bias and poor decision making.

Neuropsychologists tell us unconscious bias is built into the very structure of the brain's neurons. Our unconscious brain processes and sifts vast amounts of information looking for patterns (200,000 times more information than the conscious mind).  Bias

The problem with unconscious bias is it happens in the background.  You don't get to choose, it's part of who you are.

Most modern companies have done a decent job of talking about what's legal as well as "right" when it comes to bias vs all types of people.  The problem is that people can still have unconscious bias and make decisions without being aware.

That's why a company called TalVista is attempting to provide tools to help control the power of unconscious bias inside your company.  Here's more about the product that TalVista created when it comes to controlling for unconscious bias:

TalVista focuses on mitigating unconscious bias through the use of automated and sophisticated algorithms to ensure job descriptions are appealing to all candidates rather than having them self-select out of a less inviting job description. According to Scot Sessions, CEO, TalVista, the core of its offering is helping hiring managers stay focused on key job skills and core competencies needed to perform the job without regard for race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. “As humans we have inherent bias,” said Sessions. “While we can see bias in others, we have a difficult time seeing it in ourselves, which is known as ‘unconscious bias.’ With the right tools, recruiters and hiring managers will excel at their hiring duties while staying focused on the experience and traits each candidate may possess and is required to do the job.”

TalVista will continue to expand on the development of the platform, including enhancements to:
1- Job Description Analysis with further optimization
2 - Blind Resume Review with additional redactions
3 - Structured Interviews with interview scripts

I think most of us agree that unconscious bias is real.  When I look at the solution that TalVista has created, here's my reaction:

1- Job Description Analysis with further optimization - It's interesting to note that the team at TalVista fully believes (supported by research) that your job postings are full of things that turn diverse candidates away - they see your job description and even though they're a fit, they don't apply based on some discrete problems with the language and wording of the posting.  TalVista believes it can identify those problems and give you guidance on how to improve them.  I think this is very interesting.

2 - Blind Resume Review with additional redactions - This is what you would expect.  TalVista can connect with your ATS and redact parts of resumes that cause unconscious bias to activate, leading to more qualified, diverse candidates to make it deeper in the recruiting funnel process.  If you're going to attack unconscious bias at your company, this is a tool that is a must.

3 - Structured Interviews with interview scripts - TalVista can provide interview guides for managers designed to mute unconscious bias from the interview experience.

TalVista describes itself as hosted in the Cloud as a SaaS offering with an unlimited annual subscription best suited for Fortune 1000 companies.

My take on this product is pretty simple - reasonable people agree that unconscious bias is a real thing, so if your company is looking to address it as part of your talent plan, Talvista is a great place to start.

I expected the resume review redaction with integration to your ATS, and was pleasantly surprised by the job posting analysis and improvement tool.  The interview guides are a nice touch, but let's be honest - adoption to get your managers to use those is more difficult that getting the full impact of the first two features.

I suspect we will hear more and more about unconscious bias in the future.  Take a look at a post I did awhile back related to bias in AI and machine learning by clicking here.

 


Here's 3 Things You Can Do With Talent Claiming "Disruptor" Status...

If you're in the business of thinking about management and leadership, you'll get this post.

We love to celebrate the disruptors, right?  Big ideas, crazy results, etc. Rainman

Of course, the dirty little secret is that we only love the disruptors that don't get capped at the knees by the cultures they are trying to change.  The disruptors who don't make it?  We hate them.

We only celebrate the disruptors who make it.  The ones who don't are freaks/abnormals/cancers.  To tell the difference, you probably need to focus on the ideas rather than the behavior.

