Thursday, 18 December 2008

Lies, Trust and Chocolate

 

    Human Resources magazine / Hirescores report that more than eight out of 10 (82%) of office workers lie for their manager on a daily basis, saying that their managers are on the phone or away from their desk, to avoid unwanted conversations.

Lisette Howlett, managing director of www.hirescores.com notes:

"Companies spend so much time, money and rhetoric on treating customers fairly and yet there is a high level of institutionalised dishonesty. It appears to be part of the normal fabric of doing business."

 

It's not going to do much for trust within an organisation either.

This is one of the lessons in David Thompson's new book, Trust Unwrapped.  Amongst many other facts and illustrations, this includes a story from 'Thank God it's Monday' in which a PA refuses to tell a caller his boss is out:

" 'I cant do that, you are here' came the response from the new secretary.  After a pause she continued, 'If I lie for you now, you won't know when I'm lying to you'."

 

The main story is set in a chocolate manufacturer and other businesses, and uses these to show the benefits of allowing people to set their own hours, holidays and workload (eg ROWE) and even prices to develop trust.

My favourite paragraph is this one:

"Business isn't about products and services and stuff a lot of the time.  It's all about feelings, emotions and relationships."

 

I think if more organisations understood this, there would be a lot less corporate lying than Hirescores' survey suggests there is.

 

Technorati Tags: David Thompson,Dan Collins,Trust Unwrapped,Lying for the boss

 

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Monday, 15 December 2008

Carnival of Trust

 

   My post 'Social Connections and Social Intelligence' was selected as one of ten articles on trust included in the December 2008 Carnival of Trust (originally launched by Charles Green's Trust Matters) which this month was held at Idealawg.

There are some other great posts there too.  I was particularly pleased to see this comment on BrainBlogger:

"As individuals, we strive to improve our human capital, or our economic value. We earn college degrees, take continuing education courses, attempt to expand our knowledge and master our respective fields. The more we know, the more we’re worth and it makes perfect sense (and boosts our pay!).

Yet, perhaps more attention should be paid to the value of social capital."

 

Which is of course exactly what this blog is about!

 

Technorati Tags: Carnival of Trust

 

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Sociability and Solidarity

 

   I've been reading some of Rob Goffee's and Gareth Jones' Harvard Business review articles and their book, 'Why should anyone be led by you?', following a presentation by Jones recently.

in 'What holds the modern company together?', they make the point that culture is community:

"It is an outcome of how people relate to one another... Businesses rest on patterns of social interaction that sustain them over time or are their undoing.  They are built on shared interests and mutual obligations and thrive on cooperation and friendships."

 

I like this definition - and I'm increasingly finding that social (plus human and organisational) capital provides a more useful, granular way of looking at organisations than 'culture'.

I also agree with the author's perspective that culture can therefore be examined through the 'lens of sociology, which divides community into two types of distinct human relations: sociability and solidarity".

 

Solidarity (mind)

Solidarity measures a community's ability to pursue shared objectives quickly and effectively, regardless of personal ties.  It is about relationships which are build on common tasks, mutual interests, or shared goals that will benefit all involved parties.

 

Sociability (heart)

Sociability measures sincere friendliness and non-instrumental relations (in which people don't see others simply as means of satisfying their own ends) among members of a community, associating with each other on equal terms.  It is based on shared ideas, attitudes, interests and values and is sustained through continuing face-to-face relations.

Sociability leads to enjoyable work environments, morale, teamwork, sharing of information, openness to new ideas, creativity and engagement.  However, reinforcing the recent Demos report, and like solidarity, sociability also comes with certain drawbacks:

"The prevalence of friendships may allow poor performance to be tolerated.  No one wants to rebuke or fire a friend.  It's more comfortable to accept - and excuse - subpar performance in light of an employee's personal problems.

In addition, high sociability environments are often characterised by an exaggerated concern for consensus.  That is to say, friends are often reluctant to disagree with or criticise one another...  The result: the best compromise gets applied to problems, not the best solution.

In addition, high sociability communities often develop cliques and informal, behind-the-scenes networks that can circumvent or, worse, undermine due process in an organisation...  Friendships and unofficial networks of friendships allow people to pull an end run around the hierarchy...  In other words, networks can function well if you are insider - you know the right people, hear the right gossip.  Those on the outside often feel lost in the organisation, mistreated by it, or simply unable to affect processes or products in any real way."

 

To me, these aren't so much problems with sociability, as with poor execution or sociable approaches.  I think increasingly, organisations do need to be sociable, and organisations need to find ways to avoid the drawbacks outlined by Goffee & Jones / Demos.

 

Two dimensions, four cultures

Goffee and Jones plot solidarity and sociability against each other to provide the two by two shown in the graphic.  The authors emphasise that "none of the cultures is the best" but when discussing a fragmented culture (low solidarity, low sociability), they note "Few managers would volunteer to work for or, perhaps harder still, run a fragmented organisation."

They also have a few concerns about a communal culture (high solidarity, high sociability) too:

"The communal culture may be an inappropriate and unobtainable ideal in many business contexts...

First, high levels of sociability and high solidarity are often around particular founders or leaders whose departure may weaken either or both forms of social relationship.

Second, the high-sociability half of the communal culture is often antithetical to what goes on inside and organisation during periods of growth, diversification , or internationalisation.  These massive and complex change efforts require focus, urgency and performance - the stuff of solidarity in its undiluted form.

More profoundly though, there may be a built-in tension between relationships of sociability and solidarity that makes the communal business enterprise an inherently unstable form.  The sincere geniality of sociability doesn't usually exist - it can't - with solidarity's dispassionate, sometimes ruthless focus on achievement of goals."

 

So I think what Goffee and Jones are really saying is that organisations need high solidarity and high sociability, but not both (ie that the ideal culture is either networked or mercenary).

And I'd add to this, that solidarity is becoming more difficult to achieve, and therefore sociability is becoming increasingly important.  So if you have to choose between the two, choose this (ie networked vs mercenary).

However, I still struggle to see how both solidarity or sociability, executed well, can be a bad thing.  I'd respond to Goffee's and Jones' challenges by saying that organisations need to find ways of building sustainable cultures, which can support efficient achievement of goals, and that maybe if we did this, success rates in growth, diversification and internationalisation may be a lot higher than they generally are now!

