The Permanent Record

Perhaps it was because I’m Chinese American and my Chinese parents were rather crazed about education.  I did graduate high school with a 4.2 GPA and considered myself an academic failure (still do in fact).  My parents used to threaten us that our grades and other bad things we did would go on our permanent records.  I’m sure some of the bad grades I got (B’s?) are stored somewhere, but the permanence of them is questionable.  If I tried hard enough, I could probably find a transcript, but who really cares?  The permanent record is only meaningful so long as anyone cares to look.

This changes once you get into the workforce.  You get a bad performance review and it’s going to follow you around in that company for a very long time.  One wrong comment in a meeting with the CIO and you are not living that puppy down for years.  But one can always move on, and most things don’t truly last forever, especially if you switch divisions or companies.  Pretty much, when someone calls your old company for a reference, there is about 10% chance that job and last date worked are the only tidbits of information anyone will get.  There are things that seem to last longer now…

Ok, admit it, sometime this year, you have Googled yourself to find out if your name is on the first page of hits.  I’m happy to admit it.  I probably search myself once a quarter, but it’s not some narcissistic thinking in the back of my mind that is driving me to do it.  I could care less that on a random friend’s web browser I’m 8 of the top 10 hits.  (yeah, don’t search for yourself on your own PC – Google and others have figured this out and move hits about yourself up apparently).  What I really care about is my reputation.  My Facebook, Linkedin, systematicHR, published articles are all out there.  I’ve had conversations and arguments on the web, all recorded on some server I have no control over.

That picture of me on Yammer pretending to be Vanna White at some client change management thing (there was a whole spin wheel for prizes and everything).  I’m horrified, but it is out there forever.  (Damn you Erin!!!)  I might do silly things that I regret later, but I manage myself pretty well that I don’t do stupid things.  Somewhere along the line, a recruiter will undoubtedly look at a candidate profile of me on Taleo or Brassring, or whatever, and see all the web tidbits that link back to me.  They owe it to their companies to get a complete picture of who I am and how I’ll fit into the organization.  I owe it to myself to make sure that it’s a realistic picture, and not one tainted by one or two events that will stain the rest of the image.  If the worst thing anyone ever finds is that I helped with some change management, I can live with that.


Social Taxonomies: Tagging versus Crowd Metrics

Every now and then, I’m parked at a mall, convention center, airport, and I ask myself, “now where did I park my car?  OK, so I don’t lose my car that often, but on occasion it happens.  OK, I’m not at the mall or convention center that often either.  At any rate, the appropriate action is to walk around the parking lot for a while constantly hitting the alarm button and waiting to hear that familiar chirp.  (Actually, I do that even when I know where the car is and I’m just walking over to it – no idea why…)  At some point, I’ll eventually locate the car.  The alternative, since I’d never really go to a mall or convention center or whatever alone, is the hope that someone I’m with actually remembers where the car is, or the general vicinity.  Depending on the person I’m with, there is either a high level of confidence or not, and sometimes none at all.

Here’s the problem with social enterprise.  Stuff can be really hard to find.  Let’s say that we remember that something was said on a particular subject, but we don’t remember who said it, if it was in a group message board or a blog, or even when it was.  How the heck do we find this stuff?  Even if we did remember it from a blog, the content might be 2 years old and still take a while to find.  Social tools all seem to use a variety of different search tools, but the tools that have emerged seem to deal with either tags or crowd metrics (or a combination of each).

Tagging is the job of either the content author, or content manager.  Sometimes tags can be community driven as well.  The point being that people can tag content with topics that they feel are associated with the content they are presenting.  You’ll notice that this post will return a tag of “social” and “social enterprise” among other things so that those get indexed by the blog and search engines.  It’s not an exact science like the good old dewey decimal system we all learned in elementary school, but if authors are tagging, then it’s likely to have a decent relationship.  If you give readers and the community the ability to tag, now you have even precision as the readers are also the searchers of the content and will have a pretty good idea if the original tags are off.  Every now and then on systematicHR posts I’ll actually adjust tags based on what searches are driving hits to the content.  Lastly, if you have a content manager involved that can further tag, now you have an element of standardization, so you know that similar posts will always be tagged in a similar way – in other words there are no concerns over someone tagging only “social” and a different author using “network.”  The content manager can leave the original tags intact, but would also communize the tags being used across the community.

