War for Talent #Perspective

AI Recruiting ~ For The Lotus Root

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To date, the Lotus root cannot be holistically cultivated by a machine. It is true that at some point in time, machines will be able to replace humans but at this time, it is not possible.   The root cannot be broken or damaged as it is extracted from the field.   If it breaks it becomes contaminated.

Recruiting in concept should be similar to gathering the delicate Lotus root.    They should

  • Have a clear idea of what they need
  • Have identified resources and complex networks to use
  • Understand how to talk to people
  • Understand how to work with others
  • Understand ecosystems and nature

In reality, recruiting today is more like robotic fishing.

  • High usage of automation
  • Filtering through technical netting
  • Lack of understanding of the environment and impact on harvesting
  • Lack of sensitivity to the larger ecosystem
  • Lack of common respect for the environment

War for Talent is a War on Talent

24. WAR IS A MERE CONTINUATION OF POLICY BY OTHER MEANS.

We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses. That the tendencies and views of policy shall not be incompatible with these means, the Art of War in general and the Commander in each particular case may demand, and this claim is truly not a trifling one. But however powerfully this may react on political views in particular cases, still it must always be regarded as only a modification of them; for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception. – Source: Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. Col. J.J. Graham. New and Revised edition with Introduction and Notes by Col. F.N. Maude, in Three Volumes (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & C., 1918). Vol. 1. Chapter: CHAPTER I: WHAT IS WAR?

Topping the list of concerns of CIO’s is this idea that they can’t find the people they need to work on complex tasks.

Why can’t they find the people they need?  

The reason they can’t find talent is because they

  • don’t know what they need
  • don’t know what they are looking for
  • tracking a moving target
  • are transforming
  • are busy
  • believe they they know and don’t like the choices or answers provided

Subscription Workforce

This idea of war is interesting.   Leaders are often driven to war and fighting concepts as opposed to peace and unification.   A large contingent of these leaders have no understanding of war.    The lifetime of a war-fighter is not shaped only by her knowledge or experience; it is shaped by her drive, motivation, curiosity, passion and underlying commitment to the cause.   This is true but it is also true that war and war-fighters are driven by contract and cash flow “In all countries engaged in war, experience has sooner or later pointed out that contracts with private men of substance and understanding are necessary for the subsistence, covering, clothing, and moving of any Army.” ¾ Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance, 1781

It is a subscription model of man, material and machine that has perpetuated and supported the mechanism of war for many in human history.  The relationship is complex, dynamic and fluid.

The government understands this model and has used and applied it for many years.  Many government civilians exchanged their military uniforms for government jobs in order to continue their service.  Many contractors or consultants are also from the ranks but there were opportunities for those who could not serve or who chose not to serve.   The complicated nature of this model is a high transaction expert workforce with continuity of mission, vision, purpose, scope and objective as executed by the demands of policy extended though defense and war activities.  The catch?  It costs a lot of money.

A subscription workforce model in the civilian world is also not a new concept.  The technologies are newer along with global reach, virtual workforce and demand management exponentially.

The subscription workforce model is moving towards fast micro-transactions with a floating contingent workforce.   This introduces a lack of certainty but with the demands on CIO’s to lower cost of delivery and support, this is the price companies are willing to pay.

 

The Grid ~ Network, Relationships and War

The “War for Talent” is a “War on Talent.”

Companies can’t find the talent they need to get the job done. 

Imagine you are a chef, the phone rings and you are asked if you know how to make soup.  Let us assume you have 20 years of experience including many years of soup making.  You tell the recruiter that you are an experienced person and you have the ability to “hit the ground running.”    The recruiter takes a 5.5 second look at your resume and determines you would be a good candidate for the job.   She passes your name to the hiring manager or corporate HR person for consideration.   The hiring manager looks at your resume and without discussion makes a determination that you can’t make the soup they are looking for.   End of story.

In another scenario,  the hiring manager says they will “talk to the person” and through discussion never asks about what the person (you) “can do” only asks what the person “does or did.” End of story.

The hiring manager or representative from the company may not even understand what the person should do.    They don’t know.

The focus is on experience as listed on a resume, a lack of understanding around what is actually needed,  a lack of understanding of human factors and the idea that people only matter at the particular moment that they individually represent the “most value.”

The basic foundation of success in war is “clarity.”   Even the bad guys in history were consistent in their vision.

Today, it is more likely that a person will get a job through a relationship.   This relationship is a token of trust that is passed on from a person to another.   The burden of building trust through a document or LinkedIn or an electronic system is so high, that the likelihood of success in gaining a great resource or employment is low.  Yet, companies are spending more dollars on technological systems in order to pipeline more options and perform analysis on these.  All in order to find the “right fit.”     What that means is an enigma.  If you break the code or understand it,  you could get in and/or be accepted.    The result is a breakdown of trust in the market.   To compensate for lack of trust,  companies have to entice people with benefits or money.   This has created a break down in communication and results in increased risk on delivery.

