An Ode for HR Guy : “There once was an HR Guy from Nantucket ….”

An Ode for HR Guy   There once was an HR guy from Nantucket Who thought about HR Technology and at first, said “………. it” He wondered out loud how his global company could survive, With employees of Chinese, Irish, Indian decent, virtually, trying to thrive, on queries, issues and concerns from his executives and managers evermore, with aging files, spreadsheets and poor data… at the core. He knew what must be done, what was needed, but no one would listen, To his preaching the value of a new software application, an HRM System. How crazy to do so, was his first thought, That is, until he considered the battles HR had fought. For HR was considered a blockage, a hinder, a bureaucratic mess, And until some costs were saved, colleagues considered HR only in jest. So HR Guy considered the pros, cons, change and culture concerns, and decided that a new cloud capability is feasible, with possibly good returns. So moving ahead with due care, he selected an HR Technology provider from many. With contract, implementation fees and staff, it ended up costing a “pretty penny”. Improving HR processes, workflows, and providing self service to managers and staff, the new HRMS gives efficiencies and savings, cutting time and costs in half. Showing value and business impact while gaining a strategic role, HR guy gains “clout” and moves up on the corporate totem pole. Soon off to semi-retirement, for a Consultant he became, helping other organizations play in this HR technology game. So now, with new clients, no cares, no worries, no staff and still getting paid, the HR guy is pleased, with all the HRMS decisions he had made.   Marc Miller Marc S Miller Associates February...

Arguably, the most strategic question ever asked of HR!!

Or, not, you decide. But regardless it is worth thinking about and is quite an affirming scenario for my fellow HR and HR technology industry colleagues. A few years ago, I was fortunate to facilitate a panel discussion of some top corporate executives relating to their expectations of HR’s role in their organization. We got to talking about what is an example of a truly “strategic” issue, or question. To the panelists (of which there were 4 or 5), I happen to ask, “as President (or CEO) of a large corporation (they all were) can you give us an example of a recent strategic issue you were faced with? In other words – what was a recent concern, that you as President / CEO keeps you, or kept you, awake at night? I will never forget the response from the President (at the time) of a Fortune 100 – Midwest based “industry giant”. Are you ready? – Here is the MOST strategic question asked by a CEO/President. The simple question: “What country do we (the company) go into next? And what do we do there?” That’s it. Simple. Word for word. Precisely stated. It is as strategic as you can get, in my humble opinion. How it was then resolved is telling, fascinating and affirming to my fellow HR and HRT colleagues and myself in attendance and since that time. So, what was done to get some kind of answer? The CEO (no dummy ) created a Committee to provide him with at least 2 options. And here is the key – he appointed the CHIEF HR OFFICER (CHRO) to head the committee and to appoint the other members. Yes, the CHRO! The CEO recognized that the people in his whole organization, the talent pipeline, their competencies, their familiarity with differing cultures, etc. would be a key component of any successful undertaking for the company, anywhere in the world. The CHRO (no dummy herself) in turn recognized the need for Legal, 0perations, IT, Finance, Marketing and other HR representatives and thus rounded out the committee (If I recall, 6 -8 members). They were given 4 months to make their recommendation to the CEO. The Committee published their opinion suggesting 2 countries and 4 product delivery options. Then the Executive Committee chimed in. And thus, in 2014 – 2015, a new plant was operating in (______) – the country does not matter. What does matter, the point of my writing this day, is that the CHRO was given the lead. The CHRO then selected the needed expertise. Then using available data and metrics from HRMS, Financial and Operations systems and strong input about country regulations and trans-border data transfer and privacy issues, a strategic and critically important decision was made and executed based on “Information”. How’s that for maintaining the proverbial “seat at the table” ! Yes, the CHRO, the Chief HR Officer, spearheaded the effort. That alone is strategically wonderful. We can all hope that we have, in our work lives, an open minded, thoughtful, group of senior executives who realize the day to day importance of the company’s Human Resource and its Management, and who will count on Human Resources to provide “information” (not just data reports) – value added information on which to base critical decisions upon. Marc February...

