CAPITALIST DEFINITIONS: "Renegade Demo"

From a meeting with a client last week:

Renegade Demo (ˈrenəˌɡād/ˈdemō) - The time when you walk by an office or your cube as a leader in your company and realized your growth has outpaced your ability to properly train new hires at your company, especially those charged with evangelizing your product.

In use: "Damn, it happened again.  I popped into a call the new guy Bill was having with a prospect and his positioning of what we do was all ####ed up. It was another renegade demo. He has no clue and it's probably not his fault. We've got to get our arms around this quick."

There are worse things than growth - like going out of business.  But most companies who go through a growth spurt experience an inflection point when renegade demos are alive and well.  It doesn't have to be a sales position - it can be anyone who interfaces with the customer or prospects. What you used to communicate through small office conversations and personal onboarding is now left unsaid/undone.  You've reached the point in your growth where you can no longer do things the way you did when you were a team of <insert FTE count here> people, and as a result, there's a gap in knowledge and ability to pitch.

Enter the Renegade Demo.

The solution? Stop what you're doing and figure out how you're going to institutionalize the knowledge in your head via an increased commitment to positioning, documentation and yes, training.  You probably need to block out a couple of days this week and get your game together.

You know - like the grown up companies and leaders do. 

 


Uber Is Now Run By Your Dad and He's Misusing Slang Like A Dad Would....

Most of you are aware of the leadership challenges and changes at Uber, the company some of us love or hate.

It all started with founder Travis Kalanick, who rose with the company as its first CEO and really defined the hard knock culture that ultimately took him down.  Things got too crazy and Kalanick was out, replaced by the Uber board by former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi - primary to bring grown up leadership to the company that defined an entirely new business segment (ridesharing). Uber

And for the most part, Khosrowshahi has done that.  If you've watched any TV recently, you've seen him featured in Uber commercials saying that the company is rebuilding itself in a responsible way.  

Khosrowshahi is the equivalent of a dad in this rebuild.  And sometimes Dads try to be hip and it all goes to hell.  Such was the case recently at Uber, when Khosrowshahi penned a memo asking "WHO HAS THE D", which immediately sent everyone with Snapchat (and perhaps even Instagram) loaded on their smartphone snickering.  More on this memo from Gizmodo:

"When he took over the company in August of last year, Dara Khosrowshahi was tasked with rehabilitating the fratboy image of Uber—a company where harassment was rampant, and internal memos had to advise employees how not to have sex with their coworkers. But based on a leaked memo, less than a year into the new CEO’s tenure, Khosrowshahi has been giving “the D” to staffers in meetings.

Fortunately we’re not talking about any sort of sexual impropriety (to the best of our knowledge). The memo, obtained by Business Insider, outlines a method to avoid bureaucratic bloat, where Khosrowshahi writes:

You may hear me say in meetings ‘[insert name] has the D here’. This is about being clear on who is the decision maker; I’d encourage you to do the same."

 You know—the D. As in, “you can stay and observe if you want to, but for the duration of this organizational planning meeting, I’m giving Brad the D.”
 
Oh boy, here we go.  More from the same article:
 
Dara's confusion seems based on a single Harvard Business Review article from January of 2006 titled, “Who Has the D?: How Clear Decision Roles Enhance Organizational Performance.” Here are some quotes from that turgid, 4,500-word piece that was certainly helpful to a businessperson somewhere:

“they must [...] elevate the issue to the person with the D.”

“the person with the D needs good business judgment”

“The buyers were given the D”

“there may be good reasons to locate the D”

“the D resided with headquarters”

“who is responsible for providing valuable input and who has the D”

“The theme here is a lack of clarity about who has the D”

Urban Dictionary cites “the D” as a synonym for penis—and by synecdoche, a form of sex—going back to 2004. Uber’s worst days may be behind it, but perhaps this is a sign the company is entering a golden age of public gaffes that are fun instead of deeply upsetting.

Yes. Uber is run by your dad.  And when Dads act cool and trendy, bad things can happen.

When Dads are CEOs and their communications leaders/PR/HR people are older Dads and Moms, memos like this happen.

Somewhere in the last month, Dara brought up "the D" in a leadership meeting.  He was frustrated by decision speed and the amount of meetings he saw in the company.  He thought they had grown to0 bloated in their concerns not to make mistakes.