 

Building sociability

Goffee and Jones also note that to build sociability, managers can:

  • Promote the sharing of ideas, interests, and emotions by recruiting compatible people - people who naturally seem likely to become friends
  • Increase social interaction among employees by arranging causal gatherings inside and outside the office, such as parties, excursions - even book clubs
  • Reduce formality between employees
  • Limit hierarchical differences
  • Act like a friend yourself, and set the example for geniality and kindness by caring for those in trouble.

 

I think there are some great suggestions here.

 

Technorati Tags: Rob Goffee,Gareth Jones,What Holds the Modern Company Together,Why Should Anyone be Led by You

 

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Friday, 12 December 2008

The dark side of networking

 

   The Demos report, Network Citizens that I referred to in my last post on Cisco notes that as well as considerable benefits (including creativity, innovation and freedom, meritocracy, openness and democracy), organisational networks can lead to certain downsides ('the dark side'), in that they can:
  • Exclude and discriminate
  • Enable people to hoard power for themselves
  • Promote the interests of the few.

 

The problem is that networks reflect the people who constitute them. So if the interests of these people and therefore the network and the firm diverge, this can increase problems rather than opportunities:

“Virtual, online network, power is generally less visible than in the formal organisation – where organograms clearly show who has authority and accountability… In a network, the rivers of power often flow underground… Without enough attention, these challenges jeopardize the very gains we presume networks can deliver.”

 

So network managers need to ask themselves:

  • "Am I excluding some people from my network for no good reason?
  • Does the network extend across gender and ethnic boundaries? Should it?
  • What are the unwritten rules of network exchange – and are they fair?"

 

Demos' findings relate very closely to Rob Goffee's and Gareth Jones' research on sociability, that I've been reading after hearing Gareth Jones speak recently, and which I will review in my next post.

 

Technorati Tags: Network Citizens,Peter Bradwell,Richard Reeves,Demos,dark side,social networking

 

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Sunday, 30 November 2008

Cisco Leading from the Middle

 

   Earlier this month, Melcrum's blog referred to a recent report, Network Citizens, written by Peter Bradwell and my ex-Penna colleague, Richard Reeves, now at Demos, which argues that although today’s difficult business environment tends to create an instinctive reaction from management to “batten down the hatches" we actually need to steer away from traditional command and control hierarchies - where productivity is closely monitored and measured - and towards freedom and flexibility based on responsible, prosperous social networks.

The report was based upon visualisations of team networks in six organisations which found social networks to be at least as powerful as the formal organisation structure.

Melcrum comments on the findings of the report as:

"Do not separate social and professional networking. Attempts to control employees’ use of social networking software at work may damage the organization by depleting its network capital.

  1. Do not separate social and professional networking. Attempts to control employees’ use of social networking software at work may damage the organization by depleting its network capital.
  2. Value networking with people outside the firm. Too often, only senior staff are encouraged to build external relationships. The power of horizontal networks across organization boundaries is clear and growing.
  3. Keep in touch with ex-employees. The temptation during a difficult economic climate is to hunker down, but this risks cutting off flows of network capital. Companies should consider keeping former employees in the network.
  4. Do not police networks, but consider improvements. These should be a first step towards collective conversations about the networking rules of the game."

 

The report supports my earlier post, Organisation Design is dead!, as well as many others, for example, this short but powerful one by Richard Dennison at BT, arguing that social networks do something that organisation structure cannot.

I still think this is probably true, although it's interesting to compare with another approach taken by Cisco and described by CEO John Chambers on the Harvard Business Review Editors' blog.

Agreeing with Demos, Chambers argues that the need for fast execution means that an authoritarian, command and control approach is the biggest barrier to future performance:

"Still, it became increasingly impossible to for Chambers to gather information and make decisions fast enough for his massive company to act on new opportunities. Cisco must constantly adapt to new and shifting technologies and rapidly-changing global business environments, but Chambers found that it simply took too long for information and issues to filter up to him. There was no way he could make a timely decision, and then for the firm to implement plans, as quickly as needed."

 

The problem until recently, has been that Cisco leaders have known how to do command and control behaviours very well, and have struggled to let go, to lead from "the middle", rather than the top:

"He confesses that he would go into meetings and listen to a team discuss a problem for about ten minutes. 'I knew what the answer was and I'd say, 'Here's where we're going to go'.'"

 

Cisco's response was to create business networks (also agreeing with Demos, Chambers distinguishes between social and business networks which I generally think is missing the point - that business is social and social means about relationships, not something to do with leisure).

However, the really interesting point is that as opposed to Demos' advice and my post on 'organisation design is dead', the company set up these networks by redesigning its organisation as a network structure (not by creating social networks as a supplement to its existing functional organisation design):

"The company today operates as a set of cross-functional 'business networks' in which teams think through business problems and make decisions on their own in a fully-considered, yet rapid manner. As a result, Cisco is now able to simultaneously act on nearly two dozen large business initiatives, where previously the firm could only deal with one or two."

 

Technology has clearly played a role as well, with Chambers previously suggesting that in Cisco, as in other businesses:

"For the first time collaborative IT will be so intertwined with the business strategy you won’t know the difference between the two."

 

But both of Cisco's levers: the organisation structure and technology are about organisation capital not social capital.  So perhaps Chambers is right to call his business networks business, not social, after all.  Cisco have shifted from a command and control culture to one focused on collaboration and teamwork, and they've done so through organisational not social means.

The results have been very positive, although challenging to achieve:

"Shortly after Cisco's shift to a collaborative model, Chambers was surprised and delighted to find that cross-functional groups would 'come to the right conclusion on their own. And by the way, within a very short time period they usually would make as good or a better decision than I did'.

'Leading from the middle,' as Chambers calls it, has been an eye-opening experience for a man with nearly 14 years at the helm. 'It's the biggest change in the management of the company ever'."

 

It's a good reminder that not everything needs to be done through social networks.  And it perhaps suggests that most businesses undertaking cultural change will benefit from both organisation structure and social network design (as shown in the graphic from AT&T's report on the Business Impacts of Social Networking).

 

Technorati Tags: Network Citizens,Peter Bradwell,Richard Reeves,Demos,Cisco,John Chambers

 

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Monday, 10 November 2008

Leadership and Communityship

 

Select Minds Rob Cross VIEW   Several different events I attended last week got me thinking about leadership and the increasing need for this to focus on horizontal rather than just vertical relationships in organisations.