Companies can’t deliver on promises.   They have to buy solutions to deliver.   What they lose in consolidated cookie cutter solutions is differentiation, diversity and market position.   In fact, the more companies look like one another because of these behaviors, the less attractive they become to the workforce and consumers.

The reason why companies can’t deliver or find the talent is their lost motivation to focus on trust, integrity, respect and clarity of concern for the people they are looking to serve in all directions.   An H-1B visa won’t fix that and Watson, Alexa or OK Google won’t fix it.  It is a core value that when damaged, creates a vacuum.

Seven Months

For these seven months a year men and women go to harvest the Lotus root. 82101452162877

The Lotus root is valued at about $3.80 USD per pound.   The per dollar cost of a consumers food dollar is close to

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If this were a technology market,  we would automatically look to disrupt labor, after all it is the highest cost.   The problem for US based companies is they have very little time to understand what is happening in this band of labor, they are just under pressure to reduce.

The outcome is simple; damage the root as it comes from the earth and the product is devalued.  As you push harder to introduce new ways to extract the root,  you damage the ecosystem and your brand.   All this starts to feel hard and confusing,  you seek easy answers.   Easy is lazy and less thoughtful, it makes things worse.  It starts to feel like pain.    Pain turns into need and need turns to knee jerk.  This continues and creates an illusion of market scarcity.    Market scarcity in required labor to support and deliver creates a real need to leverage consolidated services.    Brand is diminished and…  you know the rest.

Let us start with honesty, build trust, show integrity and respect.    Let us work on the fundamentals of basic humanity.   Real change and real disruption starts with a clear effort to focus on workforce engagement.    If companies are know to love, honor and respect talent,  they will never have a problem finding it. 

  

Categories KM

Talking About Generations

This was a parody but it reflects a lot of discussion.

The Trouble with Kids Today

“A PROGENY YET MORE CORRUPT”

In Book III of Odes, circa 20 BC, Horace wrote:

Our sires’ age was worse than our grandsires’. We, their sons, are more
worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more
corrupt.

In your face old man…  Our history says that each generation historically complains about the next younger generation.   We are no different with the millennials, generation c, z, next 2020.

The difference today is that we are now going well beyond complaints and into madness.

Of course there is a “comedy response”

While this all seems funny .. sort of.. the traffic keeps flowing on how we need to understand this generation and accommodate them.   We literally assign behaviors to generations.

I think this is a symptom of a larger problem.   We seem to have a strong desire to separate people into groups, it is almost as if we can’t help ourselves.   Our understand of individuals is overtaken by our belief about the group.    What we are failing to do is respect people as individuals.   It is true with no question that people in different age groups have different experiences during their time growing up.   It is true that due to environment conditions and other factor that people in these groups have perspective relative to their experience.   Isn’t that true of everyone?

 

Pull it Together..

We simply need to stop doing this and turn it off.  It is harmful to the people we work with, it is harmful to this generation and will hurt our younger generations behind them.   This is not helpful to anyone and companies generally spend money on these concepts only to find out that they got it wrong.    What we need to do, is focus on actions and activities to truly engage employees.

Dale Carnegie Tips and Guidebook is a good place to start http://www.dalecarnegie.com/assets/1/7/ee_tips_guidebook_blue_061813.pdf

If we keep up the generation madness we will have to start sub types.

Millennial generation born between x-y , comes from the north east, mixed parents,  went to school in district 9…  then we can find common things about them to make videos about..

 

 

 

The Truth of Human Resources and KM #PracticalHR

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Visually Compelling Organizational Development

The work by Kevin Desmond was thoughtful and emotionally charged.      It is tough to be a leader in general, but the world today makes it even more difficult.

Leadership is something I care deeply about.   I strive to be a better leader in the same way that Jascha Heifetz said, “If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”

It takes practice and clear commitment, but the results aren’t always as beautiful as a heartwarming tune.   It may result in tough decisions and failure, but you have to strive on and keep trying.

I have a team and they are geographically dispersed.  I care about them as a group and certainly care for them each as individuals.   I am lucky and honored to have this amazing team and I have a responsibility to honor them and give them time to learn more about each other, including building their own relationships.    Finding time is not always easy, but this was something that I chose to do with the support of my leadership.

The compounding factors in team dynamics and collaboration are always moving.  It feels as if we have to hurry to get something going in order to get this snapshot of a moment in time.    This is where Kevin was able to come in and get us started.

The answers aren’t always.. 

Right and wrong aren’t clear concepts as they used to be.  Some would argue that they are clear, but what I would say is that perspective and context are key to a shared determination of what is right and wrong.   In order to share common perspective or context, we must be able to communicate and share our ideas.    Our ideas are born from our knowledge or our perceived knowledge about something.    Regardless, we must level set and to do that “level setting” we must compromise.     In order to compromise we have to have a willingness to compromise.    We have to build trust.   Trust is a critical enabler.   It is THE critical enabler.

