Monday, September 15, 2008

Talent Managment vs Talent Development: Human Capital or Human Cattle?

Full disclosure: I used to LOVE the idea of talent management. In fact, I've designed systems that do just that. The question is, do we want to treat employees as cattle by growing them in a controlled environment, making all the decisions for them and never truly encourging them to reach for more or is there a different way?

The basic idea of Talent Management(TM) is to quantify and automate the talent pool in an organization. By and large, TM is meant to inventory your "Human Capital"(HC) and improve the rate of return by "investing" in learning, goal planning and training. This is the first in a multi-part series designed to showcase the value of a Talent Development approach vs. a Talent Management approach to people.

To set a baseline, traditional TM for a typical organization might look like this.

  1. Assign competencies to people describing their desired skill sets and behaviors

  2. Evaluate each person against their assigned skills and behaviors (read, performance review)

  3. Identify Gaps where improvement can be made

  4. Assign some behavior or skill modifying remedy. (i.e, training)

  5. Rinse and Repeat as necessary. (Usually annually)

This practice often also involves goal setting and goal management as well, following much the same process, though, often times individuals will both be assigned and self-design their goals.

Over time, an organization can use the information gathered here to fire, hire and promote individuals, plan successions and career paths and determine a model for compensation, or at least that's the thought. The truth is many implementations fail, for reasons such as; time to implement, cost, and most often, poor adoption.

Over all though, the idea and core premise is sound but where are the people in this process? Is this really the best approach for identifying and improving talent?
Perhaps we need to reevaluate our process? Consider the difference between management and development. Perhaps best defined as a contrast between control and growth. Ironically, the goal of good management is growth, however, often times, our desire for control hampers change, thereby impeding growth.

Giving up some control however, can yield unexpected results and tremendous growth.

Consider these scenarios:

You're a director: Annually, one of your managers reviews Tom, you don't know Tom, aside from what he looks like, but you hear he's a solid performer. Year after year, you approve his review of "meets expectations", sign off on his raise and life goes on. Tom continues on doing whatever it is he does.

Enter, crowdsourcing.

Rather than a review, you beginning observing trends in your workplace community. Your employees are constantly interacting with one another online leaving a data trail for you to follow. To your surprise, Tom, that average employee you knew little about, is actually an internal super-connector. His peers rank his suggestions, comments and content as superior and invaluable. On top of that, apparently, he serves as an unofficial conduit, between your department and marketing, fielding most questions about your product! That's a far cry from the Tom you knew as "meets expectations". Shouldn't his manager have known and identified him as a top-performer?

That is one example of a startling discovery you could find by crowd sourcing your Talent Management. Here are some of the hard benefits:

  • Uncover hidden talent, rising stars, and filter out poor performers

  • Assess and catalog talent pools by using a job-folksonomoy. (More on that later)

  • Discover blocking factors (like Tom's manager who likely knew but felt threatened by Tom.)

  • Save time and money by removing or supplementing a heavy TM process.

  • Provide Just In Time learning by giving employees access to content and experts as needed.

As I mentioned, I'll continue building a case for Talent Development > Talent Management in the near future. Check back soon!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Social Lesson Planning K - 12

So, as my organization and I continue to pioneer the social learning world I have begun reaching out via, no other than, social networks to ascertain the impact of social learning in the real world.

Recently, I have begun thinking about social learning in the class room. No, not the corporate class room or even high school. I'm talking about the elementary class room.

My wife is a teacher. She teaches 2nd grade and has for nearly 5 years. At the end of last year, the district was asking teachers to incorporate more social technology in the class room. In theory, this is a good idea, even second graders can use a forum/message board these days. The objective was to have the kids ask questions to one another with in the classroom. They decided on using a wiki for this. Probably not the most appropriate use of the tool but it did suffice.

Either way, that got me to thinking about teaching, learning and social media in our K-12 sytem. I was watching Kevin Kelly talk about the next 5000 days of the web and how we have moved from connecting web pages to other web pages to connecting data to other data.

Now, this seems like an obvious change, but it got me to thinking about its impacts on K-12 learning. My wife and her small team of 2nd grade teachers share their lesson plans (all created using the Learning Focus Methodology) amongst one another. This is good! Sharing, standardization and reuse are all tenants of Web 2.0 (and consequently Learning 2.0).

So now the What If.

What if, we didn't just provide a shared drive for the district to share lesson plans (in a semi-haphazard way as it were), but we provided a social content management system where teachers could upload plans from around the world on given topics, discuss them and use pieces and parts from each to create the plan they want to use.

Hard Benefits:

  1. Enhanced education quality - by allowing discussion, people can communicate and work out small details, share best practice etc.