Crowd metrics are also a wonderful thing.  For those of us who are Facebook users, we’re probably pretty familiar with the news feed that tends to launch more popular items to the top of the list.  The assumption is that if lots of people are looking and commenting on a particular piece of content, there is a higher probability that you’ll also be interested in the content.  The same goes for social enterprise in the workplace.  If many people are looking at content that you follow in some way (through a person, group, topic…) then chances are you want to see it also.  The assumption is that hits, reads, comments, thumb ups indicates some degree of quality of the content.

Things get better when you combine tagging and crowd metrics.  If you do a search for “talent management” in your social enterprise tool, hopefully it brings up the things that are not only tagged with the topic, but also finds the ones that were most popular first.  This blends not only the topical result, but also the assumption of quality as well.  The issue with this is that you can still miss content.  Some things can be mis-tagged, or some items just go unread by the crowds, and continue to appear lower in search results because of it.  Good search should also index words inside the content automatically, but that alone does not mean a high search result.

Obviously for me, the best result is if I just remember where my stupid car is.  But if I can’t hopefully some crowd intelligence in combination with my alarm clicker will work pretty quickly.  I don’t wander aimlessly in parking lots that often thankfully.

HR Social Media – A sytematicHR Case Study

I should probably congratulate the readership of this blog. For CedarCrestone’s annual technology survey, we created one of the largest populations of viable, usable submissions out of any social media outlet that the survey used. (Note that this post was written a few years ago and never published.  I was never going to publish this, but I decided to use this to promote Lexy’s upcoming webinar on the 2012 HR Technology Survey on November 6.) Viable and usable meaning that the submissions were from actual companies rather than consultants or other bloggers not in a position to answer the survey, and also sufficiently complete that the response had enough content to be included in the results tabulation.

I think that is pretty cool, and I think there are very good reasons this happens to be a good outlet. I ran a reader survey a couple years ago trying to figure out who you all are. To my surprise, there are relatively few bloggers and consultants among you. Instead, I found that the great majority of my readers are actual HR practitioners, and that over half of those practitioners were at a director level or above in their organizations. I will have to guess that most of my readers found me through doing a web search and linking here, rather than coming in through another blog. I say that since I don’t participate in the blogosphere, and therefore I don’t get links from other blogs that would give me much larger amounts of inbound traffic – bloggers don’t link to other blogs that don’t li back, and I’ve long had a policy that I don’t link to every HR blog in the world. ((I once had a list of blogs based on an automatic calculation of the sites I referenced the most, not sure if that is still active.))

There are 2 thoughts that I would like to point out. The first is a blogger issue and the second a reader issue. Regarding the regarding my own habits, I’ve already pointed out that I don’t really participate in the blogosphere at all any more. Overall, is means that my google page rank decreases as bloggers reading and commenting on each others posts makes up a huge amount of the active participation out there. I’ve never really cared what other bloggers think about what I write, this blog is not written for them. But part of the social media equation is that participation counts. If my early idea that you can calculate and quantify talent partly through observing page hits, authorship, and comment counts are ever viable, then this blog would probably rank much lower than another blog that gets fewer page hits but many more comments. There is a great value to the interactions because it multiplies the viral effect and reach of the content. If HR social media is ever to be successful, content owners have to be active participants in the environment, and I have been sorely unsuccessful on this front.

However, even if my readers are director level and up HR practitioners, and I value that population more highly than others, my readership is not a commenting, interactive group as measured by the blog. It has always killed me that I don’t have a large number of active commenters, but VPs and Directors may not be that type of group. As noted above, I don’t get many incoming links from other bloggers. What surprises me, is the number of inbound links that I never publish – those are like from corporate intranets that sit behind someone’s firewall. To be honest, I love those links and the comments associated with the link, it tells m that even though you are not commenting here, you are telling your internal HR departments about the value here. So it turns out that you guys are actually highly interactive, it’s just not visible on the public facing portion of the site. The fact that you guys got more viable and usable submissions from a single blog post about the CedarCrestone survey means a lot to me. Even though I never hear from you guys, I know you are out there, reading, asking your internal HR departments to read, and actively participating in your own way.

