Servant Leadership: Dice


After my recent post on the great things being done by people in our space, I decided this is too important of a topic to not continue.  And my promise to you is I won’t ever pimp out a company that I do any business with unless I tell you.  I’m keeping an eye out for great stories on servant leadership in the HR tech space.  Feel free to send me any stories you have on the topic!

I am partial to good people doing good work.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the team over at Dice and see how they are working to both support and innovate in our space.  This seems like a good time to share a couple of those stories.

First, the work Dice is doing in the HR space is pretty great.  I love Open Web (and I’m not a recruiter, which means mostly I just admire it from afar).  I like any tool that makes life easier, and a system that pulls together data from so many sources to create a full picture of the candidate is just that.  In some of my conference sessions, I reference my favorite Jay Kuhns quote, “We used to recruit like Abe Lincoln did.  We put an add in the Gettysburg Post and hoped someone read it.”  Open Web gets recruiters off of that mindset by giving them a much better look at where to spend their time.  While there is sometimes the belief that job sites are invested in pushing as many links to the page as they can, the Dice team has moved to make it easier to spend time on the high quality candidates to get the best fit.  And I dig that.

More than that, though, I am eternally grateful for the wonderful partner Dice has been in our space.  They have invested a lot of time and effort into supporting the social media space, including sponsorship at big conferences (like SHRM annual) and smaller, more focused events (like TalentNet).  Both segments are important to our space, and the Dice team not only contributes their dollars in support, they show up and work to make the events better.

Personally, I’m also in their debt for their support of our annual No Kid Hungry event, helping us raise thousands of dollars for a great cause.  I know that when it comes time to start planning, anything we can dream up will get the support of Terry Starr and her team, MaryLou Garcia and Cathy Erickson.  They’ve been wonderful partners, and have used their resources to make the world a better place in a way that has very little to do with their services.

I can hear the cynics out there.  Yes, yes, of course they benefit from it, in brand exposure if nothing else.  But there are a ton of companies in our space who do nothing of the sort.  We should be spending our time celebrating those that choose to do, that choose to contribute, that choose to help.  Doing nothing is easy.  Being an innovative company that changes the space and works to support our varied passions?  That’s pretty rare.

Thanks Terry, MaryLou and Cathy.  I can’t tell you and the team how much you are appreciated.

The Best #HRTechConf Ever?


“Somewhere in the world is the world’s worst doctor. And what’s truly terrifying is that someone has an appointment with him tomorrow morning.” – George Carlin, American icon.

Logically, that has to be true.  Not all are created equal, so one of them has to be the worst.

Thinking about this year’s HR Technology Conference, back in the neon mecca of Las Vegas this year, brought me to a similar place.  Of the first fifteen years, not every year has been equal.  The show grows each year, the speaker lineup changes, the venue has shifted.  Plenty of moving parts and improvements means not every year is created equal.  So in this case I wondered, which one is the best?

I’m partial to 2010, my first trip.  If you’ve never been, the palpable air of information and futurism is astounding.  I really can’t say how many sessions I attended (though I recall a couple with stark clarity) as I was reeling from the Expo Hall.  As a practitioner, it was like a dream come true.  Every question had an answer.  Usually more than one.

Need help figuring out how to get your systems to integrate without manual data loads? Check.

Want a way to put your organizational arms around remote workers and make sure they know you value them, even those across the ocean?  Doublecheck.

Payroll management got you down, and you need a new way to track activity to get everyone paid? Mega-check.

Need a case management system to help organize your tribal knowledge and treat your employees like you are paying attention to their needs? MOTHERFLIPPING CHECK ALL OVER THAT.

Astounding for the young and old.  201o was the year I decided going to HR Tech was a great idea.


2011 was pretty great.  My first time at the show in Las Vegas, where the glamor and the glitz seemed, somehow, just right.  I was able to see the way the space evolved in just one year.  The cutting edge ideas had gotten left behind, and we were in a new place already, just twelve months later.  Things that seemed to be made of magic last year became old news, and the mobile world was proven to be the next great frontier.  That was also the first year Paul Smith and I threw together our much loved (if only by us) Swag Video.  Good times to be sure.  Add in the addition of HRevolution as a pre-conference event, and the week was staggeringly awesome.

But the thing I took away that has stayed with me is that the difference from one year to the next was amazing.  2011 was the year I decided going to HR Tech once wasn’t enough.


