The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, by Jennie A. Brownscombe
The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, by Jennie A. Brownscombe
Whether you follow politics or not, there are many important lessons that leaders in talent management and HR can learn from the recent presidential election.
Before you dismiss the relevance of this learning opportunity out of hand, spend a few minutes to consider the following lessons from the election that may be valuable to leaders in HR and talent management.
I have categorized the lessons that talent management can learn from the election into four major categories. They include:
Nearly every analysis after the election showed that the use of what is known as “big data” had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the election. In addition, relying on data-based decision-makers like The New York Times’ Nate Silver resulted in numerous dramatic wins.
In direct contrast, relying on hunches, feelings, or the so-called experienced experts and pundits often resulted in embarrassing losses. One of the traits of these pundits was optimism, but the results showed that letting optimism drive your decision-making caused many to self-select and rely on data and polls that favored their cause. The winners instead focused on the data that indicated the possibility of the worst-case scenario and they acted to minimize the chances that it would actually occur.
Some leaders in HR are beginning to talk about big data, but the reality is there is no big data use within most HR functions. Big data can help you identify productivity problems, predict where turnover problems will occur, help you increase innovation, and make your leaders more effective. Big data sets within a business that talent management should use might include employee profiles, output data, error rates, production and delivery delays, staffing levels, absenteeism rates, training data, Six Sigma data, performance appraisals, reward data, performance management data, and revenue-per-employee calculations.
Once again, post-election analysis showed that the winning side almost always developed algorithms (i.e. data-based formulas) as a basis for their important decisions on what tools to use and where to place the resources. Relying on algorithms resulted in a consistent and effective approach to common problems and opportunities.
For example, the HR function measures the length of the wait line in its cafés to ensure that they are long enough to provide time for employees in line to collaborate with each other. Google algorithm-driven approach to effective leadership, improving diversity by increasing the number of women engineers, and predicting possible turnover are each simply amazing. Not only does this algorithm-driven approach make HR more effective and admired, but it also directly and measurably impacts business success.
Post-election assessment showed that the analysts that relied on historical election patterns to drive their actions simply got it wrong (from the 2004 and 2008 elections). Assuming that past patterns would repeat resulted in the use of many “dated” campaign approaches. Failing to understand the changing electorate and the evolving demographic patterns and their influence on voting resulted in many embarrassing losses.
The most accurate decision-makers instead relied on real-time data in order to modify their resource allocation and to cause them to switch to updated tools in order to meet the constantly changing environment.
If HR leaders and business managers are going to make excellent people management decisions, at the very least they need real-time data. However, the very best go a step further and produce and use “predictive analytics,” which forecast and tell you what is likely to happen over the next few months.
Predictive metrics provide decision-makers with sufficient lead time so that they can take advantage of opportunities and prevent or at least mitigate upcoming people-management problems. Unfortunately once again, the availability and the use of predictive metrics are only in their infancy in HR and talent management (although once again Google has an algorithm for predicting upcoming employee turnover).
In a similar light, relying on a corporate culture and “past practices” that might’ve worked extremely well in the past can lead to major problems when the underlying assumptions behind those practices have shifted (like the unemployment rate, the business growth rate, product changes, and employee expectations). A superior approach is to be forward-looking and to develop “next practices” that are designed for the current and upcoming environment that HR operates in.
Both sides in the election realized early on that they needed to concentrate and focus their resources and efforts in geographic areas and on segments of the population that would have the most impact on the final results.
As a result, staff and resources were focused on important “swing states,” high-priority ZIP codes, and key demographic groups that would have the highest impact on the overall election results. Political tools like focus groups, robo calls, home visits, and get-out-the-vote efforts were also prioritized and used, based on the level of the results that they produced.
This equal treatment approach is certainly not used by other business functions, where using a “prioritization schema” is standard practice. Supply chain, customer service, production and sales rely heavily on prioritization. Even customers are prioritized based on their profitability, volume, and growth rates. A handful of firms like Google are the exception to the rule because they clearly prioritize important areas like engineering positions, revenue-generating functions, and top-performing and innovative employees.