  2. Time Savings - by allowing formalized reuse, teachers will save time and therefor have lower stress levels and the district less turn over.

  3. Money - yes, in all likelihood, this will save districts money! How? They constantly buy new material year after year but if you let teachers find and share what works, they may not have to do that as frequently

I'm eager to hear your thoughts on this.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The future of Social Media: 5 years out.


Jeremiah Owyang recently posted a question on his Web Strategist blog.

The question was,

"Where you think the future of White Label Social networks is headed over the next 5 years, and why you back up that prediction?"

I happened to post a comment on the blog that I thought it would be good to share with everyone. So, here is my 5 year market prediction for White Label social media as a market.

1. Consolidation: As with any new market, software, more than most, it is rife with competition. Currently this is a good thing for the buyer because competition pushes price down and quality up. It forces people to innovate and go the extra mile. However, as was seen in virtually all software markets, it will plateau and the space will begin to consolidate with mergers, acquisitions and closings. I predict this will begin within 24 months and we are already seeing signs of it.

2. Commoditization: - The market will experience some degree of commoditization as innovation wears thin. Competitors will begin trying to cannibalize the market share of their competitors as well as their feature sets.

3. Segmentation - The market will likely segment as well. As with many products, solutions will begin to specialize and cater to different verticals such as health care, B 2 C and media. We are already seeing signs of this in the market today, but right now it is safer to be all things to all people. Within 18 months many solutions will begin to specialize to provide solutions to a niche space.

4. Innovation: Of course, the space will begin to evolve to a great degree as has occurred in all software spaces. For Social Media, I believe this will likely focus on incorporating Web 3.0, or semantic web technologies. As users of social media begin to create exponentially larger sets of data, finding the right answers to questions without a painstaking search will become absolutely critical. Semantic web and advanced search technologies will likely be the answer to this problem.

If nothing else I hope that this is somewhat interesting.

Survery: LearningTown


Just as an FYI I posted an interested survey that is currently "pending" for Elliot Masie's LearningTown.

Give me some thoughts about it. Currently the staff at the Masie center is reviewing it, hopefully it will get posted out on the community. We the the potential to reach over 4,000 learning professionals.



The Global Talent Market is facing a shortage that will only increase over in the next 5 – 10 years.

1) Agree Strongly

2) Agree

3) Neither Agree Nor Disagree

4) Disagree

5) Disagree Strongly

2. My organization has implemented a companywide Talent Management and/or Succession Planning process.

1) Agree Strongly

2) Agree

3) Neither Agree Nor Disagree

4) Disagree

5) Disagree Strongly

3. For my organization, an aging or retiring workforce is or will be a problem in the next 5 years.

1) Agree Strongly

2) Agree

3) Neither Agree Nor Disagree

4) Disagree

5) Disagree Strongly

4. My organization has begun researching Social Learning / Networking to address Talent Management / Succession Planning challenges.

1) Agree Strongly

2) Agree

3) Neither Agree Nor Disagree

4) Disagree

5) Disagree Strongly

Ping me with your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Polling the Electorate: What would you ask?


I was "adopted" if you will, as a mayor. In essence, I'll be working with a few other colleagues in helping the Masie sponsored community thrive.

That said, we mayors have our first task cut out for us. We are to develop a survey to provide to our prescribed group. Mine of course, being social networking / NextGen learning. So, in light of that, I thought I might ask my blog readers what survey questions they would enjoy asking those people in the NextGen / Social Learning world.

These can really be anything from: "where do you see social learning heading in the next 18 months?" to; On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being disagree strongly and 5 being agree strongly, social networking / social learning is important to my organization's goals in the next 12 - 18 months.

Leave your favorite question or questions in the comments below!

Thanks for your help!

- Matt

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Masie Learning Systems & AG08 Re-Cap

I've finally returned home from an epic journey of trade shows and meetings.

The week has been tumultuous to say the least (despite the travel). The learning space is changing and people are starting to come around to social media. Masie has recently opened his site, for which, consequently , I'm a "mayor" (read facilitator). This site, while generally distributed across all topics of learning has clearly paved the way for the use of social media in learning.

Both the Masie conference and the eLearning Guild's annual gathering showed the rising level of interest in social media for learning. The term Learning 2.0 is becoming viral, at least among vendors and industry analysts. Maise dedicated a full pre-show session to User Content and at least a dozen sessions at AG08 focused on L20.

At this point, a need has been established and some early adopters have taken that leap of faith. I hold firm on my prediction that learning leaders are now exploring the idea of social media in their organizations for a variety of business purposes. While few vendors are positioning more than a tool set, several have begun to package solutions to address business needs.

