Swag Video for #KSSHRM12!

Get your swag on, with guest stars Kristi Jones and Bryan Wempen!


Penn State, Blame and the NCAA – Updated

I wasn’t sure I was going to write about this, but I guess I am.  Wish I didn’t feel the need, or that there was anything to write about.  But there you go.  I’m not going to recount the details at any level.  That’s been done plenty in other places.

I have been fascinated by this story.  Not by the crimes, the terrible failures of leaders, the men who stood by and did nothing in exactly the situation where any person with a shred of compassion would have taken marked action.  Those things are tragic, but I think speak more to social inertia and to the incredible failure of a system that is supposedly designed to protect our youth. I don’t want to hear more of that than I already have.

I am, though, fascinated by the reaction of those uninvolved, or at least those whose involvement goes not further than their connection with the school, the football program, the coach, or to sports in general.  People who have made their voice heard on talk radio shows, ESPN, local newspapers and, of course, the Interwebs.  And far, far too many have spoken up in defense of Joe Paterno.  (For the record, I define too many, in this case, as any number greater than zero.)

Much of the bickering is over at whose feet would should lay the blame for this tragedy.  Some, quite understandably, demand the blame belongs to the perpetrator.  No argument here.  There’s not a punishment great enough.  But many of those people defend the coach, as he reported what he heard through “proper channels.”  The administration handed it to the police.  The police investigated and decided nothing need be done.  Time marched on, as did the string of events and victims.  The system failed.  Which of the people should take the blame?

Here’s the thing.  There’s no need to point fingers in the chain of command.  Every last one of these men are culpable.  Those who are concerned about the “legend” of JoePa are in arms that he was fired over the phone.  Stay tuned.  It’s not out of the question that a prosecutor decides to go ballistic on this case and file charges against everyone who knew anything.  And I have to admit, I’d be just fine with that.  If you knew something, anything, and stood idly by, that in my mind makes you part of what happened.

There’s another aspect that I’m waiting to hear, and that’s the NCAA response.  On the same day that Paterno was fired, ESPN ran this story that Ohio State (sorry, THE Ohio State) “will face a ‘failure to monitor’ charge in addition to more allegations of rules violations by its troubled football program.”  That big deal about players getting free tattoos seems a little silly now, right?  Are you sure that “failure to monitor” note wasn’t intended for someone a little further east?

The NCAA is ready to step in whenever revenue is threatened or there is a perceived inequity in player treatment.  Except Cam Newton, of course.  How could they consider standing idle in this case?  It may be that they are waiting for the facts to come out, then plan to step in.  I hope that’s the case.  If not, it will be as great a failure as they have ever had.  They have handed out their “death penalty” to programs for recruiting and eligibility violations.  They take the team off the field, cancel scholarships, take away bowl and television appearances.

If you want to make sure schools, not to mention anyone who works for or with those schools in the capacity of watching over youths who come their way, take this to heart, you need to make a statement.  A bold one.

Take away the Penn State football program. 

I don’t mean a few scholarships.  I don’t mean their bowl rights.  I don’t mean their wins.  I mean the whole thing.  Shut it down.  Shut it down tomorrow.  Tell the world that there is a price to be paid by anyone who is in any way connected to this kind of crime.  There will be no more cover ups or hush money.  There will be a much higher standard applied going forward.  And it would be voluntary.  But it can only be driven home with a sledgehammer.  When you are done, stand aside and let them throw the bunch of them, Sandusky, Paterno, McQueary, Schultz, Curley, and anyone else involved, in jail. They each should bear the responsibility of what they have wrought.

UPDATE – 7/13/12

So the University Trustees went out and hired Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, headed by Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI.  Their role was to come in, shine some lights in corners, ask some questions, and do a bunch of what’s-all-this-ing about the place.  Surely that will make things a bit more clear, right?


The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims. As the Grand Jury similarly noted in its presentment, there was no “attempt to investigate, to identify Victim 2, or to protect that child or any others from similar conduct except as related to preventing its re-occurrence on University property.

Four of the most powerful people at the Pennsylvania State University – President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno -failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.  These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities.  They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s vitimes by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.  Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity, of what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001.

There is little left to say at this point.  You can read the whole Freeh report here, if you’ve the stomach for it.

So where do we go next?  I’m still of the opinion Penn State no longer deserves athletic programs.  Yes, you will punish some who weren’t part of this, but as I said above, that’s the only way to be sure we ALL play a part in preventing this from happening again.