On my mind today related to this great post on LinkedIn by Bob Lyons (read it all, but here's a snippet):

"The legend of Steve Jobs is immortal. There have been countless articles, books and movies made about him and the way he founded and ran Apple. He was such a hard ass, he got fired from his own company in 1985. The establishment people he personally hired and surrounded himself with said they wanted him out. These were not strangers he inherited. How bad did it have to be for that to happen? In 1997 , on the verge of bankruptcy, Apple acquired the company Jobs created and made him CEO once again. Shortly after, products like the iPod, and iPhone started to hit the market. Apple even created a phenomenal customer centric experience through its Apple Stores unlike any consumers had experienced before (and some say since). Jobs certainly goes down as one of the great disruptors of our time, but going through it during its formative years was considered "hell on earth."

Bob's got some other great examples in his post so go check it out.

I'll leave you with this from my notebook after thinking about Bob's post:

Shit stirrer + no good ideas = fire immediately.

Shit stirrer + good ideas = incubate from rest of company and find mentor to round the corners.  Fire later if experiment fails in epic fashion.

Shit stirrer + good ideas + ability to execute through others = execute employment contract and find handler similar to Tom Cruise handling Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.

KD out.


The Art of Rejecting/Approval: Automatic Action Means You're a Complete ##$ - Or a Robot...

The problem with tech, machine learning and A.I. is that we can at times do things too fast.

This seems like a good problem to have in a world where most candidates for jobs go into black holes and never get feedback, right? Delete

Never getting action on something important to you is a HUMAN problem.

Getting action within 1-5 minutes on something important to you is a TECH/A.I problem.

Need some examples? Here you go:

1--I wrote a review on Amazon for Tim Sackett's book last week.  It may have been the first review I ever completed on Amazon.  What was interesting about what happened when I clicked "submit" was the speed at which approval moved.  I was surprised to get a landing page and a follow up email from Amazon telling me that my review was pending approval.  After all, this is Amazon - can't they figure out that I'm not a evil-doer by a systems/computer/IP scan of my review?  My surprise was soon muted when 5-7 minutes after I submitted the review, it was approved.  Think about that for a second.

2--I was speaking at a Jobvite function in Atlanta last week to a room full of recruiters, and I asked the following question - "how do candidates judge you as a recruiter?"  One quick answer that was provided was "speed".  My audience said what you already know - that candidates expect speed from recruiters.  But one voice was quick to point out that in the art of rejection, too much speed could be harsher than never hearing your status at all.  Example - recruiter has manageable workload and is committed to keep her ATS workflow clean.  Candidate comes in that is obviously under-qualified and not right for the job.  You see the application 4 minutes after the candidate pushed send.  Do you reject them that soon?  My audience said no, you needed to wait to spare the candidate's feeling. I agree.

In both circumstances, world-class speed to the next action was available.  Amazon's tech obviously approved my review - there's too many reviews flowing through the system for it to be handled any other way.  But someone decided that auto-approving my review didn't show the proper level of consideration.  Same thing with the recruiter - rejection within 5 minutes was too harsh.

Someday soon, your ATS will scan a resume and tell you whether it's good or not, much like Amazon did to my review.  You won't have to decide on whether to reject each candidate individually, but you will have to decide on how much time passes before rejection feels like you gave a resume proper consideration.

What's proper consideration mean time-wise before you reject a candidate?  I'm thinking 4 hours minimum.

What do you think?

 


Lesson #3 From #MarchMadness: Unique Talent Helps Cinderella Hang With The Big Boys...

Capitalist Note: Throwing a couple of talent/business lessons I was reminded of as I watched the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this year.  March Madness has something for all of us.  I think this is the last one - enjoy!

My job would be great if it weren't for the people.

I kid.  HR people think that from time to time, but actually, people are our most valuable resource.  Who just groaned?  I heard that! Cinderella-bracket

I'm going to change that last quote a little bit.  The right people are our most valuable resource.  Which brings me to the third lesson I heard loud and clear from the first weekend of March Madness:

Talent Lesson #3 from March Madness - Great individual talent can overcome huge disadvantages in company size and resources when it comes to your competitors.  If you ever find yourself going up against Microsoft, Google or whoever the 800-pound gorilla is inside your industry, never forget that a key hire with high talent can help you win more than your share regardless of the product or service you're providing.  This is shown to be true time and time again in March Madness as well.  Whether it's UMBC beating Virginia or Buffalo taking down Arizona, once you step onto the court, only five players can play. Get yourself some great talent and unbelievable things can happen.