 

Henry Mintzberg on Communityship

Firstly, David Creelman sent me a link to a video interview given by Henry Mintzberg who reckons that the more fuss that is made about leadership, the worse it often is.  A major reason for this is that organisations' approaches to leadership are often about the individual, rather than the community.

So we need to think about a something rather different, that Mintzberg calls Communityship, which is about caring and working for each other (a bit like servant leadership, but with a more 'social' perspective).

Young organisations tend to do this while they're growing and energetic.  But few large ones do.  Mintzberg gave Toyota as an example of a company that does seek to work with its employees.

 

Gareth Jones on Non-hierarchical Leadership

On Thursday, I attended a short event organised by the Human Capital Institute with Harvard Business Publishing.  Gareth Jones had a rather different perspective to Henry Mintzberg, stating that the current economic situation makes it precisely the wrong time to stop thinking about leadership.

But he did seem to agree that we need to focus on a more social approach to leadership: "Leadership is a relationship so it is illuminated as much by a sociological as a psychological perspective".

Followers want community - so leaders must be community builders.  So leaders need to display a common humility and narrow social distance, collecting and discussing information about people they work with in order to build common data.

 

Rob Cross on Leading through Networks

Then later the same today, I sat in some of Select Minds' Connect conference on the web,  Rob Cross explained how successful leaders know and work through networks (see slide).

I suspect these are all things that we would do naturally with enough common humility.  But as we're all only human, they're also all actions we should consider taking more consciously if we're going to develop a better sense of communityship in our organisations.

 

Technorati Tags: Communityship,Henry Mintzberg,Gareth Jones,Rob Cross

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Social capital - recruitment and retention

 

   In my Knowledge Infusion webinar, I talked about the increasing importance of social capital.  In Kennedy's webinar, I talked about some activities HR can take to develop it.

For example, in recruitment, HR can

  • Develop their Employee Value Proposition / Employer Brand to focus on the sort of people who value relationships
  • Look for people who understand the need to build their connections and relationships, for example through their use of social networking sites to increase the size of their network etc
  • Look for people who have a high level of social intelligence
  • Tap friends and contacts of existing employees through the use of referral schemes
  • Let team members recruit new members of the team.

 

And when thinking about retention, HR can:

  • Ensure teams actually do team – personally as well as professionally (ie that they really do work as teams rather than as groups)
  • Articulate the benefits of working in the team (for example, by including this in a review of how an agreed EVP has ben delivered, going beyond a statement of benefits in a Total Reward Statement) so that this becomes a basis for rational as well as emotional engagement and therefore supports intention to stay
  • If relevant, use contracts / retention bonuses to retain the team
  • When people do think about leaving, encourage them to move into a customer or partner organisation, which can actually enhance rather than detract from social capital.

 

And, of course, HR can also ensure that that social capital is enhanced through ongoing management activities, whether these are face-to-face, or aided by technology (particularly web 2.0).

I think that as teams and social capital become increasingly important, these activities could increasingly act as differentiators and opportunities for competitive advantage.

And I think that they are are all particularly relevant at the moment, given the present economic and business conditions.  Many organisations are now paying increased attention to retaining human capital when they undertake restructuring and downsizing but very few organisations (none of the employers of the participants on the webinar!) are yet thinking about retaining social capital when they undertake these sorts of changes.

It would be god to hear from you if your organisation IS paying attention to maintaining or even developing its social capital at the moment, or if you'd like to talk about how you might be able to do this.

 

Technorati Tags: Kennedy Information,webinar,social capital,recruitment,retention

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Hype or Groundswell?

 

    I've been meaning to post on 'Groundswell' for some time.  This book, written by two analysts who were both at Forrester, provides an interesting contrast to Gartner's warnings on hype.

Li and Bernoff believe that the evolution of social computing is creating a permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works, in which people use technologies to get things from each other instead of from companies.

I'm still not really sure how deep this shift will be, but I do agree with the authors that the phenomenon is actually about people "acting on their eternal desire to connect", so in order to master the groundswell, companies need to "concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies":

"Companies often approach Social Computing as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed — a blog here, a podcast there — to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is to start with your target audience and determine what kind of relationship you want to build with them, based on what they are ready for."

 

The technologies are being adopted quickly simply because they make connections and relationships more interesting, more varied and more frequent.  Which technologies will work will depend upon the participants' 'social technographics profile' which consists of the following groups:

  • Creators.  The profile tool on Forrester's website suggests that only 12% of 34-44 year olds in the UK are creators, who like me, publish a blog or own web pages.
  • Critics (22% of this demographic)
  • Collectors (8%)
  • Joiners (19%)
  • Spectators (48%)
  • Inactives (43%)

 

The groundswell inside your company

Although the book focuses on dealing with customers, the points it makes apply equally to dealing with employees and three examples are provided: Best Buy's internal community site Blue Shirt Nation; Avenue A / Razorfish's wiki; and Bell Canada's idea exchange, ID-ah!; as well as Ernst & Young's graduate recruitment site on Facebook.

To make these approaches work, employees need to know that "managers will listen to their openly contributed opinions, rather than punishing dissenters".  So organisations need to "promote a listening culture from the top down, ease and encourage participation with incentives, and find and empower the rebels in your organisation".

It's about changing the way organisations work.  And management involvement and active participation is crucial:

"We recall one puzzled professional services company that approached us with a conundrum.  It had deployed blogs, wikis and social networking tools internally, specifically targeting newly hired college grads who all said they were very familiar with these tools.  Yet several months into the rollout, there was hardly any participation.  Why not?  Because the company had deployed the technologies with little management sponsorship or involvement."

However, social technologies can't be forced on organisations from the top down, "because by their definition, these technologies require the participation of your employees".

 

Developing strategy

To help focus on the relationships, the books suggests a four-step planning process (POST) to develop strategy for dealing with this area:

  • People - what are your customers ready for (using the social technographics profile)?
  • Objectives - what are your goals (listening, talking, energising, supporting or embracing - eg through crowdsourcing)?
  • Strategy - how do you want relationships with your customers to change?
  • Technology - finally, what applications should you build?

 

The authors note that this could equally be OPST (just don't start with the T!).  To me, which of the two options will work best will depend on the type of value you want to create (see the value triangle). To add value to an existing business objective, use OPST.  To create value from people, look for the opportunities inherent in your people first, hence POST.

