Can they imagine you in the role?

halloweengirls1 I was recently reminded of how important perception is.  Most people are familiar with (and often reject) the advice to dress for the role you want not the role you have. 

For many of us, this kind of approach seems so phony.    We often want to stand on the substance of our work and not the perception of others, and yet…

Once again, life doesn’t really work that way. 

I think that it is important to recognize that while substance is important, so too is perception.  Luckily, perception is not just about how you dress, it’s about the types of roles that people could envision you doing.

To get a new role, you need to help people imagine you in it.  This means, you need to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone and start behaving the way that role requires.  

If the role you want is management then things like leadership and communication become critical.  If the role you want is executive, then things like presence and vision start taking a priority. 

The key is not to just develop the skills, but to demonstrate them to others.  Helping people imagine you in the role you want can dramatically increase your chances of getting it. 

Now if you’ll excuse me for a moment I somehow feel an urgent need for a makeover ;-).

Software buyers vs. users

boyinboxAs builders of software, we are always trying to make sure we invest wisely in the features we offer our customers.  There are never enough resources to do everything we’d like to do so prioritizing is a way of life.

In our attempt to make the right choices, we talk to a lot of customers, collecting feedback, use cases and the like.  One risk I’ve come to recognize, is that in talking to our customers, we often confuse buyers with users.

Not unlike the mom who buys their child a series of interesting and educational toys, only to find them way more interested in the box, we sometimes find ourselves puzzled that the things we are most proud of in our solutions, are not actually that appealing to the end users. 

It’s not that we don’t realize that, as technology geeks, what appeals to us might not exactly be mainstream, or even cool.  It’s just that we are surprised at how little the requirements we are given from the buyer actually align with the needs or wants of the user

A lot of this confusion comes as a direct result of the success of our industry.   Technology used to only be available to the select few in an organization and it was all about organizational function and value. 

Now technology is about so much more.  Our entire lives are about technology and our expectations on what it can do are ever increasing.  We expect technology to improve our lives.  It is no longer good enough for the technology to provide value to an organization, at the expense of the individual.   To be successful, business applications must have utility across all groups who use them, and in our case, that is everyone in your organization. 

As we set out to design Fusion talent applications we spent a lot of time thinking about users.   What do they want and how do they expect technology to help them?   

Of course, we are still very anxious to delight HR departments with our choices.  We will never forget our buyers, but  the role of the manager and worker, at every level of the organization chart, has been (and will continue to be) a big part of our thought process too.  

That’s right, you heard it here first.  Fusion Talent Management is not only a cool toy, it’s also a wicked cool box*.



 *anyone trying too hard for bonus points on my analogy with the Sun announcement, needs to take some time off.  I am not talking about hardware here, just a literal cardboard metaphor.

Alignment is not the goal, it’s a tactic

lineupOnce again, I think we can get confused as to what we are trying to accomplish with a Talent Management strategy.    Goal Alignment, by itself, is not something I care about as an individual

It doesn’t automatically make me more engaged and it doesn’t necessarily make me more productive.  All to often I hear HR departments (and Talent Vendors) talk about Goal Alignment as if it is a solution, it’s not.  It’s a tactic that can help you achieve a business solution.  Assuming, of course, you don’t suck.

As an individual, I don’t care about Goal Alignment.  I do care about a few things that goal alignment can help me accomplish though:

  • I care about my compensation — If you are going to compensate me for achieving certain goals, I care.   If you are going to penalize my compensation for something I cannot control, I care.    Showing me how my compensation is impacted by corporate goals gets my attention.


  • I care about achieving, especially achieving things that get me noticed (in a good way, not a Dilbert way).  Having my boss communicate those goals that are important to him (and thus need to be important to me) helps me make sure I am achieving the right things.

  • I care about understanding the big picture.  Having a good sense of the why of what I’m doing and how what I’m doing fits into that big picture.  Understanding the commander’s intent is very helpful to me.  When corporate goals give me that big picture I care.


  • I learn from good examples.  If my boss has shown me how his work is aligning with the company goals and how his personal goals are helping him better impact the company goals this makes a  concrete impression for me.

So please, can we quit talking about goal alignment as a solution and begin talking more about it as a very useful tactic.   Goal alignment is not going to fix your talent problems. 

