By our metrics we shall be known: selection for the knowledge industries of the global information age

Metrics

Metrics are good.  They make us do something that psychologists call “operationalize”.  Operationalize isn’t some complicated Freudian notion.  It just means that we take a rather vague slippery idea and say exactly what we mean.  We don’t use “operationalize” to sort out clients who are in an emotional mess. We use it to sort out us ~ to make sure we are clear about what we want to do.

Applying the wrong metrics . . . ouch!

It’s alarming then when we look out into the world and we see people using the wrong metrics.  Often people take a technology and use it in the wrong circumstances, terribly impressed that they are generating a number but apparently unaware that the numbers they are looking  at does not match what they say they are doing, or need to be doing.  It’s doubly scaring because it is clear they haven’t simply made an error.  They have no idea about what they need to do or how to do it.  Nor, it is clear, do they understand the very ‘technology’ they are applying.

New organizations

The world is changing and we are going to need new ‘technologies’ for new situations and new metrics to define exactly what it is we are doing and how well we do it.

Choosing people to join an organization

Big organizations will still have a familiar task: choosing people to join them.

The old idea that we would match people as pegs to holes like the game we give to 1 year old’s just doesn’t wash anymore. What was designed to quickly allocate hundreds of thousands of conscripts to roles in WWI and WWII is not well suited to today’s business.

We have a ‘talent war’ now.  This means that our success depends upon know-how brought into the organization by our people. What we do and how we do it depends more on their ingenuity,creativity and judgment than our preconceived notion of what to do and not do.  After all, if we knew what to do, we  wouldn’t be hiring them as talent.  If we knew what to do, we could probably use a computer or a robot.

There are some roles still where “Mac” jobs rule.  Goody.  Just knowing that the organization runs on “mac” jobs is enough to make look for something better.  Decide the level of your product.  If it is . .  well least said.

Metrics for new selection

What is, then, the essence of selection for new organizations?  And what would be the metric.

I like the idea of assessments that are genuinely two way: in which the candidates find out about us.  Even if they choose not to join us, through that exploration they become clearer and optimistic about their opportunities.  And we become clearer about what we are doing, and the value of what we are doing because of the questions they asked and the conversation they stimulated.

My metric for new selection

Could the measure of an assessment system be the percentage of people who believe that the conversation we invited, initiated, and managed was worthwhile?

Thinking like an academic,

  • Would the opinions of the applicants be uni-dimensional, or would we have to break it up?
  • Would the applicants’ opinions of our conversations tally with our own?
  • Do good quality conversations predict good quality conversations in the future?
  • What are the features of good quality conversations and do they fit known models (such as Losada’s model of team performance)?
  • Would good quality conversations lead to increases in productivity in the units hiring?
  • Do good quality conversations lead to insights about how to negotiate the improvement of the entire supply chain?
  • Are good conversations associated with JIT labour supply?
  • Are good conversations associated with lower total costs of HR administration?

Hmm, I’ve seen this rolled out without the metrics. And I’ve seen plenty of utterly misplaced metrics.

When are we going to step up and serve the knowledge industries of the global information age?

When, o When?

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Make more money by promoting a sense of belonging in your firm: A manifesto for HR

I don’t do pain, even in my imagination

In my last post I described an exercise for testing the depth of our positive attitude: write a novel about myself and make myself feel pain.  I tried it.  It was hard!  I’m glad to know that I am not a masochist.

But I learned a little.  I learned that we hate to lose our ‘role’ and that I hate to be around people who are just pretending to have a ‘role’.  From there, I found myself listing the HR procedures for increasing belonging and the metrics to show how much value these procedures add to a company.

A manifesto for HR!

My worst nightmare

My worst nightmare is being in zombie-land.  I hate being in places where people have become cynical and at best are just “deteriorating as slowly as possible“.

Of course, I don’t really hate it ~ I am terrified by it.  We are terrified by anything which assaults our personalities.  I’m an INTFJ or a shaper/completer-finisher/resource-investigator.  I don’t do incoherent, lazy, out-of-it.   I may be misguided.  I may be slothful about many things.  But I will always have a purpose.  If I am going to be rudderless, I do it on purpose!