I’m beginning to be swayed, though, that perhaps the institution itself should be eradicated.  No more Penn State.  Done.  Won’t happen, of course, but maybe there is some justice in dismantling the institution altogether.  My hesitation there is that, by all accounts, this had nothing to do with the environment in the academic world.  Just the athletic program.  Then again, if the University president was part of the cover up, maybe I’m wrong on that one.

I think it is fair to say, though, that there isn’t much that could be done that would heal the wounds these “men” have inflicted, either by their direct action or their direct inaction.  No fate is harsh enough that we, as a society, could dole out.  The punishment should be less about retribution and more about sending the message that everyone plays a role in protecting our children.

As to Sandusky, McQueary, Curley, Spanier and Schultz, I can only assume Paterno has arranged for a table for six in Hell.


#SHRM12 Swag, Hockey, and Making a Difference

I’d been looking forward to the SHRM 2012 Conference for months by the time Atlanta finally rolle around.  It did not disappoint, to say the least. With a few days having passed, I’m getting messages from numerous channels demanding to know when the swag video will be posted.  Well, wait no more.  This time around, we have a very special event tied to our swag video.  I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it moves you to action.


**Quick  note: For auction information, please visit the SHRMBuzz Site!


There it is.  Not as silly as some in the past, and I promise we will be sillier in the future.  For now, please take a moment to visit the SHRM Buzz site to bid on the sticks or the Atlanta Mission to help us make a difference directly.  Or both! Special thanks to Josh Rock for being my partner on this and moving mountains for the cause, to Shauna Moerke for manning the camera, to Dovetail Software for being a great partner and sponsor, and to Curtis Midkiff for putting up with our schemes, not to mention joining in.

SHRM, Hockey and Helping

We are within a week of SHRM12, the biggest event for most HR practitioners each year. Whether they make it to Atlanta this year or not, thousands will be watching the stream from the media team for the highlights of great keynoters like Tom Brokaw, Condoleezza Rice and Malcolm Gladwell. On top of that, a ton of great content is expected from concurrent sessions and a legion of exhibitors are waiting to tell us about their products and services in the Expo hall. What could be better?

How about seeing all that and making a difference at the same time?

HR tends to draw those that give of themselves.  Whether it is being the friendly shoulder in the workplace, the trusted confidant of the manager who isn’t sure of themselves, the voice of reason that speaks for all of the employees in a company, or the one wiling to slog through pages of legal briefs to keep executives out of jail, we are givers.  And when the chance came to help out those in Atlanta who really need it, we couldn’t pass it up.  So the crew found a way to make something out of a lazy Sunday afternoon, and are proud to have the chance to do something special.

This year will see a new event added to the schedule, hopefully one that will be repeated in the future. On Sunday afternoon, after we visit the Expo Hall Grand Opening,  Atlanta will be the host of the first #SHRM12Street Hockey game. (OK, we won’t be in the street, but you get the idea.).

Several #SHRM12 bloggers will meet in what is sure to be an entertaining event. But we’ve taken the opportunity to do more than just make a spectacle of ourselves and each other.

With the support of Dovetail Software, we are playing to raise awareness and money for the Atlanta Mission, which provides emergency shelter, residential discipleship, job attainment, and transitional housing to more than 950 homeless men, women and children daily. Our hope is that we can gather a crowd and donations to help make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Dovetail has already committed $500 to get the ball rolling. In addition, CEO Stephen Lynn has offered to match the next $500 as well. We’d love to blow past that number, but will need help getting there.

So please drop by on Sunday. Take pictures.  Take video.  Watch us flail about, or grab a stick and join in. And please drop a little in the till to help out others.  Jingling is fine, folding is better.  Everyone is welcome to be part of making a difference!  Please sign up here to let us know if you can make it!


LeanHR is Live Tonight with TalentNet!

In case you missed it, I’ll be visiting with the TalentNet crew tonight to talk about social media, recruiting and leveraging best practices in HR.

Join us on Tuesday, May 15th at 4p PT | 6p CT | 7p ET as I join the #TalentNet crew (Matt Charney, Crystal Miller, Craig Fisher, and Marianthe Verver) to talk about how processes aren’t evil & can, in fact, make #SocialHR & Recruiting BETTER.

Hope to see you there!

OK and LA SHRM Reflections

I was privileged to appear at both of these state events in the last week. In Oklahoma, I was asked to lead a two day workshop on Six Sigma for HR. We had great fun, I think, despite the expectation many of the attendees expressed later in the program. No, it’s not always a glamorous topic. But with an open mind and a little bit of energy, you make make anything palatable, right?