Prioritization in talent management should start with a focus on the business units that are growing and that contribute the most to corporate revenue and profit. Recruiting efforts should focus on mission-critical and high-impact jobs. Retention efforts should focus on top performers and high-impact employees.
HR tools and programs should also be prioritized. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group demonstrated that not every HR process makes an equal contribution to major business goals like profit growth and profit margins (recruiting, onboarding, and retention had the highest impact). As a result, HR services, tools, and programs should be funded, staffed, and used based on their effectiveness and their business impact.
HR staff and budget resources should also be allocated to ensure that the most money and the best HR talent are allocated to areas where they can maximize their impact. Finally, in order to increase HR funding, HR leaders must work with the CFO’s office to quantify in dollars and to more clearly demonstrate the direct impact that great talent management has on business results.
For years I have advocated that HR and talent management can learn a lot from other business functions like quality control, finance, CRM, and supply chain. Talent managers can learn a lot from other industries like entertainment and sports that rely heavily on people but that are more results driven.
Today, I am adding election management as another area where HR leaders can learn many lessons and adapt their successful approaches. If you think that this “parallel benchmarking” approach is a stretch, not only are you mistaken but that narrow view will limit your learning and as a result, it will damage your firm and the HR team that you work with.
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Some fifteen years ago, in the early days of starting up Fast Company magazine, co-founder Alan Webber shared one of his rules of thumb with me: “A good question beats a good answer.” That pithy wisdom sunk in and took hold immediately.
The first thing you notice when you have your ears pricked for questions is that most people (especially businesspeople) are more interested in presenting solutions, making assertions, and sharing their vision. This isn’t surprising. School programs us to focus on producing the right answer, and the job description of a leader for the last century has basically been “the person with all the answers.”
That’s why it’s so refreshing (and instructive) to spend time with people who lead with questions rather than answers. Why? Why does inquiry beat certainty every time? Here are just three reasons:
1. Questions are a powerful antidote to hubris, which inevitably arises in a culture that celebrates mastery, values decisiveness, and reveres the top guy (or gal). Genuine questions unleash humility, curiosity, even vulnerability. That turns out to be a powerful approach to leadership in a world of expanding complexity, immense challenges and intense change. No single individual can possibly have all of the answers. But an open and curious one can attract more perspectives, surface more possibilities, and enlist more help than one closed off by certitude.
As Vineet Nayar, CEO of the $3.5 billion global IT services firm, HCL Technologies, puts it: “The CEO should be the Chief Question Asker, not the final provider of answers.” He keeps a list of twenty questions and makes time to think about them on a regular (almost daily) basis. He’s asking for trouble when he wonders:
He professes not to have the answers, but one thing is certain: the more disruptive the questions, the greater the chance his organization will create the future — rather than be conquered by it.
2. The best questions are the bedrock of all change and creativity.
Those classics — Why? Why not? What if? — invite possibility rather than doubt. They are fundamentally subversive, disruptive, and playful — and they switch people into the mode required to invent anything new. Even better, anyone can ask these questions (anyone who has ever spent time in the company of a three-year-old understands this). You don’t have to hold a position of authority to ask a powerful question, and the people with the most powerful questions stand to make the most impact.
That was certainly true for Jane Harper, who spent a nearly 30-year career at IBM asking the kinds of questions most people don’t want to touch. In 1999, she dared to ask: “Why would really great people — the best technical and managerial talent in the world — want to come work at IBM?” In an era when every young, gifted programmer, engineer, or entrepreneur’s first instinct was to write their own business plan or head to a fast-growing startup, life as a foot soldier in Big Blue’s global army was a pretty hard sell. Harper understood that great people want to work on exciting, high-impact projects, with a small team, in a dynamic setting. So she created exactly that in a Cambridge, Massachusetts lab and launched a wholly original and powerfully effective internship program called Extreme Blue, which has since grown into a thriving platform for innovation and talent development.