He remembered the HBR article, and informed everyone on the leadership team that somebody "had to have the D".  He said he was going to send a memo the entire company.

No one stopped him, or said that aloud to themselves later and googled it.  Hilarious.

If this isn't a theme in the next season of HBO's Silicon Valley next year, I'm canceling my subscription.  

 


HBR Says Women Experience More Incivility than Men at Work — Especially from Other Women (KD at #workhuman)

Capitalist Note:  I'm spending the first couple of days of this week at WorkHuman in Austin.  Put on by Globoforce, WorkHuman is the most progressive HR Conference available, with past shows focused on emerging trends like mindfulness, meditation and more - the leading edge of people practices and how HR can build them.  It's also hard to get a free Diet Coke at WorkHuman, because that stuff is bad for you - but healthy options are available and free.  One of the best shows I attend, highly recommended.

I've been to WorkHuman one time a couple of years ago, and I'm back this year. It's a great show, but it has a very progressive lean, and you have to be ready for that.  For me, it's a great shock out of the day-to-day way Pradawe normally think as traditional HR practitioners.  Couple of funny memories from the first time I attended the show, both of which occurred during Q&A and tell you more about the average state of HR, not WorkHuman:

1--A HR manager type from Zappos asked a question from the audience - her question was interrupted by applause, because she was from ZAPPOS.  Only in HR, my friends.  Even the classiness and deep thinking of WorkHuman can't stop that reaction.  Everybody drink.

2--Another HR Manager type asked a question about - and I'm not making this up - making her workplace meditation sessions/rooms mandatory for people because participation was low.

Mandatory meditation sessions?  Welcome to the intersection of great thoughts/HR content brought to you by Workhuman (mindfulness and meditation) and average HR attempting to find their way to deliver on some of the ideas shared (make that s*** mandatory). 

But if you listen closely, you'll figure out that WorkHuman is unlike any other HR show within 2 hours into the show.

Every year, WorkHuman evolves. One of the highlights of Workhuman this year is a #metoo panel, described below:

The #MeToo movement brought to light human behaviors that have no place in a human workplace. We are bringing together the leading voices of this movement in a historic panel discussion on sexual harassment, respect, and equality in the workplace. This panel will focus on these critical issues facing HR leaders today and organizations can drive changes and build cultures where everyone feels safe and empowered.

This discussion will be moderated by top-rated Wharton professor and best-selling author Adam Grant, a long-time advocate for workplace equality. Panel participants include actress and humanitarian Ashley Judd, gender equity advocate Tarana Burke, and other soon-to-be-announced guests.

I'm fascinated that Grant and Ronan Farrow (one of the TBD panelists) - two white guys - make up half this panel (Grant's moderating, but I'm counting him).  I'm confident they'll do a great job, but the danger for them is real.  One wrong turn and it's going to be harsh for them, like the time Matt Damon did some #mansplaining of this own on a diversity panel.  Part of me feels like including guys on the panel is a lot like NASCAR (I've been to a race one time), where people just wait for the inevitable crash.  Imagine the focus in the room when these guys speak.  It's a form of inclusion, even if many in the audience will be guarded every time one of the guys speaks:

"What did he just say?"

That's going to be interesting to me.  But I will say this - WorkHuman stretches your boundaries, and that's the whole point. Growth and getting exposed to ideas and perspectives you don't encounter every day is the currency of this show.

Here's another recent item related to some of the conversation that will/should happen at WorkHuman...

A recent study by HBR showed the following - Women Experience More Incivility at Work Especially from Other Women - which is a finding I'm assuming will be addressed indirectly by the #metoo panel.  Here's some snippets from that study that play into the #metoo panel:

Most employees, at one point or another, have been the victim of incivility at work. Ranging from snarky comments or rude interruptions to being disrespected in a brusque email, organizations can be breeding grounds for this type of behavior. Compared to more egregious forms of workplace mistreatment like sexual harassment, incivility — which is classified as low-intensity deviance at work — may seem minor. Yet, the costs of incivility can add up.

One finding that has been frequently documented is that women tend to report experiencing more incivility at work than their male counterparts. However, it has been unclear to as to who is perpetrating the mistreatment towards women at work. Some have theorized that men may be the culprits, as men are the more dominant social class in society and may feel as though they have the power to mistreat women. Perhaps as more overt forms of mistreatment like sexual harassment have become legally prohibited and socially taboo, subtle forms of discrimination in the form of incivility may increasingly occur within the workplace. Others, however, have theorized and suggested that women may be mistreating other women because they are more likely to view each other as competition for advancement opportunities in companies.