Having a solid and clear vision of where your company needs to go and how your people fit into that strategy is what Talent Management is all about.    Until you have that worked out, goal alignment is not going to help. 

Understanding how individuals work and what they need must be part of the plan, or you will just be rolling out an administrative process that individuals will work around.   We need to be able to articulate what is in it for me with goal alignment, or we will fail.

More on innovation — can you spot it?


 Mark did an excellent job talking about the strategic value of innovation.  

I’d like to talk about the personal side of the equation a bit.  That is the fact that it is more important to be able to spot a great idea than to have a great idea.


Well it’s really just a math problem.  On your own, how many great ideas can you really have?  Especially, if you believe that it’s really 99% perspiration

BUT…. if you are good at spotting and leveraging great ideas.. wow you can really do something with that skill to make a difference.

So, I’d encourage you to attempt to open your eyes to the great ideas of others that are all around you.  Consider how you can take those great ideas into your own life and how you could modify them to be better [for you]. 

Who do you know that is good at something you want to be good at?

How do you get close to that person to learn their great ideas, strategies, mannerisms?

The point is, that it doesn’t have to be your idea.  In fact, it might be a whole lot better if it is not.  It just has to be something you take action upon to have a useful impact.

Another moment that makes you go hmmm… 

Photo Credit Thomas Otter

“Others” might not understand

stupid Lately I’ve become aware of an interesting phenomenon.  Turns out we all seem to think that we are smarter than the other guy.    Seriously.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Lord knows anyone who has had the opportunity to work in retail, will confirm that there are a lot of stupid people in the world.  That said, the process of hiring, does a pretty good job of weeding most of them out.

What I have noticed lately, is that when people are presented with a new concept a frequent reaction is something along the lines of

I understand what you are saying, but I’m pretty sure other people would not.


What is so interesting about this, is that it often comes up in usability tests when something is working.  Something that everyone is getting right will produce a response in people, that they are concerned that others wont get it.

Why would that be?

I guess there is one thought that people are trying to avoid the curse of knowledge and consider how others would react.  Or another thought might be that we all just think we are a lot smarter than the average Bear (so to speak). 

A possible third option might be, that when presented with something new, that you do understand, you are not really sure if you like it

One way to express this discomfort, without being offensive,  is to blame it on the other guy


Better health through technology?


I got to see first hand,  a technology disaster today.  It wasn’t a complete disaster but it was pretty close.

We took our 3 year old daughter in for a second round of ear tubes (everything went great, thanks for asking!).   Parents with small children are probably familiar with this procedure, it’s very common and a simple surgery.  Since we did it once before a year ago we were pretty relaxed and knew [generally] what to expect.  We knew the staff was not only well trained and experienced, but they were also really nice people

Today, each of those very nice people were completely stressed out.  Not by the crying children or the paranoid parents, but by the new computer system that was in it’s third day of a go-live.

My husband and I suspected something was up, when we saw people in vests with the word Support walking around.  In fact, there were three different colors of vests and lots of people wearing them.   As go-lives go this seemed to be a well-staffed hand-holding support process, +1 for the implementation team.  In addition, everyone seemed mostly on board with the idea that they were going to make the technology work.  Everyone was really trying their best to make it work.  

What took all this good preparation down, was the complete lack of usability of the system.  It was both heart breaking and comical, how many times people got confused and lost along the way.  The nurse doing the pre-op vitals couldn’t find the right page to put in the data.  The post-op nurses could not find data they had just put in, the doctor’s post-op instructions seemed to be lost in the ether and getting a print out of the release documentation took several tries.  I did not see a single task successfully completed without engaging the help of a vested person, and sometimes that didn’t even work.

Not only were these tasks incredibly difficult for the staff, they were feeling very bad that they could not be as helpful and as reassuring to the patients since they were finding themselves completely stressed out doing their job.  I have blogged before about how usability really matters, what a perfect example to prove the point.

The human cost of software that does not consider the end user is so much higher than we realize.  People should not have to feel so stressed to learn a new system.  Sure, learning anything new is a challenge but this was not a challenge, this was an embarrassment.

So to the wonderful people at the surgery center, I wish you the best of luck, and to all the suppliers of software for the health care industry — please get it together, we need happy doctors and nurses not stressed out ones.  Our health may just depend on it.