3. Asking good questions trades control for contribution. A question asked and explored as a group (whether that group is a team, a company, or a community) generates more solidarity, engagement, and progress than a proclamation from on high. Spend any amount of time with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, whose organization is celebrated for exuding a powerful sense of purpose and passion from every corner, and you’ll hear him repeatedly refer to “the questions we ask ourselves.”
Questions create conversations — and those conversations are how thriving groups think up their future together and stay true to their core. One enduring and powerful question at the heart of Zappos is: “How do we sustain this culture as we grow? How do we stay true to the core and inspire ever more creativity and energy to tackle the future?” That question is actively explored across the organization and even results in a book — the annual Culture Book — which features the “true feelings, thoughts, and opinions of the employees,” who view themselves as vital custodians of that culture.
Of course, there is no one right question, but one of the most productive questions when it comes to engendering a deeply-felt sense of purpose and inspiring the kind of passion that fuels organizations to do extraordinary things is: “What ideas are we fighting for? What do we stand for (and what are we against)? Why does what we do matter?”
The inevitable corollary to that question is: “Are you really who you say you are?” Unless you’re willing to hold a brutally honest and transparent conversation (both inside the organization and beyond) about where you’re living up to your ideas and ideals and where you’re falling down, those values will become meaningless words on the wall.
What’s your question? Share it here and join the Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge to share your stories, ideas, and practices about what it takes to make our organizations more inspiring, open and free.
Polly LaBarre is editorial director of the Management Innovation Exchange
by Jessica Miller-Merrell
Aside from the actual job offer itself, interviewing a candidate is the single most important part of the recruitment. While sourcing and posting your online job ad is never easy, the interview process can be long, intense, and complicated. The interview relies on two people, typically the hiring manager and the job seeker to meet, engage, share, and develop a relationship with one another. Not every job seeker that meshes well with the interviewer is the ideal candidate for the position. Sometimes personal preferences, interests, and commonalities get in the way of a great hire.
Candidates are also becoming increasingly aware of how to game the hiring and recruitment process being coached with the right things to say and keyword stuffing their resume. Unfortunately, job seekers are being coaxed and encouraged to lie and fake their way to a promotion or new job opportunity. In my experience, job seekers most often exhibit tells like a poker play does with an interview. Here are three universal interview tells recruiters can use as part of their interview evaluation process to sniff out the best and most qualified candidates for the job:
Every aspect of the interview and selection process is a negotiation. Job seekers want to learn about the job openings and organization while also marketing themselves for the job. Companies are doing the very same thing. It’s the dance we do to learn, evaluate, and understand if the job or job seeker is right for you or you are right for them. It’s the subtle and often non-verbal cues and patterns that really give away our true intentions and/or facts about who we really are. Recruiting and hiring managers can look for these interview tells during the candidate selection process and throughout their career as they interact with team members, peers, employees, bosses, clients, and more.
Schedule Interviews that your Colleagues think will be Beneficial Interviews. SmartRecruiters has been known to turn all employees into Smart Recruiters.
Furnishing new evidence of slower growth in health costs, a new survey by consulting firm Mercer said Wednesday that employers spent 4.1 percent more on health benefits this year than in 2011. It was the smallest increase in 15 years.
One reason, but probably not the only one: Employers shifted costs to workers through higher deductibles.
Nearly 60 percent of very large employers (more than 20,000 workers) offer high-deductible, “consumer-directed” health plans, according to Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. The portion of all employers offering consumer-directed plans rose from 17 percent last year to 22 percent in 2012, Mercer said.
Deductibles of thousands of dollars for consumer plans decrease premium costs for employers and workers but raise out-of-pocket expenses. High-deductible coverage is supposed to prompt patients to seek less-expensive care, but critics say consumers don’t have the knowledge or tools to shop for surgery the way they buy cantaloupes and shampoo. A growing number of companies offer such plans as their only coverage.
