Future Friday: One Big Reason Predictions are Important

by Michael Haberman on August 22, 2014 · 0 comments

Situational Futuring can be a valuable tool to understanding the present.

Situational Futuring can be a valuable tool to understanding the present.

“Imagine a future.” To me those are important words for every HR professional to keep in mind. That process can help you anticipate, plan and create a better world for yourself and your company. But how do you do that? Let me explain.

Situational Futuring

Futurist Thomas Frey wrote an interesting essay on a tool he calls “situational futuring”. This is a tool, or a way of thinking, that can be used “look ahead.” He describes situational futuring as “begin(ning) with a central idea, which grows into a series of rippling thoughts, issues, and questions expanding in every direction.” Rather than thinking of the future by investigation a megatrend and seeing how that would eventually impact your business, situational futuring starts with a small idea and builds, perhaps even to the point of being much larger.

He describes this process like this:

The process begins with an initial scenario and asking some of the standard who-what-when-where-how-and-why questions. Probing deeper, questions formulated around things like timing, monetary implications, disruptive effects, symbiotic partners, who-wins-who-loses, wild cards, policy changes, and strange bedfellows will help expand your thinking even further.

It works well as a brainstorming tool but can be an individual exercise as well.

An example

Frey had a number of examples, 44 of them in fact, which you can read here. He had one that I thought was relevant to human resources. He called it Quantified Self Skills Analysis and described it thus:

As employers lose confidence in traditional transcripts and college degrees as a predictor of success, they will turn towards more sophisticated attribute-matching systems for sorting through the ultra-granular quantifiable-self and finding the closest fit. People who don’t make the shortlist for a job opening will be given an auto-generated overview of their skill deficiencies and ways to improve upon them.

I thought about this further and applied this to the recruiting process. Right now we work hard to attract candidates, we review resumes and do interviews to find the “right” candidates. What if there was a process to avoid that? What if there was an assessment you could use that would tell if a candidate was the proper fit for both the company and a job category? You could administer this assessment to any candidate and make a determination if they were a “fit” and then train to a particular skill set. Would this offset the waste in the recruitment process?

The value in this process

Who really knows whether my situational futuring above would work or not? My point was not to necessarily come up with a viable idea; rather it was to get you to think about your process. That is the value to you. This exercise gets you started on thinking about what could be and how it is different from what is done today. You may create crazy ideas or scenarios and none may ever come to fruition, but you have at least done the thinking and as a result will be more open to things or ideas that may present themselves in the future.

Action step

To get you started on this process I would suggest you read Frey’s 44 ideas. Then lean back put your feet up and start thinking about how you might change recruiting if you had a different method, a different tool, a different candidate pool, a different whatever. How might your world look differently?

To answer the question raised by the title, the value of predictions is not that they are right or wrong; the value is that they got you to think about present differently and opened you up to a different and possible future.


Five great quotes on Leadership

by Michael Haberman on August 21, 2014 · 0 comments

QuotationMarksI personally think there is a dearth of leadership in the world today. That shortage has been documented. I wrote about it in Future Friday: Leadership is going to be a corporate black hole. I would suggest you read this, but rather than be totally negative again I thought I would offer some inspiration instead. These are five quotes that I think are inspiring.

Quote 1

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.

Theodore Roosevelt

Quote 2

The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.

Jim Rohn

Quote 3

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.

General Colin Powell

Quote 4

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

Quote 5

I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.

 Elizabeth II.


Lessons on Talent from Theodore Roosevelt

by Michael Haberman on August 20, 2014 · 0 comments

Theodore Roosevelt was a keen judge of people.

Theodore Roosevelt was a keen judge of people.

Theodore Roosevelt was known for his bold leadership during his presidency. He is considered to have had one of the most successful and talented administrations. A major reason for his success was because of his emphasis on the people he collected around him.

From the beginning

Theodore Roosevelt was heavily involved with personnel issues in his career, even as, and especially when he was President. Early in his career he was involved in the reform of the New York City Police Department and also the U.S. Civil Service. He helped remove “hiring by favoritism” replacing it with hiring done on merit. He was very big on merit and the value that a particular person could bring to the position. This was best exemplified by his appointment of William Moody as Secretary of the Navy, then as the U.S. Attorney General, then as an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, despite the fact that Moody had been a very harsh critic of TR for many years. The criticism aside he saw the capabilities that Moody would bring to the job.

Hire people better than you

TR was of the opinion that you hired the best and most capable. Hiring a “toady” to make you appear to be the smartest or best was not the route to success for him. Instead you hired people smarter, more knowledgeable, with bigger ideas and a willingness to face up to the boss when needed. Roosevelt was quoted:

“Personally I have never been able to understand why the head of a big business, whether it be the Nation, the State or the Army, or Navy should not desire to have very strong and positive people under him.” 

Key points

James M. Strock in his book, Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership, has extracted several points about TR’s approach to personnel selection that I think are as important today as they were in the early 1900′s. These points are (my comments in italics):

    • Hire people more talented than oneself. (No one is served by having weak team members. Find smarter and more capable people to fill your positions.)
    • Look for the best in each person. (Don’t ask if they are a good person, ask “What are they good for?” However, TR was very high on character and he fired many a person who did not live up to his ethical standards.)
    • Where one must bargain over personnel, set standards for selection. (Have a list of skills and capabilities you need and compare candidates to this list.)
    • Spend the time necessary to evaluate and acculturate prospective team members. (Gut feelings only get you so far. Really understand if this person will fit the culture of the team you are putting together.)
    • Do not prolong consideration of people who will not receive a position. (This is a lesson many companies should pay attention to. Don’t drag people out, it does not enhance the company’s reputation.)
    • Ceaselessly search for new talent. (Always look for talent, even when you don’t need it. A prime role for a manager is to always be on the lookout for talent regardless of where they are or when.)
    • Ruthlessly replace individuals who do not meet the standards of the enterprise. (I would replace the term “ruthlessly” with “quickly”, but the lesson is that no one is served by keeping a bad employee one minute longer than necessary.)
    • Work with the tools at hand. (What was meant by this was finding the best in each person. Realize people will make mistakes, but work to get the work done anyway.)

