Archive for ‘Innovation’

September 5, 2012

Innovation Management


Some of the most innovative companies have sabbaticals as part of their employee development program, or empower employees to work on projects of their own, next to their daily tasks. Could it be that this makes happier co-workers, hence a better, more innovative company?

, former Head of Innovation at Sony Ericsson Mobile, explores in her article posted on Innovation Management,  the reasons why these benefit the way our brain works.

Can an organization be too customer oriented? What are the consequences of letting short term requirements of existing customers cannibalize the exploration of your own an agenda? How can a sense of meaning be reinstalled in disillusioned development organizations? Read Susanna’s latest blog post to find out.

Some time ago I had lunch with a friend. She and her husband had just returned from a short sabbatical. His passion is wine and wine making and when an opportunity to go and work at a winery appeared they grabbed it. When talking about the experience my friend admitted that she had done it mostly for his sake even though she had enjoyed some of it too. That led to us exchanging thoughts about our passions, our interests outside “the musts” with work and family and we were both unsure of what we would pursue. In addition, we both admitted some false comfort in using our spouses interests as an excuse to feel overly responsible for food and family instead of taking the time to find and develop a true hobby. We were both jealous of our spouses though, feeling that a part of us was dissatisfied.

Interestingly enough, I have found similar behavior at some of the companies I work with. Development departments claim to be customer driven and market orientated on one hand and on the other hand they’re frustrated about not creating enough innovation, using all available time to try to catch up an ever growing list of demands of product development and sales, aka customers, even testifying a sense of disillusion amongst co-workers. They say that they are stuck in not having enough resources, wanting to but not knowing how to act differently, knowing that the brainpower is there but is not reflected in the results.

Could it be, I wonder, that they, just as my friend and I also feel some comfort in this? After all, being a victim of circumstances is quite nice. Blame circumstances instead of taking accountability for ones behaviors and decisions. Is it not easier to put oneself into the hands of somebody else, a customer or a partner and let them decide what you should do instead of going into an uncertain and sometimes ambiguous process of exploring what it is that they as an organization or I as a person really want?

How do you know it’s the right ladder if you always have somebody else to decide which to climb?

Research shows that the amount of happiness co-workers experience at work is correlated to creativity and the capability to innovate – the happier the more creative and the better innovation. And as it turns out, one of the two factors (the other one being relationships) that heavily influences the happiness level is results: the feeling of making a difference, of creating meaning. Of going home knowing that a good day of work was done. Stephen Covey (author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) compares being successful (or rather having a career) to climbing a ladder, emphasizing the importance to climbing the right one in order to create meaningful results. So I ask: How do you know it’s the right ladder if you always have somebody else to decide which to climb? If all you do is try to satisfy existing customers and never explore your own ideas.

Short term it may be comforting to have someone else making the decisions for you, but experience tells me that you’re only prolonging the issue of figuring how to make meaning, hoping to avoid dealing with it by using the “somebody else” as a shield of false protection. The price is loosing the sense of meaning since the only thing you do is carry out someone else’s ideas, not your own. No meaning, no happiness. No happiness, no creativity nor innovation. As simple as that.

It is a big mistake to let customer requirements take over at the expense of an agenda of ones own.

You may think that I am pushing things a bit here, but I believe that we as human beings create our organizations, not squares in a Powerpoint presentation. If we are dissatisfied or have lost the sense of doing something meaningful then that will be the state of our organizations as well. I do not argue against customer orientation. But what I see is a deeply unbalanced situation. It is a big mistake to let customer requirements take over at the expense of an agenda of ones own. In many companies the development department is the heart of the innovation activities. It consists of highly skilled engineers with advanced thoughts on where to go in the future and great ideas supporting those thoughts. But if they never get to explore their own ideas at the expense of constantly doing incremental innovation for existing customers then they loose the sense of meaning.

So I say to all of you who want to increase the level of innovation: make sure to have an agenda of your own, a few development projects and activities independent of customer demands. It will add to the sense of creating meaning and allow you to feel complete ownership of an idea or a project. And let your employees and co-workers explore their talents in a way that completes managing daily life and short term issues.

As for myself, I decided to consciously set aside time this summer to pursue one of my interests, kicking it of by watching the documentary of el Bulli (“Cooking in action”). I have chopped, fried, cooked and baked, not because I had to, but only but because I wanted to. It felt great.

By Susanna Bill

About the author

Susanna is the former Head of Innovation at Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications. In 2009 she founded Sustenance AB and since then shares her time between advising corporate leaders in how to make innovation happen by strengthening the innovation capabilities of their organizations, and pursuing a PhD at the department of Design Sciences at Lund University, focusing on the social processes that are beneficial for the innovation capabilities of self organizing teams. Susanna is a sought after speaker and panelist and the moderator of Innovation in Mind conference.