And the only change I would suggest to the process would be using A rather than T where A stands for activity, and can include any real or virtual activity / technology.  Relationships don't always need the use of technology to be enhanced.

 

Best fit in social capital

One of the many interesting points made by the book, which echoes my own thinking about HCM, is the need to find a best fit between strategy and organisational needs:

"Each tactic must adopt the tactics that are right for its customers and its way of doing business and adapt as the technologies change.  Copying others doesn't work because your company, your customers, and your goals are not the same as anybody else's."

 

So I think that when thinking about social capital, ie the value of an organisation's connections and relationships, we need to find a best fit too.  Do you want this capital to be based upon listening, talking, energising, supporting or embracing, and what content do you want these relationships to focus on?

And I think there is an interesting dilemma / paradox here.  How do you influence the nature / content of your social capital, when you can't direct the use of social technologies from the top down?

 

Sorry this review is so behind the times (Groundswell having already ben out for several months).  But at the moment, I am using this blog to help me catch up on the social computing as well as social capital scene. So I've got some book reviews of even older books coming up. 

It's going to be a few more months before this blog starts to provide much in the way of new thinking, rather than commentating on existing thinking.  But stay with me!

 

Technorati Tags: Groundswell,Charlene Li,Josh Bernoff,hype

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Kennedy Information webinar follow-up

 

Kennedy_Information_screenshot So what did you think of the webinar if you attended it?  It would be great to have some comments and / or questions here...

 

Technorati Tags: Social Capital,Productivity,Rentention,Kennedy Information,webinar,Jon Ingham

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Web 2.0 Hype

 

   I explained in my recent Knowledge Infusion webinar that I think web 2.0 and social networking tools can lead to transformational changes in organisations, and made the same point in show 001 of TalkingHR.

But do these opportunities really exist, or am I just falling for the hype / bubble around web 2.0?

I've had this question at the back of my mind for a while (since someone challenged me with a comment on this blog back in April), so I was pleased to receive a copy of Gardner's book, 'Mastering the Hype Cycle'.

I first came across the hype cycle when Jim Holincheck very kindly sent me a copy of Gartner's report, 'Hype Cycle for Human Capital Management Software' last year.

However, the book explains that the cycle was actually developed in 1995 while looking at the common patterns involved in the introduction of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, video on demand and the 'newly emerging world wide web'.  I missed it as I was just moving out of IT into HR at that time.

A bit like the S curve, the hype cycle shows that innovation adoption does not happen as a straight line but follows a predictable curve, travelling through the following five phases:

1. "Technology Trigger"
The first phase of a Hype Cycle is the "technology trigger" or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.


2. "Peak of Inflated Expectations"
In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.


3. "Trough of Disillusionment"
Technologies enter the "trough of disillusionment" because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.


4. "Slope of Enlightenment"
Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the "slope of enlightenment" and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.

 

5. "Plateau of Productivity"
A technology reaches the "plateau of productivity" as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market

 

The book provides some good examples of hype cycles and also explain its causes, which include:

Social Contagion
"Although we might not like to admit it, we humans are at our core extraordinarily sensitive to what others around us are doing and saying.  We want to be seen as individuals, yet not be perceived as too different. 

Our tendency to be influenced by others probably originates from raw survival needs.  Early humans who joined the crowd fleeing from an unseen enemy probably lived to tell the tale.  If they insisted on validating the appropriateness of their cave colleague's behaviour through personal research, they probably found themselves wiped out of the gene pool by a herd of stampeding mammoths."

 

Zeitgeist
"[This is] a common social framework of attitudes, outlook, values, and expectations...  Innovations that fit within the framework are more likely to attract attention and generate excitement than those that take us in a fundamentally different direction."

 

The book lists the dangers inherent in adopting new technology (adopting too early, giving up too soon, adopting too late. and hanging on too long).  However, the movements in the cycle also provide opportunities, for example in the recruitment of:

  • Scarce talent looking to sell their knowledge and skills at a premium near the peak of the cycle
  • Demotivated but highly experienced talent during the trough
  • Talent with considerable relevant experience who want to stay aligned with a specific innovation as it moves from slope to plateau.

 

There's also a process to navigate the cycle: scope, track, rank, evaluate, evangelise and transfer (STREET).

One point I was pleased to see Gartner make, and that I completely agree with is that "the hype cycle really isn’t about technology, but about the human reaction to anything new – in particular the mismatch between expectations and reality".

 

So what about web 2.0?  Well, the book doesn't really deal with this, and I guess Gartner doesn't want to impact sales of its recent emerging technologies report.

But according to other bloggers, this report shows corporate blogging, wikis and social network analysis entering into the slope of enlightenment.

Microblogging is still in the technology trigger stage (and prediction markets seem to have dropped off the cycle since Gartner's 2006 report).

But web 2.0 is now entering the trough of disillusionment, so we may be going to see a bust in this bubble quite soon.  But Gartner still sound quite upbeat:

"Although Web 2.0 is now entering the Trough of Disillusionment, it will emerge within two years to have transformational impact, as companies steadily gain more experience and success with both the technologies and the cultural implications,"

 

What do you think?  It'd be great to have your comments on this.

 

Technorati Tags: Mastering the Hype Cycle,Garter,Jackie Fenn,Mark Raskino,web 2.0

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Kennedy Information webinar: Building your social capital for maximum productivity and retention

Kennedy Information   I'm beginning to get my ideas on social capital a bit clearer and on 2 October will be sharing them on this Kennedy Information webinar.

In particular, I'll be covering:

  • The value of social capital through the employee lifecycle, from building it through initial recruitment efforts, to maintaining it during layoffs and downsizing
  • Some examples of different strategic contexts for social capital, and food for thought about the type of social capital which might make sense for your own organization
  • Examples of virtual and “real” activities which can be used to enhance organizational social capital
  • A review of HR and recruitment processes can be tailored towards maintaining and building social capital
  • A framework for identifying the activities that can be used to develop social capital in a particular context.

You do need to register (and pay $149) if you want to attend this webinar.  But you only pay for the line, so why not set up for it in a conference room and pay just one fee for as many attendees as you wish.

And if you can't make the 2 October, you can still register and receive access to the full recorded event immediately following its conclusion. Listen at your leisure from anywhere with web access.

It's going to be fun - and I've got a lot of work to get my ideas sorted out before then!