Total enrollment in consumer plans rose from 13 percent to 16 percent of covered employees. If the industry hasn’t already reached the tipping point for such coverage, “at this rate of growth it’s coming soon,” said Sharon Cunninghis, Mercer’s U.S. business leader for health and benefits.
The survey was conducted from July into September and included government and private employers, of whom 2,809 supplied data.
The portion of employers offering health plans rose for the first time in several years, Mercer said, perhaps because cost increases have moderated. Employer plan expenses averaged $10,558 per employee this year. The 4.1 percent increase for 2012 was substantially smaller than 2011′s rise of 6.1 percent and way down from the double-digit growth of the early 2000s.
Economists continue to debate the reasons behind slower medical inflation, which has roughly coincided with poor economic performance beginning in 2008. One factor is that tight budgets and high unemployment have kept consumers from getting care they otherwise would seek, many believe.
There has also been a proliferation of accountable care organizations and similar arrangements that reward caregivers for efficiency and quality. But high-deductible plans, which induce even people with insurance to think twice about seeing a doctor, are also seen as playing a role.
In another Mercer finding, which could dismay supporters of the Affordable Care Act, the portion of small employers reporting they are “likely” or “very likely” to cancel health plans in the next five years rose from 19 percent to 22 percent.
Of all employers, small companies are seen as most likely to terminate coverage and leave workers to find insurance on state health exchanges once they open in 2014. The slice of employers with more than 5,000 workers reporting they would probably shut down plans rose from 4 percent to 5 percent. Among all large employers (those with 500 or more workers), however, the portion likely to drop plans fell from 9 to 7 percent.
This article is from kaiserhealthnews.org and published with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Jay Hancock is a senior correspondent for jhancock.
I’m fortunate to know a number of remarkably successful people. I’ve described how these people share a set of specific perspectives and beliefs.
They also share a number of habits:
1. They don’t create back-up plans.
Back-up plans can help you sleep easier at night. Back-up plans can also create an easy out when times get tough.
You’ll work a lot harder and a lot longer if your primary plan simply has to work because there is no other option. Total commitment–without a safety net–will spur you to work harder than you ever imagined possible.
If somehow the worst does happen (and the “worst” is never as bad as you think) trust that you will find a way to rebound. As long as you keep working hard and keep learning from your mistakes, you always will.
2. They do the work…
You can be good with a little effort. You can be really good with a little more effort.
But you can’t be great–at anything–unless you put in an incredible amount of focused effort.
Scratch the surface of any person with rare skills and you’ll find a person who has put thousands of hours of effort into developing those skills.
There are no shortcuts. There are no overnight successes. Everyone has heard about the 10,000 hours principle but no one follows it… except remarkably successful people.
So start doing the work now. Time is wasting.
3. …and they work a lot more.
Forget the Sheryl Sandberg “I leave every day at 5:30” stories. I’m sure she does. But she’s not you.
Every extremely successful entrepreneur I know (personally) works more hours than the average person–a lot more. They have long lists of things they want to get done. So they have to put in lots of time.
Better yet, they want to put in lots of time.
If you don’t embrace a workload others would consider crazy then your goal doesn’t mean that much to you–or it’s not particularly difficult to achieve. Either way you won’t be remarkably successful.
4. They avoid the crowds.
Conventional wisdom yields conventional results. Joining the crowd–no matter how trendy the crowd or “hot” the opportunity–is a recipe for mediocrity.
Remarkably successful people habitually do what other people won’t do. They go where others won’t go because there’s a lot less competition and a much greater chance for success.
5. They start at the end…
Average success is often based on setting average goals.
Decide what you really want: to be the best, the fastest, the cheapest, the biggest, whatever. Aim for the ultimate. Decide where you want to end up. That is your goal.
Then you can work backwards and lay out every step along the way.
