Collaboration


…for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference! And you can use this handy promo code to save $100 on your registration or get a free pass to the Demo Pavilion!

Today’s successful recruiters (or, as I like to say… Talent Acquisition Innovators) are already aware of how Enterprise 2.0 technologies are changing the face of the talent landscape. In order to effectively manage the recruiting process, talent professionals have to understand the new world order. And the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, being held in Boston, MA on June 9-12 is just the kind of place savvy talent professionals will find the tools and information they need to build the Next Generation Workforce. Speaking of which, check out one of the E2.0 Conference offerings that deals specifically with the nGen Workforce:

Developing a Next Generation Workforce

The velocity and variability of today’s business environment has become more dynamic and unpredictable than ever before. The pace of change is so fast, that executives find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to keep their organizations performing and innovating at levels necessary to deliver optimal business results and competitive differentiation. What capabilities does an enterprise require to develop an agile workforce? How do organizations address the leadership gap? How do strategists address strategic talent initiatives? What analytics are necessary to link organizational capabilities with business strategy execution? What is the role of technology in developing a next generation workforce?
This is an incredible opportunity to get your feet wet with Enterprise 2.0. Focus areas include leadership, community, education, and solutions. The Enterprise 2.0 Conference is the largest gathering of its kind, and it will provide exposure to the newest tools and technologies you can use for talent acquisition and development. It will also provide excellent networking opportunities with the best and brightest minds in the Enterprise 2.0 world, which can translate to lots of great talent for your future openings.
Enterprise 2.0 is the future. The future is now. And you can get it all at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.

I am trying to find ways to be more creative. I like having ideas. I like having creative ideas even more. In my quest to become more creative, I find myself constantly hunting for tools to help me achieve “creativity nirvana.” One tool I’ve uncovered is a funky web site called GetFreshMinds.com. You know it must be cool since the author’s name is Katie, and, as we all know, Katie is the greatest name in the world. But, once again, I digress.

When I was reading one of Katie’s recent posts about innovation lessons she learned in 2007 I was led to IdeaList, a site where anyone can post an idea and get feedback from the community at large. There are a lot of really interesting ideas on IdeaList (not, however, this one), but one caught my eye because it is very much in line with what BSG Alliance calls Agile Talent.

The “idea” is actually a design contest sponsored by Samsonite. Samsonite wants to bring a new product to market, and they are looking outside their own design team for the right idea. They’re going worldwide, seeking a solution in the global marketplace, on-demand. The top prize is 5,000 Euros, and the total of all the prize money is 11,500 Euros (I had to look up the conversion on Google – it’s just under $17,000). $17,000 is a paltry sum for a company whose quarterly revenue is almost $300MM. I don’t have access to their budgets, but I think it’s safe to say that Samsonite’s product development group has a yearly budget well in excess of $17,000. For a fraction of what they could spend on a handful of internal ideas, Samsonite is getting potentially hundreds of ideas from an external talent pool – all for a total of $17,000 in prize money (and, yes, the overhead of coming up with the contest, marketing it, yaddayaddayadda).

By looking outside its walls for creative ideas, Samsonite is implementing Agile Talent. They are coming up with innovative ways to engage new thought leaders, without the burden of bringing them on as employees. They are getting the very best ideas that people have to offer, and they are not required to invest any capital up front. It’s like getting an employee to work for you for months, and only paying her if she actually produces something you like and can sell. It’s a very effective way to remain flexible, efficient, and profitable in the 21st Century.

In their book Wikinomics, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams discussed another company that uses this type of Agile Talent to decrease time-to-market and increase innovation – Procter & Gamble. From the Wikinomics web page, they have this to say:

Smart, multibillion dollar companies like Procter & Gamble that cultivate nimble, trust-based relationships with external collaborators to form vibrant business ecosystems that create value more effectively than hierarchically organized businesses.

Through this design competition, Samsonite is exploring a new landscape in human resources. They are building a community of “workers” to provide talent in an on-demand capacity – when Samsonite needs new ideas, they can call upon the community (the network, if you will), and can expect to get the right answers, right away. This is Agile Talent.

Agile Talent is a key factor in successful Next Generation Enterprises. Once you combine an innovative resource pool with a distinctive customer experience, agile & collaborative technologies, education, and research, you have the makings of an organization that will thrive in today’s hypercompetitive global marketplace.

