Saturday, May 26, 2012

Measure for Success not for Seats filled - Are you both eligible and suitable?

Always useful to listen to a creator like Dr. Dan Harrison. The enmeshment of mathematical matrices and psychology of human preferences or tendencies is the Harrisons Assessment Talent Solutions (HATS). This note is to help recall some salient aspects of Dan’s approach. Am glad I had some direct interaction of high quality with him over the past few months. This is from my recent one on May 23, 2012 in Bangalore.

1.       In human assessments, especially for the workplace, two fundamental purposes need fulfillment. They are a) Predict Job Success and b) Inspire Performance. Now while that may seem obvious and ordinary, the uniqueness of such languaging is that values for science through measurement and values for humanism through accurate concern for human beings are both accomplished in HATS without compromise or deception.

2.       Without a method to integrate both prediction and inspiration, we find that the larger picture in relation to an incumbent’s job is lost. Often, we hire for eligibility or what people do, and fire for lack of suitability or for what people eventually become. Quite a shame is that not?
3.       In recruitment and related people management processes, for want of method, the numbers in measurement that business reviews today are the number of seats filled or attrition by some direct cost related demographic. Filling seats does not guarantee capability against competition. The measurements required are that of target role eligibility criteria, and person-job-fit for suitability.
4.       Suitability is more than just personality. Personality includes motivation for the job and attitudes towards it that a person has. Suitability includes personality and work preferences and interests. So, when hiring a person for selling medical equipment, over-emphasis on product or market knowledge may blind us from more determining factors such as self-improvement in a turbulent market.  In customer service roles, almost 70% of weight-age should go to suitability, than to eligibility criteria.

5.       Personality hardly remains stable across cultures. Suitability criteria for jobs or roles hold relatively constant across cultures. Hence, assessments that are job or role centric will yield better outcomes, than assessments on rule of thumb or those that are merely ‘assessment’ centric.
6.       Generally speaking the weightage criteria between eligibility and suitability would be 50:50 for upper management roles, 30:70 for middle management roles and 70:30 for entry level roles.
7.       When recruiting, do the most cost effective steps first. E.g. eliminate ‘spam’ candidates. Specify eligibility requirements in ways that weed out irrelevant applications. Then check for suitability. Until then there is no point interacting with them on a face to face basis. If the applicant is both eligible and suitable, you may then go for work sample tests or aptitude third-party assessments like verbal or numerical reasoning. Lowering your costs means knowing how to configure job success criteria.
8.       To ensure predictability of job success, measure ALL aspects of behaviors, including motivation, interests, personality, work-values and preferences. Missing any one will adversely affect the outcome. Without measuring at least 100 traits or tendencies, the complex construct of personality and suitability will be less robust in measurement.
9.       You’ve heard of the lie-detector. Missing reliable ways to test authenticity of response will lower predictability of assessment. For top or upper management roles, you need at least 90% consistency in response authenticity scores. Generally, you will need at least 75% consistency to predict job success through assessment.
10.    75% consistency in response is required to assure satisfaction on the job.  The gap today is that we do not look for what employees want in a job or role. Go further, and the questions become of what methods do we use to get such data about employees' interests and work preferences?
11.    The valid issue today is how do we cut people from the misery of uninformed choices regarding vocations we pursue? Do we end up cutting people from jobs that will inspire them?

So what is then the best data that will help the world of work today? Is it not data on what will make people succeed on their jobs? Hire for passion, train for skills! 

Develop for relationship and help people uncover their paradoxical constraints.  People develop polarities over time. They can uncover them through the Paradox Technology (TM). I particularly enjoyed Dan's humility when I mentioned of Barry Johnson's approach to Polarity Management. These come handy when coaching my executive clients. Just last week, an entrepreneur wondered at the insights he got, and realized what a sustained process development should be. Development is indeed no trifle either, as I have earlier written.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Traders Rent their organisations to professionals?

1.       Professionals will at best make conversation with other professionals at the peak of their career. They will seldom enjoy a power to make institutional impact or develop their vocations as intrapreneurs in their own light. To accomplish a power of movement and steering for industry impact, the trader investor in charge has to use an alternate mind-set to accommodate the power and vocation of professionals.

2.       A trader’s insecurity is not merely from the issue of management control. It is the misplaced glorification of erstwhile measurements. E.g. Operating margins as goals in an economy where cash and profits leverage on intangible assets are contrasting enough. To persist with hard measures of the past would be an oversimplification of emerging reality. Despite being prime servants of the IT services markets, Indian IT industry failed to codify assets required to build indigenous capabilities and pioneer novel creations from its own people. Even the habit to file for patents was systematically discouraged to edify the competing attention on costs of developing and filing for patents. The financial profession may have let go the opportunity to set new standards and measurements in accounting itself in this respect.
3.       Learning and knowledge management have long been advocating the shift from physical assets to knowledge assets that Alvin Toffler foresaw in the 1980s. Learning and development has been sub-servient to the dominant financial controls.  Organisations governed by the trader mind-set fail to fulfil the potential their human assets represent. A value alignment at a personal level may be a benign foundation for an employment contract, but hardly a robust one to sustain the renewal and regeneration between the owner and the employee.
All in all, the future calls on the courageous and the unfulfilled to live their highest sense of their vocations and their dreams. They will have to befriend the fears of traditional traders in businesses, in an embrace that will create distinctions of evolutionary appeal and perpetual self-observation.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Small and Medium Enterprise Paradoxes - Scale, Scope and Growth apart