Kevin came down and sat in my office a while back, he looked right at me and told me that I may have to do some things that would make me uncomfortable but I would have to trust the process.    We went through some of the ideas and concepts he would use with a clear objective of helping the team baseline or “level set.”    He said, “Howie, you realize this is only the beginning, right?”

We set the objectives and goals,  built in some time for flexibility and discussion and included some primers for thinking.   There was clarity in the thinking and of course what we sought to achieve, but the results were emotionally compelling right from the start.   For the sake of privacy and respect for my amazing team,  I will only share my personal experience and my personal thoughts as part of a similar thought exercise not directly aligned or reflective of anyone other than my experience.

It is the reason for the Cohen tombstone at the top of this post.   If I am to choose a picture of what I want to represent who I am and I am given a controlled group of images, which would I choose?

For the sake of this posting and in practical consideration,  I chose a grave stone with my name on it.   I would preferred it to have said Howard Cohen, Father, Husband, Brother, Son, Time Traveler, Stunt Car Racer, Lover, Fighter,  Good Guy, Bad Guy, Hardworking Guy,  and on the bottom “Crack is Wack” because I think I am funny sometimes.     I mean to say that I consider my mortality.  I consider my life in that I am thankful for it and I am thankful for each day.  I think of death as I understand that it is an end or beginning and I don’t know which, but I know that it can come at any time and that I should be true to who I am and love hard, play hard, work hard, but mostly be the best person I can be.   Not so easy to pick a picture, but is something that we have to do.   Every moment in our lives is like the iPhone video application,  you can take movies, but every once in a while you have to push the button and get that single frame snapshot.

The exercise of taking this image and sharing it with you and potentially the whole world is a little embarrassing I suppose and a bit revealing of some of my weakness and maybe strength, butall  in all, it is important because it is part of building trust through sharing and revealing who I am.    One of my team said “there is the face you show and the face you hold close” the you that you are is a multitude.   Of the many, you are a person and what you choose to show or hide consumes energy.

With one act and one question,  Kevin started an activity that set a course for myself and my team to share and consider the multitudes in each of us.   In my willingness and/or the willingness of the team, we could begin to share start a process of “level setting.”

Measuring the Distance of Knowledge

How do you measure knowledge?   How do you measure trust?   What was the best team you ever had?   Who was the best leader you have ever known?    How do you measure success?  How do you define success?   What if success for you is failure for someone else?  Is that always the case?   Are you running a race?  Is this race with yourself or others?  Why do you jump out of airplanes?    What would make you better and how would you measure that?  How would you be sure that you were better?

** I just started working for Booz Allen and was working on the floor of US Joint Forces Command Integration Directorate.    An old Marine was running part of the military architecture shop, he was a contractor himself but commanded the equivalent of a cell.   In other words, he had his team on lock down and he was no joke.    He called me over to speak with him, looked at me in the eyes (sorta scary) and said “son, what’s your CV?”   I really didn’t know what the heck he was asking me so I just stood there looking at him.  He said, “ok, were you in the service?”   I said “yes sir, I was a Damage Controlman.”    He looked around for a moment and literally stood himself taller almost as if I were to shrink down and he asked “How the hell does a DCMan get here?”    My answer..

“Well sir,  I went(s) to college”    In fact, by that time I had a Masters but it isn’t like you carry it around like a patch on your arm or anything.

We are judged by what we do or what we have done and that is in the realm of someones idea about us in which they (think) they know and/or make assumptions about us.   Even if there is a measure that exists or criteria, these are still open for discussion.    I went to school but maybe the school I went to wasn’t the top school in the nation.   What if I had the best teacher in the nation in one of the lower tiered schools?   Would there be a measure or some condition or factoid that would illuminate that as a fact?    The answer is of course “no.”    The point is that we have to measure what we can, and define success as we can but in order to do this we have to be clear about it in the scope of our activities and relative to a moment in time.

Throwing the fastest pitch consistently over time matters only if these measured factors produce the result that you threw that same pitch during a game and as a result won!

Kevin helped illuminate these points through a series of activities and discussions.   He talked about measures and what they mean’t and the importance of using them.   He also spoke of the context in which they apply.

The Human Resource to Knowledge Connection

I enjoy the thinking that Knowledge Management and Human Resources is tied at the hip and they are their own combination of many things that add up to one.   The idea that we have to be able to have a person in a mode to listen or receive,  and a person in a mode to transmit.   The active listener actually listening and not thinking to rebuke or over take the conversation.    It is the primary condition in communication.    The condition to be ready to listen, learn, read, pay attention and think about what someone else has said or is saying.     If you are reading this right now, you are allowing me the honor of sharing with you and I thank you for that.    It is the precondition for knowledge sharing and knowledge management.   It is also a condition provide though an act of respect.   It may very well be that after you read what I have written that you lose or gain respect for me but under this condition at this very moment, you are providing me a channel in which I can communicate with you.   This is where the organizational development begins but the preconditions and factors must allow for it.   Just as if you are growing something in a garden,  you need the environment, conditions, and factors to all come into play.   Human factors, human engagement and understanding of cognitive, physical and social conditions, are the preconditions for our knowledge connection.

