Search This Blog

Monday, July 09, 2018

Connecting for 70 years - and growing stronger...

June of 2018 had been a hectic month for me.  Let me attempt to list the things I got to touch in June to set the context for this post:

  1. My special times inside Kerala's IT SME Life...journeys via contributions to SME entrepreneurs. I had two retainer clients, one each in Kochi and Kozhikode who kept me clued in to the SME's journey. 
  2. Nipah scare in Kerala made some of my past clients reach out for help - to ensure they managed this scare staying within the freedom + responsibility approach that we had got them to take. 
  3. Last month of my term as Volunteer Secretary of NIPM Kerala Chapter - four programs to plan - Young Managers Contest, Corporate Citizen Award,  revamping Legal Update and Annual General Meeting
  4. Annual meetup of Citizen Science enthusiasts at Thrissur for deliberations on technology and crowd sourcing enabled Bird Monitoring in Kerala - will blog about this soon as this meeting made the early 40's brain in me to take up an online course in R - as it would help me create visualisations from my own ebird data 
  5. Last but not the least, my annual trip to US of A which now has ReUnions, birding and SHRM Annual included. This is my third year as an official SHRM blogger - excited as always to expand my world by being part of an elite gang of HR minded professionals who breathe social media
The months activities gave me a lot of opportunities to delve deeper into a subject which continue to intrigue me at all times. That subject is about possibilities that exist in human connections - a myriad of questions start flowing through my mind whenever I delve on this topic. This post I will devote to one particular question -  How can HR minds create a design for connections?

I got to delve deeper into these questions and possible answers at the 70th Annual Conference of the society of human resource management - SHRM or the shrm18. This years venue also gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my school mate and fellow CMS college cricket team mate and his lovely family who are now settled in the Windy City.

Conversations about this conference started off very early via the blog squad powered by SHRM's social media team which comes up with unique ways to empower and enable the #shrm18blogger squad - with over 100 pre conference blog posts! 

Here is a list of posts that struck a chord somewhere within me - sharing this as it will provide a recap of shrm18 as well.

  1. A call against structure by my good friend and master connector - Steve Browne 
  2. An excellent take by my fellow SHRM India blogger Kavi Arasu
  3. Quotes from SHRM18 by fellow blogger Kiran Ali who hails from Pakistan 
  4. A Millennial's take on shrm18 
  5. Possibilities for HR by Katrina Kibben - whom I wish I had connected for an #shrm18Selfie 
  6. Common stuff among differences - by my new friend Julie Ann Sullivan
So, now it's time for me to list my take aways / pointers for thoughts from SHRM18 - here goes:

1. Large conferences as Collaboration platforms - SHRM has been showcasing the possibilities that exists for collaboration among multiple stakeholders. Imagine 22k attendees, 700 HR Vendors and select speakers all under one roof. This collaboration has resulted in business success for SHRM as well - clearly making it Win-Win situation. This year the WFPMA has joined forces with SHRM - another feather in the collaboration cap for sure - watch out as this exciting global journey unfolds.  I'm delighted about this as the National Institute of Personnel Management, the largest body of HR folks in my country is also part of the WFPMA - opening up possibilities which my fellow members from NIPM's Kerala chapter can use as catalyst for learning. 
2. SHRM annual is to me a successful case of Marketing and HR collaboration - presence of over 700 HR service providers cannot be an accident. This year has broken all records for attendance - showing the success of this collaboration between functions which are seen to be at loggerheads inside many organisations - as this Fast Co Article tried to portray (or did it?) many years back.
Feels great to see that my function has moved ahead and is continually in a 'thinking' mode these days.
So HR leaders in the US have definitely been successful in designing the annual conference as a platform for fostering human connections over these years.
I tried capturing some of these connections moments from the conference and posted them in this Facebook album. 

All this brings me to more questions which I shall be attempting to find answers to during the next few months before I head to Las Vegas for my sixth SHRM annual conference soon.