Our nightmare is not to have a role

This was my insight from the novel-writing exercise.   We are all terrified by the prospect of not having a role, or not belonging to our communities and workplaces.  We are very sensitive to rejection.  Even the nuances of rejection send us into a flat spin.

Many things that can lead us to feel that we don’t belong

A lot of things can lead to a sudden feeling that we are out of place.

  • Our general confidence
  • Policies of the firm which signal who is in and who is out
  • Cliques and favoritism
  • Mismatches with our own hopes and dreams
  • And storming – good old crises of confidence

Recraft your way to belonging

  • Heaps has been written in the last few years about recrafting jobs to meet our personal needs.  A waitress tenderly sweeping the floor of the cafe with good music playing in the background is recrafting her job just as the young guy who also works there recrafts his job by trying to sweep as fast and vigorously as possible.  Both put their personal stamp and sense of meaning on the job.
  • Poet David Whyte gives the same advice.  Begin with the ground, the hallowed ground on which you start.  Find meaning and belonging in what you already have and build from them.
  • Positive psychologist,  Christopher Petersen calls expanding from what we have “building a bridge while we walk on it”.
  • And for a good speech showing this is not just for me and you, but for the smartest and the brightest, listen to Dr Rao on Googletalk (YouTube).

Recrafting when we feel rejected

It is tough to recraft when we feel rejected though ~ for this reason.  We hate being rejected and we are loathe to admit that we have been excluded.

  • One, it hurts.
  • Two, we catastrophize and think that if this person rejects us, then everyone else will too.
  • Three, we worry that if we dismiss rejection, we may dismiss feedback that will help us manage future relationships.
  • Four, we catastrophize and think that if this relationship is not worthwhile, none will be worthwhile.
  • Five, we worry that the information that we have been rejected will be used against us!

Rejection put us in an emotional spin and bullies know it!  They’ll use rejection to keep you off balance.

That said, how do you work on finding the good in situation when you are feeling lousy?

Recrafting when we we are afraid

I would say we should do three things.

  • Make an objective assessment of the situation, as clinically as any staff officer in front of a paper map miles from the front line.
  • As you are not sitting behind the lines and you are actually in the thick of things, do as you would in battle. Move yourself, everyone else and everything you need out of the firing line.
  • Consider all the options including the options for negotiation and resumption of pleasantries.

This is really hard to do.  Believe me ~ being rejected by people like employers and teachers, on whom you depend, will frighten you almost as much as getting shot at.  In many ways it is worse.  You can allow yourself to be frightened by bullets as long as you act responsibly.  But to admit you are being “dissed” by your own side rips the guts out of you.

So you do the three steps: you take defensive actions, you try to be pleasant, you take time to make an objective assessment.  And guess what 90% of your energy is going into defending yourself from your own team!

Time spent on mending relationships in a firm

You are now being defensive and so is the next person and so is the next.  Guess what?  Anyone who wants to overrun this outfit, or take on this company, is going to win!

The firm is now in peril

This is my biggest nightmare.  It is quite clear once the spiral of defensive starts, the only thing allowing this firm to survive, is the incompetence of the opposition.  Anyone wanting to ‘take’ them would only have to distract the staff more for the whole ‘shooting match’ to fall apart.

What is the alternative to a firm where we are all watching our backs?

Inevitably, things do wrong in companies.  People do bump against each other quite unwittingly.  Feelings are hurt.  If we want to be successful (survive),we need to establish is a working culture where people are able to deal with shock and surprise without passing it down the line.

How do we stop defensiveness spreading?

Good HR departments, generally in larger firms work hard to keep a positive atmosphere  (I did say good.)