Advertisements
June 3, 2012

How Gen Y is changing HR


How Gen Y is Changing HR [Infographic]

By 2025, the Millennial generation will make up 75% of our workforce. But their impact on the way we work — and how we think about work — is already being felt.

So what does this mean for the way we need to think about aligning, engaging, and motivating our people? This infographic explores how HR departments will need to adapt to meet the needs of Generation Y.

May 18, 2012

Moneyball and the HR Department: the age of big data


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.

European Pressphoto Agency
Jonah Hill in a scene from ‘Moneyball’.

The success of Oscar nominated film Moneyball isn’t hurting either, said James Raybould, director of insights at LinkedIn. The movie, based on the Michael Lewis book, tells the true story of Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. Using statistical analysis, Beane was able to recruit undervalued baseball players and lead his underfunded baseball club to the playoffs.

“We’re seeing a lot of companies actually aspire to that movie,” he said last week during a panel on big data at the Impact 2012: The Business of Talent conference convened by consulting group Bersin & Associates. “How do I make Moneyball for HR?”

Capital One, the credit card company and bank, has automated data reports on employee attrition, headcount and promotions. It is also beginning to analyze the characteristics of its most successful employees, like what schools they went to and what their majors were, said Mark Williams, statistical analysis manager for workforce analytics at Capital One. “Now we’re going back through resumes and creating a lot of that data,” he said.

In the wake of the financial crisis, when the compensation structure of many banks were criticized for incentivizing excessive risk-taking, Williams has also been asked to do an analysis of how pay is linked to sales performance.

“We do risk very well; we don’t lend to people who won’t pay us back…. Part of that is we have really good governance over our credit models; we have a staff of statisticians and that’s their job,” he said. “What I’m looking to do is a very similar thing in creating a governance process around some of the risk metrics for compensation.”

The big data revolution is just beginning to penetrate the HR industry, said Josh Bersin, chief executive and president of Bersin & Associates. Some companies have a progressive view of how data analytics can help their HR departments. Most don’t. “Of the companies we talk to, five to 15% are very sophisticated at analyzing people data,” he said.

At Luxottica Group, the Milan-based eyeglasses conglomerate, data analytics have disproven assumptions about gaps within the company’s recruiting strategy, said Sean Dineen, vice president of talent management and organizational development.

The data showed it took an average 96 days to fill a position with an external candidate. The management team believed that the company’s recruiters acted too slow, but a statistical analysis found hiring managers dragged their feet about making decisions about who to hire, Dineen said. It now takes the company 46 days to hire external candidates.

Luxottica, the parent company of brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley, is also using analytics to see how well it is does in promoting its best employees. “Are we actually moving high potential people?” he said. “Why is this person [who rates highly] in the way we evaluate talent in the same job they were four years ago?”

Joseph Walker covers technology for FINS.com, The Wall Street Journal’s jobs and career website.

May 3, 2012

McKinsey on how your company can use social media


In this month’s McKinsey’s Quarterly Newsletterwe aim to sharpen your thinking about blogs, wikis, mobile apps, Web forums, and the like.

Demystifying social media” shows how executives can shape the consumer’s purchase decision by harnessing these new platforms.

Several consumers share their experiences, and three McKinsey partners provide advice on how companies can draw on social media to build brand loyalty, in the video “Making sense of social media,” on mckinsey.com.

A social journey” interactively demonstrates why marketers should use such techniques at every stage of the consumer’s purchase process. “Understanding social media in China” shows that despite vast differences between this market and those of the West, the ingredients of a winning strategy are familiar.

Finally, review the results of the recent live Twitter conversation hosted by McKinsey partners David Edelman and Hugo Sarrazin on using social media to shape consumer decision making (available on Storify).


May 3, 2012

27 LinkedIn Social Media Marketing features you can start using today to promote your business


In 2010 when LinkedIn finally launched company pages, I wrote a breakdown of all the things you could do with your page in the column, “Set Up Your New LinkedIn Company Page.” A lot has changed since then and the list of free and paid marketing and media opportunities on LinkedIn has grown significantly.

So with the help of Sarah Mitus (one of our agency’s social media specialists who helped with the research and images for this column) we are going to share an update and breakdown of all the things we think you can do to promote your business or brand on LinkedIn. Of course if we left something out please comment and let us know! We have broken down the tactics and features into free and paid categories that businesses (or their advocates) can use to promote their brands, products, and services.

Free LinkedIn Features for Businesses and Brands

1. Create your profile: Consider your LinkedIn page as a sort of Facebook fan page for your company on LinkedIn. To start your company page, go to LinkedIn.com/company/add/show. Once you have admin access to your company page, begin by filling in the appropriate information on the Overview tab. Incorporate SEO keywords as often as possible in the written description and specialties section of the tab.