Our research examined these two opposing views by conducting three complementary studies. These studies involved rather large samples, surveying between 400 and over 600 U.S. employees per study, across a variety of service operations and time periods. In each study, we consistently found that women reported experiencing more incivility from other women than from their male coworkers. Examples of this incivility included being addressed in unprofessional terms, having derogatory comments directed toward them, being put down in a condescending way, and being ignored or excluded from professional camaraderie.

The question, though, is why? Why would women be more susceptible to this treatment from other women? Our research suggests that when women acted more assertively at work — expressing opinions in meetings, assigning people to tasks, and taking charge — they were even more likely to report receiving uncivil treatment from other women at work. We suspect that it may be that women acting assertively contradicts the norms that women must be warm and nurturing rather than emphatic and dominant. This means that women who take charge at work may suffer backlash in the form of being interpersonally mistreated.

It may also be the case that these assertive behaviors are viewed as ruthless by other women; given that women are more likely to compare themselves against each other, these behaviors may signal competition, eliciting incivility as a response.

HR has been said to be 70%+ female.  I can tell you that I've seen women in HR treat their female departmental peers harshly, and I can also tell you that I never felt like I received that same treatment as a guy - which I now can code as Incivility based on the HBR article.  Thanks, HBR!

The guys in HR get passes a lot of times from women in HR.  Women in HR don't always get the same courtesy from other women in HR.

You can go read the entire article on the study here.  I'm guessing the topic of woman to woman incivility will come up in the panel.  

But if I was one of those guys on the panel, I'd wait for the females bring it up.

More notes to follow from #workhuman in Austin.  Put this one on your list of shows to attend in the future.

 


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.


The Dysfunction of Running Teams Where Everyone Has a Voice...

Somebody's got to be in charge.

--Quote from random assertive people everywhere

------------------------------

My good friend Tim Sackett had a post earlier this week on The Cancer of Speaking Up.  Go check out that post, because I immediately had flashbacks to grad school where we worked in teams on business cases.  A big part of those business cases was creating position papers and presentations as work product.  Because it's grad school, it's the educational sector and because we were all equals on that team, we had some hiccups.

The primary hiccup is this: We sat around the laptop, creating slides and papers on the fly.   Laptop

Imagine 5 people huddled around a laptop, all with an equal voice.  The problem wasn't so much that everyone had ideas, it was that differing personalities valued different things as part of the process.  That meant that at times we got derailed by little details that we didn't have time to debate.

Yep - you guessed it!  The high details person wanted to talk about comma placement (which is opinion-based, you high detail freaks!) and conjunctions. 

Which made me want to address that person in the following way the next day - "What's up, freak?"

We were editing grammar in real time rather than dealing with big ideas and doing the grammar/punctuation scrub later on.

The biggest lie the devil ever told us is that everyone should have an equal voice.  Feedback and idea generation is great, but there comes a tipping point when you have to get shit done.  At that point, someone has to be in charge.

Our goal as leaders should be to involve people enough to be inclusive, but have a process where we don't get paralyzed by the very average ideas or focus points of others.

If you need help with involving everyone but protecting yourself vs the time it takes to deal with bad ideas, I've got three things for you:

1--Never create work product with people huddled around a laptop or looking at a screen.  Put someone in charge to create the first round, then send it out for feedback.  I'm still amazed how many teams are create work product in the aforementioned way.

2--If you have a need to do idea generation/brainstorming but want to run the session in an efficient way, see these tools I've written about in the past as a part of Change Agile.

3--If you're goal setting with a team member and you want them to give you ideas on what their goals should be, use this 3-step process I've done videos on in the past.

Remember - the concept of every voice matters is a good one.  But don't let that participation prevent you from getting things done.

 


The Bain "Expert Generalist" Model and the Increasing Value of a Liberal Arts Degree...

With all the talk of automation and AI changing the nature of jobs in the future, one question we should all be asking (especially those of us with kids) is "what degrees, education and skills are going to have the most impact in the future?"

Mark Cuban has an opinion - he thinks some of the degrees we're most focused on now are going to fade in importance and liberal arts - yes, liberal arts - is going to make a comeback.  Here's an excerpt of what he said in a Liberal artsrecent interview via Business Insider:

I personally think there's going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors and maybe even engineering, because when the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data. And so having someone who is more of a freer thinker.