Thanks to Twitter, I ran across a post by Jevon MacDonald about an Enterprise 2.0 market. More specifically, the post was Jevon arguing that there is no Enterprise 2.0 market. His valid points include:

  1. There are very few companies with Enterprise 2.0 budget line items.
  2. Enterprise 2.0 is too loosely defined at this point to make it valuable as a solution (or set of solutions) for organization problems.
  3. There aren’t enough companies providing Enterprise 2.0 solutions (and providing them successfully) to roll up into a larger market.

What I gathered from Jevon’s article was something that we strongly believe at BSG Alliance: if what you’re selling doesn’t provide some bottom-line benefit (read: increase in profitability, productivity, and market share), then you’re not selling something that’s got a valid market value.

Here’s my take: A good Enterprise 2.0 startup doesn’t need an Enterprise 2.0 market. A good Enterprise 2.0 startup needs to address a real business problem, and do it well enough to make some money. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

Enterprise 2.0 startups need a market for what they’re selling – and they’d better be selling something that creates efficiencies, cost savings, and competitive advantages.

Take a look at Jeff Nolan’s “Dude, Where’s My Market?” post from last month to see a great example of a startup, Echosign, with a product that solves a real business problem, and does it well enough (using Enterprise 2.0 tools, technologies, and philosophies) to make money for themselves and their customers. Here is how Jeff explains Echosign’s success:

This company is growing not because they have a trendy set of buzzwords they use consistently, but because they solve a real problem that spans a significant number of prospect buyers, understand how to target and sell it at the price points they do, and manage their costs by taking advantage of efficiencies that technology enables and eliminating potential expenses by having discipline about the product management and development cycles.

At BSG Alliance, we’re focusing on our customers’ needs to increase efficiency and profits. Next Generation Enterprises are all about the bottom line: cost savings that come from increased collaboration, better systems that come from using agile methodologies, increased sales that come from a focus on the customer (rather than the competitor), and increased productivity that comes from engaging talent in unique, efficient ways. BSG Alliance is one of those Enterprise 2.0 startups that didn’t look for an Enterprise 2.0 market – instead, we saw that companies were struggling because of their inability to effectively manage talent, technology, and customer expectations in an wired world. Their lack of flexibility is their pain point, and becoming a Next Generation Enterprise is what solves it. Just like Echosign, we’re building our solutions to solve real business issues, and we’re continuing to be successful because of it.

While sitting in the family room, scanning LinkedIn Profiles and looking for a NYC-based recruiter, I was half-listening to the Funniest Commercials of 2007 special on TBS. One of the commercials that caught my ear (and, subsequently, eye) was from Hydro Energy in Norway, and involved a group of kids and a train. Take a look at the commercial here:

This ad is a classic example of how companies can use Social Media to drive publicity efforts. Hydro isn’t looking to recruit 10-year-olds. They’re looking to build interest in their products, services, and mission by developing a sense of curiosity about what do. Frankly, I was driven to www.hydro.com because I wanted to see what kind of company came up with such a creative ad campaign. I happened to see the original ad on television, but given that you can see it on veryfunnyads.com, YouTube, MSN Videos, and others, it has become a form of Social Media, easily shared, and open to collaboration. It’s funny to read some of the YouTube comments, where it appears that some people thought it was REAL. Yikes. Let’s not go there.

But, I digress… Because the Hydro train ad is so interesting, it’s all over the internet. If you search Google for “Hydro Train,” you will see over 462,000 results, most of which are sites like mine – blogs and aggregators.

Hydro struck gold with this ad (and a couple of others like it). They are harnessing the power of the internet to spread their message, and they are doing it exceptionally well.

My boss and I were talking today, and she mentioned that, every so often, she runs across a candidate who is literally scared by the innovative way BSG Alliance delivers value. I agreed with her – I have seen a few of those candidates myself. You see, BSG Alliance is focused on transforming our customers into Next Generation Enterprises. Next Generation Enterprises are flexible, and will remain highly competitive and profitable because of their unique management of internal and external human resources, their delivery of unique and distinctive customer experiences, and their ability to develop and implement agile, collaborative technology solutions. In short, Next Generation Enterprises are INNOVATIVE.

