Friday, February 24, 2006

Human Capital, Talent Management, Organizational Capability

How many different ways can we categorize programs and processes that impact the people component of our organizations? In the last few days alone, I've read articles on new Human Capital Metrics, the revised "War for Talent," aging workforce woes, succession management, and leadership development. Over the last 8 years as the economy has boomed, bottomed, and is now booming again, you see human resources and operations people scrambling to alternatively prove their worth and then deliver the people their hungry management needs to fill their positions. Are the different names designating a new magic "ingredient" or are we just re-labeling to provide new spin, white papers, and attention at conferences? Either way, there is some fundamental blocking and tackling that needs to take place.

Inside organizations, most management is continually striving to find the best people to deliver the highest value to customers (internal/external) via the most efficient processes. We all know that requires a lot of moving parts to mesh with synchronicity - when it does, things are beautiful. However, if management doesn't understand what customers want, don't have the people that can deliver it if they do, and can't keep their processes humming, all hell break loose in the form of unhappy customers, disgruntled employees, and waste-ridden processes. After working on several benchmarking studies looking at developing leadership at all levels, talent management, and succession planning, it's obvious that a significant component of business success stems from putting the right people in the right jobs, with the right development plans to eke every ounce of performance out of them. Likewise, after studying process improvement methodologies like 6Sigma and lean, it is apparent that understanding process capability, outcomes, and improvement areas is vital to success. Further, tapping into the knowledge base of the people who engage in those processes for best practices, templates, shortcuts, etc., helps to keep all of the parts moving together. Finally, providing training/learning opportunities via web, classroom, on the job coaching, and mentoring helps individuals maximize their potential and drive better people/process performance. Isn't it time we stopped thinking about disparate improvement programs and instead focused on a Performance Program that focuses on improving the performance of the processes and people that engage in the processes for our value chain?

Wow, what a rant...but these are thoughts I'm mulling over with colleagues. We're focused on investigating how to take this concept further and bring together the best thinking from leadership development, human capital management, training and learning, organizational development, process improvement, and KM into a performance program that drives real, tangible value in an integrated fashion. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Planning Our KM Conference - What to Cover?

We're planning our 11th annual KM Conference for May 4-5 in Vegas this year and met as a team yesterday to discuss. Our internal KM community of practice puts on the conference - picking speakers, setting format, etc. - similar to many other organizations. We're trying something new (for us) this year that I've seen at several other much larger conferences - networking groups. We're asking attendees to answer 4-5 questions so that we can "match" them with individuals that have similar interests. We'll then send that information out so they can make meaningful connections prior to, during, and after the conference. Have others tried this? My main concern is manually matching 300-400 people's profiles. We haven't found a cheap or easy tool that makes this possible and buying Social Network Analysis tools seems a bit overboard.

I would like to see this conference be as "customized" as possible as well - we have the standard program with breaks built in, etc., but we're also trying to do "Birds of a Feather" cocktail reception and lunch breaks to allow members to find their center. What other ways have conferences allowed people to create a "Starbucks" experience where they get the base ingredient and then add/enhance as they go?

I'm saddened by the fact that I won't be in attendance this year - my first miss since 1998. Fortunately, it's for a good reason, however - my wife is due with identical twin girls on May 4! While I'm sure many of the attendees in Vegas will be getting by with as little sleep as me, I won't be doing it over beers and poker chips - instead with midnight feedings and double diaper changes! Should be a fun adventure...