User Generated Competency Maps

Thomas Otter, Gartner Analyst by day cyclist by night, posted on his Gartner blog last week about the new XING Competency Card and how it raises questions around the need for “complex, expensive, poorly maintained HR competency management applications behind the firewall”.

The competency card allow you to add skills to your XING profile (think a LinkedIn profile), back them up with commentary detailing your experience and then have your contacts validate this experience.

I decided to give the process a bit of test, as such I signed up to XING and created my own profile including a Competence Card (which you can find under the Applications tab). I have to agree with Thomas, while a basic implementation the look and feel are nice and very easy to use. The simplicity of implementation is part of the attraction, making the tool one of the easiest competency tools I have used.

The idea of peer validation is great and something that is really needed for inside the firewall applications, with a bit extra. The ability to have validations from both internal and external contacts, as not competency can be validated internally, especially in a world of partnerships, outsourcing and the like.

The peer validation process reminded me of survey feature found in PeopleStreme, which allows anyone to create a quick survey to collect feedback on their performance. A feature especially liked by the “validation seeking Generation Y” (yes vast generalisation).

I note in the comments of Thomas’s post Jon Ingham raises the point of still seeing a need for internal competency maps, agree. However a tool that supported both internal and external validation would allow for these maps and still incorporate the user generated aspects of XING’s Competency Card.

So who will be the first vendor with such a feature?

Oracle Social CRM

Today I had the pleasure of meeting with a couple of the Oracle CRM team to talk about Oracle’s new social applications in the CRM On Demand product. The meeting was setup Polly Johnson from Oracle’s PR agency Kinetics, Polly was referred to my by Gareth Llewellyn from Oracle a switched on PR guy. While my main interest is HR related, I am also very interested in everything social media so I accepted.

During the meeting we discussed how Oracle is moving it’s whole product line towards becoming more focused on the social aspect fo business. From a CRM point of view how they can make the applications work better for the individual sales person. One of the key themes was to allow sales people to use their social networks and social media to help enable the sales process. While Oracle is making great steps into this area the products are still limited in their functionality, I will get back to this in a bit.

Now I am not a customer of Oracle, nor a CRM consultant, not even likely to use their CRM products myself. But I do blog, and interact with people who might be these things. Therefore anything I say might be useful for Oracle in the future sales process, ok maybe my reach isn’t that great but you never know. Let me explain this process. I left the meeting about an hour ago and have already blog, and exchanged several Tweets about the meeting. This content is now all out there for anyone to see, use, remix and learn from. Basically I was a digirati solider.

I have to head off to a meeting with Big Red Sky BigRedSky so I will finish the run down on the product later.

The business value of social networks

Tuesday night I was on a panel for the NSW Knowledge Management Forum with three others, Laurie Lock Lee, Tania Maley & Jodie Miners who was roped in as Tania was running late. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant before the event given Laurie has just completed a PhD in the value of social capital to enterprises!

However in preparing for the discussion I reviewed Laurie’s blog and previous work and found I should be able to contribute positively based on my perspective of social networking for HR.

Over the next hour and a half the four of us discussed all sorts of topics, including the value of social software to business! I suspect we could of kept talking for another hour or more. At the end of the day it came down to four high levels of value, recruitment, retention, sharing knowledge amongst silos and leveraging the hidden networks within an organisation. This is a vast simplification of things but a good summary.

From an HR perspective there are several specific areas where leveraging social networks through social software adds value to businesses. Many of these areas are very specific and small but they all add up to larger benefits.

  1. Driving employee engagement
  2. Leaveraging disengaged talent
  3. Sourcing of passive talent
  4. Candidate relationship management
  5. Background checking
  6. Team development
  7. Learning and development
  8. Self service support forums
  9. On boarding

I’m not going to cover all in this blog post, as that would take a long time. Instead I felt I might cover the major factors driving my list; that of Mark Granovetter, Frederick Hertzberg, Emilio Castilla and Alex Edmans. There is also the work by Watson Wyatt on corporate communication, while I feel it is important there could be an element of commericla biasis in their studies.