1. What are the Design thinking elements which if copied will help create similar platforms for human beings at a State and country level
2. Can Crowd-sourcing be used as an enabler to expedite such human connections at a scale which will place human beings at the core as businesses and society grow?
3. Can Open Data be a catalyst for such connections?

Looking forward to your views.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Expand your world with #shrm18Selfie

So I've landed in Chicago for SHRM18 after a 24 hour journey (over 21 hours in the air) from my home in Kochi, India. I'm very excited about the theme that has chosen for #shrm18 - 'Expand your world' - here are my reasons:

  1. From the first time I attended this conference back in 2012, SHRM has helped me expand my world via HR pals, connections with whom they have catalysed via special events organised at the annual conference and exposition - the international delegates get really pampered at any SHRM annual. 
  2. Apart from being an international attendee, I have been lucky to be part of SHRM's blogging squad as well - this platform which gives me a 'behind the stumps' (Cricket Umpire lingo) connection opportunity to some of the best content creators at a global scale - they are - don't miss connecting with them as they help you traverse this year's conference via social media updates. 
  3. This excitement of being able to expand my world - while working in a remote corner of India - albeit the 'Gods own country' - Kerala had got my imagination flowing to such a level last year that I ended up introducing the #tag #shrm17Selfie last year with this blog post
I realised after taking over 50 selfies last year that this ability to visually capture moments of 'connection' for posterity can have a longer lasting impact on my objective of 'expanding my world'. Which brings me to place another challenge to every attendee of SHRM18 - this time as I'd love to learn more about another platform deeper, this challenge shall be connected to that platform - and it is Instagram. Instagram is chosen as a picture / video (visual stuff) is a must for a posting to this platform. 

I'm teeing this off by first challenging all the shrm18blogger pals to post visuals of special moments they create with their connections (old and new) at SHRM18 on Instagram with the hashtag #SHRM18Selfie. 

Let's get attendees to explore unique ways towards theirs #ExpandYourworld goals at #SHRM18. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

So, What's on offer at SHRM18 Exposition?

I had missed SHRM16 but had not missed blogging about why I thought large conclaves like the ones organised by are great social selling opportunities after reading about the power of social selling later that year.

SHRM18 too has a carefully curated list of service providers who will be showcasing their wares at the Exposition which will be open from 4 pm on 17th June - immediately following the opening general session which will be featuring Johnny C Taylor, Jr. the new CEO of SHRM and Jeb Bush. The would be over 600 exhibitors and I have realised, with each of my 4 previous conferences that there will be exciting stuff which will keep attendees glued to most exhibits.  Here are some tips that I found useful as one attempts to traverse this maze looking thingy that we can call the exhibition floor!
1.  Identify at least 25 Exhibitors based on your current role or your companies immediate needs by speaking to your colleagues about your the opportunity that you are heading to at SHRM18
2. Reach out to them via social media - looks like instagram will be very popular this year - twitter still remains a hit as always. This will save time.
3. Keep 30 minutes of your scheduled visit to the exhibition floor to roam around with a smile and prepare to greet curious exhibitors beyond the list you have made for yourself.
4. Follow the social media feeds from fellow SHRM18 attendees via the SHRM mobile app - this will ensure that you will not miss any special updates and events that exhibitors would be planning at their stalls.
So here is a link to the Vendor list - to get you started with Step No. 1

You may even get to bump into me on the exhibition floor seeking to expand my connections via #shrm18Selfie among other things I get to do as an official SHRM18 Blogger.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

My fifth SHRM Annual - #SHRM18

So people keep asking me this question - why am I geeked about #shrm18?