 

Technorati Tags: Kennedy Information,Building Your Social Capital for Maximum Productivity and Retention,Jon Ingham

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Social connections and social intelligence

 

   This month's Harvard Business Review includes an article by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis (co-authors of Primal Leadership)on 'Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership'.

The article combines Goleman's thinking about about social intelligence (the bottom two squares in Goleman's model of emotional intelligence) with Boyatzis's ideas on how leaders can create resonance with others by becoming attuned to the needs and dreams of people they lead.

Calling on evidence from social neuroscience, Goleman had previously noted how our brain’s very design makes it permeable and sociable, producing automatic neural responses in response to social interactions.  As he described this, "our brains engage in an emotional tango, a dance of feelings".

This is especially the case those with whom we have an emotional connection and with whom we spend the greatest amount of time.

When we engage with these people we enter an intimate brain-to-brain linkup - a neural bridge that lets us impact the brain of everyone we interact with, just as they do us: "we are wired to connect".

But we also know that our brains and bodies are connected, so our relationships don't only mould our experience or even our brains but our biology too.

This leads to the idea of ubuntu: that we are the product of our relationships.

Two of the most important facts I've heard about social neuroscience were provided by David Rock at the CIPD conference one year ago today.  These were that when idling, four out of five of the brain's activities are to do with relationships and how people are connected up.  And that someone's level of social connecting determines their overall level of happiness more than any other factors.  So this is important stuff.

In this article, Goleman notes that:

"Certain things leaders do—specifically, exhibit empathy and become attuned to others’ moods—literally affect both their own brain chemistry and that of their followers. Indeed, researchers have found that the leader-follower dynamic is not a case of two (or more) independent brains reacting consciously or unconsciously to each other. Rather, the individual minds become, in a sense, fused into a single system. We believe that great leaders are those whose behavior powerfully leverages the system of brain interconnectedness.

It follows that a potent way of becoming a better leader is to find authentic contexts in which to learn the kinds of social behavior that reinforce the brain’s social circuitry. Leading effectively is, in other words, less about mastering situations—or even mastering social skill sets—than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need."

 

He also provides some updated evidence from neuroscience, looking at the role of three different types of neurons in the brain:

Mirror neurons

"The brain is peppered with neurons that mimic, or mirror, what another being does. This previously unknown class of brain cells operates as neural Wi-Fi, allowing us to navigate our social world. When we consciously or unconsciously detect someone else’s emotions through their actions, our mirror neurons reproduce those emotions. Collectively, these neurons create an instant sense of shared experience.

Mirror neurons have particular importance in organizations, because leaders’ emotions and actions prompt followers to mirror those feelings and deeds. The effects of activating neural circuitry in followers’ brains can be very powerful. So, if leaders hope to get the best out of their people, they should continue to be demanding but in ways that foster a positive mood in their teams. The old carrot-and-stick approach alone doesn’t make neural sense; traditional incentive systems are simply not enough to get the best performance from followers.

There’s a subset of mirror neurons whose only job is to detect other people’s smiles and laughter, prompting smiles and laughter in return. Top-performing leaders elicited laughter from their subordinates three times as often, on average, as did midperforming leaders. Being in a good mood helps people take in information effectively and respond nimbly and creatively. In other words, laughter is serious business."

 

Spindle cells

"Intuition is produced in part by a class of neurons called spindle cells because of their shape. They have a body size about four times that of other brain cells, with an extra-long branch to make attaching to other cells easier and transmitting thoughts and feelings to them quicker. This ultrarapid connection of emotions, beliefs, and judgments creates what behavioral scientists call our social guidance system. Spindle cells trigger neural networks that come into play whenever we have to choose the best response among many—even for a task as routine as prioritizing a to-do list. These cells also help us gauge whether someone is trustworthy and right (or wrong) for a job. Within one-twentieth of a second, our spindle cells fire with information about how we feel about that person; such “thin-slice” judgments can be very accurate, as follow-up metrics reveal. Therefore, leaders should not fear to act on those judgments, provided that they are also attuned to others’ moods."

 

Oscillators

"Followers of an effective leader experience rapport with her—or what we and our colleague Annie McKee call “resonance”. Oscillators coordinate people physically by regulating how and when their bodies move together. You can see oscillators in action when you watch people about to kiss; their movements look like a dance, one body responding to the other seamlessly. The same dynamic occurs when two cellists play together. Not only do they hit their notes in unison, but thanks to oscillators, the two musicians’ right brain hemispheres are more closely coordinated than are the left and right sides of their individual brains."

 

The questions this triggers for me are

1) - is this group contagion where 'culture' comes from?  Is organisational culture simply the result of this wide area network operating across our organisations, linking up everyone in these organisations via the right side of their brains?

This would also explain why culture often reflects the personality of its founder.  As the HBR article explains, "spending time with a living, breathing model of effective behavior provides the perfect stimulation for our mirror neurons, which allow us to directly experience, internalize, and ultimately emulate what we observe".

 

2) - do we need to increase the understanding of social connectedness within our organisations in order to develop pro-social cultures?

 

What do you think - is there something in these ideas?

 

 

Technorati Tags: Daniel Goleman,Social intelligence,Richard Boyatzis,Primal Leadership),Harvard Business Review,September 2008,Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership,mirror neurons,spindle cells,oscillators,ubuntu,RSA,culture

Friday, 12 September 2008

Linking social connections & social media

 

the_evolution_continues_slide   If you were on yesterday's webinar, over at Knowledge Infusion, I hope you enjoyed it.

If you weren't, the slides and recording (available until 26th September) are here (if you're not already registered at KI's centre of excellence, you may have to do this first, but then if you're at all interested in HCM, you need to be on there anyway).  And I know there'll be some more discussion on the COE, that I'll be joining in with, over the next few days.

But I also want to follow up with a post on the graph from that last slide (shown here) I didn't quite manage to get to.  Because this is what my piece was all building up to, and I don't think people will have got quite the impact I was after without it.

The graph is from my social connecting survey.  This has been running for a while, and I've not yet had time to analyse all the findings, so it's still running, and therefore these aren't the final results.

But what this graph shows is that current business priorities (the blue bar) are mainly about aligning and engaging people; developing human capital (attracting, developing and retaining staff) and organisation development / change.