The right time to pay more for talent isn't when someone asks for more money.  The right time to pay more for talent is when that talent allows you to play above your weight as a company.

Make the right hire, and all the sudden you can hang on a limited basis with Microsoft, Google or whoever the 800-pound gorilla is inside your industry.  Of course, paying more doesn't mean the candidate in question is going to help you do that.  You might find the most powerful candidate at a level below what you're looking for, just waiting for the promotion that gives them the opportunity to shine.

How good are you at evaluating talent?  Do you know the difference between the candidate who will help you take on the world vs the candidate who wants more money but doesn't help you transcend ###t?

That's why talent selection is part art and part science.  Every low seed left in the NCAA Basketball Tournament has a player that they didn't deserve on paper, but ended up at the school in question.

The more of this type of talent you find and sign, the more you win.  The more you hang with the big boys and girls. 

#survive_and_advance 

 

 

 


Lesson #2 from #March Madness: Being Conservative Can Get You Beat (UMBC Cinderella Rule)

Capitalist Note: Throwing a couple of talent/business lessons I was reminded of as I watched the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this year.  March Madness has something for all of us.

Some organizations/teams play to win.  Assertiveness rules the day, which means those organizations and teams are always Umbcgoing to be on the attack, looking to improve their circumstances by being active and aggressive on all fronts (this can be professional in nature, by the way).  From the top down, they are always looking to attack.  From a corporate standpoint, think Uber as an extreme case of this.

Other organizations are more conservative in nature.  These entities generally have already had some level of success and they're looking to remain successful.  In the DNA of these organizations, the best way to protect a lead is to circle the wagons and be very pragmatic about the risks they take.   These organizations want to win - the risk aversion is more of a stylistic choice on the success they've already had.

But being conservative doesn't mean you've eliminated risk in business - or in basketball, as evidenced by lesson #2 from the first weekend of March Madness 2018:

Talent Lesson #2 from March Madness - Conservative approaches decrease your margin for error.  The  UMBC upset of Virginia is a great example of this truth.  Virginia plays a conservative style on both offense and defense - they aren't incredibly talented, but they execute their base strategy very well.  That conservative approach wins a lot - but in a "lose one game and you're out" type of environment, it can be deadly.  The other team gets hot, and suddenly you're out.  The moral of the story? Even if you have a good to great team, never stop trying to upgrade the talent you have.  Conservative approaches in basketball - the grinding out wins mentality - are often there because it is the best way to win with average talent.  Same thing is true in business.

Virginia has a very conservative approach.  They're a defense-first, grind it out in the half-court type team.  They are world class using that system, but playing conservatively means they don't beat teams by large margins to begin with - mainly because the number of possessions in a game goes down as a consequence of their style.  That means inferior teams can hang around, if it they hit a couple of shots - watch out.  The opposition can get confidence and it can spin out of control into an upset.

The same thing is true in organizations, and happens most often when a company is protecting a cash-cow, dominant position in any marketplace.  You're the leader, you're making money and things are great.  That means you get away from taking risks, you've probably got a large legal department telling you "no" and the talent on your team is generally poker-faced and unemotional when something goes wrong.  

Just play our style.  Protect the margin.  Don't rock the boat.

Then you look up and the UMBC of your industry or market wins a HUGE deal in a head to head match up with you.

You do a loss analysis, ask the prospect for feedback and it comes back clear - your company was to locked into the way you do it.  The upstart was willing to do things outside of scope to customize the solutions.

You just got UMBCed.  

 


Lesson #1 From #MarchMadness - Uniqueness Is Always an Advantage...