Here's what on top of my mid now as I'm preparing for my fifth time at an SHRM Annual.
  1. SHRM12 opened out the world of possibilities to me when I managed to combine it with my annual visit to connect to work related matters with Arbitron (now Nielsen Audio) - I had blogged about it then - here is the first post written excitedly as I got to be part of SHRM bloggers for the first time!
  2. Here are the other posts from that year - looks pretty silly now I confess. 
3. SHRM has been my mentor on #socialmedia trends - I had blogged about some lessons after my second edition. This was the time when I could find my way around better and could connect to more learning stuff - this was at Orlando. 
4. The need to reconnect to social media got me back for my third shrm conference - this time at Las Vegas where I got to be part of SHRM bloggers once again. 
5.  My participation kept me connected to this special gathering of passionate HR folks curated by @shrmsocial - for some strange reason, my name and twitter handle was featured first in this list
6. I realised that there more to social media than just marketing and discovered twitter secrets and kept connecting to special pals and interest - all nurtured via SHRM. The opportunities continued when I got back to India as well - with SHRM India as well as People Matters two amazing curators of knowledge for the HR fraternity inviting me for supporting their efforts. 
7. My fourth time was at NoLA where I created some buzz for #shrm17 via a #tag i curated in an attempt to connect attendees in person for posterity with a picture and called it #shrm17Selfie. I also realised that each of the passionate bloggers are growing in depth and creating unique approaches on their own globally and my connection meant that I get to be part of all those knowledge networks. I'll just name #HRTribe as that's top of my mind now. 

So those are just 7 reasons that I am geeked about attending another SHRM Annual conference - an investment I'm making to create and nurture connections with able catalysts in the HR fraternity who are driven by purpose - a better HR. 

Last but not the least - did you notice that 2018 SHRM Annual is about 'Expanding your world'? I'm sure that role of connections would surely ring a bell to anyone following that road.  

Special thanks to SHRM India for this unique way to encourage my social media learning journey by showing that its possible for a normal HR professional from a remote corner of India to be worthy of finding a place among top 30 HR folks on social media.

Three other members of SHRM India's social media squad are joining me this year at Chicago.
Oh Yes - really excited to be part of SHRM's blogger squad once again.

So what do you do in 'HR Consulting' - that too in Kerala?

Yep, this is one question I love to hear these days - especially when it is from someone based in my home state Kerala.
Some context: So I got back to my home state in Dec 2007 to become first employee of a US Media measurement major (Now part of Nielsen Audio) who was then setting up it's Captive Technology centre in India, yes a GIC as per NASSCOM. Post a global acquisition by the Market research biggie - I set out to form a Boutique Consulting gig with a purpose of catalysing the growth of the IT SME ecosystem in the state, combining with ex-boss - a Rocket-scientist turned Programmer turned CEO who I would need more than a blog to introduce.
I have to confess that it was a bit tough for me to answer them initially. To give my readers a context, here are the assumptions that people keep while asking this questions:

  1. HR consulting means 'recruitment' - that too 'sourcing' resumes - worst still - the keyword searching variety.
  2. After I shake my head with a (by now) naughty smile to show NO to recruiting, the next assertion would be - Ah, So you are a trainer? - again the type that can train 'anything' - as some visiting cards and websites would proclaim. 
  3. At this stage - about half would loose interest and would move to another line of conversation
  4. Some of those who persist out of curiosity will get to hear my refined answer. I take every opportunity that I get to refine this so I continue to add to my learning as I traverse this journey.

I had blogged about some disruptions which happened to my life in the year 2015 some time back.

So here is the 2017-18 version of my answer. I've attempted to simplify this but would love to hear from you all so that it can be refined further.

My partner and I act as doctors to whom companies get referred to. Yes, we love getting referred - will write another post about the advantages.
So typical of doctors, we are approached by IT SME companies who have heard about things #ArbitronIndia did around People, Technology and Culture between 2008 and 2014. These companies would usually be the ones who have found themselves stuck in various stages of growth and unable to find out reasons or a way forward.  We also get interesting request for us to 'come and spend some time' as well at times.
Anyway, one of us then gets into a diagnostic meeting(s) via in discussions / calls with key stakeholders (co-founders mostly) of the business.
After the first year, we had sat down and made a deck of stuff we did in 2015. This kind of gives an indication - but we have moved ahead from this phase. Some of the members from our team have also moved ahead for various reasons.

