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2014. Another year. More opportunity, more to learn, and more to do. Always more to do.

You know what my new’s years resolution is? Well its not Big Data. Its BIG CHANGE. I have had it with people making small moves on the radio dial. Pilot this. Test that. Sample those. Really? Where is experimentation? Where is the calculated risk?

We see more data than most – and I know we will see more than most this year again. You know who made the small moves last year? The people WITHOUT data.

The ones who play by the numbers and invest in the numbers, they go for BIG CHANGE when they got RIGHT DATA (forget big data for a minute). Why? Because they KNOW. They know so well that they can even experiment. They try unusual stupid cool fun stuff that make people laugh and cry. I am not just talking about Google and how so many hours a week is for “whatever” time. All types of companies – if they got the evidence and proof to make a make a game changing move – they do it big.

They don’t pilot – they prototype. They have every intention of making 25 stealth bombers to sneak up on their competition and blow up their market share. They set out on a large scale program. They don’t hope for better – they PLAN to do better – and if they are really cool, they make the world just a little more awesome at the same time.

Every year there are all these predictions on what is on the horizon. You know what? its the same as was last year – its change. Its being better. Faster. Being straight up freaking awesome at what you do and making people feel good along the way. Working your tail off, getting smiles, and feeling good when you kick back with friends and colleagues and know that you contributed. 

So I look back at 2013 – what big changes did I do? I can list them on more than 1 hand. Already have a bunch planned for 2014. I know we will have Big Data. What I need to continue to work on is big change because I have that data and evidence.

January is almost up. We will blink and there goes the quarter. Then conference season (for me anyway) and then the boys of summer will be rounding the bases. It will go so fast. What big change are you working on right now?

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So as I sit at the HRO Today conference in London, I keep hearing from any number of HRO/RPO providers on how they differentiate by:

– Helping customers uniquely
– Being on the forefront of media
– experimenting
– Breaking the mold
– Caring about customers
– innovating on being global

So if you are all doing those things, isn’t THAT the standard??

Only a select few are talking beyond this. About business outcomes or actually fundamentality changing the role of the HRBP/Corp HR.

All HRO firms are financially and socially incentivized to do well (because getting fired is expensive) and they do this work typically more than their clients, and they clearly add value.

So they can all execute. But how are they really different?

My advice? As with absolutely clarity ask these questions:

How did you impact revenue? Profit?
How did you impact leader effectiveness?
How much productivity was added to non HR personnel?
How did you advance corporate responsibility?

If you get some stuttering or smoke filled answers, you will know what you need to know about their impact on your business outcomes.

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So I am unofficially declaring today Big Data for HR day. Not because it’s some random day. It’s all about Guy Fawkes and the link we have made between him and big data.

What?

Okay – if you don’t know who Guy Fawkes is, then hit up Wikipedia quickly. If you do, you will remember the significance of quartering – which brings me to my next point. The four Vs of big data. If you don’t have these, you don’t have big data.

Velocity – your data changes quickly. At least so fast that manually updating it to maintain accuracy is not a viable solution.

Volume – lots of data – if it in excel and you don’t need much else to keep up with it, it’s likely not big data

Veracity – has to be accurate and relevant data, and if it’s not than it’s bogus. Bad and dirty data has to be cleaned and audited, and you need processes to clean it up

Variety – lots of it. Different data sources or diff data from the same source.

When I talk about the 4 Vs, I use an image from the movie V for Vendetta – which has a character who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. Good flick btw, but not for the kids.

So – remember remember the fifth of November – and happy Big Data day. Do the dance if you know it 🙂

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If I say hashtag one more time, it will be too soon. One video with Jimmy and Justin and one great visit to Vegas made the hashtag part of my vocabulary.

I used the hashtag in regards to the big data summit that I was leading along with David Bernstein and Dan Hanyzewski, and we kept on saying “#takeaway”

I was intrigued though on some of the #takeaways I got regarding big data, recruiting and HR. Below are some, as well as some ideas on how you can advance those takeaways at the office (listed in italics).

1. Big data needs to presented with cases and uses, no more theory.. Wow. During our preso to the main group on Thursday I think we had a mix of people leaning in, people freaked out and people falling asleep. That will be the last time I present anything regarding theory unless I have four hours, like we did during the summit. People need hard examples of how it’s being used, and how it improved either dollars or recruiter impact. Name anything you are doing with data and tell how it’s saving hard time or hard money. Make it that statement no bigger than 140 characters and tweet it.

2. If your team is weak, shame on you leader. That was an awesome conversation I was privy to. Love how people kept saying “I can’t get my team to” or “my managers won’t let me” and how people’s response was basically “shame on you”. Name something you are doing to overcome gaps in your team actively and report out on it to your boss.