When it comes to HR social media, what it all comes down to is how well you collaborate with each other, and participation is key. Without it, there is no knowledge sharing and creation. While I’ve failed at collaborating with my fellow bloggers, it seems that my readership has generally succeeded in creating discussion and action outside of this forum. We have alternatively been excited and then skeptical about social media in HR, sometimes both at the same time. I actually wonder what the model for information sharing will be. If systematicHR is any indication, having thriving populations that are visibly active and commenting on the blog might be harder to accomplish. Content publishers (other bloggers in your corporate environment) will be active, but trying to reveal the hidden community that is actively reading is much more difficult.

In the past, I have advocated using the tagging system to quantify expertise by counting the comments and links. This certainly quantifies the participation from other content publishers, but does not discuss the overall value that content may bring. Over time in your internal environment, you’ll begging to have content publishers that become favorites for large populations, and being able to see hit counts in addition to comment traffic becomes critical. The problem with this is that you often need to go to two different sources. My first source is an aggregator where I can see all comments and inbound links from another site/blog. This shows me the active participation. But then I have to go to a hit counter to see the total reader traffic. There are actually websites that show both activity meters, but I have found these to be a bit inaccurate so far. The point being that metrics are problematic – like so many other reports, there are multiple sources that may need to be combined to get the measurements we really want.

Feedback and Calling BS in Social

An interesting thing happened at the recent HR Technology Conference.  During Naomi Bloom’s “Master Panel,” when Mike Capone noted that ADP had the first SaaS application, before anyone else and before anyone called it SaaS, many of my compatriots on twitter decided to tweet this statement.  I have no issues with announcing to the world what a panel member said.  However, I know for what must be a fact that half of my compatriots on twitter thought to themselves, “Hmmm, really?”  In fact, I myself wrote a tweet, “ADP had SaaS first?  I think not!” and posted it just to immediately delete it.  Why after all, would I want to be the only dissenter?  Why would I want to be the only one to rock the boat?

I’ve continued to think about this statement about ADP, and have decided that I can’t really abide by it.  I have defined SaaS by two simple parameters: hosted and single code base.  All that means is that the customer does not maintain anything outside of their network infrastructure, and that all clients have the same application at the same time.

ADP has had Enterprise (before that HRizon) hosted since probably the mid 1990’s.  But they were always on multiple versions.  Similarly, you could say that AutoPay (the mainframe payroll engine) was SaaS since it does indeed cover both parameters of vendor hosted and always on the same version for all clients.  The problem here is that there are different versions of the input devices, and even different applications (Enterprise, Payforce, and now Vantage).  It really was not until ADP Payforce that I think ADP had a true SaaS platform that even they finally called “versionless.”  By the time this came out in about 2005, had been out for 5 years.  It’s completely possible that somewhere in ADP’s portfolio there was a SaaS platform, but I just can’t think of what it was.  If mainframe service bureau was SaaS, then I think IBM had it first.  Did ADP have SaaS first?  Perhaps, but that’s not my version of history.

<begin ADP response>

The fundamental concept of delivering a hosted, multi-tenant solution is something ADP has been doing for decades.  The delivery of those applications via the Internet / Cloud is something we’ve done since ’97 when we launched a product called ADP Remote Control.  This technology eventually became our iProducts series which now has well north of 100k clients.

Another early huge success in the Cloud was the Fall 2000 launch of Pay eXpert, a cloud-based payroll solution.  Today, more than 60,000 clients are using Pay eXpert.

Overall, we have more than 300,000 clients and 18 million users leveraging our cloud solutions.  Included in that count are 30,000 clients leveraging our cloud-based, integrated HCM and Talent offerings such as ADP Workforce Now, ADP Vantage HCM and ADP GlobalView.