1-create-your-profile-400x291

2. Set up a Products/Services tab: The Products and Services tab on LinkedIn allows a business to showcase what it provides to its customers. Besides creating a full list of products and services, including an image, description, key features, product URL, company contact, and video, a company can create a featured products and services list to highlight its core products. The Products and Services tab has a few purely visual elements, too, including three images to feature at the top of the page, and a YouTube video on the bottom right. To learn more, visit Marketing.LinkedIn.com/get-started.

2-products-services-tab-400x297

3. Encourage people to recommend your products: A great feature of the Products and Services tab brings peer recommendations to the forefront. When on a company’s Products and Services tab, users see any recommendations a product/service has, beginning with recommendations from people in the user’s extended network. Much as reviews would influence shoppers on an e-commerce site, users are likely to express more interest in this product or service from knowing one of their connections endorses it.

3-recommend-products-400x218

4. Check out your page’s analytics: As an admin of a company page, you’re able to see analytics behind the number of visits and the people who visit your page. Analytics include numbers for your company for page views, unique visitors, clicks on the Products and Services tab, members following your page, and the types of people who visit your page. Learn more at Marketing.LinkedIn.com/deepen-relationships.

4-page-analytics-400x181

5. Alter Products/Services pages by demographics: After you create a generic Products and Services tab, consider creating alternative pages for different demographics. LinkedIn gives company page admins the ability to show targeted Products and Services pages to specific user/industry segments. These segments can be chosen by job function, industry, seniority, and/or geography.

5-alter-products-page-by-demos-400x151

For example, our agency shows a different Product or Services tab to someone who is in the marketing field than someone who is not. This enables a business to specifically target a user based on a defining characteristic, proving relevant as soon as the user clicks on the tab, much like a landing page does in a search campaign.

6. Post status updates: These updates appear in users’ feeds on LinkedIn if they are following a company. Updates provide a way for users to interact with a company, and for a company to potentially gain exposure within its followers’ friends’ feeds.

6-post-status-updates-400x64

This is important. Status updates, when updated at least once a day, provide a potential place for paths to cross between a LinkedIn user and a company. If a company does not post status updates, the likelihood of a follower visiting your page frequently is low to nonexistent. Post status updates to ensure you’re top of mind with your LinkedIn followers. For more information, visit here.

LinkedIn recently announced that all companies will soon be able to target their status updates title, industry, or company size. For information, visit here.

7-post-status-updates-appear-in-feed-400x195

7. Add a LinkedIn share button to site content: Encourage users who visit your site and/or blog to share what they read on LinkedIn. Adding a share button, much as a company would a “Like,” “Tweet,” or “+1” button enables users to easily share from your site.

8-linkedin-share-button-364x400

8. Add a LinkedIn follow company button to your site: On February 27, LinkedIn released a “Follow Company” button to put on your site. This gives users the ability to follow a company directly from its site if they are logged in to LinkedIn. The button can include the number of followers the company has, or just the follow button itself. Learn how to install a LinkedIn follow company button to your site here.

9-linkedin-follow-company-400x211

9. Promote your page on other social channels: Encourage users on other social sites to become a part of your LinkedIn community. Post status updates and tweets encouraging users to follow you on LinkedIn as well.

10-linkedin-cross-promote

10. Promote your page in an email: Much as you would any other social network, promote your LinkedIn page in an email to encourage people who already have an interest in your company to follow you for more company and industry news.

Free Opportunities for Individual Business Advocates and Employees

Employees and advocates of brands help bring a face to the company on social media platforms. There are some things companies cannot do on LinkedIn, but individuals can do as a representative of a company.

11. Encourage employees and advocates to follow your page: As part of your community, employees and advocates should be in tune with your company news and social media efforts, LinkedIn included. Employees and advocates should follow your company on LinkedIn not only to stay on top of company news, events, and webinars, but so that they can easily share this information with their network.

11-linkedin-follow-page

12. Set up and manage groups: Individuals can create and manage groups about specific topics relevant to a business in order to establish each individual as a thought leader, and to provide additional exposure for the company. Learn more here.

12-linkedin-set-up-groups

13. Join groups: Because companies cannot join groups, it is wise to have individuals from your company join groups about your company and industry. When employees and brand advocates participate in groups, posting discussions and questions, they further increase the reach of your company.

13-linkedin-participate-in-groups

14. Create a poll within groups: Creating an easy-to-answer poll within a group provides a way to receive quick engagement with a question. This question can be used strictly for engagement, to gather information about group members, or to learn what the group would like to discuss.

14-linkedin-poll-groups

15. See group analytics: Whether you are a member or owner of a group, you can view analytics to better understand the demographics of your group members and the growth and activity happening in the group.

