Driving Change Based on the Diffusion of Innovators

“We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change place with an easy and blesses facility, and we are soon wonted to the change and happy in it.”  ~Mark Twain

For as long as I’ve been working, and I know much longer than that, there has been talk of how to change and evolve the workplace.  I guess it is human nature to find flaws in things and think we can make it better.  How then is the actual act of changing something so challenging?  In the face of change, why do many of us balk and cling to the less-than-perfect current state?

In order to be creative and drive change, we need to re-examine some of the same industry topics that have been discussed previously.  It’s about taking the truisms of our every day workplace existence and rethink how to better design them in order to have ideal future functionality.  We also need to think FAR beyond our comfort zone to push for new ideas that will revolutionize organizations. We also need to think about how change comes about and how our actions can help drive greater adaptation and acceptance.  It truly is an EVOLUTION where change is adopted slowly and it adapts to the needs of the individual, the organization, the economy, the barriers, and the technology.

One model I’ve come across throughout my sociological studies and in my career is Everett Rogers‘ theory on the Diffusion of Innovators.  Rogers was a sociologist who, at the age of thirty, wrote that diffusion is, “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.”   Rogers basically demonstrated that  change agents can be broken down into their rate of adoption.  Here’s a common model of how that looks.



A Real-life Example

Having just completed another HRevolution, we receive questions about how the event fits into the Human Resource landscape.  I have a few observations that can help illustrate the user adoption of an event that is disruptive to the norm.

  1. There is a strong feeling that the excitement that comes with a less structured event will be able to drive the momentum for faster change in the industry.  While I personally wish this were the case, it is not.  As you can see on the curve, only 2.5% of people are truly innovators followed by the 13.5% of early adopters.  I look at people in these two categories who seek out learning in a non-traditional format as the risk takers.  These are the people who are helping create the pressure for change and they are the ones who can personally respond well to change.   So in my opinion, people in the top 16% should really be seen as the people  who are going to take new, innovative looks at old facts and come up with ideas to drive business efforts forward.
  2. The “early majority” need more facts.  It’s not that they are adverse to change, they just need that little extra push in order to support and embrace the change.  This group will need to either be persuaded to experience the change or they will need to see concrete examples of how a new approach can benefit them.
  3. What he labels “late majority” are really the group that needs to be shown WHY they need to get on board.  They have numerous objections and will need many discussions to vet all the possible negative outcomes of the process.  In my opinion, this is where many leaders fall.  It’s not that they won’t change, you just have to provide a compelling case to nudge them in that direction.  They may have more to lose when it comes to their credibility.  However, get them in your corner and people will definitely notice.
  4. The last group is  the “Over My Dead Body” group.  If you need a barrier, here it is.

Regardless of what type of change you think is valuable to your organization, come at the problem with:

  • A plan- Like any skilled business person knows, you have to have a well thought out plan and a business case to even get your toe in the door to start the discussion.
  • Facts- Case studies, research and statistics to support the change initiative.
  • Ability, influence, or power to articulate and persuade- If you don’t have any of these, you need to find someone in the organization who can help you fill this role.  Look to the people you know who tend to be early adopters and convince them.  Then, sell the idea to the powers that be.
  • A backup strategy- What if it doesn’t work?  What is the plan you can come back with that says you’ve already thought through several scenarios in which the change does not take hold?

What are other ways you can convince others to adopt innovative ideas you, or your team have?  Please share them in the comments.

*Adapted from the dusty archives

If Anyone Should Ever Hurt You

Unfortunately, there will always be people who bully us.  From the school yard to the workplace, they are relentless.  Hold your head high and focus on all the people that love and respect you.  This poem is a good reminder for when the wolves come out.

“If anyone should ever hurt you”

If anyone should ever hurt you
And say a thing unkind,
Remember what I tell you,
And keep these things in mind.

For everyone who makes you cry,
There are three who make you smile,
And a smile will last a long, long time,
But a tear just a little while.

If someone says a thing that’s cruel,
Don’t let it get to you.
There’s so much good about you,
And your faults are very few.

So if a certain someone
Should act a certain way,
Just think of those who love you
And don’t let it ruin your day.

Don’t let someone who hates the world
Cause you to hate it too,
For behind the clouds is a golden sun,
And a sky that’s bright and blue.