Never start small where goals are concerned. You’ll make better decisions–and find it much easier to work a lot harder–when your ultimate goal is ultimate success.
6. … and they don’t stop there.
Achieving a goal–no matter how huge–isn’t the finish line for highly successful people. Achieving one huge goal just creates a launching pad for achieving another huge goal.
Maybe you want to create a $100 million business; once you do you can leverage your contacts and influence to create a charitable foundation for a cause you believe in. Then your business and humanitarian success can create a platform for speaking, writing, and thought leadership. Then…
The process of becoming remarkably successful in one field will give you the skills and network to be remarkably successful in many other fields.
Remarkably successful people don’t try to win just one race. They expect and plan to win a number of subsequent races.
7. They sell.
I once asked a number of business owners and CEOs to name the one skill they felt contributed the most to their success. Each said the ability to sell.
Keep in mind selling isn’t manipulating, pressuring, or cajoling. Selling is explaining the logic and benefits of a decision or position. Selling is convincing other people to work with you. Selling is overcoming objections and roadblocks.
Selling is the foundation of business and personal success: knowing how to negotiate, to deal with “no,” to maintain confidence and self-esteem in the face of rejection, to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, to build long-term relationships…
When you truly believe in your idea, or your company, or yourself then you don’t need to have a huge ego or a huge personality. You don’t need to “sell.”
You just need to communicate.
8. They are never too proud.
To admit they made a mistake. To say they are sorry. To have big dreams. To admit they owe their success to others. To poke fun at themselves. To ask for help.
And to try again.
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden
And they act on those beliefs:
1. Time doesn’t fill me. I fill time.
Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.
Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your “free” time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.
Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.
2. The people around me are the people I chose.
Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.
You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it’s not their fault. It’s your fault. They’re in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you–and you let them remain.
Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.
Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses.
Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.
3. I have never paid my dues.
Dues aren’t paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day. The only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make on a daily basis.
No matter what you’ve done or accomplished in the past, you’re never too good to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work. No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.
Remarkably successful people never feel entitled–except to the fruits of their labor.
4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.
You have “10 years in the Web design business.” Whoopee. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.
I care about what you’ve done: how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)… all that matters is what you’ve done.
Successful people don’t need to describe themselves using hyperbolic adjectives like passionate, innovative, driven, etc. They can just describe, hopefully in a humble way, what they’ve done.
5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me.
Ask people why they have been successful. Their answers will be filled with personal pronouns: I, me, and the sometimes too occasional we.
Ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and instinctively distance themselves, like the kid who says, “My toy got broken…” instead of, “I broke my toy.”
They’ll say the economy tanked. They’ll say the market wasn’t ready. They’ll say their suppliers couldn’t keep up.
They’ll say it was someone or something else.
And by distancing themselves, they don’t learn from their failures.
Occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail. Most of the time, though, it’s you. And that’s okay. Every successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That’s why they’re successful now.
Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.
6. Volunteers always win.
Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more.
That’s great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships–to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do.
Success is based on action. The more you volunteer, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.
Remarkably successful people sprint forward.
7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good.
Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good.
Generating revenue is great.
Anything a customer will pay you a reasonable price to do–as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal–is something you should do. Your customers want you to deliver outside your normal territory? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. They want you to add services you don’t normally include? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. The customer wants you to perform some relatively manual labor and you’re a high-tech shop? Shut up, roll ’em up, do the work, and get paid.
Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business.
Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.
And speaking of customers…
8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.
Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time.
The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it–sometimes down to the last detail.
Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do.
Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.
9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.
Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, “Wait… no one else is here… why am I doing this?” and leave, never to return.
That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.
That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.
Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Don’t just tell employees what to do–show them what to do and work beside them.
Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do–especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Sure, it’s hard.
But that’s what will make you different.
And over time, that’s what will make you incredibly successful.
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden
As if I don’t have enough to do around this time of year, here I go with another challenge. I’m beginning to realize that I like challenges. Maybe it spurs my emotions to stretch and go further than what I think I can do. Whatever the reason, I seem to find myself right in the middle of different types of challenges.