The Preying Mantis

Still cleaning out my files. Found this wonderful poem by Ralph Windle among my “humor” file. So – here it is – poking some fun at myself and my fellow consultants in HR Technology and in any industry or application. I hope you enjoy the “ODE TO LATTER DAY CONSULTANTS” also known as…   THE PREYING MANTIS   Of all the businesses, by far Consultancy’s the most bizarre.   For, to the penetrating eye, There’s no apparent reason why, With no more assets than a pen, This group of personable (wo)men Can sell to clients more than twice The same ridiculous advice, Or find, in such a rich profusion, Problems to fit their own solution.   This strategy that they pursue- To give advice, instead of do – Keeps their fingers on the pulses Without recourse to stomach ulcers. And brings them monetary gain, Without a modicum of pain.   The wretched object of their quest, Reduced to cardiac arrest, Is left alone to implement The asinine report they’ve sent.   Meanwhile the analysts have gone Back to client number one, Who desperately needs their aid To tidy up the mess they made.   And on and on – ad infinitum – The masochistic clients invite ’em. Until the merciful reliever Invokes the company receiver.   No one really seems to know The rate at which consultants grow. By some amoeba-like division? Or chemo-biologic fission? They clone themselves without an end Along their exponential trend.   The paradox is that each adviser, If he makes his client wiser, Inadvertently destroys, The basis of his future joys.   So does anybody know Where latter-day consultants go?       Original poem by Bertie Ramsbottom the alter ego of Mr. Ralph Windle – as published in the Financial Times, April 11, 1981. See his anthology of business poetry – The Poetry of Business Life: An Anthology – available on...

WHY PROJECTS FAIL? – A HORSE’S ASS? – Perhaps.

While performing my New Year’s resolutions of reviewing 30 years worth of my files – including a file called – “humor and interesting information”, I found this. It has been around for a long while. But now I have updated it and I dedicate the concept to all my fellow consultants and colleagues involved with implementing an HRMS or any other applications. I hope you enjoy, Marc. ************************************* Does the expression “we’ve always done it that way!” ring any bells? To any one involved with implementing any new technology – it certainly voices a major resistance to change attitude. An attitude or belief that often requires effective skills to overcome. Change Management is always a key and most critical component of for a successful implementation of any new HRMS or any software solution – any application, for any industry for that matter. And the comment “we’ve always done it that way” is a comment that, believe it or not, can be attributed to ancient times! Really. Here’s one piece of true history that can be considered the “justification” for system users, or your clients, or your project’s subject matter experts, etc. thinking and saying that annoying (to every project manger, team leader ) and potentially road blocking phrase – “We’ve always done it that way!” Speaking of “roads” lets explore why this attribution to ancient times seems feasible. Lets start in today’s world. If you have taken any Amtrak train anywhere in the United States, – ever, did you realize that from the existence of railways, the distance between the rails (called the “gauge”) is a very unexpected and odd number. It is 4 feet 8.5 inches. Exceedingly odd, isn’t it ? Why that number? and not, say 5 feet? or 4 feet 6 inches? Because that is the way railroads were built them in England and it was the English expatriates who built the US railroads . Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways. That is what they knew how to do, and they kept those specifications. That was the separation distance between the two rails – that distance – that gauge – for centuries, so why change?. Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramsways use the same approach and tools that they used for building wagons for many years, which used the same wheel spacing. It was their “comfort zone” and their active experience and thus, mindset. So, Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old long distance roads that were prevalent in England. Why did they break? Because of the spacing of the lines of wheel ruts that are long ago embedded in the roads of England. Any uneven fit would pressure the wooden wheels and they would break. So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe and England for their legions. Their roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Where did they come from? Well, Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts. Thus, everyone else had to match the spacing for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they decreed that all similar horse drawn vehicles must have the same wheel spacing. And that spacing was precisely 4feet, 8 and one half inches. Why? Because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses! The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet , 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot! So, you see, some specifications and bureaucracies live forever! So the next time in your role as Consultant, Analyst or Team or Project Lead you are handed a specification and wonder what “horses ass came up with this?’ You may be exactly right! Now a bit of the twist to the story, to more modern times. Remember our now defunct Space Shuttle Program? When the space shuttle program was active, the shuttle vehicle itself sat on top of two gigantic booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters or SRBs – The company, Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit larger, (wider), but the SRBs had to shipped by train from...

For 2015 – The HR System – A cautionary Ancient Fable

A Fable for 2015 THE HUMAN RESOURCE SYSTEM In the beginning… was the purchase of THE HR SYSTEM. And then came the revisions to Corporate work processes. And the workflows were reviewed but were greeted without consensus. And it became that the HR SYSTEM was completely without substance in the eyes of the Patrons. And then despair Was upon the face of the project team members. And they spoke amongst themselves, saying; “It is a crock and it stinks!” And the Project team members went unto their Team Leader, saying; “it is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof.” And the Team Leader went unto the Group manager, saying; “it is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it.” And the Group Manager went unto the Department Manger, saying; “it is a vessel of fertilizer and none many abide its strength.” And the Department Manger went unto the Division Director, saying; “it contains that which aids plant growth and is very strong.” And the Division Director went unto the Board of Directors, saying; “it promotes growth and will very powerful” And the Board went unto the User Community, saying” This new HR System will actively promote the growth and efficiency of the Corporation!” “And you should, and must abide by its capabilities.” And the Users and Patrons looked Upon the HUMAN RESOURCE SYSTEM And thought and thus decreed that it was “good.” And the System came to be…...