  • Good firms develop strong systems to minimize the management by whim. The reason they do that is to remove the objective threat to one’s employment that accompanies disagreements.  When there is no objective threat, then people can attend to mending their fences.  Good firms don’t allow people who are party to any “dissing”, in either direction, to take part in decisions about each others employment contract.
  • Good firms go to great lengths to manage the assimilation process ~ known as on-boarding or induction. They work with people through the forming, storming and norming stages and then take a watching brief during the performing stage coming back in when there are changes in a team or when someone leaves.
  • Good firms take some trouble to build diverse teams and to educate people why they need the very people who seem very different from themselves.  HR also takes some trouble to make sure that a team is not made of people who are too similar too each other and that the important bridging roles of team player and chairperson (the lazy roles!) are also present.
  • Good firms insist that everyone has an active career plan which is reviewed with you openly by committees chaired by senior members of the firm.
  • Good firms monitor diversity assiduously and keep a watchful eye on the formation of cliques.  HR is quick to intervene to minimize behavior that is rejecting and removes people’s attention from their own job.
  • Good firms design jobs carefully making sure that is is easy to get down to work (autonomy), that growth is possible in the job visible (competence) and that jobs allow us express ourselves meaningfully (relationships).  Work has goals, feedback built into the task itself, adequate resources, dignity, respect, physical safety, contractual safety, mentors and coaches.  We don’t want people so confused about how their jobs fit into the wider whole that they cannot think straight.

This is what I do for a living

My job is to make a system so that we are able to work together even when we are rubbing up against people.  I will see the effects of my systems in several ways:

  • People attempt to resolve difficulties without fear of their contracts.  People take the initiative; people don’t use the employment contract as a threat; negotiation of the employment contract is kept separate from other decisions; there is no fear in the organization or cynicism.
  • The output of people does not vary significantly when they move from group to group.   Nor does the output vary between people with different demographic characteristics.
  • The time taken for people to settle into the organization is known and the process is monitored and taken as seriously as quality on a Toyota assembly line.
  • Everyone has an active career path, we are mindful of who should be seriously thinking about progressing onto other firms, and we treat their onward progression as part of our competitive edge.
  • Deployment of individuals is not only done for and to individuals.  Teams are deployed so that they are balanced.  They are given time to bed down and their boundaries are respected.  Team work is not disrupted without investments being made in the time it takes to reestablish a team.
  • We have designed each job so that it has clear goals measurable by the incumbent, they can see how well they are doing and they can step-into the job in an orderly way sharing their successes publicly with others.

HR Metrics

To monitor my system, I have metrics on each process.  I also monitor HR Costs/Sales in each business unit and over time.  When people have the time to attend to their jobs, I would see small improvements in the ratio.

Take for example, the HR Costs/Sales ratio in manufacturing which is usually around 10%.  If people are able to do their job only 10% better, then the ratio will increase from 10/100 to 9/100 or done the other way from 10/100 to 10/110 or a 1% in Gross Profit.  That is generally going to be “pure” profit ~ that is, it is money that comes available for new equipment, training and even medical insurance and holidays.

When we are making more money because we aren’t worrying, then that is good profit indeed!

We do what concerns us and we are terrified by its loss

So it seems making a role for everyone comes from greatest concern -that we are going to have to sit around faking it.  That  led me to think that everyone wants a meaningful role.  Not everyone wants to sit around making meaningful roles. Who would make the money if we did?  While other people are off making things and selling things, it is my job to create an organization where we can get along without needless friction.

An emotionally healthy company requires good systems.  We must be able to work without fear.  Problems must be refereed as they arise and early.  And we must trawl our systems looking for emotional bruising that is getting buried.  If we continue to hide the casual rejection of people “because we can”, it will eventually cost us our livelihood. While we are all protecting ourselves from each other, our opposition will be taking over our business.

Simply, I am doing my job when you are able to do yours and I do this job because I cannot imagine what it is like to live defensively all day long!

PS I still don’t think I did the exercise properly.  It is very hard to imagine pain ~ even on a make-believe character that looks, moves and talks just like us!

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ROI for Social Media

After the Bucks08 Social Media Camp, I found some figures on the effectiveness of Barack Obama’s on-line campaigns and came up with a rule-of-thumb magnitude figure of 65.

Here are some more numbers on how much Obama and Clinton spent on social media. I am not sure I understand them fully. Someone else might like to comment.

  • $1m to Google? For ads?
  • Nothing for consultants? Mmm . . . does this mean Clinton’s spend on social media consultants . . . mmm . . .

Social Media Mafia is probably more interested in what was done, when, where, by whom, etc.

  • The pundits believe that the Obama campaign has ushered in the internet age just as Kennedy ushered TV when he defeated Nixon.
  • I still believe the effect works in the opposite direction.
  • A new generation came of age with a new technology and a new candidate was in tune with the new generation and new technology.
  • After all, all the candidates have access to the same media. Clinton seems to have spent masses on social media experts (correct me please if I have the wrong end of the stick here).
  • McCain has been spending but not getting the same results either.