Capitalist Note: Throwing a couple of talent/business lessons I was reminded of as I watched the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this year.  March Madness has something for all of us.
 
Sometimes it's better to zig when others are zagging from a strategy perspective.  Here's Syracuse23zonedefense-768x511something I was reminded of via March Madness:
 
--Uniqueness wins because it's hard to prepare for. Whether it's hoops or business, being different from others means you're hard to prepare for.  Syracuse deploys a defensive scheme called the 2-3 zone while most other schools use a man-to-man approach.  That means they are hard to prepare for, which was a key in them knocking off one of the tourney favorites in Michigan State.  When you have a strategic or tactical plan that's different than your competitors and the talent to pull it off, your organization will get unexpected wins - simply because you look and feel different from others.
 
Of course, the decision to look and feel different from your competitors isn't an easy one.  It's much easier and safer from a career perspective to be a "fast-follower", which means you go with the crowd and try to be acceptable to the largest percentage of clients/prospects/whoever you're trying to gain the interest of. 
 
The old saying that my bosses had back in the day was that "no one ever got fired for buying IBM".   No one ever got fired fast for looking like everyone else either - because looking like everyone else is the acceptable thing to do.  Of course, the key there is no one ever got fired fast.  You'll get fired for being a fast follower if results ultimately don't follow.  
 
So the big question is - how are you going to get results?  By looking like everyone else or doing something differently?
 
Syracuse uses a freaky 2-3 zone to be different.  It rose up at the right time and provided the advantage needed to take down a March Madness favorite.
 
Are you like everyone else or do you have a differentiator up your sleeve when you need it most?
 
#survive_and_advance

T-Mobile: Sometimes People Strategy is Zigging When Everyone Else Is Zagging...

This blog is generally about HR.  One thing about HR though - the best HR leaders generally help their clients (internal leaders of business units and functional areas) think differently about business problems.  Since the solution to most business problems generally involve workforce alignment and OD issues, it stands to reason that HR people could have something valuable to say.

But a lot of us allow the status quo to go on even if we think there's a better way.  We're busy. We've got shit to do.  How they approach business problems is their job - let them do it, right? Tmobile

That's fine until you go back to the central theme in the first paragraph - that the solution to most problems involves people.  And if you don't have opinions and hot takes about that, then you/we deserve the administrative tag that so many put on us.

Let me give you a great business solution that could have been the idea of any above-average HR leader in the field.  T-Mobile is a company that is shaking up all kinds of shit in the wireless industry.  They recently made Fortune's 100 Best Places to Work list, but the focus of their profile was as much about business solutions as it was about perks and ping-pong.  Which is another way to say that how you approach business can drive your culture as much as anything.

More from Fortune on one such strategy at T-Mobile:

T-Mobile is doubling down on “do what they tell you” under an effort called “Team of Experts,” which has given call-center employees unprecedented authority. Under the plan, which launched last year, T-Mobile divided its customers into blocks of about 120,000, who are each assigned to a specific group of a few dozen employees at a specific call center. When customers call for support, they are routed to their assigned team, instead of being assigned to a random rep at the least busy center in the country, as is typical in the industry. There’s no transferring of calls elsewhere in a frustrating ducking of accountability. Reps are held responsible for the outcomes of their customer group, measured by metrics such as how frequently customers defect to another carrier or how often they call support, and reps and their managers are empowered to hand out service credits or alter bills.

“People in the industry told us we were crazy to do non-randomized routing,” says Callie Field, T-Mobile’s executive vice president in charge of customer care. But T-Mobile’s cost to serve customers has dropped by 9% overall since it was implemented, while customer satisfaction scores increased by 20 percentage points, Field says. Legere says that the customer-care team’s new responsibilities give them even more data they can use to assess how promotions are going or whether customers understand new plans. “These people talk to 20 customers a day; that’s your gold mine.”