Coming back to HR consulting that I get to do, here are the games I get to play:

  1.  Review / Audit existing Organisation and provide remedial measures needed around design, structure, Talent and positioning. 
  2. Connect Business leaders to approaches based on behavioural sciences, Evolutionary Biology and other science based methodologies to generate business results from their people. 
  3. Partner with existing or instituted (by us) People operations teams as they facilitate the business needs - by helping them place relevant but coarse metrics to track results. 
  4. Last but not the least - evaluate and explore use of Technology to enable business results for the organisation. 
Would love to engage / answer queries... 

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Work itself as Motivation - Long way ahead?

June 2018 also means that I'm going to be stepping into my 20th year as a Human Resource a.k.a. #HR management professional. 
I remember being very excited when I got to hear for the first time via our Organisational Behaviour class that Work itself is a classification of motivators. Looking back on my first five years of Corporate life - I cannot remember many role descriptions from recruiters including the ones I made for my first employer (a Rayon yarn manufacturing plant) which exemplified 'work itself'. 
It's towards early part of 2010 that such descriptions were slowly found - albeit rare. 
Come to think of it most other forms of motivations propounded by theories, have now being questioned - the famous among them being Maslow's Hierarchy of needs theory. 
Why did it take over sixty years to question any theory is a valid question I have. 
Maybe this podcast about Why Bschools should be bull dozed - by the Guardian provides some answers ?  

Here are some more articles which question the Maslow's Theory:
1. Susan Fowler wrote in the Harvard Business review 
2. Steve Denning wrote in Forbes Magazine 

The Steve Denning article (link above) refers to 
another article by Pamela Rutledge from Psychology Today entitled “Social Networks: What Maslow Misses” (November 2011) points out that Maslow’s model misses the role of social connection. 
“Here’s the problem with Maslow’s hierarchy,” explains Rutledge.  “None of these needs — starting with basic survival on up — are possible without social connection and collaboration…. Without collaboration, there is no survival. It was not possible to defeat a Woolley Mammoth, build a secure structure, or care for children while hunting without a team effort.  It’s more true now than then. Our reliance on each other grows as societies became more complex, interconnected, and specialised. Connection is a prerequisite for survival, physically and emotionally.”

Modern work places and work tasks are more about achieving results via collaboration and less about 'knowing' or possessing a particular skill. This therefore brings added focus on the ability of the worker to connect deeply to the 'Work Itself' in my opinion. Let's take the example of the task being discussed in the TED talk below. 

How long will it take for leaders to connect to the potential that exists within the 'Work itself' to motivate probable employees? 

Success of volunteer efforts like Wikipedia and other open source crowd sourced knowledge initiatives to me proves this beyond any doubt.

Recent acquisition of Github by microsoft is another feather in the 'voluntary' cap for those who are connected. 

I'm hoping HR gurus of the future will review 21st century work situations that can impact motivation deeper and lift the veil on this knowledge. 
Till then, let's get our employees scheduled for the next motivation classroom talk or Training that's been rolled out by this 'innovative trainer' via an attractive marketing campaign. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Profit from Open-sourced Information

Yesterday evening while driving back from Alappuzha district where I had gone to Umpire an all kerala T20 cricket tournament, I happened to listen to this talk.  Not sure what made me tune in to this particular talk from the list of suggestions which my mobile app had thrown up for me at that time. I guess the words 'Great' and 'Coach' may have made some influence.

Here is the talk which I'm referring to:

It's interesting to see the comparison that the speaker makes between the traditional pedagogical view (read - as followed by most academicians) and the view that professional sportspersons take when they are attempting to travel from 'Good to Great'.

What I liked about the whole thing is that there is no mention of any commercial connections like certifications while espousing the value of coaching.  To me the commercial interests have made very relevant concepts like coaching (discussed here) frowned upon by the very folks who are in need of it's depth. Certifications have evolved along commercial lines and the very often has occurred at the cost of depth.

I foresee a balance of  traditional as well as modern (read Internet) modes which we humans will employ in our pursuit of greatness. 

Knowledge snippets are available to the ones who seek them.  Formal sources will continue to play the role of influencers initially but depth will be attained via open sourced information as commercial interests will not be in a position to match the 'current-ness' of information obtained via crowd-sourced material which Open source depends on.