15-linkedin-group-analytics

16. Recommend products: Employees, brand advocates, and even clients can recommend your company’s products and services on LinkedIn. When this occurs, users in these brand evangelists’ extended networks will see a relevant recommendation when they visit the Products and Services tab of your LinkedIn company page.

16-linkedin-recommendations

17. Post a question: Users are able to ask questions of their networks and ultimately the entire LinkedIn network by visiting LinkedIn.com/answers. Again, this brings more exposure to your company when an individual of your company is seen on the Questions page.

17-linkedin-ask-a-question-345x400

18. Answer a question: In addition to asking questions, employees and advocates should also answer them. This will establish the individual as a thought leader and bring other LinkedIn users to your company page should a user click on the employee answering the question.

18-linkedin-answer-a-question-400x174

Paid LinkedIn Opportunities

A business is able to increase the exposure of its brand and company page by using LinkedIn’s paid features. Paid features include the Careers tab and LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, which enable a brand to bring ads to its target audience by targeting by profession, seniority, industry, company size, geography, and/or education.

19. Post jobs: Because many people use LinkedIn to search for jobs and prospective companies to work for, a company may use paid features to enable the Careers tab. Posting a job on LinkedIn creates a generic Careers tab displaying all LinkedIn job posts created by that company. Each LinkedIn job post incurs a fee, but the cost varies based on location and amount of posts purchased. In order to post a job, click on the Jobs tab directly from your LinkedIn home page or learn more here.

19-linkedin-post-a-job-400x172

20. Careers page: Another more costly feature is a personalized Careers page, a $10,000 or $20,000 expenditure, for a customized look. For some examples, check out Microsoft, Google, Fidelity Investments, and Louis Vuitton to understand what this Careers page looks like, and the value that it brings in acquiring new employees. If you’re interested in doing this for your company, or if you would like more information, visit here or contact a LinkedIn representative who can explain the benefits and costs associated with each option more in depth.

21. Display ads: Display ads on LinkedIn may appear in multiple shapes and sizes, and much like display ads on other networks, help to increase brand awareness. Display ads can appear on the side of a LinkedIn page in a square or column, or on the bottom as a row.

20-linkedin-display-ads-400x339

22. Text links: Text links appear at the top of each page, underneath the navigation bar. They tend to blend into the surroundings and can appear to be part of the site, sometimes appearing as a recommendation from LinkedIn. Start a text ad campaign by visiting LinkedIn.com/ads/start.

23. Content ads: Content ads allow you to stream multiple content types through a customized, tabbed module. Through this advertisement type, a business can deliver multiple types of timely, engaging content, such as a video, Twitter, or RSS feed, in one streamlined unit. For more information on what you can accomplish through a content ad, visit here.

24. Social ads: Social ads are advertisements that encourage users to interact with your brand on LinkedIn. Social ads include options to encourage users to follow your company, leverage recommendations, or join a group. Learn more about social ads as part of LinkedIn’s marketing solutions here.

23-linkedin-social-ads-400x179

25. Sponsored polls: Receive interactive and relevant feedback from industry leaders. As a company, you can create customized, brand-relevant questions and conversations and use this information not only to engage with the LinkedIn community, but also to learn more about your target consumer.

24-linkedin-sponsored-polls-390x333

26. Featured Questions: Ignite conversation in answer categories by utilizing Featured Questions. Get answers and gain exposure with your target audience of knowledgeable and active professionals. Learn more here.

27. Event sponsorships: Drive awareness and attention to an event posted on LinkedIn by using this marketing solution. Increase attendance by helping relevant LinkedIn users in your geographical area and industry find your event. Learn more by viewing LinkedIn.com/events.

Getting Started

If you want to get started on some of these tactics, a good place to start is on LinkedIn’s FAQ page. To learn more about its paid opportunities, visit its Marketing Solutions page. I hope you found this breakdown of LinkedIn opportunities helpful! Again, if we missed anything please post it in the comments sections.

March 21, 2012

Should you be Pinteresting, too?


Column Five created this infographic to examine the Pinterest addiction that seems to be spreading like a zombie apocalypse virus. Proof? Pinterest users spend an average 98 minutes on site per month, third only to Tumblr (2.5 hours) and Facebook (7 hours). Antidote? None.

Beyond the data, the company examines why Internet culture is so fascinated with pinning. It posits that digital hoarding has a lot to do with it. On Pinterest, we have free license to create an entire board dedicated to “teal-colored guitars.”

Then there’s the issue of social media fatigue. Is Pinterest just different enough from other social networks that it frees us from incessant updates and checkins? Or has it just replaced one addiction with another — a sort of social media gateway drug?

