Talent Management

Workforce Management recently highlighted the HR function at Owens Corning.

Here are my thoughts:
The best quote (and one that I think transcends HR – it really is a struggle for most departments) is from Owens Corning’s Sr. VP of Human Resources, Joseph High:  

“I have seen HR people get so enamored with the function of HR and they act like that’s the end,” he says. “But it’s just a means to the end. The end is achieving the business results.”  

Without solid business results, HR ceases to exist.  There is no money to pay people if there are no business results.

High mentions that he wants to bring HR back-office costs to zero.  I believe that doing so proves that HR is more than a cost center – it is a business driver.  If HR can prove that the benefits of what they do, outweigh the concrete dollar costs, HR can establish itself as a profit center, rather than a cost center.  Obviously, implementing an Innovation nGen (or, if you’re not into nGenera-speak, an Innovation Engine) helps that – as the capacity for innovation increases, Owens Corning’s HR department can help drive costs down and better quantify the bottom-line dollar results of HR activities. 

High also discusses the role managers play in workforce planning (which we recently addressed on RecruitingBlogs.com with industry superstar Susan Burns).  He travels 10 days out of the month, and meets with the business and HR leaders to get a solid understanding of where the business areas are headed.  According to High, he is “getting managers to be clear on where they see their markets going and what that means for talent.”  High is putting some of the responsibility for workforce planning on the people who define the need – the business leaders.

Owens Corning expects all employees to be leaders.  To that end, they have established clear, measurable attributes for leadership at all levels of the organization, from executives to front line team members.  As they continue to grow as an organization, Owens Corning refines the attributes to reflect changes in their internal culture, and the external marketplace. 

Further in the article, High is asked about a massive acquisition and a divestiture Owens Corning undertook last year.  High explained the difficulties associated with managing the processes.  He pointed out that the HR team “had to help decide which talent would stay with Owens Corning and which would go. It also included a lot of decisions about how benefits would be handled for people who stayed and for those who left.”  Owens Corning’s HR team rose to the challenge and helped manage a process that significantly increased the worldwide workforce for Owens Corning (from 30% to 50%).  

The article also briefly touches on “environmental” stability, as it related to Owens Corning’s overall business goals.  High says that the overall business purpose of Owens Corning is to “enhance lives and transform solutions,” and environmental stewardship will always be a part of that.  Frankly, I was surprised that there wasn’t more emphasis on this piece, since it’s sort of the “flavor of the week” for today’s companies.

At the end of the article, High is asked to explain how they measure success.  His thoughts?  

” I measure my success by [whether] we are hitting our business objectives and if we are creating stronger talent year over year. Do we have the right people for the right roles when we need them? Having said that, I can have the greatest succession planning ever, but if we don’t make our business results, then I have not met my objectives.”

It’s these types of things that have made Owens Corning one of Fortune Magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” for several years running.

What do you think?  How are you measuring the success of your HR team?  Do you have a strong enough grasp on how your group directly impacts the business?


I try. I really do. I want to help the nGenera software engineering team so much that I’ve been trying to write Ruby on Rails code. The only problem is, I don’t have what it takes. I’m just not a good programmer. Oh, sure, I USED to be an awesome programmer, but that was before I moved into the frou-frou world of “Talent Acquisition.” Today, my programming skills are creaky, and I’m not even capable of putting together the simplest of “Hello World” programs in Ruby on Rails. I’m so disappointed in myself – I am ready to run upon my sword.

But, then I took a step back and thought… People read this blog (well, a couple, at least). Maybe some good programmers will read it. In fact, maybe YOU’RE a good programmer. And if you ARE, I am betting that you can take this code and fix it with one click of the keyboard.

puts ‘nGenera is the absolute coolest company in the world. It’s the greatest, even!’

If you can spot the bug, we would really like to hear from you, because we have some cutting-edge Ruby on Rails code we want you to write for us.

If you can fix it and you want a job, just comment below or send me an email at ktierney@ngenera.com. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Please save the software engineering team from their well-meaning recruiter. Please??

…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.

Over the past several months, I have been in the throes of a candidate tracking system selection and implementation process. It was a daunting task. There are hundreds of systems out there, and I had to narrow it down to the right one for BSG Alliance. We look at all of our software (our platform for doing business, as it were) as a strategic advantage. We needed a candidate tracking system that not only fulfills our needs, but does so better, faster, more efficiently, and more profitably.

At the end of the day, that system was Jobvite. And, interestingly enough, there was a writeup about Jobvite in VentureWire (subscription required!) today, which pointed out:

Jobvite Inc. hopes to make hiring more streamlined – and more viral.

And that viral part was the key.

Jobvite treats the entire organization as a recruiting machine, leveraging the social networks of all employees to build a pipeline of great candidates for open jobs. At its heart is the concept of a “Jobvite,” which you can liken to an invitation to visit a job posting on your career site. You send Jobvites to your employees and your social network, and, through the magic of viral marketing, you get your job postings in front of (potentially) hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates. Since we started sending Jobvites on Tuesday, we’ve had 4 candidates submit their resumes for some of our very important open jobs. That’s a pretty impressive return for what amounted to 15 seconds of work on my part to send out the Jobvites!

As far as tracking the candidates and requisitions once they’re in the system, Jobvite is excellent. It’s intuitive. It’s easy on the eyes (that is, well-designed). It was incredibly simple to implement. It’s flexible. It’s easy to customize. It allows you to manage “collections” of candidates, to make classification easier.

The customer service is phenomenal, and the longest we’ve waited for an enhancement or customization is 12 hours. The Interview Scheduling facility integrates with Outlook, but only on Windows XP or older, and it could use a little tweaking, including the ability to schedule ticklers directly from the system. That’s my only complaint. Everything else is really incredible.

Jobvite is targeted towards small and mid-sized businesses. It requires no software installation – it is a true Software-As-A-Service tool. Pricing is competitive – an all-inclusive setup fee, and an all-inclusive monthly fee (not a fee per hiring manager, per recruiter, per HR rep, per interviewer, etc.). That monthly fee allows every single employee in your organization to access and use Jobvite to automate and streamline the recruiting process. Did I mention that using Jobvite can make your entire recruiting process, from candidate identification to hiring, paperless? Think of the reams of paper and forests of trees you can save!

I have to thank Jen Overholt from Jobvite, as well as Hans Larsen, who have done an amazing job throughout the implementation process to work with us to make sure we have the right system for our needs.

If you want more information on the process, and the other systems we reviewed, please feel free to drop me a line at ktierney@bsgalliance.com. I’m happy to help!

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).

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