2012 was my first year attending as a member of a vendor team.  Working with Dovetail Software allowed me to see behind the scenes, to understand just how much effort goes into putting on a show of this magnitude, and how much all those vendors care about making the right impression.  Yes, there are some that pour money into ginormous displays and booths, and they are amazing.  But there are even more vendors that know this is the show when it comes to sharing your passion with the HR community.  This is the place to take your labor of love and show it to the world.  This is the time to put yourself on the line, be willing to brave the crowds of those just trying to grab as many free tchotchkes as possible without making eye contact, all for the opportunity to change the world.  And the world does get changed.

Attendees who have never seen the other side have no idea of the work behind the scenes from the conference team as well.  Anyone who has seen Bill Kutik on stage likely thinks him as stoic and unflappable as the Buckingham Guard.  Those who have tried to grab him in the hallway for a five minute conversation know he is in constant motion, churning through the event and the schedule to make it a grand show.  But even then, we rarely see the work done by the HRE team months in advance and all through the show to keep the trains running, the coffee flowing and the magic spinning.  Never for a moment doubt there are mountains being moved to make every moment valuable for attendees and vendors alike.

And yes, Paul and I reprised the Swag Video.  Great fun had by all.  Year two of HREvolution, cementing it as a ongoing addition.

Seeing all of this was an eye-opener.  2012 was the year I decided I wouldn’t miss HR Tech ever again.


And 2013?  Maybe the best year ever for the show?  We’ll find out.  Why might it be?

More new tech.  More vendors.  More attendees.  The best tech Expo Hall you’re likely to see all year.  Plus, this is Bill Kutik’s swan song.  And if you know anything about Bill, you know that he’s not going out on anything but an Eddie Van Halen level screaming guitar solo high note.  I don’t have any special insight into what’s on tap. Just read the website and you’ll know everything I know.  And that will be enough. And as the incoming arbiter of all things technologically relevant, Steve Boese, prepares to take the con, we get to enjoy the only year of having both of them involved in putting it together.

How could you possibly miss that?

And if it helps, as a friend of the show you get the chance for $500 off the registration price.  Just use the Promo Code LEAN13 (all caps) when you register online to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,895.  But don’t wait too long.  Vegas is the land of cheap flights and a thousand hotels, but they do get filled up.  So get yourself taken care of.

Oh, and leave a comment or drop me a note if you are coming.  If it’s your first time, and you can find me, I’ll buy you coffee.  Seems like the least I can do!

On My Way Back Home -> HR Tech, 2011

The 2010 HR Technology Conference in Chicago was, for me, nothing short of life changing.  And I don’t mean that in the hyperbolic “that was the best latte ever!” way.  I’m using “life changing” in the literal sense.  How?  Gosh, I’m glad you asked.  As we get closer to the 2011 HR Technology Conference (in Las Vegas, no less), here are the ways you can expect this year’s show to impact you:


The networking opportunities at this thing are ridiculously good.  There may be an initial thought that the show is populated with all the HRIS geeks from across the country.  Not so, my friends!  The way the space has evolved, you get a much larger cross section of attendees.  You’ll see those geeks, yes, plus vendors, pundits and celebrity impersonators.  But there are a few other groups you may not have thought about.

  • HR Executives, trying to understand what is out there and how far behind they really are.
  • Trench HR, trying to improve their own skill set.
  • Social media junkies and voices that will be sharing what they see and what it means.  Get to know them now, so that you can get highlights of the sessions you aren’t able to attend.
  • HR tech celebrities.  OK, that may sound silly.  But once you spend a little time in the space, you will quickly realize that the title rests easily on the heads of those like keynoters Jason Averbook, Naomi Lee Bloom, Jim Holincheck, John Boudreau and Bill Kutik.  Best yet, they are actual people who are more than happy to share what they know, be it in session or in the hallway.  Add to that the Q&A sessions with Lisa Rowan, Josh Bersin and Paul Hamerman, and you have an unparallelled opportunity to ask questions to the people who know the answers.

Thought Process

Seeing the new technology that was either delivered or close to being delivered last year was an eye opening experience.  Too often, we develop technology myopia, limiting our sight to the tools in front of us.  We forget how many smart people are working to build really cool applications to make HR, and therefor your business, run smoother.