Mark in 1973 as part of his book “Getting a Job” (and paper entitled “The Strength of Weak Ties”), documented that 56% of participants in his studies found their existing job through a personal contact. Granovetter also found that 55.6% of the connections were made through “weak ties” who were seen “occasionally” (more than once a year but less than twice a week), and 27.8% “rarely” (less than once a year). These “weak ties” are more likely to professional contacts rather than family members or social contacts.

Research by Professor Emilio Castilla from MIT Sloan School of Management found that employees recruited through employee referral programs can have a higher performance over employees recruited through other means. While Professor Castilla’s research was for a single call centre, the findings have been confirmed further by organisations in the US and Australia.

Frederick Herttzberg in 1959 released a book called “The Motivation to Work” where he divided workplace factors into two groups. Motivators and Hygiene. The Hygiene factors of Job Security,Salary,Relationship with Peers,Work Environment and Company policies were needed otherwise people will complain. However along the would not motiviate people to want to work. Whereas the motivators (Achievement, Recognition, Work Itself, Responsibility, Advance, Growth) were all required for employees to feel engaged.

The work published in 2007 by Alex Edmans, Business Professor from Wharton School, found that happy employees do in fact drive company performance. He measured an annually rebalanced portfolio of Fortune magazine’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” from 1998 – 2005. Companies on the list returned 14% during that time compared to 6% for the overall market.

The Watson Wyatt reports on communication found that organisations with “most effective” communication programs provides a 91% total return to shareholders from 2002-2006 compared to 62% for “least effective”. Improved communication effectiveness is associated with a 15.7% increase in market value and effectivly communicating organisations had an employee engagement level 4 times that of least effective.

Do you have a Knol?

A Knol is a unit of knowledge, well according to Google that is. Their new information source has been moved into public Beta. Basically Knol is sort of like Wikipedia but each entry is authored by a single individual who has complete editorial control. Google provides the following outline in the help:

So what subjects can I write on?

(Almost) anything you like. You pick the subject and write it the way you see fit. We don’t edit knols nor do we try to enforce any particular viewpoint – your knol should be written as you want it to be written. Of course, Knols are subject to Terms of Service and Content Policy to ensure a good experience for all users and compliance with applicable laws.

What if someone else has already written an article on that subject?

No problem, you can still write your own article. In fact, the Knol project is a forum for encouraging individual voices and perspectives on topics. As mentioned, no one else can edit your knol (unless you permit it) or mandate how you write about a topic. If you do a search on a topic, you may very well see more than one knol in the search results. Of course, people are free to disagree with you, to write their own knols, to post comments and ratings.

Can I collaborate with other authors?

Of course. For each knol you can choose to write on your own or collaborate with other authors.

An interesting experiment, as mentioned by Mashable is might just end up like Squidoo but it could also turn into something completely different. I could also see the format working internally to organisations for building content. Some organisationa have not yet got their minds around wiki’s allows anyone to edit, where a tool like Knol might be used as a stepping stone towards wikis.

Enterprise Search

For me one of the keys to being a productive knowledge worker is having access to the right information at the right time. This gets even more important as workers begin to self-publish, basically share their knowledge, behind the firewall using blogs, wikis, forums etc. A organisation needs to leverage this data to turn it into information and subsequently knowledge, this can only be done if others can find the data.

Enter enterprise search, which finally is becoming a hot topic. Sadly many organisations lack decent enterprise search tools, which is very concerning and limits their ability to compete.

Google announced an interesting addition to their search offering on Friday, the ability to integrate both internal and external search result.

Related Web Results allows users to see public search results from a Custom Search Business Edition right next to their Google Search Appliance or Google Mini search results. This could be useful when searching for information that would also exist in public discussion groups, forums, or external blogs as shown in the picture below:

This new feature is available to Google Mini or Google Search Appliance owners and downloadable from Google Enterprise Labs.

Taking control of information overload

Something I have been struggling with for about 18 months is information overload, who hasn’t, especially with regard to email and RSS feeds and to a lesser extend podcasts.