Of late, I am beginning to at least experience a love with enquiry I nursed long ago, and had to forego. That was when I first studied linkages between Entrepreneurial Orientation and Learning styles. It is of some lament that in a world gone global, my understanding is largely from one nation - India. It is also my joy, that being here in India, I have seasoned professionals with whom I can bounce such reflections. I write this short piece as a token of my appreciation for those who’ve helped my understanding.
1.     Venture creation is often a leap of individual faith and investor confidence at times. Beyond the proof of concept and business model success, CEOs and their top teams have less influence over their organisations than they believe they do. An institutional effect in the ecology of the business sector is more at play. Small and medium industry may mistake their size for comfort in autonomy, when they may be skating on the thin ice of a disappearing glacier. Such is the role of the business environment as well.
2.     Scale trumps scope in the near-term for some firms. Scale is trumped when volume loses differentiation. Like the current state of the Indian IT services industry, where low cost begat scale, and now differentiated value eludes the customer. The CEO cannot determine such ecological balance of his or her own accord. The paradox of entrepreneurship is about traversing from social misfit to innovator to community champion. It is a paradox of identity shifts across stages in the institution’s life cycle.
3.     CEOs and their teams can orchestrate firm performance, provided they share a mind-set around what results they want from a shared vision. CEOs need to abandon their ‘leader’ image and mould with the wisdom in the group for which collaboration produces value that none in the group could produce alone. Leaders with individual power often dread giving up for the insecurity of processes for leadership in organisational systems. Such tipping points are moments of deep dialogue or shallow disconnects for the entrepreneur and his/her team.
4.     A Renter or Trader mind-set in governance afflicts early design of organisations in risk-averse firms. Structures and communication protocols that serve such designs will not be able to generate passion for intellectual property or pioneering innovation. A change in such mind-set is about leadership courage and vulnerability, both. The Renter can become a Statesman, provided he or she embraces the technocracy of pioneers in the team. The paradox is of staying on a accreting value chain without having to invest incremental time in acquiring the unnatural identity of pioneering innovation.
5.     Markets are not decided by hard figures of funnel size and feasibility studies as much as by buyer or sponsor intent and motivation in the zone most proximate to value creation. Qualifying for purchase intent is market intelligence as opposed to post-facto wisdom in lessons learnt in pitching for business.
Facilitating such moments are a challenge and joy. The challenge comes from lack of precedent in the relationship. The joy comes from the opportunity to raise questions that delightfully make for progress. The progress in small enterprise is not a function of ‘leader’ development alone. It is about fuelling the aspirations of a team in alignment with shared purpose for which the firm is created. Do small firms retain size specific autonomy? Do they rise to overcome issues of size with a maturing team that enables even more people to experience development of markets, customers and the ecosystem?
This is not a matter of policy paralysis in itself. It is the mitigation of risk in an environment where perceptions shift faster than providers can retain customer attention.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Phase transition - Learning and Development myths that may die soon

Don Tapscott, famed authority of the net era economy made some startling observations. The prospect of Facebook’s demise or Google’s fading out may seem remote today. However, when he treats industry data in longitudinal time analysis, he interprets it through institutional ecology, a paradigm that sociologists have used to explain industry behaviors.

When he alerts us to the crunch of talent required to make the next wave in technology, he is also implying a maxim that we have failed to recognise. CEOs and their executive teams have a larger than life influence on their corporations than they actually do.

Communities in organisations are the basic unit of sense making and action today. This is accentuated by the information that technology relays itself at break-neck speed. But our necks support more than information. We seem to miss that perception on the highways and lowlands of our neural pathways.

It is the myths of learning and development teams and their leaders that needs visit. Some myths that come to my mind include the following.

1.       Development will occur in steps of a learning ladder. Producing leaders at each step of the ladder is vital to an organisation’s longevity. Leader development and leadership development are the same.
2.       The environment inside the company can be tamed through propaganda as like in pasteurized learning, with every power constituency represented on the pulpit.
3.       The business environment outside the company influences employee behaviors less than leadership calls for action within.
4.       Ambiguity and complexity can be simulated in structured experiences at off-sites in ways that will visit the learner, even if remotely. A best practice is wisdom in motion. Like a list of 10 learning formulae.

5.       Volatility and uncertainty have a shape and form that learning and development teams have figured out in advance for leaders to aim at in break-out groups. A next practice is the product of reduced anxiety. 
6.       Training for skills and knowledge will ensure behaviors of value year on year.
7.       Perspective and Insight have no value in facilitation, especially because the solution that emerges is not with the facilitator.
8.       Mind-set is the employee’s problem, and a developmental lab the corporation’s solution.
9.       Expertise and example are with the technologically savvy.
10.   Behavior is not caused by organisational structure, process or design.

The above ten on my mind, for now. Where should I introspect the most to keep learning for effectiveness?