NewsFlash. Talent software can’t help you if you suck


I went home last night filled with joy and goodwill toward my development teams.  This is one of the perks of building new software, there comes a time when you are overcome by joy.  Can’t explain it.  It’s a bit like any hard accomplishment, it just feels good when it happens.

Anyway, I go home, and after answering the question, who the heck are you and what are you doing in my house?  I exercised my legal right to bore my spouse about what happens in the office.  And here is where I was slammed back into reality of how possible it is to take a good idea and totally screw it up.

As luck would have it, I happened to be married to a wealth of use cases of some of the worst talent management practices known to man.  Seriously, it might just be the experience of a varied career or it might be some kind of cosmic irony, but for every “best practice” I could talk about, he was able to give me a “worst case example” of how someone could (and did) totally screw it up.

So I decided to codify my own Meg’s law, as a proactive warning to call upon in the future if/when need should arise.

It is the intention of our team to build excellent, usable software to optimize a well thought out talent strategy.  BUT if you suck, there is nothing we can do in software, to fix that for you.

So now that we’ve taken care of that disclaimer, here are some gem examples of suck-age.

You might suck if:

  • You get feedback on employee development surveys that people are craving development and you arbitrarily mandate 10 training courses each quarter, causing people to cheat and scam instead of actually developing themselves.  Bonus points if you didn’t even check to see if you had  training courses that people found useful in the first place.
  • You set quarterly aligned objectives and then change your mind weekly as to what the priorities are, never giving any hope of people achieving anything measurable.  Bonus points when you come back at the end of the quarter and penalize individuals for lack of achievement.  Double bonus points when you use this as the reason to not pay out bonus.
  • You decide you need performance metrics and roll out a rushed performance review cycle only intending to use that data to figure out who to fire.
  • You roll out talent programs that materially impact employment and compensation retroactively and don’t give any warning that they are coming.

So please, lets not suck.  Frankly, it makes us all look bad when this kind of stuff happens.    Instead, lets think about the point of a talent management strategy.  It is not the end, it is the means.

And the purpose, is to help make your workforce a competitive advantage.  If you are implementing a strategy that doesn’t address this goal, then I really am at a loss as to what to say when you wonder why it isn’t working.

Photo by sean dreilinger

Are you fully utilizing your potential?

funny-pictures-cat-shows-potential-by-blaming-things-on-the-dogAs often happens in Talent circles we spend a good amount of time thinking and talking about high potentials.  We review our high potentials, we define programs for them, we measure and monitor them.  What I don’t see us doing as much is turning the mirror around and looking at our own potential.  In fact I wonder how many of us, after getting out of junior high or high school, have even questioned how we are doing against our potential?

So I thought I’d ask, are you utilizing your potential as effectively as you should be?  Have you looked at your own job and aligned it to best support your strengths?  I have encountered so many people who find themselves overworked but still underutilized.  Why?

I think there are a lot of reasons that this can happen but what I don’t understand is why more people don’t take any action to correct it.  When you find yourself underutilized, it is often a sign that you are not managing your own career.  So how do you get out of the cycle of not being your best?

First you need to recognize what your unique talents are

Next you need to review your current situation and figure out what exactly is holding you back.

Lastly you need to put a plan in place to move yourself out of your inertia and into control.    Opening a dialogue with your boss or a mentor and get the support you need to be your best. 

I can promise you now is the time to be using your full potential.  It is not the time to just be going through the motions.  It’s time to be producing quality not just quantity in your life.

Creating a new reputation

reputation1I was in a conference session last year about product offerings in the Talent space.  When it came to the question of usability, someone in the audience asked why Oracle was not named as a leader.  The speaker said (of course I’m quoting this from memory so I might not be exactly quoting):

Oracle is known for building complex applications that solve complex business problems, usability is not really their strength.

Ouch!  That stings, and yet I have to acknowledge that a large part of this reputation was earned

The thing about a reputation is, once earned, it is hard to change.  Long after you have fixed the source of the reputation, you will still be working to repair the damage to the reputation itself.

As we look toward Fusion, we are determined to change our reputation.  The tricky bit is, that we know there is no single fix to give us a reputation of stellar usability.  A lot of the reasons that gave us a “complex” reputation still exist.   We are required  to solve business problems for the most complex businesses in the world.  Our large customers, a huge advantage for us, often require complex solutions.

Each and every day, we have to work against the things that got us the reputation for lack-luster usability and learn better habits as part of the process.  To keep us honest, and to gain the benefit from the wisdom of the crowds, I decided to come public.    Here is what I think we need to do to win back the trust and reputation that we ought to have (based upon the level of investment we do in technology innovation). 

To gain a reputation for outstanding usability we must

  • Remember that there is a difference between usability and flashy UE.    Quality usability allows me to do tasks efficiently, with a high degree of confidence I’ve done them correctly.


  • While continuing to solve 100% of the business requirements, we need to be mindful of not putting the burden on the 95% of the users for the complexity needed by 5% .


  •  We must never think it acceptable to have a user experience be a direct reflection of a data model.  User experience is about task completion and not at all about data storage*.


  • We must be willing to question our assumptions and challenge our ideas to find the best solution for our customers.


  • We must be willing to recognize that the “best” solution will change over time.


  • We must use the wealth of data we capture, to provide better analysis and insight as part of the task itself.  Reporting after the fact is not as good as analyzing in real time.


  • We must work toward a mindset of continuous improvement, not just because the industry is growing, but because it is the right thing to do. 


  • We must help our customers get the benefit of the great technology we have to offer, not for the sake of itself, but for the value it can provide.

 Please jump on the comments and tell me what I’ve missed.  Our reputation is in your hands.


*Important to note, that as an employee of Oracle, I think data storage is VERY important and should be taken seriously 😉

Are you worried about the wrong stuff?

meatballsI’m probably not alone in the need to remind myself that the problems I’m worried about most, are usually me looking at the small problems.

A great example was given on the Daily Show (yes, I get my news from the Daily Show and my humor from Fox News and/or MSNBC these days, but that’s an entirely different blog post) interview of Lawrence Lindsey . 

Lindsey gave some excellent examples about how our outrage at waste in the economic bailout, while important morally and ethically, is not substantive to the actual solution.   In other words we are focused on the small (1%) problem and not the big one.

So time to ask yourself what about in your own life?  Are you putting your energy on the big things or are you focused on the 1% noise?  I have to go old school on this one, and suggest to you that you listen to Bill Murray when he explains to you that it just doesn’t matterHonestly

Time to put your energy on the stuff that matters and let go those battles you cannot win.  When you decide what matters be sure to make sure that you’ve considered your perspective.  Narrow thoughts lead to narrow solutions.  Time for big thinking people.