 Author: Unknown

Small Acts of Kindness That Make a Difference

Waking up on Pacific time means that at 4 am this girl is wide awake.  The benefit is time to blog.  I was sitting here reflecting on a conversation I had last night with some friends.  We all travel quite a bit and one mentioned that he makes a point to ask the airport ticket agents, gate agents, flight attendants, bartenders and servers how they are doing.  This isn’t just a quick meaningless interaction either.  It’s a sincere question and he says it elicits the most surprising results.  People are always excited to tell him and it seems to make their day.

It seems like such a small gesture to ask, sincerely, how someone’s day is going.  Many of these professionals fade into the background of our travel days….like so many other people we come into contact with each day.  I wonder what the result would be if each of us spent today REALLY talking to the people that take care of us all day.

Today is the day to find out.  Let me know in the comments if you have good results or if it made a difference.  Happy Wednesday!

Can Professional Writing Harm Your Blog?

bloggingI’m siting here this morning about to head to the airport on a business trip and I’m thinking about this blog.  For the first four years, it was my outlet, my online journal of thoughts.  Sure, I had some posts that were full of research and took many hours to write, but many were just posts of what was in my head in the moment. After a few years, I actually became a professional writer, paid to come up with intriguing, researched articles.  I’m thinking this has harmed my blog.

How so?  Well, one of the most valuable aspects of blogging (and reading blogs) for me is the free-flow of thoughts.  Now, as I’m used to editors who look for specific learning points, referenced materials, or the “proper” process  of having a thesis and then giving examples to either prove or disprove it, it has changed what I post.  I find that many posts I write sit in my drafts for months, even years.  I am hesitant to share because they are not always fully thought out ideas.

The harm in that is that when I used to post them, it would spark comments and collaboration from all the readers.  We became a writing team of sorts.  We were in this together.  We learned from each other.  Well, going forward I am going to do my best to go back to the way things were.  I will continue writing professionally for clients, but on this blog, I will also add in some posts that are more random and that will hopefully spark your interest to join in a conversation.

What do you think?  What do blogs mean to you and do you think they should always point out a fully formed thought?

Top 10 Reasons to Attend HRevolution This Year

Top 10We’re only one week away from the HRevolution taking St. Louis, MO by storm and I thought it would be fun to share the top ten reasons to attend.  They are:

10.  You want to surround yourself with HR people who are all thinking about how to keep #HRPositive!

9.  You can’t bear the thought of sitting through another boring traditional conference presentation.

8.  You’ve never been to St. Louis, MO- home of the Gateway Arch, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, Gooey Butter Cake and the St. Louis Cardinals!

7.  You want to hear how world-class HR leaders are handling some of the same issues you are.

6.  You’ want to get in on the HR Happy Hour show.

5.  You’ve clawed your way out of  “cubicle land” and want to talk about the future of HR.

4.  You want to see Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR chug a whole  2 liter bottle of Diet Mountain Dew.

3.  You’ve never had Toasted Ravioli and it’s high time you did!

2.  It’s high time you learned about the Art of Candidate Engagement.

And the number one reason to attend HRevolution…..

1.  You want to learn, share, collaborate, and network with the most innovative people in today’s HR community.  Seriously.

Please visit the HRevolution registration site to sign up today.  It will be the best $200 you’ve spent.  Also, what other conference can you attend for that price?  What a deal!  For more information on the un-conference, go to the HRevolution site.

See you in St. Louis!

7 Key Steps to Take After Attending a Conference

12140182_10156221886095523_2086492483217665690_oThe 18th Annual HR Technology Conference wrapped last Wednesday and I’m already missing all the people I connected with.  I’m taking lots of steps to keep those relationships going and how I can help others.  Regardless if you attend a conference as part of a group, or if you’re there on your own, the importance is what you do with the information you learned and how you apply it all when you get back to the day-to-day grind.