 

Bring It

I am writing about this because I believe that OD doesn’t get enough recognition.   The words say “Organizational Development” but what it really means is “Factors, conditions and practices, to make people better.”  As a result of helping people, the organization will naturally become better and that results in a domino effect that spreads in multiple directions.   Why?  Because kind acts matter.

If you want the details of how to make all this stuff work,  you could reach out to my friends Kevin Desmond  or Tom Tiberia as they are actually the experts.  I am just sharing the results.   What were the results anyways? 

I walked away with a to-do list of things that I need to work on.   I also have a list of team goals aligned to my organization and organizational goals tied to myself as an individual.  I have a lot of questions that went unanswered but that is good because I never thought to ask some of these questions and I didn’t know how important they were.    I have ideas on measures that matter and I have homework for myself and my team.

Adam Grant Author of Give and Take recently said in a post “We love asking successful people for their secrets. But often, they’re not even aware of what they do differently from others.

Next time you want to learn from someone, instead of asking directly, go to that person’s collaborators. They have the clearest window into unique habits.”

What I had a chance to do here and what Kevin and Tom gave me was a window into my actions through the lens of others.   I can see a glimpse and take action on keeping my strengths strong and working on my legs..   <– that was a joke, you ever see those guys that just lift with their upper bodies?  They look top heavy.. I think you can look that way intellectually or emotionally as well if you don’t round out your work out.

gymguy

As usual.. questions comments, complaints..

 

 

 

Collaboration Tool Crazy

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Dazed and Confused -Hammer Blaming

Don’t blame tools for your confusion.   Companies are buying too many tools and trying to implement them thinking that tools will solve their problems.   This is nothing new.  The problem is exacerbated by software as a service driven applications available to everyone.  I heard this termed “Credit Card IT”  where individuals decide that they don’t like the tools their companies provide and they go buy their own.

The buzz today is “Digital” that is all I hear right now.    It is absolutely ridiculous for companies to continue down the path of buying new solutions without rationalizing what they currently have.   The IT spend is out of control in many companies and while they are trying to flatten their budget, they are only spending more.   The only way to offset this is to either lay off employees or “green” the landscape, meaning trade old folks for new younger ones that are cheaper.

With a total focus on tools vs people or actual business needs,  the tools keep getting bought, every one gets “all digital” and they wind up or will wind up with a digital spaghetti mess in the corner.

If you look at this “Elements of Modern Enterprise Collaboration”, it makes sense but most organizations only focus on the technologies portion.

 

Harsh Words for Dummies

Does this look cheap? Digi_Mktg_Map_Final_April_2015.gif

Came from https://www.gartner.com/marketing/.

Do you understand what the heck these things are?

Do you have any idea of how they relate to each other?

Do you have any idea of how much they really cost?

Do you have staff on site that isn’t trying to sell you something that honestly understands this?

Do you know how all of these are relevant for your business?

Do you have knowledge management practice of any kind?

Do you have enterprise architectures? (not solution but enterprise)

If you can’t answer these questions, you probably should stop buying tools.  Well.. stop buying tools anyway but…  They will wind up in the corner gathering electron dust right near your CRM system that no one cares about.

Stop Spending Money .. Now

Stop spending money… <– yes.. stop spending money.    The first thing that needs to happen is “stop the madness” in spending.

There is no perfect enterprise and their won’t be perfected enterprise collaboration but what is for sure, is that we can do better.    The world is really truly moving towards an application based enterprise.   This means that their will be an ecosystem of tools and capabilities in the enterprise.    There are patterns of collaboration and communication that have people working together through different applications under different contexts.   Just think of it as your smart phone.   The standard is the phone, the applications are put into the app store and you use what you need when you need it based on the needs of the moment.

This is really the way things are going.    When you see Microsoft SharePoint 2016, apps will be a big part of it.   Look at any of the tools coming out, all application focused.

Still, I am talking about the tools.  The real focus should be on the business.   The first three things to do are…  (if you are with a medium or large company)

Grab your best Enterprise Architect, if you don’t have one.. go get one immediately.

  1. Start with Vendor Management and IT security – Between these two groups, you can get a good start on what you have in the enterprise.
  2. Create an EA framework to understand the enterprise portfolio of tools.
  3. Start a formal Knowledge Management initiative.

The results of these activities will start to highlight the “best things you never knew you had.”

  1. The EA activities will highlight tools and spending, it will also help immediately lower your IT and business risk.
  2. The EA framework will provide a starting place to process enterprise capabilities, tools and find reuse.   Companies bleed out money because of a “lack of awareness.”
  3. A KM practice will get your organization focused on the business of knowledge.  Knowledge is your business.  It is that simple.

Of course there are successful companies that don’t have a formal knowledge management practice but chances are they have an informal knowledge management practice and it is part of their culture.

Contractors, Consultants and Experts OH MY!