I work a full-time job, live in two different houses (that’s another story for another day), getting ready to participate in an arts and crafts fair coming up soon, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, writing speeches for toastmasters, managing my new website, finish my memoirs, and this @#$*! blog!
Please don’t misunderstand me…I love my blog. It has brought me much joy, writing my thoughts and connecting with so many cool people like you. But, here I go… participating in yet another challenge. It’s the WordPress, November NaBloPoMo challenge. I am supposed to write every day for the entire month. Sounded fun at first…it suddenly just dawned on me that I am BUSY!
Another challenge that I have created for myself? I am attempting to quit drinking diet sodas. I am three days into being completely diet soda free! I have been experiencing a lot of insomnia lately and I want to see if this helps. (also knowing diet soda is not healthy for me.)
So, forgive me if I am rambling. I just had to get a post in before I continue with my long list of “things to do.”
Have a great day everyone!
FYI – Please follow this link to my new website http://sherrylcook.com and subscribe by entering your email to receive weekly newsletters on keeping your mind, body and spirit happy and healthy!
Not long ago, at the W Hotel in New York’s Union Square, a group of dark-suited Acer executives stood cramped together in their suite, showing off the company’s latest notebooks, desktops, tablets, and hybrid PCs. The reason for the occasion? The launch of Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating system, which hardware makers like Acer believe will give them a fighting chance against Apple in the mobile market.
For decades, hardware manufacturers (often called OEMs) have built huge PC businesses on the back of Microsoft, which provided the companies with software. But that model has radically evolved in recent years: Apple, which controls both its hardware and software, was able to advance toward (and dominate) new industry paradigms–music players, smartphones, tablets. OEMs, dependent on third-party software makers like Google and Microsoft, watched helplessly as Apple vaulted forward to become the world’s most valuable company, its iPad alone now selling more units than they do PCs. At the W Hotel, surrounded by gadgets dripping with Apple’s influence–MacBook Air-like products, slate-size devices, touch-screen interfaces–I couldn’t help but ask the execs present whether Acer, with its traditional business model’s reliance on Microsoft, is experiencing the innovator’s dilemma.
“It is, it is,” said Campbell Kan, corporate VP and president of Acer’s global PC operations, in a refreshing display of candor. “It’s true that, in terms of timing, time to market [with Microsoft] was not as good as with Android or with the iPad. This is also a dilemma. Windows has been so successful going back just three or four years ago, before the iPad launched. Now, I think Google and Microsoft have realized [what’s changed]. But it’s never too late.” Asked whether Acer was at an inflection point, Kan responded, “I think you’re right. Consumer behavior is so different–the behavior and usage models have changed.”
Perhaps the honest introspection is one reason for Acer’s intriguing product lineup, at least in notebooks. Of all the other devices I saw at the W Hotel, where OEMs were displaying their portfolios, Acer’s Aspire S7 laptop was the one I found most appealing. Withs its Gorilla Glass-encased exterior, ultrathin industrial design, and a clever hinge that stiffens the screen’s movement the farther it goes back, so it won’t wobble when interacting with the touch interface, the S7 was at least more impressive than the devices I had already seen from HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, and more.
Kan chatted briefly about HP’s attempt to imitate Apple’s vertical model with its 2010 acquisition of Palm, which HP hoped would enable it to control both the hardware and software via Palm’s WebOS operating system. “When HP decided to do WebOS, it decided to do everything in the ecosystem by itself, but the company found out that it’s not easy,” Kan explained. “Building that ecosystem is so difficult. If you don’t spend five to 10 years doing it–I mean, just think about what Google is doing and how Apple is doing–it’s not going to happen soon. With Acer’s strategy, we’re still not going to do the ecosystem by ourselves. It’s been a long successful story for us to work with industry players like Microsoft and Android, and even the Google Chrome team. We still rely on our relationships with them. We still believe that based on what we have learned from those partners that we are able to have a very good alliance with them.”