7 Key Steps to Take When You Return from a Conference

  1. Go through all the business cards you collected and send out connection requests via LinkedIn.  Networking and making connections is one of the largest benefits of conference attendance.  I know we sometimes think business cards are an out-of-date item, but I personally came back with a huge handful and I make sure to follow up with each person in some way.  Definitely worth your time to reinforce those in-person connections and build relationships.
  2. Send a thank you note to any speaker you saw that made a difference in the way you think.  As a speaker at HR Tech and other conferences, I can tell you that people prepare for weeks or months to present.  Acknowledging their hard work is a nice way to make them feel appreciated for the time they spent with you.  Whether it’s a tweet, email or LinkedIn note, it means so much to the speaker.  Also, if you have any direct feedback for that person, share it.  We don’t always get the evaluations so hearing what we did well or what you’d like to see more/ less of is helpful for their next presentation.
  3. Write a summary for your boss on the value of attending.  Many employers do not understand the value of learning at a conference.  Make sure to spell it out.  This is key whether you are in a corporate position, you work for a solution provider or you’re there on your own.  I work for myself now, but I made sure to write a summary of the value so that I can compare it year-over-year as I decide which events to keep attending.
  4. Follow people who tweeted using the #HRTechConf hashtag.  Having a list of people in the HR space at your finger tips is invaluable. Be sure to solidify those connections on Twitter.
  5. Give feedback to HR Tech (LRP).  Hopefully you filled out session surveys or other conference surveys.  If not, tweet them or go to The HR Technology Conference group on LinkedIn and leave feedback.  They work hard each year to pull this together, so share what really worked well and any suggestions for improvement.
  6. Send thank you notes to any vendor or HR pro you met that you want to keep in touch with.  This is an extra step.  A personal note is certainly a way to stand out and make yourself memorable to that person.
  7. Share pictures.  Who know that HR pros could be so fun?  Use social networks to share your pictures.  Speakers love to have pictures of themselves presenting, share the fun ones from charitable events and of course, the real “social” nightlife.

So there you have it- ways to wrap up an event and continue the value.  What do you do when you return home from a conference?  Share your story in the comments.

Top 10 Takeaways from The HR Technology Conference 2015

17th+Annual+HR+Technology+ConferenceThe 2015 HR Technology Conference just wrapped and it is time to collect my thoughts and reflect on the event.  First, thank you to Steve Boese and David Shadovitz for the work you do creating the event.  Thank you also to the team at LRP for selecting me as a speaker this year and for all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing an event of this caliber.  Even though I don’t work for LRP, although some think I do, it is an honor to be part of such a stellar event.

I attended as a speaker and an analyst this year.  I tried to make the most of my analyst time by visiting with as many solution providers as possible, mostly in the Expo Hall, which enables me to have advisory discussions with HR leaders throughout the rest of the year.  I also attended some great sessions like the Awesome New Technologies session and the Awesome New Startups session.  Both showcase the best of what we can expect from the world of HCM technology and it’s exciting to watch the transformation of our industry.  That said, I have ten things I am taking away from this year’s event.