If you are going to hire brilliant, expensive and knowledgeable consultants, ask to see their enterprise collaboration practices.    When I say ask, what I really mean is get a tour with real people not just partners and senior executives.   Senior leaders will talk a good talk but the truth is most of these companies including the big four don’t use their own collaboration tools well. They don’t generally speaking understand KM either.  The reason why is generally more associated with the business model and practices vs tools.  What I mean by that is large consulting firms don’t get partners in silo cost centers rich by sharing.

Bottom line here is we have to be honest about this whole thing.    Don’t spend the money on all the enterprise tools if you don’t care about the people aspect.  If leadership looks at staff as just a number and doesn’t truly believe in employee engagement, it will be a waste.

Too Much?

This isn’t personal.  Companies have made that clear with the sheer amount of transformation, cost cutting, layoffs, restructuring etc.   They still find dollars to re-tool or add tools to the organization.   This makes little sense.   They let experts in their business walk out the door in exchange for tools they don’t understand.   The stock prices go up with the stories of how they are embracing technology and transforming but the fact remains that most people spend over 6+ hours a day in Email.

Go figure..  rolling all those heads and still email is the most used and most common tool set in the enterprise.    Try shutting that down..

So, lets not blame the tools for our problems or for that matter, the amount of tools that you have in the enterprise that you are allowing to accumulate.

Focus on the business, work with people and engage with them using best practices of Knowledge Management and Enterprise Architecture.   Let the story be told so that you know what actions to take.  Then once you “get it” you can “get all digital” but for now..

Stay analog my friends..

Thanks @Wendy Woodson for helping us “keep it real”

 

 

 

 

How Can I Help? #Advocate

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Three+1 Things You CAN Do


Wake up in the morning, get my cup of coffee,  head to the office to start my day.  Open my email, it is full to the brim, I switch over to the calendar and see my schedule is full.   How did my day become consumed by meetings?   I go through my day,  I eat while I am working, it gets late,  I go home.  I tend to my family and then back to the email, maybe a little book reading and off late to bed to restart the whole thread.

Somewhere in the mix I have to hold on to my humanity.  All the work that I do is electronic and amounts to a pile of nothing, but electrons and virtual transactions.  How the heck can I help anyone?

Take Time to Listen

When someone writes, calls or knocks on the door, make the time to listen.   Sometimes you are standing between two connections and you are the bridge, you just didn’t know it.  Active listening is a great skill to have and it certainly takes practice. https://cohenovate.com/2015/02/22/understanding-conflict-and-knowledge-management/  Listening is good for them and good for you!

Share Ideas, but Don’t Share Answers

Sometimes the answers come easy, but the real solutions are difficult.   In other words,  having an answer on how to fix a problem may create more of a problem.  Sometimes we need to just talk through ideas and come to solutions on our own.  Offer up ideas or thoughts but, offer them as concepts and not answers.

Be a Shoulder, not a Boulder

Being there for a person and helping means you have your attention focused on their needs.  I have found that listening to people and helping them sort through their problems can help me with challenges that I face.   The best thing to do is to stay focused and help them and be strong for them as they need.  Adding your problems to the discussion is a weight added, not a burden lifted.

Recognize and Advocate for Others

They say that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.  Some suggest that this is not true, but that smiling may cost us less overall energy. http://zidbits.com/2011/09/does-it-really-take-more-muscles-to-frown-than-to-smile/

It may seem that it takes more energy to advocate and recognize others than it does for yourself, but if you practice recognizing others and advocating for others, it will take overall less energy and be helpful to you.  Realistically, we can’t be responsible for the actions of others, but our entire world is built on the foundation of relationships.   Recognizing a contribution or advocating for someone helps strengthen the bonds and the ties between us.   We are better together and we are better when we recognize each other.   It is simple to do.   Be mindful, be courageous and bold, advocate with intent and without fear, the costs are low and the results will always pay off.

photo credit: via photopin (license)

Thanks Wendy Woodson for your creative contribution

When Giants Tip Toe #Leadership #Social

138H

Small Actions

We are all tiny giants walking through this world creating ripples with far reaching and unknown impact.

It is a struggle to know if the decisions we make will have a positive impact or a negative one.  We can’t predict the future, but we can realize that we are all giants.    The world is becoming smaller through technology and each of us individually is becoming larger.  Today we have more ability to reach and impact millions of people with very little effort.

In 4 minutes and 4 seconds Candace Payne made over a million people laugh by wearing a Chewbacca mask and laughing throughout the video.  Not only did she do that, she set off a sales and marketing blitz for the retailer Kohls .

Of course this is a good news story for this family and Kohl’s.   It is proof that (if you need any) that social media, the internet, and interconnected media shrinks the distance between us.  It also means that we can get crushed by the same effect.

Big Mistakes by Big Players

Anyone with a connected device could impact millions of people with something interesting, funny, brilliant or otherwise compelling.   If this is the case, why do so many companies make critical mistakes with social media?