But that social capital is going to get a lot more attention (an increase in priority - shown in the green bars) over the next five years.  It may still be a lower business priority than human capital, which is increasing in importance too, but the increase in the importance of social capital compared to its current level is proportionately much higher than any of the other areas.

And I'd suggest, based upon the slide before this one, that that increase is still being underestimated too.  My take on this is that those transformational opportunities I referred to in the webinar definitely exist.  But I'd repeat the point I made at the end - I think these opportunities are about transforming through people (aided by technology), rather than transforming through technology.  It's an important distinction.

Try to transform by technology and you get to the mess we got into when we all tried to focus on pure e-learning, before we all learned that a blended approach is best.  And some organisations are making this mistake.  The examples I gave during the session were all about recruitment, and there's a great expose of the mess recruiters can get themselves into by focusing too much on the technology in FOT (it's something Krishna mentioned in our podcast on Monday too).

The opportunity is about connections, or as Jason put it, interactions rather than transactions (see, I was listening really!).  And I think that leads to taking one of two choices when implementing digital HR.

Either, you accept your business isn't going to value connections (and if it currently bans Facebook, it's a good sign that it's not) and do want you can with the technology.  But because there's no clear business benefit, you're going to have to do it carefully, sneaking it in under the radar and hoping people don't notice it's 2.0.

Or you make a big play on connections / interactions / social capital, and you get the business to understand how important this is. This can then lead into a significant change programme, and a big launch for the new technology.  But the activities themselves are going to involve a mix of physical as well as technological approaches (ie be blended again).

In my survey, physical activities, particularly team meetings are currently rated the most popular, and team meetings plus social events the most effective.  But people expect the greatest increase in activity over the next five years to be in more traditional (non 2.0) IT systems such as knowledge management systems and corporate directories, and in web 2.0 technologies as well.  And they expect a decrease in the number of team meetings.  Why is this if team meetings are currently rated most effective?  I presume it's because they expect to get better at using and leveraging social technologies over time.  But if you think there's something else to it, do let me know.

As further evidence of this, I'd point to the Internal Communication conference I attended this June.  The best case studies, to me, were the ones where the organisations clearly had some appreciation of the value of connecting, and had made a big thing of the launch (Microsoft being a particularly powerful example).  Others clearly didn't have this perception and implemented web 2.0 using a stealth approach.  Of course, there were also examples to prove the rule - BT clearly understands the value of connecting, but still started their programme off 'under the radar'.

I also think this relates to the debate on whether you link web 2.0 to a key strategic programme, and introduce all the technology that's going to be useful in supporting this at once (yes - if the programme is about connecting , or an outcome of connecting eg collaboration or innovation), or just introduce one particular technology eg expert Q&A, and find as many uses for this technology as you can (yes - if there's no real or perceived value attached to connecting).

Oh, one more thing.  I am going to close the survey at the end of September, but if you're reading this before then, do go into survey monkey and complete it.  The survey is available here: www.snipurl.com/socialconnecting.

I will be posting summary results on this blog, but if you want the full analysis in all it's glory, you'll need to participate in the survey (or just be very nice to me, and I'll probably still send it to you direct).

 

Technorati Tags: Digital HR,webinar,social capital,social connecting,social media,web 2.0,HR 2.0,survey,BT,Microsoft

...and Prediction Markets

 

Intrade - the world's largest prediction market I talked briefly about prediction markets in yesterday's Digital HR webinar, delivered with Knowledge Infusion (and I would have discussed crowdsourcing as well, if I'd had time!).

Like crowdsourcing, the basic idea here is to increase access and use of human capital, and in particular, for prediction markets, the perspectives of staff or others who are not normally involved in decision making.

A recent McKinsey article explains that:

"Initially a field of research, true prediction markets in essence are small-scale electronic markets, frequently open to any employee, that tie payoffs to measurable future events, such as sales data for a computer workstation, the number of bugs in an application, or a product’s usage patterns. Some companies, particularly in the high-tech sector, have adopted them in earnest, and a few major companies elsewhere are experimenting with them."

 

The markets work by aggregating the collective wisdom of the crowd and result in outputs which are at least as accurate as expert opinion:

"They work much like a futures market, in which the price of a contract reflects the collective day-to-day judgment either on a straight number—for instance, what level sales will reach over a certain period—or a probability—for example, the likelihood, measured as a percentage, that a product will hit a certain milestone by a certain date."

 

In a sense, therefore, this is a bit like nominal group technique (NGT), aided by technology, like an e-focus group, and then applied to specific, Y/N, or number based questions, and on a much larger scale.

The approach was developed at Best Buy, initially by just doing better forecasting with a simple survey. While not as sophisticated as a proper prediction market this approach still generated much better forecasts than the business had ever done before:

"Our first experiments at Best Buy were inspired by James [Surowiecki]’s book, and the results suggest that even a rudimentary survey strips away the filters that typically distort information as it moves higher in an organization.

At the time, I was managing the gift card business, which is a relatively small part of our portfolio, but I had a particular interest in it. We sent e-mails to hundreds of people throughout the company and asked them what they thought our gift card sales would be in February 2005. The only information we gave them as the context for their predictions was simple, readily available data. We got some 190 responses and ran a simple average. It turned out to be 99.5 percent accurate, whereas the people who got paid to forecast this were five percentage points off.

We ran a similar experiment later that year, when 350 random people predicted our holiday sales. Once again, the nonexperts, off by just one-tenth of 1 percent, were more accurate than the experts, who were off by 7 percent. The participants were surprised by the outcome when we shared it with them well after the actual results were in and reported. These early experiments encouraged us to get into prediction contracts, and we have to date seen over 2,000 traders make a total of 70,000 trades on 147 contracts."

 

And probably the leader in using prediction markets today is Google:

"We launched our prediction markets in April 2005, and since then we’ve asked about 275 different questions, and there’ve been some 80,000 trades. Around one-quarter of our markets have to do with demand forecasting—for instance, “How many people will use Gmail in the next three months?” Almost all Google products have had, or still have, a prediction market about their usage. Another 30 percent concern the company’s performance—for example, will project deadlines be met? A smaller category concerns things that could happen in our industry, such as mergers and acquisitions that might impact Google significantly."

 

Another perspective is provided by The New York Times:

"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? The lure, nominally, is accumulating those Goobles, which can be converted to modest prizes — $10,000 worth each quarter."