3. Innovation in process is on the rise again. Recruiting part time returning moms, focusing on boomerangs in weird ways, busing people in to the company to retain them and engaging our military in several ways all made sense. Sure there was tweet this and social media that, but the business processes and inventive ideas really resonated with me because of their innovation. Name 3 things you are doing in your processes that are innovative, and take those to a business leader and see if they agree. Rinse and repeat until you get a yes.

4. The battle between agency and corp HR is alive and well. Great moderation by my doppelgänger Chris Murdock – not the other way around thank you very much 🙂 Access to the hiring manager, how to engage, and who is a better recruiter (internal or external) is alive and well. We all sat around the campfire later and had s’mores, but the controversy on what role agencies play is alive and well. Outline how you are enabling a great partnership between agency/RPO, corp HR and the hiring manager, and get all three to agree.

Only a few good connects and a few takeaways get you the ROI to go to any conference. This month I was at 3 conferences. All were worth it. I made sure that I made really strong connections at each and planted the seed for relationships with a handful of others. I also tried to spend time with people I hadn’t seen in a while, and takeaway three or four ideas that I could leverage for my team, my business, my clients and myself. And I did.

I knew that three things were not going to be at this or any conference:
1 blank check
2 secret sauce and
3 silver bullets

So I didn’t look for them. Instead I went away with new worthwhile contacts, advancing projects, and new ideas – and that’s always welcome.

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Today I was on a call and I broke a critical rule of good decision making….listen for the data, not your agenda.

What a mistake. It’s easy to make. You are listening for evidence that helps your pre-conceived notions or your preliminary thoughts about, well anything. How to proceed, avoid pitfalls, be successful – whatever.

Instead, just listen. Take it in. Let your mind process the data and evidence. Let it spin for more than 5 seconds. You may not have 5 min, but we typically have 5 seconds. You have to give 5 seconds.

Don’t look for YOUR evidence in data, discussion or reading. Just let the data present itself.

Put down your own agenda and then challenge it in your head. Pause. Consider.

Using evidence to make decisions is a process. Let it work. We make tons of decisions based on intuition or gut. But know when that’s okay or low risk. If you go into a meeting knowing that evidence or data is being presented, leave your agenda at the door.

Otherwise, you just end up make ill-informed statements or even worse ill-informed decisions – and those you will really regret.

As I leave one conference (LinkedIn) and go to another (Recruiting Trends) this is solid thinking. Time to check my agenda (and ego) at the door and let the data present itself.

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My initial impression of HR tech was pretty simple – blurred lines.

The lines between enterprise resource planning, business process, and human capital management software have been completely blurred. Companies like Workday, SuccessFactors, and Infor are rapidly bringing business and finance into human capital and really making it harder for the organizations that only focus on recruiting, on boarding, performance management and so on to keep market share.

On the opposite side, there are a multitude of vendors that have specific technology needs that need corporations need to be filled. Online interviews, video, screening capability, assessments, scheduling, logging hours, mobile, social media, and so on. They all integrate with different systems and media.

And then of course, there is everything in between. Recruiting, learning, performance management, etc. all combined into elaborate suites that are mobile ready, socially ready and highly flexible, all on the cloud. All ready to infuse with one system or another.

I will admit that even I was a little blurry looking at it all and trying to get an understanding of how to even write this blog and keep it short. Too late.

What makes it even harder is how many outsource providers are in the mix at HR Tech who are combining services with tech. We have achieved outsourcing human capital to technology with absolute precision. My favorite is how the response from an outsource provider that has tech is always “but we don’t have to turn on the whole suite. We can do whatever you want with as much or as little as you want”. Nice. Talk about blurring the lines.

But what wasn’t there was a paradigm shift. Sorry tech vendors, I didn’t see it.

I think we are still in our infancy of understanding how to merge data across functional areas and HR, and link it to business outcomes – and letting HR lead that charge. So I have high hopes for next year where many of these companies have clients with more than 1 or 2 fiscals under their belt post integration and full adoption. So here is the warning vendors – bring it.

I was disappointed with the software choices for HRO. Not to hype our own stuff, but HRO has 100 to 200 systems it’s managing when working with its clients – maybe more, and I didn’t see much to address that except for “convert to us”. Vendors are talking about big data, but HRO is about “complex” data, not really big data. Lots of room for improvement there.

Highlights? Bill’s goodbye, Elaine Orler of the Talent Function group preaching about how to pick tech, the candidate experience awards and the back room conversations about what really happens with vendors. But it’s a must go show. Next year we will meet with the analysts and show them what big complex data in HR is all about. I will admit that I met more ppl there in talent acquisition and management than I did at any other show this year – and they were all tuned to tech.

Like I said, eager for next year to see how adoption and post integration yields long term results. Curious to see who headlines next year.

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