These companies are aware of the opportunities to the extent that they experience them but they aren’t aware of the opportunities in the sense of creating them.  Under these conditions they are trying to “tip toe” carefully while using the social digital space as a walking stick.   Under these conditions, they seek to “be social” but with carefully controlled messaging.   The underlying issue with this is that they are already social, but social can’t be controlled, it can only be influenced.   The influence occurs through natural human interaction.   How many CEO’s have I/O psychologists readily on hand?  Instead they look at data and what they call sentiment analysis.    This by itself is a mistake and it is akin to removing a splinter with a hatchet.   Giants think they need giant things and giant solutions, but the reality is they need small solutions and small tweaks.   The reason is that small things in a giant world have large impacts.

Retired General Stanley Mcchrystal said, “I would tell my staff about the dinosaur’s tail: As a leader grows more senior, his bulk and tail become huge, but like the brontosaurus, his brain remains modestly small. When plans are changed and the huge beast turns, its tail often thoughtlessly knocks over people and things. That the destruction was unintentional doesn’t make it any better.”

Carefully Well Thought Out Poor Decisions

How much did it cost Kohl’s for the four minute social wave of marketing?   In 2012, it is estimated that Kohl’s spent 1.16 billion dollars.  In 2014, they spent an estimated 1.9 billion.    The underlying reason they spent more on advertising was “weak profitability. It is too early to tell what the “Candace Payne effect” is, but it cost them around $5,000 (they gave Candace $2500, 10,000 reward points, and Star Wars toys for her kids) and that was by their choice.   In other words, Kohl’s was smart to respond but they didn’t have to because they were mentioned as a natural part of the conversation.

There is a lot to think about here.  For example, what if Kohl’s turned their advertising budget into enhancing the customer experience?   What if Kohl’s goal was to “create a shopping experience that made people happy?”    I am not knocking Kohl’s, I am just stating that they are solving the wrong problem precisely.   Another great example to consider is the Giant air carrier United Airlines.

United Airlines sent me a very personalized message signed by their CEO Oscar Munoz.

UA

 

There are many things wrong with this message.   The message could have been sent out generically without the personalized touch.   Marketing experts may tell you that x percent of people respond better when their names are put in a message, but that is nonsense.   People respond to kindness, honestly, integrity, humility and reality to start.   It is not reality to think that UA cares about my business.  If you think I am being too harsh, consider that United Airlines is ranked worst by a J.D. Power customer survey .   You see “all about the data” can go many ways.    What did Oscar say in his personal message to me that would make a difference?   Can I reach Oscar to respond to his personal message to me?   Let’s find out.. 

United Response “My name is NO.. my number is No”

CustomerCare@united.com <customercare@united.com>

May 20 (2 days ago)

to me
Dear Mr. Cohen:
I am truly sorry for any poor experiences you have recently had with
United.

I know in the past years it has been quite painful to travel with
United.  As an employee I agree with you, but Mr. Munoz has brought
great change. We have been improving the morale of all employees and in
turn have created a wonderful customer experience for all of our
customers.  We do hope you allow us to show you how we improved and
continue your loyalty with us.

Mr. Cohen, we appreciate your comments and look forward to serving you
again.

Regards,

Matthew Miguel
Executive Services, United Airlines
Corporate Customer Care
Case: 10376324

Original Message:
To: Munoz, Oscar
Subject: Message CX

Dear Oscar,

I received your message today and I don’t think your  message really means anything.  In fact,  I don’t know what you are doing to energize your employee base but I do know this.

Getting to the plane is painful.
Being uncomfortable while waiting for the plane is painful.
Getting on the plane is painful.
Sitting on the plane is painful.
Getting asked to pay extra at every turn is painful.
Moving reservations is painful.
The frustration pouring out of people in the airport and on the plane is
painful.

The whole experience together makes it simple for me to travel in that
since airlines don’t differentiate themselves any longer in any way, I
can just choose the lowest cost and be miserable for the duration of my
travel.
If you have questions, please feel free to reach out.

Best Regards,
Howard Cohen

My Interpretation

 

Dear Mr. Cohen:
I am truly sorry for any poor experiences you have recently had with
UnitedI am sorry that we wrote you. 

I know in the past years it has been quite painful to travel with
United.  I have no idea what happened to you or your experience with United but I am just going to tell you that “I get it”  and hopefully that will be enough. 

As an employee I agree with you, but Mr. Munoz has brought
great change.   I agree with you.   I can’t say anything else beyond that because I am in customer service.   Mr. Munoz has brought great change and change is good because change means change. 

We have been improving the morale of all employees and in
turn have created a wonderful customer experience for all of our
customers.  We are improving morale through our efforts of change and we have created a wonderful experience for customers <– in past tense as if this was something that happened and not in present tense as something that is happening. 

We do hope you allow us to show you how we improved and
continue your loyalty with us.  You probably aren’t going to fly with us anytime soon. 

Mr. Cohen, we appreciate your comments and look forward to serving you
again.  Did you actually think in small giant feeble mind that Oscar Munoz the CEO of the company would read your message?  You aren’t even a very frequent flyer, why would you matter?   Thanks for the laugh and enjoy my generic response.  