Michael Birkin, Acer’s chief marketing officer, soon jumped into the fray. “The Apple model has worked brilliantly for Apple, but it’s not a model that’s really going to work for many people,” Birkin said. “The history of people trying to do other things you alluded to–like with HP–when the Googles of this world have tried to do other things, it’s not always been successful. So I think we just want to have a laser focus on what we know we do well. The world is moving in my opinion from the descriptions of PCs, tablets, and smartphones, to the morphing of product ranges to match what consumer and company needs are. We need to be completely cognizant of that dynamic whilst making sure we play to our strengths and not believe we can do it the way Apple has done it. Because I’m not sure anyone else can.”
Added Birkin, “And even then, in the post-Jobs era, let’s wait and see. This year, obviously no problem. Next year, probably the same, but it’s a very very difficult system to maintain. Apple really has got to knock it out of the park every time they come up with something, so I think this whole dynamic has got another twist and turn to make over the next three to four years.”
Still, while certainly risky to venture outside one’s circle of competency, many companies have decided the benefits outweigh the risk. Microsoft and Google, for example, are now dabbling in hardware: Microsoft with its Surface tablet, and Google with its acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Thus Acer and other OEMs are being squeezed from all sides–even their own software partners are becoming their direct competitors.
“Well, it’s very difficult to analyze, and you’ll go nuts trying to figure out whether we are friends or foes,” Birkin said. “At the end of the day, in our opinion, you have to focus on what you can do really well, providing it remains relevant. At the end of the day, we’re working with Microsoft, and obviously they have their own agenda, and we have to have our own agenda. That means we work closely with them, and yes, there are moments when we compete, but in the history of the success of people moving away from their comfort zones, there’s been many more failures than successes.
“I think we just have to make sure we have to get into a world where we can control events as much as we can, rather than events controlling us,” he continued. “Which means we’re not going to play anyone else’s game. We’ll play ours–provided we can come up legendary products and move the market and move with it.”
[Highwire Image: Ljupco Smokovski via Shutterstock]
Very interesting article…
Sometimes it feels like we live in a world of bigger is better. It’s tempting to want to bolster your company or yourself by naming off as many accomplishments as possible. The desire to highlight your success naturally leads you to think about it in concrete terms of how much and how many, but performance management rests on more than a numbers game. Tracking employee performance can be a test of quality, not quantity.
More actually means less when it comes to employee evaluations and performance reviews. A recent series of studies reported in the Harvard Business Review called this the Presenter’s Paradox. The studies discovered that “more is not actually better, if what you are adding is of lesser quality than the rest of your offerings.” The Presenter’s Paradox accounts for this disconnect between presenter and consumer perceptions.
In the study, buyers were willing…
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by Guest Writer, Heather Huhman
While becoming President of the United States isn’t your typical employment situation, even our presidential candidates know their success lies in networking. Although your dream job may not be in the White House (or maybe it is!), even everyday job seekers can take a page out of the presidential candidate playbook when it comes to landing their ideal position.
It’s true: In the presidential race, candidates use some of the same networking tactics that can help even regular ol’ job seekers on their search for employment. That means taking advantage of online resources like email, video, blogs, and social media to tap into the right networks. After all, some say Barack Obama won his first election off the back of social media–he hosted the very first White House Google+ hangout and revolutionized fundraising with the power of the Web. This year, Obama has sent out 600 emails in just the past three months alone, and Mitt Romney’s YouTube channel has already garnered 260 million views.
Job seekers everywhere can tweak these networking tactics and incorporate them into their own job search. The infographic below, compiled by Jackalope Jobs, a Web-based platform that combines search, social networking, and the overall user’s experience to provide relevant job openings, details even more techniques used by presidential candidates.
Have you used any similar techniques in your job search? What are some other networking tactics you’d suggest for everyday job seekers?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.
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