Cuban's forecast of the skills needed to succeed in the future echoes that of computer science and higher education experts who believe people with "soft skills," like adaptability and communication, will have the advantage in an automated workforce.

Cuban highlighted English, philosophy, and foreign language majors as just some of the majors that will do well in the future job market.

"The nature of jobs is changing," Cuban said.

If you've followed the breaking news out of Cuban's Dallas Mavericks organization, you can insert witty joke on the most important training for future professional workers <here>.  Regardless of Cuban's recent troubles, his thoughts on the future of the workplace is interesting.

Cuban's thoughts made me think more about the Bain "Expert Generalist" model.  Here's a taste of that model:

Orit Gadiesh, the Bain & Co. chairman who coined the term, describes expert-generalism as “the ability and curiosity to master and collect expertise in many different disciplines.”

Research shows EG’s have:

Hmm, sounds like the world could use a few more EG’s.

More from LongNow.org:

From his perspective as a psychology researcher, Philip Tetlock watched political advisors on the left and the right make bizarre rationalizations about their wrong predictions at the time of the rise of Gorbachev in the 1980s and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. (Liberals were sure that Reagan was a dangerous idiot; conservatives were sure that the USSR was permanent.) The whole exercise struck Tetlock as what used to be called an “outcome-irrelevant learning structure.” No feedback, no correction.

Tetlock’s summary: “Partisans across the opinion spectrum are vulnerable to occasional bouts of ideologically induced insanity.” He determined to figure out a way to keep score on expert political forecasts, even though it is a notoriously subjective domain (compared to, say, medical advice), and “there are no control groups in history.”

So Tetlock took advantage of getting tenure to start a long-term research project now 18 years old to examine in detail the outcomes of expert political forecasts about international affairs. He studied the aggregate accuracy of 284 experts making 28,000 forecasts, looking for pattern in their comparative success rates. Most of the findings were negative— conservatives did no better or worse than liberals; optimists did no better or worse than pessimists. Only one pattern emerged consistently.

“How you think matters more than what you think.”

It’s a matter of judgement style, first expressed by the ancient Greek warrior poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one great thing.” The idea was later expanded by essayist Isaiah Berlin. In Tetlock’s interpretation, Hedgehogs have one grand theory (Marxist, Libertarian, whatever) which they are happy to extend into many domains, relishing its parsimony, and expressing their views with great confidence. Foxes, on the other hand are skeptical about grand theories, diffident in their forecasts, and ready to adjust their ideas based on actual events.

I've always been a fan of the HR Generalist - the HR professional (manager, director and VP level) that is responsible for all of the areas of HR.  A lot of the research today is telling us that the need for deep specialization is going to fade in a world of automation and that the generalist - regardless of profession - is going to be on the rise.

The real question is - are you willing to bet your kid's future and have him/her get a liberal arts degree?

Wow.  I don't know about that.  I just don't know.


Would You Rather Have High Trust/Marginal Talent or High Talent/Marginal Trust?

That's a loaded/trick question. 

You probably reacted to that by thinking, "we have nothing if we don't have trust".  To me, I'm not sure - I think it depends on your definition of trust.

Do you think trust is integrity at all times and ethics? How to you measure that? Is trust doing things like you expect them to be done? Do people have to check in with you if they're going to do something that would cause you not to trust them? Have you trained them on what that is?

Of course you haven't. And the definition of trust is different for all of us.

That's why I think I would pick high talent over high trust if given the choice for an organization. Talent gets things done and if an organization has a high talent level, odds are that organization will outperform it's peer group.

An organization full of people you can trust might be a high performing organization - or it might be lame from a performance perspective. Odds are, organizations full of people you can trust will fall along the bell curve.  

Of course, the two factors - talent and trust - aren't mutually exclusive.  You can have both.

The problem is that for all the issues with measurement of performance, we are still much more capable of measuring performance in an individual than we are of measuring how much we can trust that same person.  And our definitions of trust will differ dramatically person by person, which creates unbelievable variability within a single organization.

You don't know you have a problem with trust - until it's gone.  We should always pick talent over intangibles we have trouble measuring.

If you can tell me how you accurately measure trust, I'll change that stance.