Regards,

Matthew Miguel
Executive Services, United Airlines
Corporate Customer Care
Case: 10376324

Only Time Will Tell

In 2010 Forbes Lee E. Ohanian said that “Recent lessons indicate that once an industry starts to get big through mergers and acquisitions, it is hard to change course. And this may well be bad news for both travelers and taxpayers.”   (http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/11/airlines-merger-economy-opinions-contributors-lee-ohanian.html)

The reality though is that airlines are thinking about ways to cram more folks into the plane.   Flying me to Cuba in a box while I am hibernating or strapping my feet to the floor while I stand in the subway isle of the aircraft isn’t going to be interesting to me.    I predict more challenges for United.

Summary

Every connected person is part of the digital ecology.   We are giants and our small actions will have long lasting effects.  The days of leadership from the ivory tower are not over but we are moving more towards a complicated hive network topology between corporate employees and customers alike.   What does change really mean?   Consider that whether you walk with a flat foot or tip toe through the network, you will have an impact on the ecosystem, your presence will be felt and we are all “leaders from where we are.”

As an FYI, I did follow up with United after their response and never heard back from them.   I don’t have unreasonable expectations, but it is clear that they are struggling with their social strategy.

3ea600dd2131

 

Everything on Demand #Instant Gratification

Do you see me- (1)

The world is a place of amazing possibilities and more often than not, we have the ability today to do things we only dreamed of as kids.   Our children are growing up with the idea of “instant everything.”

If you want to purchase something and have it the same day or the next day, it is very possible today that you can order what you want online and get it that day or even that next hour.   Uber has become a household name beyond simplification for picking people up.   The reality is that instant gratification happens in multiple directions.   The people receiving a service, the people providing a service and the people that potentially own the franchise or organization that governs the service.

It is easy to do almost anything today and we the people are consuming these services in both micro transactions like in application purchases or services fees and in high quantities like Amazon.    Regardless of how we feel about these services, they are here in our world and changing the way we behave and do business.

Something that strikes me here is that a lot of these services have been around for a very long time, they just weren’t application based and they weren’t available to the general public.  One of the key factors here is accessibility in terms of affordability.   Limo drivers were around for many years, you would have required enough money to have them “be available” for you as an individual.   Take a look at the list below of “uberfied” businesses and think about who the target audience and accessibility was prior to application based availability.  (source: http://digitalintelligencetoday.com/the-uberfication-of-everything-master-list-of-uber-inspired-businesses/)

