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Archive for the ‘wisdom of crowds’ Category

Kids these days

Posted by Meg Bear on April 8, 2008

There has been a lot of talk in the industry about Millennials and how they impact a talent strategy.  Given the age demographic (newly joining the workforce), it is natural that the segment that has been giving this the most attention is the Recruiting process.    Most recruiters today are actively taking advantage of new technologies and social norms to increase their access to a larger (and hopefully more qualified) candidate pool.  This is all goodness.

Today, I’d like to suggest that there is another, equally important part of the talent “wheel” that really must stand up and take notice.  This is the Learning group.  As some of you probably know, this is a topic near and dear to my heart, but like anything that you are close to, I have also been guilty of wanting the answer to be in providing more methods of delivery vs. really needing to re-think the whole business strategy.  Would that it was as simple as providing a few wikis and making eLearning available as a podcast.   I am now convinced that starting with the “delivery will save us” premise, is a recipe to being totally irrelevant within your HR Business strategy in the next 5-10 years.

Watching this video about university learning, is a good start to understanding what is different today in how people learn.  I personally believe that this is not  just a GenY issue.  Even our news channels, which have an over 30 demographic, feel the need to provide an increasingly large volume of content at a more rapid pace.  The world is expecting information faster.  Sure, younger generations are more quick to adapt to this kind of change, but that does not mean that it is only the under 30 crowd that is expecting more today then they have in the past.

How people “learn” and how they are “trained” are often not well aligned in most organizations today.  I believe this problem is growing and that we need to start to think about this in the context of a “Learning strategy” vs. just a Millennial problem.  To that end, I’ve decided to try and articulate what I think is needed for a impactful learning strategy.  I’m sure I’ve missed some things, so please feel free to sound off in the comments with additional ideas.

Meg’s suggestions for a Next Generation Learning strategy

  • Organizational Development and Training organizations need a tighter alignment then the loose “competency gap” relationship they have today.  Companies need to be able to drive the need for learning to individuals based on a wide-variety of “triggers”.  Competencies are certainly one, but what about things like missed objectives, long term career plans, poor customer satisfaction surveys, or even manager or individual observations?
  • Learning groups need to be comfortable expanding their influence and take an active role in the dreaded worlds of knowledge management, informal land experiential learning.  To do this, we must realize that we need a seamless transition for people between formal and informal learning.  Not everything is going to be managed by the catalog and not everything can have the same level of formal monitoring as compliance training. 
  • Take advantage of “wisdom of the crowds” and avoid the tendency to have everything centrally managed.  Tier your programs so that you can get comfortable with the volume of information that is going to naturally come along with the idea of opening up to the unwashed masses.  Don’t run away from these concepts just because they are complex. 
  • Recognize that key learning today is not just coming from static channels, it is also coming from people.  Having better understanding about what human assets you have that can help your organization learn is key.  Who knows what and who is willing to share what they know is going to be one of the key elements to understand.
  • Begin to think about incentive and tracking programs for learning.  What is mission critical for your business?  What learning is needed to make that happen?  How do you drive that learning to the individuals?   How do you help individuals get real value from your learning programs so that they continue to participate?  Understanding individual incentives is key.
  • Be open to the idea that the learning department will turn into a facilitator of learning vs. the source of learning in the organization. 

It is my prediction that learning departments will either embrace this new world and find their place in it, or they will become a third appendage with only compliance as their real value proposition. 

Posted in learning, social network, teams, wisdom of crowds | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Interesting Talent Management Use of Internal Prediction Markets

Posted by Mark Bennett on January 22, 2008

Thanks to Jake for pointing out this recent post about a different and interesting talent management approach to prediction markets, showing how they can be used to gain a better understanding of the flow of intangibles in your organization. That is key for both getting the most out of your talent as well as helping your talent feel engaged.

Bo Cowgill at Google and two economists, Justin Wolfers (Wharton) and Eric W. Zitzewitz (Dartmouth), have been for the last two and a half years studying Google’s internal prediction markets. As the NY Times article states regarding the markets:

“At Google, they are used, of course, for business. In the last two and a half years, 1,463 employees have made wagers with play money (Goobles, as in rubles) on questions like: will Google open a Russia office? will Apple release an Intel-based Mac? how many users will Gmail have at the end of the quarter?”

People typically look at prediction markets for the most part as a “Wisdom of Crowds” tool (where they are also known as “decision markets”). Internal decision markets can provide value to the company by, for example, getting a jump on the competition by spotting something or some trend sooner to generate new business ideas, saving costs by shutting down projects that sales forecasts predict will do poorly, etc. The prediction market acts as an aggregation mechanism for the collective wisdom of the people participating in the market, and it is most effective in its direct application to making informed decisions when the group members are diverse, independent, and decentralized.

Even when those properties aren’t fully present, like many other things where people are involved (crowds, surveys, etc.), the value in the prediction market isn’t just in the answers to the direct questions you ask of itThere is value from what those answers are telling you about other things regarding the people you are studying. That’s exactly what the paper, “Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence From Google,” drills into, and it applies very much to ways in which companies can derive more value from their talent. Here’s what the paper’s authors summarized:

“…we illustrate how markets can be used to study how an organization processes informationWe find strong correlations in trading for those who sit within a few feet of one another; social networks and work relationships also play a secondary explanatory role. The results are interesting in light ofrecent work on the importance of geographical and social proximity in explaining information flows in firms and markets.”

These kinds of findings are very useful from a Talent Management perspective. Using internal prediction markets as a way to understand how information flows within your organization is an area to pay attention to, especially in conjunction with tools like social network analysis, which also help you understand the flow of knowledge in your organization. Knowing how intangibles flow within your organization is a key competitive advantage, both in helping to find ways to improve that flow as well as helping to increase employee engagement.

Posted in analytics, wisdom of crowds | Leave a Comment »