Here's A Free Change/Innovation Exercise to Use With Your Managers

I've been working on a new training program for managers of people at Kinetix - on Change Management.  It's part of the BOSS Training series.

Change Management is a pretty hard topic on which to keep managers engaged.  So instead of making it incredibly theoretical, we're taking a page from the software development industry and talking about Change Agile - bringing Agile principles to your change efforts.

What does that mean? Well, the first thing it means is that you don't get to tell people what to do related to the change that needs to occur.  Change Agile is about managers engaging their teams on a team vision, project or perhaps just something that's broken - bringing their teams into the idea process to unlock the innovative powers of a team.  After an idea is selected, agile suggests that you have to run tests that are as small as possible to make sure the idea you selected actually works before layering too much complexity into your solution.

Here's a free exercise from the training. This one's from a tour of traditional change management theories including Kotter, The Rogers Adoption Curve, the ADKAR model and the Satir model. Mix all those theories together and you can start to make great assumptions about why some people pick up on the change being presented quickly, as well as why others are happy to stay in the shadows. 

You can run the exercise below referencing a technology change at your company (which almost everyone has had, right?) or use change that is very specific to your company - your products, services, etc.

Feel free to use this one - and let us know if you want to talk about what we do with the BOSS training series for managers.

 Change agile exercise

 


ASSESSMENTS (With Video): Your Best Feature Is Also Your Worst Feature...

Short post today with a "coaching others" slant.  Let's say you've just taken a behavioral assessment.  Which one?  Doesn't matter, because as the video below alludes to, almost all of them are based on the same science.

Anyway, you took the assessment.  On some of the dimensions you're a part of the crowd, lumped somewhere in the middle of humanity.

But wait - there's a couple of things where you really stand out!  Examples:

--You're high assertiveness...(you deal with things that need to be dealt with)

--You're high people....(you engage with others easy and are seen as approachable)

--You're low sensitivity...(you take feedback easily - and make quick adjustments based on the feedback with little emotion)

See what I did there?  The brackets tell you why your outlier score in the areas mentioned can be considered a super-strength.  

But for every interpretation of an outlier assessment score as a positive, there's also a negative.

Turns out, when it comes to assessments, your best feature is also your worst feature.

High assertiveness can bite you in the a$$ when you don't understand a situation where it will be perceived as highly negative. High people individuals tend to talk more than the listen, which often limits their effectiveness/results.  Low sensitivity people are often low empathy and don't automatically understand how others feel.

So celebrate your outlier scores, or those of your direct reports.  Then coach on a daily basis on where that super-strength is best deployed, and what situations the super-strength needs to be muted for best results at work.

Your best feature is your worst feature.  Video below of me talking assessments at Disrupt HR (email subscribers click through if you can't see the video)...

Lies, Damn Lies, and Using Assessments | Kris Dunn | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.


PEOPLE STAT OF THE DAY: Jobs in The Steel Industry & Automation...

I'll just leave this here...

14 people make 500,000 tons of steel annually at a location in Austria.

Not a typo.

From BusinessWeek on automation in the steel industry:

The Austrian village of Donawitz has been an iron-smelting center since the 1400s, when ore was dug from mines carved out of the snow-capped peaks nearby. Over the centuries, Donawitz developed into the Hapsburg Empire’s steel-production hub, and by the early 1900s it was home to Europe’s largest mill. With the opening of Voestalpine AG’s new rolling mill this year, the industry appears secure. What’s less certain are the jobs.

The plant, a two-hour drive southwest of Vienna, will need just 14 employees to make 500,000 tons of robust steel wire a year—vs. as many as 1,000 in a mill with similar capacity built in the 1960s. Inside the facility, red-hot metal snakes its way along a 700-meter (2,297-foot) production line. Yet the floors are spotless, the only noise is a gentle hum that wouldn’t overwhelm a quiet conversation, and most of the time the place is deserted except for three technicians who sit high above the line, monitoring output on a bank of flatscreens. “We have to forget steel as a core employer,” says Wolfgang Eder, Voestalpine’s chief executive officer for the past 13 years. “In the long run we will lose most of the classic blue-collar workers, people doing the hot and dirty jobs in coking plants or around the blast furnaces. This will all be automated.”

From 1,000 jobs in the 1960s, to 14 FTEs today. Sounds like a post for Labor Day weekend rather than the 4th of July.  Too good to wait until 2 months for, however.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys labor that can be automated...