If I am right in my thinking, we have a spiral effect.

  • A new era arrives with new issues.
  • Sometimes, new times are marked by new communication technologies (e.g., TV, internet).
  • Sometimes, through the accumulation of demographic facts and figures (births and death rates), a generation is particularly large (baby boomers and Gen Y) and they have the numbers to influence politics and purchasing,
  • Sometimes, a politician arrives who understands the issues of the time, the new technology and the concerns of the young largish population.
  • Sometimes, the politician has done his (her?) homework and positioned himself ready to move into a party’s mainstream. And, sometimes, he has prepared himself by acquiring the management experience to direct a massive campaign

And then with this platform, the spiral can kick in, but it is not automatic.

  • The new technologies tend to be more democratic. Candidates are more visible and more accountable.
  • More democracy means more feedback and information to the candidates, who can interpret it and adjust as they see fit.
  • The stance they take is visible to their constituents
  • And thus the ‘dance of leadership’ begins

The spiral can go up, or down, depending on how our response (and non-response) is received.

And remembering that other candidates are doing the same thing and that the future is not known, the side that wins is the side that keeps it up, has reserves for the bad times and survives ‘events, dear boy, events’. In a competition, we have no guarantee of winning. Competition, yeah?

And what is our role as social media consultants?

  • Many of us concentrate on creating the platform: I’ll put that aside for the moment.
  • When I was training psychologists, I would tell them if you are a police psychologist, first be a police officer – live and breath policing. If you are in wet food industries, get to know the industry backwards, etc. We need to begin with experts on the industry we are serving and experts on the social side of that industry – who is in it, who communicates to whom, about what, using what, where are the coalitions, how do they form, what are the issues, what is the current groundswell? Let’s layout the social ecology as well as we can at the outset.
  • Then use SEO techniques to add to this analysis.
  • Have a forum where this information is fed into the leaders and digested so they have taken into account all that is known and knowable about the social side of their industry.
  • Be involved in formulating responses and align the social media responses to responses in other channels.
  • Raise the issue of timing and ensure that the forum is meeting sufficiently often to hear the quicker response that comes from social media and to formulate the reply – remember this is a dance – if our partner has to ‘wait’ for our response . . .
  • Coach on how our response has been perceived – was it liked and why? We must have the capacity to answer why and what would our constituents prefer?

We must be able to discuss the consequences of the preferred response on parts of the social fabric who don’t use social media, and, the consequences of not delivering what is preferred on the people who do use social media predominantly.

Metrics must tell us more about our people and the direction they think we must go. “There go my people. Quick, I must find out where they are going so that I can lead them!”

I’ll be at MediaCampLondon on July 5 2008.

Tribal IQ and Social Media

Paul Imre has thrown out the challenge: what is Tribal IQ?

Metrics gurus will ultimately want a set of numbers. This is a take influenced by corporate anthropology. I have lifted it almost entirely from a one-pager written by Dr Phil Baird, Vice President of United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota. With slight modifications, Phil Baird’s vision for his college fits almost exactly what we have been talking about:

What does it mean to provide communication infrastructure for a community, which is, in its barebones, exactly what social media does?

Mirror who we are

#1 Tribal IQ defines who we are: our past, our present and our future. We define our IQ ourselves and we recreate it everyday in what do, with each other, and people around us.

Support the everyday re-creation of our community

#2 A community manager is keenly aware of the way we recreate our culture on a daily basis. Our mission is to support our members as they regenerate our group through everyday activities

Recognize the competing definitions and internal dynamism of the community

#3 Sometimes our groups are complicated. Within one community, we may have multiple groups who have competing demands and between them add an invigorating tension.

Range of our challenge

Our groups might have a narrow or broad focus, be superficial or deep, and be short or long-lasting. The issues defining the group might be concrete and specific, such as supporting Obama for President, or they might be helping diffuse and long-standing such as communicating with local government through FixMyStreet.

Expansion of the role of IT & Geeks

In this year of 2008, the question many of us are asking is how we are using social media to support the needs of our community. IT experts are being drawn directly into the discussion of who is our community and what are its needs. We are drawn into the discussion about how our community functions, how it expresses itself, and how it recreates itself on a daily basis. And not least, how we facilitate our community’s activities, how we affect its internal functioning, and how we make it easier to fulfill its needs, including, the need to reflect on its needs and change the way members interact with each other and the outside world.