</end ADP response>

Back to the point, now that I’ve had the time to think through this.  There was a comment by Ben Brooks in the Social Media Unpanel at HR Technology about “bad behavior.”  Something like “if you have a jerk, let them rise to the top so you can fire them.”  This really could have been me.  With nobody else saying anything about ADP, maybe I was the jerk – the one guy who had to say something and call someone else out in front of (how many thousand people?).  Being the jerk and providing negative public feedback (as I’m doing now in fact) is a dangerous thing.  You can be wrong, be seen as the A-hole, antagonize someone you work with (either internal or god forbid a client).  These are indeed serious risks and impact the way you’ll be seen in the organization.  If your organization is really transparent, perhaps some small callouts or questions are very acceptable.  But in highly politicized organizations, you’d best be thoughtful before being too vocal.

In another session (I wish I could remember), someone noted that with social in their organization they were receiving significantly more positive feedback for their employees than previously possible.  Employees found that giving people “stars” or other types of recognition was not only good for themselves, but also rewarded those they gave the positive feedback to.  Overall, employee engagement probably increased, and the sharing of positive feedback is quite circular (you’re likely to try to return the favor when it’s warranted).  The negative or constructive feedback rarely makes it to social media that is implemented in the enterprise.  These comments are usually reserved for private discussion (which can be dome through some social tools), or for manager discussions.

Either way, the socialization of constructive or negative feedback seems to have been restricted from our social interactions based on the concept of a “polite society.”  It’s not that we don’t want to call each other out, it’s that there is sometimes risk associated with it, and that the benefits of handling certain interactions privately benefits all parties.

I have just looked up Wikipedia’s page on SaaS (the social source of all truth in the universe…) and they do indeed list IBM as one of the first.  But given that mainframe service bureaus are on the SaaS history page, I suppose that ADP might have had it first in HR.  Mea Culpa, I retract my earlier criticism of ADP.  I will now giddily await Ceridian’s rebuttal.

The 2012 HR Technology Conference is Coming!!!

I was visiting a Hari Krishna temple yesterday, but it didn’t open at all times.  Tourists and visitors had to go in during services hours, and in my case, there were a good 1000 people in queue for this particular temple/time combination.  When the doors finally opened, I was amazed at the pushing going on, even when standing still.  Listen, there’s nowhere to go – and I really can’t take a step forward.

For me, unless it’s for work (I’m kinda on top of it if it’s work related), I’m a procrastinator.  Everything I do is last minute – just ask my wife, it drives her crazy.  My general philosophy is that nothing is really quite so critical that I’m going to drive myself nuts trying to get it done RIGHT NOW.  Everything still gets done, usually with the same attention to detail, and almost always on time.  I know that eventually, I’m going to get to the front of that line – I’m just not going to stress about it.

For those of you who are slackers like me, have been planning to go to the conference, but have not registered, there is still time.  Just use the Promotion Code SYSTEMATIC (all caps) when you register online to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,795. The discount does not expire until the conference ends on Oct. 10.

There’s an off chance I might even see you there this year.

The Butterfly Effect

In 1972, Edward Lorenz wrote a paper called “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?”  In this paper, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, a minute, very low mass, and quite insignificant action, represents a small initial and remote condition that can lead to major downstream impacts.  Chaos theory is actually the study of initial conditions that lead to large divergences in outcomes.  ((I know you guys don’t like when I talk science, it shows in the hit rates for this site.  But here goes anyway.))

I’m always complaining about meteorologists (I actually long since stopped watching TV news, so now I complain about  But considering the numerous possibilities and dynamics of how weather can change, it’s no wonder they can’t quite get the formula right.  I mean, how many butterflies are there in the Amazon in Brazil anyway?  The possibilities are so staggering that any predictability is pretty good – so while they can’t take into account every possible variance, it is possible to look at large inputs that are happening fairly close to the near future and impending events.

HR is quite similar – we have so many individual contributors (pun intended) that watching every employee in the organization, every conversation, IM and email is rather impossible.  But we do know that our ability to engage our workforce happens through communications, whether it’s manager to employee, from project managers giving cool work to people, vendors making good or bad promises, executives steering the company direction with the board of directors or communicating to employees.  It might be the random water cooler conversation that spins out of control and becomes an avalanche of employee sentiment (good or bad).

So while we can’t monitor every single interaction in our workforce, we can indeed monitor major trends that are going on.  We know that wind direction is blowing east at 10 miles an hour in a particular region, and that atmospheric pressure is dropping somewhere else.  We understand that as these two conditions might hit each other, certain predictable events happen.