In order for BSG Alliance to properly guide our customers on their journey to NGEness, we must lead by example – we must be NGE. And we are. We are so innovative and NGE, in fact, that Business Week recently gave us a plug in their Innovation Predictions 2008 article.

We understand how to provide our customers with exactly what they need to increase their profitability. We understand how to build flexible, agile software. We can provide the right solution, right now, on demand. That’s a very innovative way of doing business.

But, for some people, this is a scary proposition. Being innovative means that we’re in uncharted waters. People aren’t familiar with Agile Talent, or Distinctive Customer Experience, or Agile & Collaborative technology. They are afraid of the unknown, and unwilling to leave their comfort zone; unwilling to escape the hierarchical, traditional ways of doing things. Unwilling to acknowledge that the future of business is changing, and BSG Alliance is leading that change (back at BSG version 1.0, we used to say that BSG was Leading the Change, and Changing the Lead – we were then, and we are now).

So, we’ve had a few candidates hear about how we deliver this exceptional value proposition, and decide that they’re more comfortable in “SuperMegaLargeHierarchy Industries.” Which is fine, really – they aren’t the kind of people we need to make BSG Alliance successful. And, 10 years down the road, when BSG Alliance is a household name, they’ll realize that it may have been a good idea to be a part of the new way of doing business. We may be innovative, but our innovation is what make us unique. And our innovation is why people like me, Tom Steinthal, Brian Magierski, Susan Scrupski, and a host of others have been drawn to BSG Alliance. And, at the end of the day, our innovation is what makes us better able to truly address our customers’ pain points, and provide them with a path to enlightenment – a path to becoming NGE.

Interestingly enough, I ruffled some feathers over at Recruiting.com with my post about the lack of leaders in Generation Y. John Sumser’s post didn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I posted a reply. Replies on Recruiting.com are moderated, apparently. And, surprise! My reply has not been posted – 24 hours after it was submitted.

Normally, I would give the benefit of the doubt – maybe they’re really backed up, and haven’t gotten to their moderation dashboard. But, that’s not it, since there are several other comments that have been posted since I submitted mine. So, I have to wonder…

Was my reply not posted because it made sense? I’ll let you be the judge… Here’s my reply to Sumser’s argument:

Collaboration is essential to the success of organizations in the 21st Century. I’m not questioning that. It’s exciting to see the unique and innovative solutions that vibrant communities can achieve. But, at the end of the day, everyone on the team needs to know where they’re headed, and it takes a leader to point the team in the right direction. A team without direction doesn’t make a whole lot of progress.

If you read my entire post, you will realize that my point is that we are not actively encouraging the development of leadership qualities in our young people. Even natural leaders must be nurtured in order to achieve their full potential. We’re simply not doing that effectively.

John, you’re saying that new types of leaders are required. I am saying that we’re not building and encouraging leaders like we used to. These aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. We still need leaders, even if they lead in a different way.

Regardless of how your enterprise is organized or how flexible its workforce may be, someone still needs to provide leadership at various levels.

Have a great weekend!
-Katie

So, today was a big day for BSG Alliance. We announced that we have acquired New Paradigm, a Toronto-based thinktank led by Don Tapscott, the co-author of the best-selling Wikinomics. New Paradigm’s business and technology innovation has paved a path to success for companies since 1993. Their ability to define where business and technology are headed is unparalleled in the marketplace, and now they’re helping BSG Alliance deliver our On-Demand Business Platform.

Bringing New Paradigm into the BSG Alliance provides us with an even greater to potential to do what Don Tapscott believes we’re poised to do

This company is going to change the world.

Here’s the press release

Have a great weekend,  If you’re interested in knowing more about the merging of these two powerhouses, take a look at the live webcast, which will be at 1:30 PM Eastern today (11/29).

I’ve been doing some reading on Generation Y. You know – the kids born from 1976 to 1995, inclusive. The kids who’ve grown up in the digital age. The kids who can’t remember a time before cable television, self-service gas stations, video games, and computers. The kids who have no idea what a turntable is, since the music they listen to fits into a 1.5 inch square piece of machinery called a “Shuffle” (mine’s pink, by the way). Vinyl is what we use to make pleather pants, not music!