I’ve spoken at times about the two key roles of HR, as I see them, being talent management and keeping people out of jail.  I think most HR professionals would agree, though, that we get distracted with paperwork, filing, administrative tasks and a host of other time stealing minutiae.    Seeing the inroads new technology has made in eliminating those demands will both lift your spirits and give you hope for the future.  OK, that may be a bit strong, but that’s what it did for me.  Seriously.

World View

It is easy as an HR professional to forget about the reach of our community.  Attending HR Tech 2010 opened up a whole world outside of my office walls.  I’m not an attendee of the SHRM national conference, so this was the first time I had the chance to spend a couple of days trading stories and ideas with other like minded professionals.

As I mentioned in a recent video post, none of us are breaking new ground on a regular basis.  There is always someone to learn from, someone’s experience to leverage, so crumb of wisdom we can distill from others, if only we take the time to seek it out.  Those people will be in Las Vegas in October.  I can’t tell you how many questions I was able to answer just by asking the people I met last year.  It made a huge, tangible impact on my work this year.  I can’t wait to see what I learn this time around.

Finally, there is the issue of inspiration.  I get geeked up being around passionate people seeing and doing things that they love.  And I’ve yet to find a better collection for those positive vibes than this conference.  Just as a point of reference, here is my wrap up post from last year.  I’m proud to say I worked on all of these targets and made significant progress, thanks in large part to the people I met in Chicago.

One last thing…

My gift to you.  Well, OK, Bill Kutik’s gift to me to give to you.

Getting development dollars in your budget can be tough.  Once you have them, you want to make them go as far as you can.  So while HR Tech is, in my humble opinion, worth every penny, you don’t have to pay all of them.

As a friend of the show, you can help yourself to a pretty significant discount.  Just use the Promotion Code LEAN11 (all caps) when you register online to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,795. The discount expires September 19, so don’t dally, OK?

There is a great brochure you can download if you want to know more about the show.  Or just take my word for it and go resister with that shiny new discount.  I hope to see you there!


Xtreme HR: Innovation, PT 3

Third and final day of this series from Chris Ponder.  You can part one here and part two here.  Today’s question:

  • Based on your definition of innovation with Question 1 and how you are innovating yourself with Question 2, how can you assist others with innovating themselves – their thinking, career, goals, etc.?
  • What advice can you provide others in innovating themselves, personally or professionally? What is required to be successful at transforming?

Sharing Innovation

The best way I know how to share what I’ve done is right here on the blog.  I’ve written quite a bit about the challenges we have encountered, the frustrations that come with working through obstacles and objections, and the tremendous upside that is available to those who can overcome those things.

Additionally, I am spending time speaking at conferences and sharing what I know about technology and Lean tools.  I’ve long said that there is plenty in HR that can be improved, and we don’t need a lot of “creative problem finding” in the profession right now.  “Creative problem solving,” though, is invaluable, and that’s what I try to focus on.  If I can share what I know and help out some of my HR brethren to be more successful in their careers,  I call that time well spent.

Driving Transformations

Without question, the most important thing is to know what “success” means to you and your stakeholders.  Is it a 5% reduction in cost?  Doubling the number of employees you can support?  Taking six software packages offline?  Filling all your requisitions in less than 30 days?  Whatever it is, know before you start.  Get a clear goal, and focus on it.  Hold to your scope, hold to your target, and hold to your ideals.

If you can do that, you’ll have a much better chance of being successful.

HR Technology Doesn’t Matter To Me

Shouldn’t matter to you either.

Now I know this is an odd thing to hear from someone who just gushed about the great HR Tech conference, and who has more than just a little geek in him.  But I believe there is a very simple order of operation when it comes to developing the HR practice.

People.  Process.  Technology.

In that order, and in that order of importance.

You cannot build your technology strategy until you know the process you are trying to support and improve.  And you can’t effectively implement or improve your processes until you understand the needs of the people who will be using them.

That said, there is a fine line that has to be navigated between understanding your audience and being a slave to their whims.  Vague feelings of concern or the ever present scope creep are your enemy.  You will need to pull out the stick and make command decisions on occasion.  But the technology itself shouldn’t be the driver.

Once you know what your people need, and what the process needs, choosing your technology answer should be relatively easy.  Don’t underestimate it, but don’t be afraid of it, either.

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