I’m talking as much about tragedy, a change in benefits providers that leads to major losses in employee engagement, as I am talking about those huge gains, increases in a specific competency that drive the next major innovation.  Our jobs in HR are so incredibly complex as we as we create service delivery, technology and processes that foster growth while at the same time combing through predictive analytics that avert disaster at every turn.  It’s our job to understand those trends in current and fan them so they become stronger or weaker.

The breadth of currents that we look out for is also amazing – from all things rewards which is already extraordinarily broad, to talent which is also extraordinarily broad, to core HR, ER, PR, and whatever else R.  We constantly adapt, to new legislation to new processes, technology and theories.  There is so much “why we hate HR” out there, but we accomplish so much it’s often staggering.

So here, on my 1,000th post, I wanted to offer my congratulations to all of you out there – my readers – for all you do, all you are, all we create, and all we contribute.  We control the chaos.  And while you do it, thank you for reading.

Defining Web 2.0

It’s probably long past time to write some definitions.  In fact, I’ve done this before, probably every time I write a post about Web 2.0. A few years ago, I said that Web 2.0 would not be on the radar screens of HR for a couple of years, and sure enough, the last couple of years has seen a huge rise in interest about Web 2.0 and I think that the implementations are starting to grow at a fairly rapid pace.  We should see the first true wave (not a pre-wave) of Web 2.0 implementations starting to go live just about now.

But that still begs the question that I think lots of HR people grapple with:  What is Web 2.0?  Basically, the answer is simple and falls into 4 simple categories:

  1. Web 2.0 helps us connect with each other:  This is the easiest to define since most of us who are interested in Web 2.0 are already on facebook, linked in or twitter.  We already have social networks we participate in on-line, and enterprise Web 2.0 has the same technologies behind the firewall.
  2. Web 2.0 helps us deliver content:  Anyone who is reading this blog is familiar with this.  Web 2.0 helps us publish our content on blogs, wikis and other social media tools.
  3. Web 2.0 helps us receive content:  I have debated whether RSS feeds are dead (this blog has not had any growth in the RSS feed for a couple years I think), but wither it’s RSS, your twitter feed, or your daily updates when you log into facebook telling you what all your friends are up to, Web 2.0 collects information from many people or many sources and aggregates it all for you in one place.
  4. Web 2.0 helps us organize content:  The last is possibly the hardest to see, but included in Web 2.0 technologies are things like tagging.  Tagging is a technology that helps us create dynamic “catalogs” of user based content and user based structures that constantly change based on the dynamic flow of content and ideas through the web.  Unlike “hard-coded catalogs like “Windows Explorer” on your PC, Web 2.0 tags will continually evolve.

Those are my 4 easy steps to understanding Web 2.0.  Anyone think I missed anything?

Inspiration or Engagement?

I’ve been away for a little while.  No, I have not been on vacation, or away from the country.  I’ve just not been writing.  I don’t know if other bloggers have this problem, but I don’t bother writing if I’m not “inspired.”  To be honest, I’ve faced this a few times in my career, and I’m not saying it’s a good thing.  98% of the time, I am pretty inspired.  I love what I do, both for work and in my extracurricular activities like systematicHR. 

I understand employee engagement, but to me it sounds so clinical.  Yes, engaged employees work harder, they are dedicated, they spend more time, they collaborate better, they are happier.  But that just does not do it for me.  I know when I’m inspired I’m also engaged, and when I’m not inspired I’m not engaged.  It’s a 1-to-1 direct relationship.  Engagement just does not quite explain it for me.  Perhaps not all people are as emotionally tied to their work as I am.

Inspiration works for me at the basic levels, just the same way that engagement does.  My work and my management are the direct impacts to how “inspired” I am.  When I love work, I produce some incredible stuff (I can say that, right).  When I love work, I blog a lot because my brain is active trying to connect dots between all sorts of ideas.  When I love my supervisors, I’m motivated to produce, not just for the project, but for myself and for them as well.  This all translates to better productivity, better product, and generally a better environment that I create for myself.