There are a lot of great things coming out of Generation Y. These kids have a deep social conscience – they care about issues beyond themselves, and understand that they are vital members of a world outside their bedroom windows. These kids are team players – they understand the value of collaboration in problem-solving, and they work together to develop faster, better, smarter solutions. They understand technology, and the benefits it can bring to their social and professional interactions.

Bob Morison, Tammy Erickson, and Ken Dychtwald pointed out in their 2006 book Workforce Crisis that there are several key things to remember when dealing with younger workers. Young workers, according to Morison, Erickson, and Dychtwald share the following traits:

  • Independent, not only intellectually (as the baby boomers tend to be) but also functionally, having “grown up fast” and managed themselves from a relatively young age.
  • Situational more than structured, and so they feel free to ignore policies and procedures that they find restrictive.
  • “Digital” in how they process information and communicate, and sometimes digital at the expense of interpersonal (by their parents’ definition of the word, anyway)
  • Diverse and comfortable with diversity, so that one-size-fits-all policies and management methods will likely alienate significant numbers of them. (Dychtwald, et. al., Workforce Crisis, 2006, p. 106)

Morison, Erickson, and Dychtwald go on to explain that many employers may perceive these characteristics as indicative of a poor work ethic. Without a true understanding of the circumstances that have led Generation Y workers to adopt these characteristics, employers are doomed to what the authors termed “endless churn.” Workforce Crisis argues that Generation Y employees won’t change their workplace behavior, so employers who don’t change the workplace (or at least meet the Generation Y worker halfway) will continually suffer from the inability to hold on to the brightest workers.

While I agree that there are significant benefits to opening up traditional organizations to welcome (and support) the collaborative, innovative efforts of the younger workforce, I see a problem that’s not being addressed by current efforts to welcome Generation Y employees into dynamic companies. I see a lack of leaders.

My husband volunteers time each college admissions season to interview candidates who have applied to a very prestigious technical university in the Boston area. This school looks for more than just a high GPA (the admissions office is, frankly, inundated with high GPA candidates). This university looks for students who show leadership, drive, and initiative. What Tom is finding, though, is that the students he has been interviewing over the past several years have shown a glaring lack of those three important qualities. Tom will be the first to tell you that these are bright kids – they’ve done a lot of interesting things in their academic careers – but he has only interviewed one student who has gone out and actually shown initiative to do something other than what he’d been assigned. These kids have a ton of teamwork, given that their teachers recognize the value of team projects in building strong workers. But all their projects have been collaborative. No one has been groomed to be a leader. No one understands how to make the tough choices that have to be made, because no one has been asked to take on roles where making the tough choices is required. No one has been asked to be a LEADER.

In short – Generation Y is suffering from leaderphobia. They are afraid to seek out opportunities for advancement, because the value of teamwork has been drilled into their heads. They’re perfectly willing to do as they’re asked, but shy away from finding new opportunities to provide valuable, bottom-line benefits. Because of their ingrained sense of social justice, they don’t want to make it appear that they might be more talented than their teammates. The problem is, there are kids out there who are genuinely more talented, and we’re not taking advantage of what they have to offer.

An entire generation is being groomed to be collaborative, and we’re losing sight of the fact that, without leaders, we’re doomed to failure. Our organizations will crumble because no one is there to lead with a clear vision of the future.

Fast-forward 30 years. The Baby Boomers will be long gone, their ashes spread across oceans and over mountain tops. My generation will be enjoying our active older adulthood, playing golf at Del Webb’s Sun City, and drinking margaritas on our lanais. The Generation Y workforce will be in charge of the economy. Their efforts will put bread on the table of the world. But, without leaders, what will we have? Chaos? Well, maybe not chaos, but certainly not a clear direction, a clear vision for the future. And it will affect an organization’s ability to remain competitive on a global scale.

