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Greetings from the Workforce Institute Executive Summit

Today I emceed the second annual Workforce Institute Executive Summit – a day long session we run for executives who are attending our KronosWorks conference.  You can find today’s agenda and speaker bios at

Here are some of my favorite insights from today’s speakers:

From Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes –

Why do people feel worse about the economy than the facts of our current economic situation actually support?

  • People are angry with Washington.  Once the election is behind us, and the uncertainty about who’s running the country clears, that emotion should subside a bit.
  • New York is the epicenter of the US financial community and also the epicenter of the US media.  The sheer volume of individuals personally affected on Wall Street may skew the perception of the media who don’t understand that the panic is not running so high on Main Street.
  • This is the first major stock market adjustment that impacts the majority demographic represented by the Baby Boomers that wasn’t proceeded by an artificial bubble (dotcom stocks) or national crisis (9/11).
  • Innumeracy (lack of math skills) is a growing problem – and leaves people vulnerable to overreacting.  Karlgaard cited the example of an email that’s been making the rounds that indicated the AIG bailout could have been used to give every US citizen over 18 a $425,000 personal stimulus package.  Sounds good until you do the math and understand the real number is $425.
  • The quantity and quality of business journalists is declining as people with the necessary business and literary acumen pursue more lucrative careers.

Karlgaard noted that the 1970s, an economic climate very similar to what were seeing now, was a veritable crucible of entrepreneurship and innovation.  His hypothesis is that when traditional organization growth slows during times of economic turmoil, smart innovators are likely to turn to entrepreneurship.  This decade spawned Southwest Airlines, FedEx, Genentech, Microsoft, Apple and Oracle, among others.  What are some of the components of their sucess?

  • Creative synthesis of ideas
  • Supply chain innovation
  • Analytics innovation – do you think or do you know?
  • Self service innovation
  • Speedy innovation – failing fast and moving on to continuous improvement
  • Training innovation – investing in your people
  • Open source innovation – tapping into the expertise of people outside of your company
  • Customer feedback innovation
  • Virtual innovation – bringing experts together virtually vs. the traditional organizational model
  • Purpose innovation – uniting organizations behind a shared vision

Bill Bradley, former US Senator, New York Knick and Olympic gold medalist, spoke to us about what it takes to lead in a changing world – from a personal and an organizational perspective.  Senator Bradley reflected on the qualities of great leaders: readiness to confront the unknown, passion, selflessness, resilience, imagination and integrity.  He talked about the importance of the ethic of connectedness in our world today; i.e. the need to link collective caring with personal responsibility in order to address the significant issues that face not only our domestic challenges, but global challenges such as climate change and access to healthcare.

What’s your level of confidence that you’ll manage through the current turbulence?  In Bill Bradley’s words, how do you “keep the current economic challenges and failures of today from becoming the enemy of victory tomorrow?”

KronosWorks 2008 Opens with a Tingle

From the land of the divine rodent (Orlando), KronosWorks 2008 opened with a tingle this morning – Jimmy Tingle, that is. Tingle, a well known Boston area comedian, emceed the morning session in Orlando and left the crowd wanting more of his “Jimmy Tingle for President” routine.  He introduced and interviewed Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos and Peter George, SVP of Products and Engineering at Kronos.

Ain laid out the Kronos strategic goals for 2009, focused on the continuing expansion of Kronos workforce management solutions, continuing globalization of Kronos from a product and service perspective, as well as ongoing investments in field recruiting solutions.   George pledged to shift the development priorities for the products toward improvements that will make the products easier to own from an implementation, upgrade, and user perspective.

The tenth annual Kronos Best Practices Awards were awarded to BJC Healthcare, Catholic Health East, Ceradyne, Shooting Star Casino, Somerfield Stores, and Wabash National Corporation.  Winners are recognized for their innovative use of Kronos products.

On a lighter note, Kronos announced the grand prize winner of its “How do you Kronos?” video contest.  The winning entry, titled “Life before Kronos“, was submitted by Aztec Shops LTD at San Diego State University in San Diego, CA.Submissions were judged on their creativity, originality, and how well they described the experience of using Kronos software. Along with the Grand Prize winner, who received $10,000, there were second and third-place prize winners who won $5,000 and $1,000 respectively. “The Kronos Show“, submitted by Carl Truesdell at The University of Central Florida, took second place, while “Kronsters, Inc.“, submitted by Michael Ellerbeck at National Frozen Foods Corporation, took third place.  All of the videos submitted are available to be viewed at:

The keynote speaker this morning was Malcolm Gladwell, well known author of “The Tipping Point” and “Blink”.  Gladwell spoke about “The Intuitive Manager”, exploring the notion that the best and most effective managers are often said to be intuitive, in the sense that they have the confidence to act on instinct. Gladwell provided the attendees with insights about how to sharpen and protect their capacity for intuitive judgement.

Other popular sessions with attendees today included “ROI: How to Make the Business Case for Labor Management” by  David O’Connell, senior research analyst, Nucleus Research as well as customer sessions delivered by ResCare Inc., Holy Cross Hospital, Dresser-Rand, Discount Tire Company, Cleveland Clinic, Seminole Gaming, and Ceradyne.

Goodbye HR Tech, Hello KronosWorks 2008! 

This has been a very busy week – Dallas Sunday through Tuesday for our annual Sales and Service kickoff and Chicago Wednesday through Friday for the HR Technology show. I wrote this post sitting at Gate K8 at O’Hare waiting for a flight to Orlando where I’ll spend the next 5 days at our annual customer conference, KronosWorks.

I don’t travel a lot in my current job, and it’s energizing to get out of the office and have the chance to talk to coworkers, customers and old friends in person. HR Tech, in particular, was old home week for me as many friends and former colleagues and partners from my BrassRing days were there.

Mitzi Adwell, James Sale, Kelly Cartwright and Ed Newman of the Newman Group– thanks for the fun dinner and great conversation Thursday night.

Tom Kramer, John Haworth and Mark Lange – you were all great marketing leaders in your turn at BR. It was wonderful to catch up with you.

Mike Hennessey – looks like Smashfly is taking off. I’ll keep watching and wishing you great success!

Gary Gang of HRMC– Keep on keeping on – in Phoenix or Atlanta.

Starr Tincup Lads – thanks for the drink and for the introduction to Jerome Ternynck from Kronos partner MrTed. I hope Hilary Clinton makes it home safely!

George Larocque, sales leader extraordinaire – I wish you well at Arbita

Elaine Orler of Knowledge Infusion – looking forward to talking to you more about the Workforce Institute board of directors.

Judy Duff and Amy Tatarka of – even though you didn’t win the Talent Management shootout, your application looks great and I was truly impressed with the breadth of your offering.

Now, off to KronosWorks. If you’re going, or wish you were, join our Facebook group.