I used to say the same thing when I would cook dinner.  When I’m inspired, I have interesting ideas on how to combine flavors, I make up dishes that I want to try, and I’m always ready to cook.  When I’m not inspired, cooking is a chore and more often than not, it’s going to be dried pasta and some sauce, or a salad.  To me, this is not just being engaged with the world around me.  Its an emotional connectedness and state of being that allows me to relate better to the environment I’m in.

However, to me it’s more than just being engaged.  I get emotionally attached to my work and people, and I can get incredibly disappointed in them.  One way or another, I seem to be “inspired” right now.  Looking forward to our conversations again.


5 Year Post

Can you believe it’s been five years?  I recently read my first post and actually thought it was an ok analysis of HRO vendors at the time.  Pretty funny to me how much things have changed, but also how much I’ve learned both through work and the blog.  I spent 2009 writing much less than I should have, but seem to have entered 2010 quite rejuvenated.  I’m pleased to say that I’m once again written out a few months as I used to do, and that my readership is growing once again after being a slacker for a year.  At any rate, I’m not sure how many others in the HR arena have made it this far, or who have written as much content, so it’s a milestone that I’m reasonably pleased with.

I don’t do a blogroll, there are far too many.  I do have a links list that references those whose posts I write about most frequently.  However, if I were ever to do an abridged blogroll, the below is it.  I know I forgot people, and I apologize.

I still pay attention to many of the people who inspired me when I started five years ago:

But also a whole new set of people who I follow on the blogs or twitter who have entered my scope (in the years after I started systematicHR) as content owners (although some of these have been content owners in a more traditional – non-blog sense for a long time):

I had originally said that I would stop writing at 4 years, but then 4 years came and went, and even though I was producing less, I just could not stop.  So I decided I’d get to 1000 posts and decide what to do, but I’m now confident I’ll keep writing after that milestone as well.  So long as there is content to write about, and as long as I feel that I’m doing it well, I’ll keep going.

So here’s to five years, and to my readers, and to all the people who inspire me.  Thank you.


Employee Blogging for Recruiting

I’m not sure how many of you noticed the NYT article a few months ago on MIT student bloggers.

M.I.T.’s bloggers, who are paid $10 an hour for up to four hours a week, offer thoughts on anything that might interest a prospective student. Some offer advice on the application process and the institute’s intense workload; others write about quirkier topics, like warm apple pie topped with bacon and hot caramel sauce, falling down the stairs or trying to set a world record in the game of Mattress Dominos.

Posting untouched student writing — and comments reacting to that writing — does carry some risks. Boring, sloppily written posts do nothing to burnish an institutional image, college admissions officials say, and there is always the possibility of an inflammatory or wildly negative posting.  ((Lewin, Tamar, October 1, 2009.  “M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree.”  Retrived from

Certainly we have our recruiters on the blogs (look how many recruiting and HR blogs there are nowdays).  And we’re all over linked in and facebook, especially facebook where we can characterize ourselves and our organization with some personality.  But I’m not really sure how many of us have looked into employee blogging.  Employee blogging are not those snippets of quotes that you see on recruiting pages.  They are not the rehearsed lines of “I love my company so much” branding with precision.  Instead, they are the raw, uncensored words of employees and their lives at your organization.

I think that employee blogging holds less risk than student blogging.  Students are expected to say whatever they want, but employees are still bound by the employment contract, and while we may tell people to write whatever they want, at the end of the day, employees still want to keep their jobs.  If you use employee blogs, you’re probably also selecting some of your smartest, most productive performers (and hopefully well compensated engaged employees too).  If this is the case, you have little to worry about.  What you will have is a blogging forum that tells potential employees what a day in the life at your organization really might be like.  Candidates get to hear from the mouths of real practitioners what to expect and what the culture holds, and even what some of the pitfalls are.  If you’re lucky, you not only attract the right people, but you might even weed out those who are not a good fit for the organizational culture.