With in 24 months, a growing number of organizations will have adopted solutions ranging from, small group collaboration tools to full blow communities. We will keep exploring the trends as they occur. Please post and reply with any comments!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Live from elearning guild's AG08

Greetings all,

I write you from the Hilton in Walt Disney World which is hosting the e.Learning Guild's annual gathering 2008.

The conference is a-buzz, with new technology and fresh ideas. Learning 2.0, the aforementioned convergence of social media / web 2.0 technology and learning has been a resonating theme for many throughout the conference. There are still rather few providers in the space but some interesting new comers like FlockPod are starting to crop up.

Additionaly, those people whom I've spoken with seem very excited about the way L20 will impact their organizations. I've spoken with people from insurance companies, technology firms, health care and even freight rail and there is one constant theme.

This is big.

No one really has a firm grasp on how they will apply it but with a little guidance and some questions, the big 3 concepts are:
  1. Retiring / Aging Workforce
  2. Connecting to the Gen Y demographic
  3. Harnessing and encouraging informal learning
The general feel seems to be that in the next 18 months the market will solidify on what it is looking for and really begin shopping for L20 technology.

The sessions I've attended have been good but most have been kept at a high level as there are few L20 implementations and fewer case studies. I'll post again tomorrow with the recap of what I've learned.


- Matt

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Twitter and Learning

So its been nigh 2 months since my last post. Enough said.

I have not given up on blogging, but have been overwhelmingly busy more or less implementing the cool stuff we've been talking about for months.

So here is something crazy. Twitter. I'm sure several of you have used it, I do on a regular basis. Though, there are times I question the value of Twitter and what it does for people.

The value of Twitter may not have been fully realized yet though. Besides live Twittering events, and general public-IM, Twitter may have a hidden value to those of us in the learning space.

I was thinking about this this morning and was about to type my idea into our wiki but I though why not socialize this via my, now dusty, blog.

The basic premise of Twitter is to let people know what you are doing, thinking, eating, etc. Essentially for those of you who do not know, Twitter is a tool where you just type in anything in 140 characters or less and its is broadcast out to everyone. People who are specifically subscribed to you in Twitter will see you're message appear in their time line. At which point, you can quickly reply to it if you so choose.... or simply let everyone know that you're having a Coke.

So how does this even remotely apply to learning? Well think about it a second.
  1. Twitter has a number of 3rd party application, ala Snitter, that sit on your desk top and allow you to quickly access Twitter via APIs.
  2. Twitter allows you to subscribe to anyone else on Twitter
  3. Twitter allows you to broadcast yourself to anyone following you
  4. Twitter allows you to "favorite" a Tweet (a twitter post).
Those 4 things make it rather pervasive. So, if you're at your desk and you have just figured out something challenging or have a great little knowledge tidbit you want to share. You can click the window type it out and fire it off. Anyone else finding this valuable can then favorite that little tidbit and access it later!

Clearly it isn't the end all be all solution but hey it could work!

How do you think you could leverage Twitter in your learning organizations?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Push them into it: Forced Participation

Greetings Folks,

So that title is perhaps a bit provocative and maybe just a bit over the top.

The basic premise however, remains sound. A system made to collect; catalog and harness the knowledge of your employees as they move about your organization will not succeed if people do not participate within the system.

Due to data privacy concerns, no matter how intelligent you design the system to capture the data, people will have to opt into it or it could be a serious detraction when attracting fresh talent to the organization. So how do you encourage the use of said system?

I recently began playing with the build-your-own social network platform Ning. I built a whole community surrounding Learning2.0. (you can check it out by going to if you want) but, the point is that, shockingly, no one has joined it!

Seriously though, the reason no one uses it is because no one knows about it. Getting people to use any new system is primarily a marketing exercise. Here is a very common approach to getting people to use anything new. Many times, implementation teams will use a few of these concepts but the best results occur when you use them all.

  • Advertise the system to your employees! Leverage:
    • Email campaigns
    • Brown Bag lunches.
    • Blogs, Discussion Forums.
    • Company Intranet or Portal advertising.
  • It needs to have C-level sponsorship and endorsements
    • CEO should be aware and support it.
    • CLO or COO should be the primary driver behind it.
  • It needs to be tied to their personal income.
    • Set solid metric for expected participation. (3 flagged items per day?)
    • Include it in job specific goals.
    • Set metrics for usage. (read 2 entries a day?)

These methods won’t exactly force them to use it, but it will go a long way in encouraging they do.

As always I encourage your thoughts and comments.

- Matt