 

(You may also like to see an earlier post of mine on Google which covers its use of both crowdsourcing and prediction markets, and if you're really interested in this: a report, 'Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence From Google').

 

A later New York Times article ('The Next Big Ideas: Placing Bets on the Wisdom of Employees - 20 April 2008 - sorry I can't find a link) discusses another interesting example of the use of prediction markets at InterContinental Hotels:

"Players were asked to submit ideas anonymously, with a description and the benefit for customers and company.  The bettors were given virtual tokens, each receiving 10 green ones to be placed on the best ideas and three red for the bad ideas.

The five top ideas (most green tokens), five bottom ideas (most red) and the top five bettors (most accurate, according to market consensus) were listed regularly.

More than 200 people participated, submitting 85 ideas.  Two projects have ben started as a result of the market."

 

So, same question I asked about crowdsourcing - what's this got to do with HR?

Well, firstly, this is just something HR practitioners need to be aware of, and where appropriate, introduce to their businesses as a tool to leverage their existing human capital.  And I do think it should fall under HR's responsibility.  Yes, the market itself is an IT tool, but the focus is on human capital, and that's HR's responsibility (a lot of HR departments already take responsibility for operating staff suggestion schemes - well this is simply an extension on that).

Also, prediction markets don't provide the same 'threat' to HR as crowdsourcing - we're talking about using the existing employee base rather than outsourcing it externally - but there's still an opportunity to think creatively about extending the range of human capital that's tapped through a predicted market, for example through the group of employee / partners who I discussed in my last post in order to increase the diversity of the market, achieving the 'law of large numbers'.

In the McKinsey article, James Surowiecki (The Wisdom of Crowds) comments that:

"For a crowd to be smart, it needs to satisfy certain criteria. It needs to be diverse, so that people are bringing different pieces of information to the table. It needs to be decentralized, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd’s answer. It needs to summarize people’s opinions into one collective verdict. And the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information and don’t worry about what everyone around them thinks."

 

And Best Buy have noticed that forecasts about their main competitor have not been not very accurate which could also be down to lack of diversity amongst employees who are all involved in the same competitors.  Involving employee / partners could be a good way to make prediction markets work more effectively.

But probably the biggest opportunity for HR is to use prediction markets as a tool to further raise understanding of the importance of human capital, and the increasing range of opportunities which exist to access and manage it.

James Surowiecki comments:

"The prediction markets trend is really part of a broader Web 2.0 bottom-up movement. There’s increasing recognition that large groups of people can solve problems together and come up with interesting answers, and that you don’t necessarily need formal hierarchies to accomplish this."

 

So, prediction markets (and other web 2.0 tools) provide useful support to help change an organisation's culture.  But this is a chicken and the egg situation too.  You need a reasonably well developed culture in order to get the best out of prediction markets / web 2.0 tools.

So, for example, in the McKinsey article, Jeff Severts from Best Buy notes:

"Corporations have a taboo against even considering the possibility that an important initiative may fail. To issue a contract that implies that this could happen is to betray the company in some way. So we found that support from very senior executives is essential if you want to issue contracts on anything that might be controversial. “Air cover” is a must or you’ll find yourself trading on what kind of casserole we’re having in the cafeteria on Thursday."

 

 

I'd like to say thank you to Veronique Briant for her New York Times article - sorry it's taken me so long to post!

Technorati Tags: Prediction markets,McKinsey,James Surowiecki,Crowds,Jeff Severts,Best Buy,Google,InterContinental Hotels

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Crowdsourcing

 

I've just been reading an excerpt of Jeff Howe's new book, 'Crowdsourcing' on wired.com. 

Howe defines crowdsourcing as the act of taking a job traditionally performed by an employee and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people using the transformative power of today's technology which allows communities to be formed by shared interest rather than vicinity.  This enables the power of the many to be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the province of the specialised few.

The idea obviously builds on 'The Wisdom of Crowds' in which James Surowiecki argues that although we generally trust experts and distrust the wisdom of the masses (In 'The Cult of the Amateur', Andrew Keen even outlines grave consequences from the dangerous blurring of professionalism and amateur content), "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them."

In order for a crowd to be smart, he says, it needs to satisfy four conditions:

  1. Diversity of opinion to bring in different information
  2. Independence of members from one another to keep people from being swayed by a single opinion leader
  3. Decentralisation in which power is not collected in one location by an omniscient or farseeing planner, but are made by many individuals
  4. A good method for aggregating opinions (not design by committee).

 

In this situation, people's errors balance each other out; and including all opinions guarantees that the results are "smarter" than if a single expert had been in charge (The Economist also recently reported that multiple guesses made by the same person at different times are also better than one).

But for Howe, the crowd is more than wise - "it's talented, creative and stunningly productive".

He provides a number of examples of crowdsourcing which although already very well quoted, are all relevant and persuasive:

"Once famous for its insular culture, Procter & Gamble now crowdsources much of its R&D process, using global networks of scientists such as InnoCentive and NineSigma, which boast a combined membership of 2 million professional and amateur researchers. Even companies operating in a conventional field such as mining have found crowdsourcing applications. The Canadian gold-mining group Goldcorp put geological survey data online and offered a $575,000 prize to anyone who could identify likely areas for exploration. Goldcorp says the contest produced 110 targets that yielded $3 billion in gold."

 

Probably the best well known of these 'Ideagoras' is InnoCentive which allows companies to post their unsolved problems on a website where 'brain gangs': scientists and thinkers from all over the world can supply solutions. The best suggestions win rewards.  They pitch the idea as follows:

"By joining the open innovation revolution and tapping into the power of crowdsourcing, your institution not only increases its research and development capacity significantly, but also reduces cost, risk and research failure."

 

Business Week has discussed how Colgate Palmolive has used InnoCentive successfully:

"Take Colgate-Palmolive. The company needed a more efficient method for getting its toothpaste into the tube—a seemingly straightforward problem. When its internal R&D team came up empty-handed, the company posted the specs on InnoCentive, one of many new marketplaces that link problems with problem-solvers. A Canadian engineer named Ed Melcarek proposed putting a positive charge on fluoride powder, then grounding the tube. It was an effective application of elementary physics, but not one that Colgate-Palmolive's team of chemists had ever contemplated. Melcarek was duly rewarded with $25,000 for a few hours work."