In my opinion companies, executives and Human Resources would do well to heed this advice. Why not try to emulate a very successful executive?

Photo credit: Taken by the author at the Booth Museum in Cartersville, Georgia


Why Going Green Is a Great Idea in the Workplace

by Michael Haberman on August 19, 2014 · 0 comments


This post courtesy of my friends at SocialMonsters.org

While you might think that the only green your employees care about relates to how much money they make, it turns out that workers also are passionate about companies that are green in terms of the environment. In fact, businesses that are eco-friendly tend to have workers who are happier and more productive.

Talent Management cites a study conducted by Kenexa Research Institute that looked at the way employees felt about the companies they worked for in regards to their responsibility in various arenas. Businesses that took part in environmentally-friendly practices tended to have more engaged and active employees as well as a more positive business outcome overall. Workers whose employers followed environmentally-friendly practices were 16 percent more productive than employees who worked for less eco-friendly places, notes Fox Business. In addition to being more motivated to do well at work, these employees also tended to get more training and had better relationships with their co-workers.

Business owners who want to become more eco-friendly have plenty of options to choose from. While many companies have a plastic trash can or two where employees can toss their empty soda cans for recycling or boxes where workers can place old papers and magazines, there are other ways to make the office a greener workplace. For example, consider the following:

Offer Telecommuting

As anyone who gets stuck in traffic day in and day out knows quite well, it can be hard to arrive at work motivated and ready to go when you’ve already been sitting in your slow-moving car for an hour. One of the nicest ways to go green in the office is to offer telecommuting as an option to your employees, notes Tree Hugger. In addition to not using as much gas driving to and from work, with fewer employees in the office there will be a reduction in energy and water usage. If you are not quite ready to allow your entire workforce to work from home, you might consider trying it for part of the work week, or you can offer it as an incentive for a job well done.

Give Your Employees an Earth-Friendly Place to Relax

Since workers who are stressed out are not as likely to be as productive or happy as those who are calm and relaxed, you might consider giving your employees an eco-friendly place to take their breaks and chill out a bit. For example, Apple Rubber built a wellness area for their employees in the shape of a gorgeous gazebo. Built from environmentally-friendly products like an out-of-spec rubber roof and other recyclable materials, the gazebo is a strictly smoke-free and attractive hangout where employees can take a much-needed break from their day.

Change the Lights

One of the simplest ways to create a more eco-friendly workplace is to switch from incandescent bulbs to lights that are more energy-efficient, says Life Script. In addition, if your office has lots of natural light sources like large windows, encourage your employees to keep their overhead and desk lights off as much as they can.

Cut Back on Paper

When buying paper for your office’s printers, try to find recycled paper that has a large amount of what is called post-consumer content. Then, try to devise ways to use as little of this paper as possible. If you can afford it, consider buying a copier that prints on both sides and encourage your employees to re-use paper as scrap before sending it to the recycle bin. Avoid printing out tons of emails and other documents, and maybe reward the department that uses the least amount of paper each month with a nice lunch or a round of fancy coffee drinks.


Why it is important to understand proximate versus ultimate causes in HR

by Michael Haberman August 18, 2014

Tweet As I was reading The World until Yesterday, by Jared Diamond, I came across a discussion of proximate and ultimate causes. Diamond’s explain made me think of HR and the importance of understanding the differences of these two terms. Proximate cause definition Proximate cause is often used in terms of negligence. According to the […]

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Future Friday: 7 Steps to being a practical HR futurist

by Michael Haberman August 15, 2014

Tweet Last week I promised the publication of my 7 Steps to being a practical HR futurist, based on the hour presentation I have done several times. I became interest in the future a long time ago. I was a fan of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov as a kid. After getting into […]

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Yes, leaders do influence culture

by Michael Haberman August 14, 2014

Tweet I came across a very interesting historical story, one that I have never read before. It dealt with the influence on culture that a foreign soldier had on the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. His influence helped George Washington turn around a failing effort to become the premier example of freedom in the […]

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We just never know…

by Michael Haberman August 13, 2014

Tweet Everyone reading this probably knows that actor and comedian Robin Williams passed away on August 11, 2014. I was deeply saddened by that news. He was a favorite of mine. My wife mentioned to me that she was wondering how someone who had so much going for themselves could be depressed. I said often […]

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Why it is important to set expectations

by Michael Haberman August 12, 2014

Tweet Harvey Mackay is a favorite author and speaker of mine. I have found him to be inspirational for years and his wisdom to be timeless and I am not the only one. He is the author of New York Times No. 1 bestsellers “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” and “Beware the […]

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What the heck is a “Micro Unit” and should you be concerned?

by Michael Haberman August 11, 2014

Tweet Is a micro unit something out of nanotechnology? Is it something out of atomic measurement? Is it some unit of measurement for height challenged people? Unfortunately it is none of these things. It is the latest tool the National Labor Relations Board has provided to unions to make it easier to organize your workplace. […]

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