Will be interesting to see how this trend changes in 2018... 

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Teacher: Teaching and Learning in this millennium

Context for this blog is my recent interactions over social media with groups of people in my state who are kind of re-inventing the wheel when it comes to using updated pedagogy for teaching and learning.
When one hails from the first state within a country which was declared 100% literate some years ago - one tends to develop a unique outlook towards teaching and learning. As a result, one's expectations from Kerala's teachers will be higher. If I put myself in such shoes, it gets coupled with the fact that my parents happen to be teachers (Mom taught Maths and Dad taught Geography to army men).  Due a combination of forces, my mediocrity meter may have become a bit more sensitive than normal.

My exposure to the Education Industry (yes, it's become an industry during my time) as an HR professional gave me many opportunities to look under the veil. From the time I passed out with a campus placement in 1998-99, I've got to witness the transition of management education from being 'Scope' based popularity in the late 90's to denigrate (for majority of institutions) to being a 'Placement' machinery in the boom days after 2008 recession.

Looking back, I feel very lucky to have been gained my basics of management from an institute which at that point of time had over 90% visiting faculty. I guess this made sure that only practitioners from diverse corporates in Pune who loved to teach and could find time outside their office hours on a daily basis (talk about being busy) were the ones whom we got to raise our questions and thoughts. I so wish management institutes figure out a way to find such volunteer teachers for they are the ones who stand a better chance to provide value and create an impact to humanity via their attempts to foster learning.

My last full time stint with corporate world brought me back to my home state in 2008. There was the natural need to get connected with local talent pools (B-schools and Professional colleges included). During this process, the results of which are now in public domain - I've had many experiential learning opportunities, some of which are being shared via this blog as musings.

1. Teaching as a Career: I get to listen in on many conversations during the trips i had made across Kerala and this one stands out. A Senior person was heard explaining to the parents of a daughter why 'teaching' was a good career option for women in particular. The reason - There are over 3 months of paid holidays! Exemplary way to choose a career right? It's no real wonder then that the schools end up taking life away as the following video explains.

2. Teachers as thought leaders: I'm fortunate to have many employee-hr connections turned into life long friendships and one among those are three pals have set out on an entrepreneurial journey some years back along with their B-School Teacher to form a unique venture. They are doing some amazing stuff these days. When I get to see such thought leading collaborations on one end of the spectrum, the trouble is that I find the opposite end very sad to digest / connect. Recently, a group of academicians and some Industry experts attempted to convince me about the relevance of Industry-Academy interface and explained their unique approach towards that goal. More on that later as the jury is still out but I really wish that the Dunning-Kruger Effect was documented at least a decade earlier so that self-declared thought leaders from my state who believe that they are marching towards the zenith (if there is one) of management education would have got a chance to watch the following Ted-Ed video.

I could go on and on but let me place some thoughts as a solution to those leaders who care to dig deeper.

The Industry will always find ways to reach out to real Talent - I mean the 'Candidates' among the those students who flock to professional colleges (Engg and Mgmt or other graduate level courses). They (The industry) will also find ways to weed out 'Job-Seekers' as the progressive among them have realised that it's the candidates that create value even when faced with uncertainty and will hence evolve methods to attract such candidates, with or without academic qualifications.
Use the time available to you to forge unique linkages with Industry segments which can provide conduits to your students.
When open sourced content is already available on multiple devices (sound as well as text) - attempt to leverage those and create value to the Industry via your students and yourself.
Volunteer for programs with Industry forums and be known for knowledge snippets that you create from the plethora of sources available to you with the access you have as academicians.

Our current students are headed for stuff which most of us cannot imagine now - this article by my good friend Shahana will give some glimpse of that future.

Want a case worth emulating in Kerala? Take a look at #Ulab and Theory U via the MIT.  Kerala has enough problems to solve and it can act as opportunity for academicians.

Glad to spend time with anyone who is willing to 'think' and brainstorm and this is beyond calling one group as 'Think-Tank'