 

This week's Sunday Times provides further examples:

"Dell, the computer company, has also embraced the philosophy, setting up a website called IdeaStorm for customers to suggest the 'new products and services you’d like to see Dell develop'. Last month it unveiled nine new laptops incorporating the best ideas from the crowd-sourcers who had bombarded IdeaStorm with suggestions.

In America the Library of Congress asked members of Flickr, the photo-sharing website, to identify unknown people in its picture collections. Within weeks hundreds had been correctly captioned by friends and relatives.

Among the apostles of change in the UK is Tom Steinberg, one of the founders of mySociety.org, a not-for-profit organisation that builds websites to make government more open and transparent. It created FixMyStreet.com and TheyWorkForYou.com, a site that gives details of members of parliament, how they vote and what they say. It can, for example, alert you by e-mail when a specified person or subject crops up in parliament."

 

In this environment, the quality of work is all that counts and can be performed by people of every imaginable background: "if you can perform the service, design the product or solve the problem, you've got the job".

I think crowdsourcing provides an important opportunity for organisations to ensure they are accessing the best and widest possible sources of human capital.  After all, as Howe points out in BNET's Useful Commute podcast, "no matter who you are, and who you work for, most of the smartest people work for someone else".

And Rule 4 from Thomas Friedman's 'The World is Flat' suggests that:

"The best companies are the best collaborators.  In the flat world, more and more business will be done through collaborations within and between companies, for a very simple reason: the next layers of value creation are becoming so complex that no single firm or department is going to be able to master them alone."

 

Howe notes that crowdsourcing is triggering a dramatic shift in the way that work is organized and talent is employed.  And he warns, "as the crowd comes to supplant traditional forms of labour, pain and disruption are inevitable".

So what's HR's answer to this new trend?  Does it even have a role?

I think it can have, depending on the type of crowd the organisation wants to create.   Howe talks about outsourcing to an undefined group because you may never know who will have the best solution.

"Sometimes the solutions come from unexpected quarters. An Alaskan company wanted to find a way to stop oil freezing in storage tanks; the answer came not from an oil industry expert, but from a chemist thousands of miles away who pointed out that concrete does not set if it is kept in motion and the same principle might apply to oil."

 

But sometimes you may want to keep your cards closer to your chest, and Howe also talks about examples where customers become partners, involved in co-developing products and services as well as consuming them.

So how about developing the same sort of relationships with key potential recruits: the people the organisation would like to join the firm (for example, in my book, I describe a group I call career partners).  Or alumni who have previously worked with the firm?

Couldn't these 'employee partners' be formed into a sort of crowd?  They're a group of people who in some ways at least are aligned with the organisation, are going to be interested in learning about what it's doing, and quite possibly keen to promote themselves and their knowledge.

I think they could form a crowd, and more broadly, I suspect crowdsourcing provides at least as many opportunities for HR to increase, as it does to decrease, its role and its impact on a business.

 

Technorati Tags: Jeff Howe,Crowdsourcing,James Surowiecki,The Wisdom of Crowds,Thomas Friedman The World is Flat,Andrew Keen,The Cult of the Amateur

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Unjust Rewards

 

Good session at the RSA last night looking at greed and inequality in Britain today.

The session was opened by Polly Toynbee, author of a long-term favourite text of mine, Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britain, and who has just co-authored Unjust Rewards with David Walker.

Among the various facts that Toynbee presented were that although half of earners earn under £23k, only 10% earn over £45k.  But these people still don't feel rich.

The reason seems to be the gap between most of these people and those at the very top, those who Avner Offer, author of The Challenge of Affluence, called the Masters of the Universe, and Will Hutton, author of The State We're In called the Have Yachts, or even the Have Lots of Yachts (in contrast to the Have's and the Have Not's).

And whilst the incomes of the people at the bottom are falling, the incomes of those at the very top are the ones that are growing most.

Remuneration committees have let FTSE CEO salaries spin out of control, and in fact, according to Patterson Associates, with the exception of LTIPs, CEO rewards don't even relate to the performance of their businesses.

Private equity boss, Jon Moulton argued that the high pay of CEOs doesn't matter as much as whether these packages are appropriate and useful: "We put ourselves at some peril if we attack the ludicrous amounts of money they are making.  It's not about justice, it's about about self-interest."

But Toynbee's argument is that this level of inequality is not just unfair and immoral but also dysfunctional.

Whether are not we are living in a broken society, there's an increasing dissonance between what people being told about the country's wealth and how they're feeling about their lives.  For example, fear of crime is increasing although actual crime levels are falling fast.

This has a serious impact.  Inequality has a serious impact on health and well-being as well as social cohesion and mobility.

And Hutton thought the fact that most Have Yachts aren't engaged in philanthropy, and don't understand how most people live, means that they have declared independence from the rest of us.  This breaks a fundamental principle of human association which is proportionality.

Have Yachts are being paid for beta, not alpha performance.  For being in the right place at the right time.

As David Willetts, MP, concluded, meritocracy is like tennis: "Just something the middle classes play with each other", but which isn't really available to the wider population.

But, in Toynbee's words: "It doesn't have to be this way.  We can shrug off our economic fatalism.  The way we choose to live is in our hands and we could do better."

One part of the solution is a more distributive tax system, but as Hutton commented, "it's a system wide issue" and I can't see how Toynbee's "mutual obligation to well being" will be created without some deeper changes in the way we think and act.

This then takes us back to the theme of earlier RSA event which concerned the need to change the way we think about ourselves.

In fact there have been quite a few good events at the RSA recently and the organisation seems to be really buzzing, although I'm a bit worried that another private equity boss and HR critic Luke Johnson will the society's next chair.

I wonder what he's been doing to reduce the CE / staff pay differential at Channel 4?

 

Please note, that with the exception of that last cheap shot, these notes attempt to summarise what was discussed in the event, rather than providing my own opinions on the justness of rewards.  Maybe it's just because I recently worked for a large, global reward consultancy where we deliberately avoided any discussion on fat cats et al, but I feel slightly uncomfortable discussing my personal views on these issues, so for example I deliberately refrained from posting on the arguments over non-doms earlier this year.

But given my allegiance to the RSA and the fact that I decided to post on this event, you can probably guess where I'm coming from!

 

Technorati Tags: RSA,Unjust Rewards,greed and inequality in Britain today,Polly Toynbee,David Walker,Avner Offer,Jon Moulton,Will Hutton,David Willetts,Matthew Taylor