Top 10 Takeaways

  1. Compliance reigns-  If you listen to some of the sessions and some of the leaders of various solution providers, you may believe that compliance is dead, or at least being killed off.  But much like your favorite character from a soap opera, compliance is not only not dead, it’s stronger than ever.  As a former HR leader, ensuring the compliance was being handled properly was what helped me sleep at night.  Knowing that risk was mitigated and that we had all the regulations met let me focus time on more of the “fun HR” strategies.  After talking to numerous vendors who strive to help keep your business in compliance so that you are freed up to work on other things, I’m excited to see that this is truly achievable for today’s HR pros.  Hat tip to Equifax Workforce Solutions and Talentwise for what you all have going on this year as well as what you’re doing in 2016!
  2. Move to Human-  It’s interesting to hear who is more concerned with the bits and bytes and who is focused on people. I know it’s a HR technology conference, however, those companies and speakers who focused more on the people….the human side of HR….were the winners in my eyes.  As I walked through the Expo Hall, I tried to pay special attention to the providers who talked more about the actual people and the benefit of the tools for the people than those who talked about features.  Several providers stood out in this area for me:  Ultimate Software, Silkroad and Globoforce.  Kudos for keeping the people front-and-center as you enter 2016!
  3. Marketplaces are the Future- This was the first year that one of the main buzzwords I heard was “marketplace”.  Giving employees and leaders the opportunities to make choices easier when it comes to a variety of solutions was refreshing.  Two standouts here were ADP and the ADP Marketplace showcased during Awesome New Technologies.  The second was PlanSource and their benefits marketplace.  I can’t wait to see how organizations embrace all the offerings.
  4. Opportunities for the Cloud-  For several years, talk has made it seem like everyone had already moved to the cloud.  As analysts, we know that this is not the case….YET.  The movement is certainly picking up and for me, the take away is that solution providers need to keep reminding themselves that NOT EVERYONE is there yet.  Give these organizational leaders time.
  5. Some Buzzwords are Overly Ambitious-  If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrases “machine learning” or “predictive analytics”, I’d have left Las Vegas richer than if I’d played Craps.  I’m all for talking about the workplace of 2020 or 2025, however, don’t forget that many HR leaders and teams are still trying to find solutions to bring all their people data together.  Others are a step farther and can actually run reports on that data and make some recommendations.  Thinking that HR pros have all the tools needed to embrace prediction is overly ambitious.  The same goes for machine learning.  We are taking baby steps as organizations.
  6. Startups push the Established Vendors- One of the most exciting things for me during this event was the opportunity to connect with some very exciting startups.  From having the opportunity to answer questions for the startup community at HR Tech Tank on Sunday to spending time talking to entrepreneurs in the Startup Pavillion, I was energized.  Two standouts for me were Bridge US and Elevated Careers by eHarmony.  These two are doing great things and should be on your watch list for 2016.  It will be interesting to see how the more established providers react to some of the new ideas startups are pursuing.
  7. Not everyone in HR wants to do it all-  One topic that came up in a session I led was the disagreement on just how much a HR leader wants to do or has time to do.  For example, I think it is a great idea to have technology implementation that is faster and easier.  However, providers need to keep in mind that you have HR leaders who may not have time to implement this technology and that they want to pay you to do it.  They also need options for customized service from you because they may not fully understand how to purchase and implement a technology.  This is by no means a knock on HR pros….this is just a gentle reminder that sometimes, we all need to have a helping hand or be taken care of….even HR pros.
  8. Education = Comfort-  Whether it’s buying a technology, implementing a technology or just learning how to be a better HR leader, attendees want education.  The job HR leaders face is a challenging one and whether it’s through sessions at the event, discussions at a booth, or once they return back to their offices, they need ongoing education and support in order to be comfortable with technology.  An organization that is making strides on providing education for HR leaders is Peoplefluent.  I am glad to see their focus not only on the tools to help HR, but in making them comfortable.
  9. HR needs help with Internal Communications-  The primary way that HR teams communicate with employees and leaders is via email.  This is changing.  As HCM solutions begin to offer new avenues for communication in organizations, they should also offer more in the way of templates or service offerings on the communications to be shared.  Several providers are now offering solid resources.  A couple I liked were from Oracle and Successfactors.
  10. Approachability trumps formality- My final takeaway is around the way not only the event works, but how business works.  I am hearing feedback that people value the ability to be approachable far more than being formal.  Whether you’re a speaker or a provider, spend time planning how to make yourself and your organization more approachable.  Those of us in the HCM technology space are far more comfortable than the average HR buyer.  Let’s make them feel welcome.

So, those were my top takeaways.  If you attended, what were yours?  Be sure to share them in the comments section.

Live From New York, It’s HR Happy Hour!

Join Steve Boese and me in an episode we recorded LIVE at the ADP Analyst Day in New York City.  We were thrilled to have Don Weinstein, SVP of Product Management at ADP, join us to talk about HR technology, the future needs of the workplace and share some of the exciting things ADP has been working on that are being released.

Don tells us how ADP is addressing the pain points of HR leaders and of business leaders in general.  The discussion about the ADP Marketplace and the 60+ apps that are already available expanded to the more than 350 partners that are in the pipeline.  ADP is transforming HCM by interconnecting the technology with the expertise they have and all the data that they have too.

ADP is going through a great deal of innovation right now from the hiring process to the time that an employee leaves a company.  Tune in to hear how they are working to not only address the pain points leaders have, but to anticipate what the future needs of the organization will be.  Thanks to ADP and Don Weinstein for your hospitality at ADP Analyst Day and for sharing some of the exciting approaches you are taking to HCM and to work!

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