Moral challenges of community managers

As resources are always limited, we have to prioritize and help our members prioritize. We have to map out clearly what we will do and align our map with the wider map of the community’s needs. In this way we are drawn into the debates on management and governance within our community, our tribe.

Strategic work of community managers

We also need to address the challenges appearing on the 10, 5, 3 and 1 year horizons. One of the challenges of community regeneration is the arrival of ‘digital natives’. Every generation brings with it the challenge of incorporating new members and new ways. The generation joining the adult ranks of voters, workers and managers are digitally savvy and bring with them new skills, different attitudes and higher expectations. They will refresh our communities and highlight they way we interact, on-line and off-line, and the way construct our past, create our present and co-create our future. As Dr Phil Baird said in 2007, “What will their Tribal IQ bring to our Tribal College?”

The challenge is no longer for the community to understand IT. It is for IT to understand community

Social media is here, and IT has become communal. The challenge is no longer for the community to understand IT. It is for IT to understand community. I believe we will see joint careers in managing IT and sociology, anthropology, political science and psychology.

I like the 21st century! Comments?

Next social media camp is on July 5 2008 in London – follow the link for immediate registration, presentations, details, and so on.

 

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Dam it! The potential of social media

Kariba Dam wall by acidwashtofu in Flickr

Hat-tip for the picture of Kariba Dam wall: acidwashtofu on Flickr

Metrics, marriages & dams

We had a good session on metrics at Bucks08 Social Media Camp at the weekend, and no sooner than we had got home, Dan Thornton, a community marketing manager with Bauer, and Paul Imre, a web specialist from High Wycombe, had translated our discussions into models.

Dan used the parallel of a marriage, to ask how well our social media functions. Paul asked about how much we should invest in social media. He followed up Toby Moores of Sleepy Dog, who had commented that social media was essential infrastructure, much as electricity in our office – essential and not debatable.

Paul asks

  • Does social media increase our collective potential to act?
  • Can we estimate in advance how much we will increase in our capacity to act collectively?
  • And, consequently, can we judge how much to invest in social media?

He used the metaphor of a dam to capture these ideas.

Collective potential and the amplification factor

As luck would have it, there was a lull in the American elections this week, and several articles on how the Barack Obama campaign used social media.

Look at this profile. One of the factors prompting Barack Obama to run for President was that supporters, not his official campaign, his supporters set up a campaign in My Space with 160K members.

Obama expects ultimately to raise USD1bn online. As online donations tend to be around 10 dollars a pop, there is, by my calculations, an amplification factor of 650.

I like this example because it provides a working example for Paul’s metaphor of a dam. The My Space campaign captures and concentrated the energy of 160K supporters. That reservoir helped provide the energy or impetus for a ‘real-life’ action – Obama throws his hat into the ring.

Obama’s campaign is using social media formally. He has a media strategy and staff. Certainly, his use of social media has helped his campaign. It is nice to go to You Tube and pick up his latest speech when I want to.

But I doubt that social media has had a large impact on his campaign. His campaign is still led by ideas, policy, rallies, phone calls, etc. etc. What social media has allowed, are additional forms of communication and additional forms of donation. If it is easy to donate USD10 or 5 pounds, you are more likely to do it.

The amplification effect is reciprocal. The social media concentrates loyalty. Loyalty affects the leader. The leader amplifies loyalty. And we see the effect in the social media.

When it comes to investment, these figures illustrate the size of things. If I suspect I can swell my audience from 160K to 100 million, with the corresponding increase in revenue (4 times I believe the last record), then investing in the infrastructure is worth it. It would be nice to know the cents spent on social media per vote. I suspect the money spent on social media is trivial compared to the money spent on conventional advertising, air travel, etc.

A quiver full of questions

I like any idea with heuristic value and the dam metaphor prompts several questions and rules-of-thumb.

1 Community first

We don’t locate a dam anywhere. We need a catchment area where rain falls, dribbles into rivers which flow into a wider river which flows onwards to the sea where we can no longer use it for drinking, etc.