You be the judge. Just remember: Denial is a red flag.

Image courtesy of iStockphotoPinkTag, Infographic courtesy of Flowtown, via Column Five

March 8, 2012

March 8th_International Women’s Day: 20 Best Marketing And Social Media Blogs By Women


I had this topic in my drafts since Jan, today seems like the right day to post it. Congratulations to all marketing and social media ladies. You are a source of inspiration.

Over the last year I have learned a great deal from women in the field of marketing, social media, branding and entrepreneurship. While there are many female thought leaders in the marketing industry that I may have missed, this list contains the women that have made a difference in my life or my viewpoint and continue to lead the way for women in business.

It’s up to each of us to find online content we find valuable to our growth and business needs, and then to consume and put into action the advice and tips from the experts. This list is full of women that I have found to be leaders, women who are consistently providing relevant and useful information to the marketing and social media industry. I appreciate each and every one of them and recommend these ladies as the Chicks Pick Best in Blog–Marketing and Social Media.

Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni, @ConversationAge–Valeria helps businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, PR and communications–and how to bring value in this new environment. She also hosts the #kaizenblog Twitter chat on Fridays where other professional and aspiring conversationalists share their best tips.

Lipsticking, Yvonne DiVita, @Lipsticking–Yvonne heads up a very talented group of women bloggers including Lena West, Donna DeClemente, Mary Schmidt and Robbi Hess. These ladies bring a powerful female voice to the marketing world assisting many brands, agencies and not-for-profits in their marketing to women strategies. You’re sure to appreciate the honest and outspoken articles found on Lipsticking.

WonderBranding, Michele Miller@MicheleMiller–Wonder Branding brings you the latest news and views on marketing to women. Michele keeps us up to date on how brands are responding to the female customer. You can read the interviewwith Michele Miller that I conducted earlier this year here.

She Takes On The WorldNatalie MacNeil,@NatalieMacneil–Women entrepreneurs will come to find She Takes on the World a necessary add to their RSS reader. Natalie offers excellent articles focusing on building your business from the ground up and often brings in other female experts for her “In Her Heels” interviews.

Women On BusinessSusan Gunelius, @SusanGunelius–Find news and information you need to be successful in the business world from this network of female thought leaders. Articles focus on leadership, market trends and entrepreneurship.

V3 Integrated Marketing, Shelly Kramer@ShellyKramer–Shelly and Laura Lakes run the Kansas City based marketing company V3 and offer their best tips here on their blog in areas such as social media, blog marketing, public relations and traditional marketing for businesses. Shelly is a firecracker that has a knack for engaging with her community and immediately putting a smile on your face. A must follow on Twitter as well as her informative blog.

Client MagnetBernadette Doyle, @BernadetteDoyle–an amazing Web site that teaches how to attract Clients Like a Magnet, Bernadette teaches how to use attraction marketing to change your mindset to begin having clients seek you rather than you grasping after them. A very positive blog that is sure to have an impact on your business and your life.

Women Grow Business, Jill Foster, @JillFoster–As editor for Women Grow Business, Jill brings together a network of female entrepreneurs to discuss leadership, marketing, operations (especially in tough economic times), benefits of social cause partnership, talent retention, online presence, entrepreneurship, social technology, mentorship, failure and success. You will want to come back often.

SheconomyStephanie Holland, @Sheconomy–Stephanie takes pride in being able to reach a guy’s mind on marketing to women. Sheconomy is a great resource to come back to for statistics on women in the marketplace as well as getting a clearer perspective on WHY brands should be marketing to women.

ClickNewzLynn Terry@LynnTerry–Lynn has been in Internet marketing for years and knows how to give you the step by step process on how to recreate her success for yourself. You’ll find tips from article marketing to search engine optimization and everything in between. Lynn also has a forum community that is a great tool for getting quick answers.

Startup PrincessKelly King Anderson, @StartupPrincess–Kelly operates Startup Princess, an organization for women entrepreneurs everywhere to network, learn, share and mentor one another. Kelly and her Fairy Godmothers are always willing to help you grow your business.

ConnieBensen.com, Connie Bensen, @cbensen–Connie Bensen is a leading authority on cultivating online communities. Her blog is an excellent resource to find mentorship and inspiration for others pursing a career in Community Management or for brands seeking to improve their community engagement strategies.

Beth’s Blog, Beth Kanter, @Kanter–Beth is the leading expert on cause marketing and using social media for nonprofits. A place to capture and share ideas, experiment with and exchange links and resources about the adoption challenges, strategy and ROI of nonprofits and social media.

Gwen BellGwen Bell, @GwenBell–Gwen knows social media and is the example of what a networker does to create connections across the world with seemingly no effort at all. Her posts will cause you to stop and think, not just hand feed you information. Perky, smart and a must read for those interested in anything Web 2.0.