To date my method of coping has been to unsubscribe (I removed about 500 blog feeds) or ignore the stream of information (which I do with email subscriptions), this works to a point. I still keep up with the big stories, using the assumption that the limited number of blogs I do follow will point me to the really important stuff, this I must say works well. However I am missing a lot of other interesting stuff and sometimes it takes a week or two for me to catch on that something big is going on.

This morning I found a great post from Steve Rubel (via Twitter from Techmeme) on how to be an information ninja, where Steve provides a run down of how to use Google Reader to control the information overload. The post has 5 key sections:-

* The Core Philosophy: Google Reader is a database and a feed reader
* Continually add tons of feeds in organized, methodical way
* Establish a taxonomy that makes retrieval and sharing easy using on-the-fly tagging
* Annotate your data by connecting Reader to Gmail or Blogger
* Putting it all together – sorting, searching and sharing

After reading it I realised why I was unable to keep up with the information flow, I was not managing it very well. I guess a new years resolution will be to sort out this information flow.

Find that missing tweet

I am currently on day 3 of a self imposed Twitter/Facebook/social network ban so I kind of feel I am disconnected from a community I have heavily been involved in for over a year. Why is a long story and I’m not sure how much longer it will go on for.

Today I found a great new tool that allows me to keep an eye on what is going on, well at least on Twitter. The tool is Tweet Scan (hat tip James

At the moment I am using it as a vanity search tool, the real benefit is being able to review the conversations about topics of interest. For example what is being said about Kevin Rudd (the new Australian Prime Minister), Australian Election, or the V8 Supercars where I was yesterday. Other ideas would be product discussions, restaurants, events, activities or monitoring disasters the list is endless!

The tool will also give PR and corporate communication folks the ability to review what is being said about their organisations in almost real time, just like traditional media watch organisations. There are some cool features such as email alerts and a “Tweet This” link that allows you to tweet about your search.

To quote James:

The information is out there, about what people are doing, saying, and using. Its ours to harvest. The title of this blog is a tongue in cheek hopefully, because the fact is tools like tweetscan make us far more powerful, extending our reach, allowing us into new conversations, making us smarter, and allowing us to test ideas in near real time. A database of conversations. A database of intentions. Its all coming together. 2008 is going to rock.

Web 2.0 and HR

Over the last few weeks I have been preparing a presentation on Web 2.0 and Social Networks to give to a group of HR professionals. The topics I plan to cover are:-

  • Provide a quick overview of what this all is
  • How they help employees use them for good not evil
  • How Enterprises can use the tools, aka Enterprise 2.0
  • How HR can help in the implementations

The presentation uses the idea of FUSE (Find, Use, Share, Expand) where I have pulled together ideas and thoughts from many other people into a single presentation, with attribution. There is also heavily (maybe not healthy) dose of gapingvoid cartoons.

One final thought, during the process I actually realized how big these topics really are and how easy it would be for someone to get very confused.

Blasts from the Past

Over the last couple of days I have been looking for inspiration on what to blog about, so I started researching a couple of topics on communication, collaboration and employee engagement. Funny enough I found some of my old posts, so I thought instead of writing something new I would give you “5 Blasts from the Past“.

  1. Into the Grey Zone
  2. A culture for collaboration
  3. Corporate Communications
  4. Corporate Blogging and Knowledge
  5. Find, Use, Share, Expand

I hope you enjoy.

Personal Knowledge Management

Denham Grey introduces me to the idea of personal knowledge management, now I have known about the concept for a while but ever really understood what it was. He also lists several PKM tools in a previous post which in reviewing them makes me think of some of the previous topics discussed on the TPN Personal Productivity Show. Hey Cameron & Des here is an idea for a show, look at the productivity impacts of effective PKM.

He points to Knowledgeboard which has some fantastic background information and practical tips. The is also a section on the Technologies for PKM, Denham summarises them on his site:-
* PC based search and indexing engines
* PIMs & outliners
* Concept and mindmaps (that do not encourage collaborative editing / design)
* Blogs
* Word processors
* Spreadsheets
* Tracking and link repositories
* E-mail clients
* Web homepages
* RSS aggregator
* Personal thinking / visualization tools