In social media, we need to understand our community and where they hang out in the social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on.

2. We add a new marker for our community

We don’t build the dam wall anywhere. We must capture the water. With a dam, we build the wall in a narrow place with a natural basin behind it to store the water.

The same principle applies in social media. in LinkedIn, asking a question temporarily captures interest. I understand Second Life works around events. We need to understand the topography of the medium to know how to cocoon our community.

3. Engineer in context

We don’t build the dam wall anyhow. The wall must be an effective piece of engineering and it must work in situ.

Most writing about social media is about the engineering. Less is written about engineering in context. We need to know about the context too.

4 Be very, very responsive

We need to maintain the wall. I know that Kariba, the second highest dam in the wall, is constantly maintained by divers who swim with giant crocodiles (trolls?)

We know that we must be very responsive and very honest in our dealings with online communities. We are likely to learn more.

5 Why are we getting together online?

And we need a reason for the dam. We build dam walls to provide us with hydroelectric power, water and irrigation.

We need to know why we are building the ‘container’ of interest in the media space. What is it that many of us can do together that we cannot do alone? Do we understand the power of community in the context of our business? I would begin by asking business clients about their community and how they relate to it.

6. Where does our business stop and where does our community begin?

We need to understand that we are changing the patterns of interaction. With real dams, water upstream and downstream is owned and used. When we build a dam we have to negotiate water rights far afield and it is very likely that our interaction shifts a level from the individual to the collective. We might even shift from the private to the public domain.

I ‘hear’ this as being the biggest mental shift for business people. In ‘dirt-space’, usually a strong community leader emerges who talks about the possibilities of things like dams and mobilizes people to imagine the possibilities.

7 Lest we forget

Some people lose out altogether. When we build a dam, we flood peoples land.

Who will lose out and what do we intend to do about it?

8 Side-effects

Dams also change the pattern of use. If you search for Kariba on Flickr, most pictures are about recreation and tourism. There are very few pictures about hydroelectric power or the people who live alongside the lake.

Every action has a reaction, and a heap of side effects!

9 What is the multiplier effect?

And ultimately, can we imagine the impact of our dam? When we understand electricity, we can imagine the benefit of a national grid – or can we? Massive amounts of reliable electricity transform the potential of the economy. We aren’t talking about more of the same. We are talking about infrastructure that liberates us from drudgery, from limiting our work to daylight hours, from winding up our USD100 laptop, from lugging paraffin to power the fridge for our medicines. If your business is based upon that drudgery, you may not be happy to see electricity on tap, or on switch, rather.

This appears to be the second place where we stumble. I would look for the opportunity precisely at the point we say “I’m alright Jack”.

And is I suspect that ultimately, we are going to have to walk-the-talk. Like Obama, we are going to have to throw our hat into the ring and prove the point. And to do that takes confidence in yourself, your community and a critical mass of believers (or hopefuls – sorry!).

Next social media unconference

If you are interested in social media, the next unconference is in London on July 5.

Sign up social media style on the wiki. It’s free. And present if you would like to.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . social media as a mirror?

Are we thinking about viral campaigns back-to-front?

At Bucks08, Toby Moores made the point, as did others, that social media amplifies what is already there.

Perhaps another important point is that social media allows us to measure what is already there.

Here is a report on the US Presidential candidates. What is noticeable is that our use of social media changes after a significant event.

Widget-capture goes up when a candidate has just won a major primary, and falls when they have consolidated their position – meaning, I think, that social media is not a result, but an action we take to make something happen. We are a sensible lot, so if McCain has won, there is no need to capture widgets! If we want to push our candidate on and they are winning, we join in.

Also note that 80-90% of Obama’s widgets are not captured from official sites. Hence my deduction that social media acts as a trace that allows us to understand our community better.

The value to someone investing in social media is increased clarity, rather than increased sales. They still need to get out there and do their thing – write good policy, give good speeches, recover from errors, build alliances, court super-delegates etc.

And if this theory is correct

Widget-capture should fall, when one of the Democratic candidates concedes, and widget-capture should fall for both of them unless at that point the competition with McCain hots up.

Comments??

Addendum

Just so I don’t lose it: after I posted this I commented on an HR blog on the Ron Paul effect – whatever that is!