HorsePigCow, Tara Hunt@MissRogue–specializes in community marketing–delighting and enchanting the people in the communities a company serves through product, communication and experience.

MarketingProfsAnn Handley, @MarketingProfs–For anyone interested in successful marketing of their business, Marketing Profs is not just a blog to follow, but a necessary tool in your marketing toolbox. You will find useful reports, statistics and viewpoints from many experts of both genders, but Ann and Beth Harte are the female voices behind Marketing Profs.

Outspoken Media, Rae Hoffman, @sugarrae–Rae is the CEO and cofounder of Outspoken Media along with Rhea Drysdale, and Lisa Barone, and these ladies don’t mess around. If you’re looking for advice in marketing, reputation management, SEO, link mapping and beyond, you’ll find a no-holds-barred approach with these exceptionally talented group. Outspoken indeed. If it hadn’t been for Rae’s outspoken self promo we may have missed this great resource, and you don’t want to do that.

Altitude Branding, Amber Naslund, @AmberCadabra–Amber is an upbeat breath of fresh air in the social media world. You’ll find a thought-provoking viewpoint that focuses on elevating brands through social media and communication.

IttyBiz, Naomi Dunford@IttyBiz–IttyBiz is a place to get tips, advice, motivation and support for your very small business. Naomi is a kick in the pants that shares her marketing expertise in a style only she can, loaded with wisdom, wit and an occasional F-bomb. A fun place to learn.

Diva Marketing Blog, Toby Bloomberg@TobyDiva–Toby has an accomplishment list a mile long from speaking at major new media conferences to sitting on the board for the American Marketing Association. On her blog she brings all her experience and offers it to us in a fun and bold voice that’s sure to bring you back for more.

Coree Silvera is thought leader in community management and social media marketing.

Share Your Favorites: Got a name or names you’d like to see on this list? We invite you to add your picks in our Comments section below.

March 6, 2012

Leadership and curiosity: how curious are you?


Have you ever noticed how the best leaders also tend to be the most curious leaders? Great leaders simply aren’t satisfied with what they know. They possess an insatiable curiosity for discovery and learning – they are in constant pursuit of what they don’t know, and what lies ahead. Real leaders are not nearly as concerned with attainment (stasis) as they are with betterment (change). Since the dawn of time the world has been shaped by leaders who understand that curiosity is the gateway to the future. So my question is this –

How curious are you?

Among many other things, curiosity helps frame vision, advances learning, fuels passion, and drives innovation. Curiosity often inspires the courage to discuss the undiscussable, challenge current thinking, deviate from behaviors accepted as normal, and to do what others previously thought impossible. The best leaders understand that usual and customary are not necessarily synonymous with healthy and thriving. The real key to curiosity begins with an open mind – a recognition that those who think differently aren’t inferior, nor are they a threat. An open mind is a sign of confidence which allows leaders to recognize diversity of opinion leads to better thinking and better outcomes.

Here’s where I’m going to throw you a curve ball – while great leaders tend to spend most of their time being externally focused, I want you to turn your curiosity inward and become introspective for a few moments. It was Socrates who said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When was the last time you did some serious self-examination on how your curiosity, or the lack thereof, is impacting your ability to function as a leader? Be curious enough to answer the following four questions about yourself:

1. Are you making a difference?

Why should anyone be led by you? Great leaders answer this question with their actions on a daily basis. If you’re not making a difference, you’re not leading. If your actions are not directly contributing to the betterment of those you lead, then you need to become curious about how to make some very real and meaningful changes.

2. Are you growing?

If you’re not growing as a person and as a leader, then it’s very likely those under your charge are following your lead. I’ve often said it’s impossible for a leader who is not growing to lead a growing organization. Nobody is too busy to learn. In fact, you don’t have the time not to learn. Leaders who don’t value learning will quickly be replaced by those who do.

3. Is your curiosity starting conversations, or your lack thereof shutting them down?

If your ego is messaging you have all the answers, and that your way is the only way, then why would anyone ever be inspired to pursue change and innovation? A leader who doesn’t encourage others to challenge their thinking isn’t a leader – they’re a dictator. Dictators suppress individual thought and new ideas, while leaders encourage it at all costs.

4. Is your curiosity attracting talent, or your lack thereof chasing it away?

A leader’s ability to seek out and embrace new ideas will serve as a magnet for attracting the best talent. The best talent desires to be a part of a culture that encourages contribution rather than stifling it. If you’re the leader who looks around the organization and asks “why can’t we attract better talent?” it’s because you value a compliant workforce more than a talented workforce. Real leaders don’t care who is right, they care about what is right – never forget this.