Louisiana was a different role and a different challenge. I served as master of ceremonies, as well as presenting on my very favorite topic, Lean HR. New Orleans requires you to be on point at all times, as there are may be those in the audience who sampled the nightlife and are a bit sluggish at times. While I honestly didn’t encounter much of that (Louisianians are a hearty bunch, I imagine), it is always in your mind.

in the end, the challenge for the speaker is the same. Overcome preconceived notions, both of the audience and your own, and focus to deliver a great experience. Not much different than everyday life in HR, I suppose. You go into each experience, each challenge with your eyes open and do your best to deliver a great performance. And, if you are lucky, you’ll be rewarded with engaged listeners/coworkers/employees.

Both stops delivered more than I expected in quality, kindness, attentiveness and feedback. I’m proud to have worked with them, and would return in a heartbeat.

LASHRM 2012 Swag Blog!

It’s here, it’s hip, it’s new and it’s now!  Swag blog for the fantastic LASHRM 2012 State Conference.  Special guests (in order of appearance): Shauna Moerke, Buzz Rooney, Craig Fisher, Chris Ponder, Bill Boorman and Jason Lauritsen!

Why the WSJ is Dead Wrong About Moneyball

No offense intended to anyone involved in its production or the Wall Street Journal, but this article from Joseph Walker is at best off target and at worst dead wrong.  Here’s a taste…

“The human resources department is known for being touchy-feely, but in the age of big data, it’s becoming a bit more cold and analytical. From figuring out what schools to recruit from to what employees should be offered flexible work arrangements, data analytics are helping HR professionals make more informed decisions.”

That’s only a little, but it’s a good sample.  Click the link above for the rest, then come back.  I’ll wait.

(Full disclosure: I read the book when it first came out and loved it.  I was lukewarm on the movie because of how much was left out, as well as the fact that the focus changed dramatically from the book.  And I’ve played roto baseball for 20 years or so.  And I’m a huge dork.  Glad we got that out of the way.)

OK, welcome back.  Now here’s the thing.  Neither the movie nor the book is about statistical analysis.  At it’s core, it is about a team short on resources that has to find a new way to win the war on talent.  Yes, the Scott Hatteberg story is a nice one.  I don’t recall the movie showing anyone yelling “picking machine!” at him during spring training (as they did in real life…and the book), but still nice.  David Justice did have a middling season for the A’s.  The movie did, however, leave out the fact that those same A’s had three Cy Young contending starting pitchers on the squad that year (Hudson, Zito and Mulder) and that they were the reason the team won most of their games.

The article is, I’m guessing, referencing the movie, not the book.  But that’s ok.  It’s still off target.  As a practitioner, I’m a little offended by Walker’s insinuation that HR is just now starting to get hip to analytics.  I know plenty of smart HR folks that have been slicing and dicing numbers for years.  But that’s not the point, either.

The key to the “Moneyball” approach isn’t just running numbers.  It’s about finding hidden value that no one else is going after and capturing it for yourself.  Back to Hatteberg.  It wasn’t just that Billy Beane saw his OBP (On Base Percentage).  Anyone could see that.  The point was that no one else thought OBP was all that important.  That’s what made Hatteberg valuable.  Had it just been a matter of the statistics, big teams would have outbid Oakland.

The book also delves into the scouting and minor league management of the Oakland farm system.  The same principles are applied.  No, they haven’t worked out every time.  Jeremy Brown (the hitter shown in the last few minutes of the film, but a major discussion point in the book) still isn’t major league talent.  But that’s not the point.  The point is he was undervalued, and they went after him.  The statistics only support that strategy.  That’s the heart of Moneyball.

If HR were to truly adapt the Moneyball approach, here are the kinds of things you would see:

  • Candidates who are, on paper, under-qualified for a role are interviewed and hired because despite not having the pedigree, they have demonstrated the right attitude and aptitude to become long term assets.
  • Talent is sourced from a number of innovative sources that are known to produce good people and good workers.  An example I’ve seen in real life is an organization that made a huge push to recruit in a specific local ethnic group.  The eastern Europeans they went after were smart, capable and appreciative of an opportunity.  This group produced top performers, including their Employee of the Year.  Other hires were tough to keep around for more than a couple of years.
  • Employees are reviewed not on how well they’ve done on their current role, but instead have their performance broken down into key skills.  Those skills are then translated into other roles they would be likely to handle successfully, and they are deployed in a way that maximizes their value to the organization.  Like Hatteberg moving from catcher to first base.

That’s what Moneyball is about.  New ways to source talent, new ways to use talent, new ways to get the most from your resources. The statistics make it go, but they are enablers, not the focus of the approach.



Sage Advice

What Are These, Cobwebs?

Geez, there’s been a whole lot of nothing in here, huh?  Sorry about that.  I’ll endeavor to do better.

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