“I think the return is like any group conversation. You have to be in it to influence it and you have to be willing to be influenced in turn. People trying to ‘use it’, ‘lose it’ at this juncture.

I don’t think the web is an echo chamber as much as a “broken telephone”. News goes out, it is picked up days later, it is repeated without checking, etc. etc. The onus is on the individual to verify information. The danger is in treating it like an authoritative source – we become the journalist – we have to check and double check.

So what do we get? We observe what people are willing to repeat?? That in itself is instructive and tells us a lot about a source. So we can tell three things a) competence b) popularity/fashion and c) network.”

The management of poverty or the poverty of management?

If you have never read The Spectator magazine, you should give yourself a treat. It is extraordinarily well written and often has news long before the mainstream British newspapers.

It is also very Conservative. Though timely, erudite and often very funny, it serves more to tell you what you don’t believe, than what you do. It is bit like exploring the inside of a hat, to work out what the outside looks like, and you do it, because the inside is more fun than the outside. Perverse?

Today, in an article intended, I presume, to support the Conservative leader, David Cameron, they wrote about poverty in the UK and two topical issues: the use of metrics, which Brits love to hate; and problem of immigrants who work for less than locals – an odd complaint for a Conservative party I would have thought, but nonetheless! Both these issues point to two themes that are current in contemporary Management Theory.

METRICS

The article suggests what is wrong with so many metrics. A metric is a signpost. It tells you which way to go. A metric is not the destination.

There is only one destination that is acceptable in management and politics – that is the agreement and happiness of our constituents that we have arrived in the right place.

If we arrive in a place and they decide they don’t like it, we can’t make the argument that we followed the metrics. It just doesn’t wash!

Pick some metrics that guide your leadership. Don’t make metrics the substitute of leadership !

To the issue of poverty and politics in the UK: don’t ask Gordon Brown the numbers about poverty.  Ask him, are you happy about poverty? He blusters and says yes. Ask him, are you interested in my views on poverty – are you going to ask why I asked? He asks! You tell him.

Give him the problem you wanted solvand come back next week and tell him how well it has been solved!

Where do metrics fit in? When it is your job to supervise ‘leaders’ like teachers, nurses and police officers, ask them what metrics or signals will help them achieve satisfaction with their leadership. Don’t impose the metric though. When you do, you do not improve leadership, you do the opposite. You relieve them of the responsibility of their actions beyond that metric!

Just hold the conversation about what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve it! That’s all!

OVERPAID BRITS & OTHERS

The second story was about a Scottish joiner whose job is now done by a Pole at 6 pounds an hour. Apparently the joiner’s wife stood up and asked Cameron what he was going to do about it! Exactly what I recommend. He took the job as leader, give him the problem. His answer – ban Poles!

Bizarre.

Couldn’t he have said: Here is my aide. Call him/her and make an appointment – we will work this out.

To the aide, he says: find me the smartest MBA student on our books.  Ask him/her to give me a briefing in a week.  I want to know about all and every industry that uses joining as a skill.   Could s/he also social-network other students to brainstorm any and every industry who can possibly use joining to advantage?  And give me a list of the top ten business people in the UK who might use joiners.

And then meet the joiner, find out what he really wants, with the MBA student on hand, and work out who should be meeting with each other to use this skill, and joining is a skill, that is obviously not being used.

Get the right people together and ask them to produce a business plan for how the joiner is going to use his skill to make lots of money (and lots of taxes).

And ask them to report back to him in a week.

Who is betting the answer would include “more Poles please” and a air ticket for the Scottish joiner to nip over to Poland to do the recruiting with his wife in tow to explain the Scottish school system (she is a school teacher by all accounts).

People don’t ask politicians questions (or managers for that matter) as a prompt to blame someone else. They want a solution.

They want positive ideas based on our skills, passions, interests, wants, hopes and dreams. This is leadership.

BUSINESS MODELS OF THE FUTURE

Managers are struggling with contemporary ideas about human capital.

In addition to money being capital, in addition to land being capital, we are capital.

Our hopes and dreams, our sense of entitlement (!): this is our capital.

Businesses of the 21st century will be built around who we are and what we want to be.  That is the challenge of management and leadership.

Building our lives around us.  Positively.  Cheerfully.  Collectively.

Cheers to The Spectator.