How many HR leaders have looked at the dehumanized, cattle call, big box call centers and thought "there has to be a better way"?  Not only for your people, but for the business?

I think a lot of us could have come up with that solution.  Putting people in the right type of role to do their best work leads to great business results, and culturally, it's more sustainable than almost anything else we can do to build great company culture.

Few of us would naturally go against the grain against something like big box, next globally available rep call centers.  But it's where the biggest impact for HR is.

What is your company doing that's incredibly stupid in your business when it comes to people? If you want a big win in 2018, be a proponent of a business change involving people that gets business results.

Do that, and you'll get your culture thing.


HR CAPITALIST DEFINITIONS: "Edge City" (with notes on Amazon Moving to ATL)...

With all the competition for Amazon's second headquarters (dubbed HQ2) and with Atlanta (home of Kinetix, the company I own part of) being in the mix, I thought I'd share one of my favorite books of all time and give you a Capitalist definition while we are at it.

Edge City is the term.  I picked up the book by the same name over 20 years ago at a bookstore when heading to the beach for a vacation.  The book became one of my all time ATLfavorites, and the definition changed how I viewed the business world forever.  Here's a description of the term, as well as details about the concept.  Take a look and we'll talk about Atlanta/Amazon after the jump.

"Edge city" is an American term for a concentration of business, shopping, and entertainment outside a traditional downtown (or central business district) in what had previously been a residential or rural area. The term was popularized by the 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier by Joel Garreau, who established its current meaning while working as a reporter for the Washington Post. Garreau argues that the edge city has become the standard form of urban growth worldwide, representing a 20th-century urban form unlike that of the 19th-century central downtown. Other terms for these areas include suburban activity centers, megacenters, and suburban business districts.

In 1991, Garreau established five rules for a place to be considered an edge city:

  • Has five million or more square feet (465,000 m²) of leasable office space.
  • Has 600,000 square feet (56,000 m²) or more of leasable retail space.
  • Has more jobs than bedrooms.
  • Is perceived by the population as one place.
  • Was nothing like a "city" as recently as 30 years ago. Then it was just bedrooms, if not cow pastures."

Most edge cities develop at or near existing or planned freeway intersections, and are especially likely to develop near major airports. They rarely include heavy industry. They often are not separate legal entities but are governed as part of surrounding counties (this is more often the case in the East than in the Midwest, South, or West). They are numerous—almost 200 in the United States, compared to 45 downtowns of comparable size—and are large geographically because they are built at automobile scale.

The book is organized by chapters that dig into various Edge Cities in America, including Tyson's Corner, Houston's Galleria area and more.  Because the book came out in 1991 - you can preview the whole book on Amazon (irony) without buying.

What's the big deal about Edge Cities for HR?  The biggest impact they have is what I call "recruiting center of gravity" - my term, not in the book.

Commute preferences change in metro areas as Edge Cities come online and continue to grow.  In Atlanta - home of Kinetix - Edge Cities like Buckhead, Perimeter and Galleria have pushed the employment center of gravity north, to the point where a study I did in 2009 showed that the location preferred by the greatest number of candidates across Atlanta was the Perimeter, located at 12 o'clock on I-285, the perimeter loop that surrounds downtown Atlanta.

But back to Amazon.  You might expect that given the northbound trend of Edge Cities in Atlanta, Amazon would be looking for a location in the north suburbs.  You'd be wrong, primarily because the airport is south of downtown.  As a result, the patch of land proposed for Amazon is connected to downtown near the old Georgia Dome location in an area called The Gulch.

Edge Cities apply to everyone but Amazon - because 50,000 jobs has its own gravity that transcends the Edge City formula.

Quick math - if the average office space formula calls for 170 feet of office space per employee/worker, the HQ2 project would stand at 8.5 million feet of leasable/owned real estate to support 50,000 employees.

You know - the equivalent of 14 Edge Cities described by Garreau.

As they said in Jaws - we're going to need a bigger boat.