  • Uber for Liquor Delivery: SauceyDrizlyMinibar
  • Uber for Cannabis Delivery: EazeCanary
  • Uber for Errands: TaskRabbit
  • Uber for Odd Jobs: GladlyDo
  • Uber for Hotel Rooms: HotelTonight
  • Uber for Beauty Services: SwanStylebeeStyleSeatManicube
  • Uber for Home Cleaning: HandybookHomejoy
  • Uber for Car Repairs: YourMechanic
  • Uber for Babysitting: Urban Sitter
  • Uber for Pizza Delivery: Push for Pizza
  • Uber for Medical Equipment: Cohealo
  • Uber for Quiet Spaces: Breather
  • Uber for Vet (Home Visit): VetPronto
  • Uber for Dog Sitters: DogVacay
  • Uber for in-home Massage: MassageUnwindMeZeelSoothe
  • Uber for Doctor House-call: MedicastPager
  • Uber for Doctor (Remote) Consultation: Doctor on Demanddvisit
  • Uber for Courier Deliveries: DelivPostmatesShyp
  • Uber for locksmiths: KeyMeKeysDuplicated
  • Uber for Childcare/School Run: KangaDo
  • Uber for Dry Cleaning/Laundry: CleanlyDashlockerWashioFlycleaners
  • Uber for Hotel Dry Cleaning: Oliom
  • Uber for Mobile Repairs iCracked
  • Uber for Removals: Moveline
  • Uber for Lawnmowing: LawnstarterPlowz&Mowz
  • Uber for Restaurant Home Delivery: Seamless
  • Uber for Taxis: LyftSidecar: This ridesharing company, also based in the Bay Area, promises the “lowest prices on the road.” Available in 10 major U.S. cities, Sidecar aims to match riders with “everyday people” driving their personal cars. But unlike other services that rack up a fare as you go, Sidecar asks riders to enter their destination and offers a selection of pre-set prices, along with ETAs, which the rider can choose from. The company also offers a cheaper “Shared Rides” carpooling option like Lyft Line and Uber Pool.
  • Flywheel: Taxi companies are using apps like Flywheel to re-disrupt the disruptors. Currently in San Francisco, L.A. and Seattle, Flywheel allows users to order a taxi on-demand and have payments made automatically through the app. The ride likely won’t be as fancy as an Uber black car or as cheap as an UberX, but there’s no surge pricing and the company is brokering deals to allow scheduled rides to airports, places where ridesharing companies are typically non grata.
  • Curb: In August, Taxi Magic launched as the rebranded Curb, broadening their focus beyond providing licensed taxis on-demand to include fancier cars-for-hire (like Uber black cars) in some of the 60 markets where Taxi Magic was already working with fleets. Unlike most of the other app-based services, customers have the option of paying with cash rather than through the app. The refreshed company is also working on launching pre-scheduled rides, to the airport and beyond.
  • HailoAnother e-hail company that works with licensed cabs, Hailo is focused on the European market, having launched in London in 2011. (betrayed by their slogan, “the black cab app.”) In October, the company announced it would be closing operations in U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Boston, shifting their eye to growth in Asia and, perhaps, re-entering the U.S. market in a few years. In September, the company launched an innovative feature that allows users to pay for the bill in a street-hailed taxi through the app.
  • SummonThe rebranded and overhauled InstaCab, Summon is an on-demand service that has a hybrid approach, offering both taxi e-hails and cheaper peer-to-peer “personal rides” with a no-surge-price promise. Summon is currently available only in the Bay Area, but the company said earlier this year they plan to expand to L.A., Boston and New York. The startup offers pre-scheduled rides through their Summon Ahead program, including fixed-rate rides to surrounding airports, with a journey to San Francisco’s SFO costing a mere $35.
  • RubyRide: Based in Phoenix, Ariz., and founded in 2013, RubyRide is a fledgling subscription-based startup that bills itself less as a taxi replacement and more as a replacement for owning a car. A basic plan that allows unlimited pre-scheduled pickups and drop-offs within certain “zones” like Downtown Phoenix costs $299 per month. The company offers limited on-demand service but plans to expand their options—including replacing rides to and from the dry cleaners, say, with delivering members’ dry cleaning—as they grow.
  • Shuddle: Dubbed “Uber for kids,” this San Francisco startup positions itself as an app for lightening Mom’s load. Parents can pre-book rides to take kids (who aren’t old enough to drive themselves) to sports practice or school. With safety the obvious concern, the company institutes layers of checks beyond thoroughly screening employees: drivers are given passwords they have to use before picking up kids; parents are given photos of the drivers and cars and can monitor the trip through their app. Drivers must have their own kids or have worked with kids. The company’s first 100 drivers, which they call “caregivers,” are all female.  (SHUTDOWN)
  • Uber for Home Maintenance RatedPeopleHouseCallRedBeacon
  • Uber for Home Decoration: PaintZen
  • Uber for Home Deliveries: AnyvanDoormanInstacartUberRUSH
  • Uber for Dog Walking: WortheeSwiftoUrban LeashTrottr
  • Uber for Private Jets: BlackJet
  • Uber for City Parking: ParkingPandaMonkeyParkingSpotHero
  • Uber for Language Tuition: Cambli
  • Uber for Storage [Valet]: CaddyMakeSafeBoxbee
  • Uber for Bodyguards: Bannerman
  • Uber for Tow Service: Honk

 

Build Your Own, Be Your Own, Do Your Own

Another aspect of this on-demand concept is that we can do things on our own now more than ever.  The ability to build things, learn and do are in our hands.   Justin Bieber came from YouTube and many others emerged from everywhere.   In fact, today you can create your own music or raps right from an application.  I did one for you guys in 3 minutes called “Instant Gratification

The Struggle

Making things “easy” is why different businesses exist in the first place.   Think about it.  You do something and you are trading it with someone else that does something else so that you don’t have to do it.   I believe this gets lost in concept.   Now we are making things easy that shouldn’t be.  We are setting expectations for our children that everything is “instant” and “on demand.”     At this moment as I write,  we can’t get fat or fit in a day.  There are natural mechanisms that are intertwined with our humanity.   I have to ask,  when should we make certain things more difficult as opposed to easier.

The instant mentality resides in our corporate world today.  If something goes wrong we want immediate results to resolve the problem.  Even if nature doesn’t allow for instant results.    I suppose the Japanese would want Fukushima to be resolved immediately, but there is no app for that.   A recent story in the Japanese news talks about revival of some business in that area .   We should be cautious and temper our desires for easy, fast and instant.

Another aspect of this is the immediacy of a rise and fall in businesses.   The tale of Theranos comes to mind as Elizabeth Holmes became an instant billionaire and now she is becoming an instant example of how fast is too fast.

An Idea

What if we consider a dialogue on waiting.   In other words,  consider and focus on long term strategies with long term goals and long term considerations.    The need for immediacy is clearly important as well but not for everything.   I enjoy going to an online store and getting my shoes the next day.   At the same time, when I go to the doctors office, I don’t want to be placed on a conveyor belt and automatically diagnosed by the doctors mobile application.  Today you can be diagnosed remotely without even being touched.  That being said, my last doctor spent more time tooling around on his IPhone vs asking me questions.   I asked if I should pay him or WebMD.

We must consider that easy doesn’t always mean electronically delivered and lacking personal touch.   We should also consider that “on demand” should be tempered with “the right response”   To give the best response possible, it still takes critical thinking and human intervention.   We must strive towards balance as we digitally engage in that we should not digitally decouple.