Bottom line – don’t settle for what is, use your curiosity to think what if? and seek out what can be. Thoughts? I’m curious…

February 21, 2012

La marque employeur mérite une promotion


Dans son récent article paru sur le blog de Recrutement Médias sociaux, Antoine Lhosmot, de Potential Park, nous invite à réfléchir sur la place des Médias sociaux et Community Managers en entreprise: au-delà du recrutement, se pose la question de savoir comment gérer les multiples communautés qui se créent, se croisent, et ce dans un respect tant du positionnement de la marque que de la réactivité que ces canaux commandent.

Alors, who’s leading? Marketing, RH, ou Comité exécutif? A chacun de se faire une opinion…

Communication multicanale : travailler sa souplesse

2012 semble bien être la véritable année du passage à l’interaction talent sur mobile – 81% des étudiants et jeunes diplômés français se disent prêts à l’utiliser pour leurs recherches de carrières* –, mais 2012 sera également l’année de la multiplication des canaux pour cette interaction. Quel défi passionnant que de devoir décliner sa marque employeur sur différents supports aux contraintes techniques variables et aux auditoires variés ! Première étape : être curieux. Comment s’établir de manière crédible sur un nouveau support si l’on n’en connait pas par cœur les dernières tendances et possibles fonctionnalités ? Encore beaucoup de personnes que je rencontre et qui pensent à ces problématiques n’ont pas encore leur propre iPhone, Androïd, iPad… S’informer, évaluer à fond même les solutions que l’on finira par ne pas prendre, échanger avec ses pairs et des experts (lors de conférences ou de non-conférences par exemple) sont devenus des éléments cruciaux afin de faire un choix réfléchi.

La présence sur les réseaux sociaux et sur mobile demande quoiqu’il arrive une réactivité accrue et vrai challenge de création de contenus. En effet, l’allergie aux copier-coller s’est très vite développée chez les étudiants et jeunes diplômés. On a alors très vite identifié le besoin de se doter de HR community managers efficaces pour assurer des échanges harmonieux. Seulement voilà, plus le temps de faire valider ses gazouillis et ses peintures murales quand 43% des jeunes diplômés attendent une réponse en 24h maximum après un post sur Facebook* !

Réactivité sur les réseaux sociaux : améliorer ses appuis

Si le community manager se doit d’être un bon communicant au fait des dernières technologies, il a surtout besoin de confiance et d’assistance. Qui pourrait prétendre être capable de répondre à la multitude des questions possiblement posées sur les thèmes recrutement et carrières ? Il parait en effet impossible de pouvoir centraliser toutes ces connaissances en une seule et même personne. Le succès du community manager se cache donc dans son rôle de catalyseur collaboratif.

De ce fait, les objectifs du responsable ou directeur de la marque employeur se font clairs pour donner les moyens nécessaires à son community manager mais aussi aux équipes des relations campus : sensibiliser les collaborateurs à la curiosité en externe que suscite l’entreprise et ses métiers, faire de chacun des employés un possible ambassadeur, impliquer des personnes d’habitude réticente à une communication sans filet. On revient une nouvelle fois ici sur la nécessité d’user de beaucoup de diplomatie dans le domaine de la marque employeur afin d’assurer le succès de ces initiatives.

Décision au sommet : passer aux étirements

En rappelant ici au passage ce qui avait été très bien dit à la RMS Conférence de Novembre : « ce qui est beau à l’intérieur, ce voit de l’extérieur », une adhésion de toutes les entités, une participation de toutes les fonctions et départements apparaissent donc déterminantes dans le déploiement d’une marque employeur crédible. Comment obtient-on alors un message assez clair et puissant pour répandre cet engouement ? En faisant venir ce message du haut ! Il apparait de plus en plus important de pouvoir accélérer les processus d’identification de son ADN et de sa personnalité d’entreprise, et de faciliter la communication interne. Les communautés commencent avec les employés ! L’ascension de ce nouveau mode de penser ne se fera pas en un jour.  Mais en alliant ambition et (encore une fois) diplomatie, les professionnels de la marque employeur ont devant eux une réalité qu’ils communiquent d’habitude pour d’autres : un superbe développement de carrière.

Une marque employeur au sommet de la pyramide. Voilà une évolution logique et encourageante pour les passionnés de ce métier que nous sommes. Mais peut-être suis-je déjà en retard ou trop « RH-centrique »… Marque et Interaction ne concernent pas que le recrutement. Les communautés ne sont pas toutes faites que de candidats potentiels. Employés, anciens employés, clients, fournisseurs, investisseurs, médias, curieux… L’émergence d’une véritable « Direction de l’Interaction avec les Communautés », représentée dans les comités exécutifs n’est définitivement plus à exclure.

