Skip to content

Archive for

The Pleasures of the Commute

Recently, I had a podcast discussion with our board members John Hollon and Sue Meisinger about the benefits of working from home for both the employer and the employee.  As the cartoon here illustrates, telework is not an option for all jobs.

I was thinking about that while driving to work this morning.  I have a reasonably long commute (75″) from my seaside home to Kronos headquarters in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.  Because my town is not close to a major highway, I’ve had long commutes throughout the 26 years I’ve lived there.  Although this drive is one of the longest, I’ve never had a commute that was less than 45″ each way.

And that’s not all bad.  I listen to NPR and immerse myself in the news of the day and their quirky slice-of-life pieces.  I’ve listened to hundreds of recorded books – over 300 digital books in the seven years since Books on Tape sold their list to  Before that, there were hundreds of books on cassette tape.  Best so far?  The Count of Monte Cristo.

Every day there are the familiar landmarks that mark my progress.  Leaving town, I pass the sweep of Short Beach buffering the Atlantic Ocean to the right and Captain’s  Seaside on the left where the usual cast of characters has gathered to discuss town politics.  Then Lynn, a landing place for immigrants from all over the world, where newly arrived African, South & Central American, and European parents mix with life long Lynners dropping off their kids at the elementary schools.  Saugus, Lynnfield & Wakefield – all with small lakes and ponds that reflect the colors of the changing seasons.  Reading, where the traffic backs up in the center of a town founded in 1644. On through Wilmington where my route takes me through mostly commercial zones and where I stop to get my car washed.  In Billerica, there is a pair of perfectly symmetrical maple trees on the side of the road that have already passed the peak of their showy fall colors.  There’s the man I call Peter Boyle because he looks like that actor – and who walks to an unknown job that entails coveralls.

And then there are the little suprises on any given day.  The little boy in Saugus this morning who looked like my son at that age – and who was trying to help the trash collectors with his family’s barrels.  The 20-something guy who smiled and flashed me the peace sign for no apparent reason.

I do work from home a couple of days a month, and get a lot done when I do. But on those days, I do wonder if I missed the opportunity to finally figure out where Peter Boyle works.

Day One of HR Tech

Welcome to the city of sin (which is actually Lynn, Massachusetts), but I’ll let Las Vegas take the honors this week. According to organizer Bill Kutik’s opening remarks, this is their largest turnout yet at over 4000 attendees.

The keynote speaker, John Boudreau, gave a solid talk on evidence-based change efforts as a teaser for his new book, Transformative HR. I had the chance to speak to him briefly after the opening session and thanked him for his endorsement of our soon-to-be-published book Elements of Successful Organizations.

John’s remarks called out five key areas that HR professionals need to master to drive meaningful change in their organizations:

Logic Driven Analytics– Is the data used, sought out by the business?
Do leaders use the data to make better decisions? Tap mental models that business leaders already use; i.e. supply chain for talent management. This point disturbed some of the tweeters in the audience in audience who see perjorative implications to treating humans as “capital” but the point stands that data is the language of business.

Optimization – Focus investments where you can drive the greatest incremental return.

Segmentation – No one size fits all answer for HR? You need to segment talent strategies according to needs of business.

Risk leverage – How can HR systems better serve creative risk taking that leads to innovation? Many of the social networking conversations here make it clear that leaders are still shy about increasing transparency, yet harnessing the wisdom of your organization to drive innovation depends on it.

Integration and Synergy – John’s point here was about the importance of deeper and meaningful integration across HR systems. The really interesting example he shared, however, point to the opportunities to radically rethink your systems. Shanda Games rebuilt it’s talent management system as a massive multiplayer game, awarding points for employee contributions to the business.

I enjoyed John’s talk. The more HR folks seek a seat at the table, the more the answer remains the same – speaking the language of business and leveraging successful models from outside of HR is the key to relevance.

I saw Matthew Hanwell from Nokia speak on their social media strategy a couple of years ago, so it was interesting to get an update on the progress of social media programs at Nokia. Their key drivers remain the same – openness, participation, interaction and engagement. What they’ve also found is that as tools proliferated, their utility declined as isolated islands of information were the result.

In response, Nokia simplified and standardized their social media portfolio. They’ve also stressed the need for senior leadership to legitimize the tools through their own participation – soliciting, reflecting on, and commenting on employee communications. They use tools to visualize where active conversations are happening, identify opinion leaders, and note conversations that are growing – and then feed that insight back to leadership team. This was an interesting link back to John Boudreau’s talk this am re: how HR tech can help connect leadership to the wisdom of the team.

There were jugglers with chain saws at lunch, but this was not as exciting as the best product award Kronos won for our mobile product. I had the pleasure of spending time with China Gorman, former COO of SHRM, talking about her personal social media projects.

The final session of the day I attended was a success story with Lowe’s talking about their successful deployment of Kronos for workforce management. One of their big payoffs has been in their use of accessible Analytics to guide decision making at the store level.

A long but energizing day. Off to dinner with a dozen Kronites…