Leaders are born, not made. But it’s up to us to recognize the leadership potential in our youth, and do what it takes to guide and foster the natural leaders. What can we do to ensure that these talented leaders of tomorrow are not lost in a sea of mediocrity? Well, I’m not one to pose a question without some thoughts on answers, so here goes…

  • Establish well-defined mentor programs within organizations. As leaders are identified, they are matched with executives who can help them understand their potential and use it to make the organization a better, more profitable place. Many companies have been doing this for years, either officially or unofficially, and have been able to grow strong leaders with a deep sense of loyalty, to help the organization move forward. It’s time for all companies to understand the benefits of mentorship to their future success.
  • Make sure that there are roles within teams that are available to those employees who show the natural tendency towards leadership. Even a small team could benefit from the leadership of a younger employee. Providing opportunities to lead particular efforts – for example, setting up a team wiki, or developing a peer code review protocol – can open up avenues for natural leaders to excel.
  • Promote individual accountability. It is important that the team succeeds, but it is also important that each team member be held responsible for items relating to that success. If organizations promote individual, as well as team, accountability, they will be expanding workers’ mindsets from total groupthink into a more balanced team/individual outlook.
  • Reward innovation and leadership throughout an organization. Workforce Crisis points out that Generation Y employees are motivated by rewards, so organizations should look for unique ways to reward the desired leadership behaviors. It doesn’t always have to be about money – natural leaders are often more motivated by opportunities than they are by cold, hard cash.

What are some other ways we can encourage the development of leadership in today’s younger workers? Let’s take some of the best practices that the Generation Y workforce provides (openness and collaboration) and use them to come up with solutions to make our organizations stronger in the future.

Okay, this is more a call for help than a real blog post. If you’ve got input, please feel free to comment….

I am in the process of looking for an expert in C++ performance tuning. The person I need must understand high-volume, real-time transaction processing systems, and must have experience in tuning those systems in the past. I’m not going to be using third parties for this search, so I’m working to find the candidate myself.

My first step is always to use the job board to which we are subscribed. I didn’t find anyone using my standard Boolean searches on the board:

C++ and (“performance tuning” or “performance enhancement” or “improved performance”)

Coming up empty-handed, I moved on to my super secret Google searches. Well, they’re not super-secret. I use inurl and intitle to help me limit my results to resumes, and I use standard Boolean logic to construct the search (thank goodness I was a programmer before I became a recruiter, and I actually deeply understand Boolean logic). So, I run a Google search that looks like this:

(inurl:~resume OR intitle:~resume) “New York” C++ (“performance tuning” OR “performance enhancement” OR “improved performance”)

This isn’t all that fruitful, either. So, I pull a trick from the Bag o’ Recruiter Stuff, and start to think about where I might find a website where C++ performance experts congregate. Maybe I could find a niche board. I’ve had good luck with niche boards in the past – fixprotocol.org, for example, is an excellent place to post for people with experience in FIX Protocol implementations. I commenced searching. And, much to my chagrin, came up with very little. Where do all the C++ programmers hang out? I found a community that focused on Quantitative Finance, but it’s run by a publishing company, doesn’t appear to be very vibrant, and has no job board. I also found a couple of C++ usenet groups, but they don’t allow job postings.

I’ve searched LinkedIn, and even though I’ve got over 2.5 million people in my LinkedIn extended network, I haven’t come across anyone with the skills I need. I’ve got a trial of ZoomInfo, so I’m going to try that, although I’ve been warned that it’s more focused on higher-level executives than mid- to senior-level programmers. I don’t mind cold calling – I’ve just got to get the names.

So, here’s my plea… Some of you awesome recruiters out there must have some thoughts on where to find these stellar C++ experts. I could use your guidance. I’m still new at this, and I know when to ask for help.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

-Katie

BSG recently launched a new section of our website dedicated to careers. We want our potential employees to not only learn about our amazing organization, but we also want them to become a part of our on-line community, where you can share ideas, learn about new technologies, and collaborate around the world.

BSG Alliance delivers Enterprise 2.0 technology to the corporate world. We’re building NGEs – Next Generation Enterprises… Organizations that know how to take advantage of the tools, collaboration, and innovation that surrounds us on the internet. We bring strategy, delivery, and applications together to help companies remain flexible and agile in the hypercompetitive global marketplace.

At BSG, you’re free to be… NGE. Free to collaborate. Free to seek out new and better ways of doing things. Free to drive your career where you want to go. Free to be a part of the Next Generation of the internet. Free to be NGE.

 

Check out the new career site, and feel free to email me if you have any comments, suggestions, or complaints.

 

Have a great Thursday evening and a wonderful Friday!

-Katie

 

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