 

February 11, 2012

Filling the talent gap with innovative recruitment strategies


An Accenture survey of 1,088 U.S. workers and unemployed citizens tells the story: The majority of workers surveyed (55%) report that they are under pressure to develop additional skills to succeed in their current and future jobs. But only 21% say they have acquired new skills through formal, company-provided training during the past five years; only 6% have participated in training through podcasts and other informal mechanisms.

While employees take the responsibility to develop their own skills, they’re not getting good guidance from employers about exactly which skills would be most beneficial. As a result, they tend to focus narrowly on technology skills, the Accenture survey reports. Few people have updated other in-demand skills such as problem-solving or analytics.

The Accenture study highlights that there are a number of important innovations in the recruiting and hiring fields that can make it easier to find top-performing, skilled talent on a global basis, quickly and more cheaply. Recent company expernce suggests a number of ways to take advantage of these new techniques

1. Use social media platforms to find talent yourself

Instead of relying on expensive headhunters or job postings, many organizations are moving toward identifying the ideal candidates through social media sites such as LinkedIn or Taleo Talent Exchange, and then contacting those people directly, often with customized employment offers.

When gaming company Red 5 Studios was struggling to compete with large technology companies for skilled developers, for example, it didn’t post a job opening at all. Instead, it identified a list of ideal candidates, learned what it could about each, and then created individualized employment pitches that were recorded on iPods sent to candidates in attention-grabbing Russian-doll-style nested boxes

  1. 2. Identify and filter people by looking beyond what’s listed on their résumés

Numerous studies have found that screening people by looking for key words on a résumé is not an effective way to predict performance. Such an approach can also lead companies to cast their nets too narrowly, missing potential top performers.

New startups are emerging to help companies alter that approach inexpensively, teaching them how to use competency, skills or cultural fit assessments on the front end of the screening process to supplement the initial, résumé-based screening.

Other companies, including Google, are broadening their search for skilled people by screening candidates based on the quality of their work or their personal biography—not only where they went to school or what work experiences they’ve had.

The company might, for instance, ask a series of detailed biographical questions shown to be statistically correlated with top performance at the company: Have you ever set a world record in anything? Have you ever started a club? What Internet mailing lists do you subscribe to? Google also stages work competitions (for software coding, for example), with the winner getting the open position.

Accenture envisions new Internet companies that will work much like a dating service. This would enable closer matches between job candidates and companies, through profiles that contain such information (properly protected and secured) as samples of actual work, assessment scores, answers to biographical questions, competition results, pre-recorded videos with answers to common behavioral interview questions, work motivators and interests, geographic preferences and more.

3. Forge relationships with potential employees before you need them

When 3D design software company Autodesk was having trouble finding skilled candidates, it realized that it needed to proactively build relationships with potential hires on an ongoing basis.

Explains Matthew Jeffery, head of talent acquisition, “It’s all about opening up a conversation to create a talent pipeline. This doesn’t mean just posting your jobs on Facebook; it means revealing your culture, how people are having fun, what the jobs are really like, even the silly things that go on in your office. It’s about being authentic and transparent, and engaging your own employees to be a brand ambassador in a human way, and helping build emotional connections.”

By actively engaging in conversations with candidates, Autodesk built a Facebook community of more than 150,000 members in just 12 months, creating an active and interested talent pool to draw from when the company is ready. Candidate relationship databases that work much like customer relationship marketing databases can also help a company send periodic tailored information to interested parties, creating ongoing relationships a company can tap into when opportunities arise.

4. Hire from alternative talent pools

Increasingly, companies are finding innovative, off-the-beaten-track ways to find skilled people. One way of achieving this is to target selected industries with a surplus of workers.

In the United States, for example, healthcare companies have worked to retrain displaced autoworkers. Entergy Corp., a US energy company, targets ex-military personnel to fill positions as varied as repair technicians and nuclear engineers. JetBlue Airways staffed its reservations department with mostly stay-at-home workers who can take reservations while still caring for their households.

Organizations are also increasingly targeting workers in different geographic regions, including countries where the companies are not headquartered, where there is a surplus of talent in specific skill sets.

4. Partner with schools to help develop the skills you need

An often gaping disconnect between what a student learns in school and the needs of employers contributes significantly to the global skills crisis. But today, leading companies are working with universities, community colleges and trade schools to develop a pipeline of people to recruit years before they need them.

For example, HCL Technologies, an Indian-based global technology services company, has entered into collaborative partnerships with 25 top engineering colleges in India. Managers at HCL review the curriculum and offer input to the colleges, which then tweak and revise the courses as needed to meet the company’s requirements. HCL also works as a member of the national consortium of IT companies called NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies), helping to define and communicate the skills required in the industry, including the levels of supply and demand for those skills.

What are you doing to help with filling the talent gap?