In a few months, I’ll be hitting year number 5 of blogging at systematicHR.  Come on everyone, it’s time to get in the blogging game already.  🙂

Year End Post and Site Redesign

Since I figure the great majority of you are reading me on email, Google Reader or some other mechanism that allows you to never visit the site (I do it myself, certainly it’s not a criticism – lucky if I ever read an RSS feed on my PC instead of the blackberry), I thought I’d post a note about the site redesign so y’all could come check it out. I also liked the idea of doing a revamp and use post 1200 to announce it.  (yes, that’s right, of the over 900 posts I have actually put up on the site, that means fully 300 or 25% get tossed out because I don’t think they are worth the space on the blogosphere).  I actually understand though that not as many people come to the site as in the early years, as email subscriptions are up, and so are RSS feeds.  I’ve tried to make it easier for everyone by actually adding the Facebook and Twitter links prominently on the front page.  I’ve also installed an off-the-shelf plugin that reformats the entire site for iPhone and Blackberry use (bbry is just ok – iPhone is good to go).

I think this is the second site redesign in the 5 years (almost anyway) of systematicHR, and honestly I’ve been sick of the old site for quite some time.  I’m hoping that while this is a throwback to the old newsletter look and feel, it’s imminently more readable than the blogger look and feel.  Please take a poke around, and let me know what you think.  And if anything blows up, let me know – I get careless with my code since I’m really not a coder.

That said, I also think it’s time to sign off for the year.  Nobody reads this thing between December 20 and January 5 anyway.  I’ve had a pretty good year, from going to work for one of the most prominent consultancies in the talent space, and growing quickly as a strategy and overall technology leader, to having Sumser call me one of the top 100 HR influencers, to ending the year back on FOT’s top blogs list (they decided to score differently this time).

I know I have been blogging less in the last couple of years, but as you know, I do this generally solo and anonymously.  I ask for little back other than the (very) occasional comment to let me know people still read.  At any rate, I’ll continue on to at least my 1000th post, as I have always promised, and we’ll figure it out from there.

Until January, I wish everyone a happy holiday and I look forward to our continued conversations.

Thanks for reading,


An apology to the readers of systematicHR

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been using MS Word to type my blog entries, then using the copy-paste function to get the text into systematcHR. Along with text, a simple copy-paste also brings an abundance of formatting with it, that the blog and most HTML readers will not read.

This has cause the formatting to either show up on your page before the post text, or for those of you who subscribe through blog aggregators or through the e-mail list, the post may not show up at all.

While insidious, the code is not malicious. It is simply formatting from MS Word. I have attempted to clean up the last few posts as well as the posts that are future dated. I hope this problem is resolved, and I can return to my happy typing, and you to your reading.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

-Dubs is Back

This is just a general announcement for those who may have taken off their feed readers (like I did).  This is one of the smartest and thoughtful blogs in the blogosphere, and I’m so extremely peased he’s back after a too long sabatical.  For readers of systematicHR, if you like my blog, you’ll love talentism.  Go check it out again.


Soul searching is always an interesting time.  Whether it’s deciding what priorities there are in your HR department as you attempt to polish off any remaining budget you have for 2008, knowing that little budget will exist in 2009, or if it’s something much simpler like deciding whether to continue a popular blog.  I’ve predicted earlier that the HR industry would not stagnate with an economic slowdown as we’ve learned from the dot-com-bubble-burst that it took too long for HR to recover projects and budgets.  After 2001, it was not until perhaps 2005 that HR budgets for discretionary projects returned.  And it took years to catch up.  I thought this slowdown would be different, and by all indications it was – for a little while at least.  HR spending in the 3rd quarter seemed to be up, all the consultants I know were running around trying to keep up.  And then the financial crisis really hit bottom.  Governments started bailing out banks and financial instituations and perhaps even the automotive industry.  HR spending is down and it’s entirely possible that 2009 is going to be a complete meltdown of HR budgets.  Already, the Silicone Valley is seeing major RIFs and I’m sure it’s happening across the country as well. Those of us in HR may not have budgets in 2009, but we had better start planning exactly how we will emerge from this crisis once our budgets return, hopefully in 2010.

I’ve taken a couple months off.  At first, I was simply locked out of the site and could not write.  I’ll admit that just before I was locked out, I was about to write my final posts.  Indeed, the inability to write those posts have given me some opportunity to reflect and ponder the future of systematicHR.  In the last few days, certain events have taken place that have reminded me how deeply systematicHR has imapcted my life.  Rest assured that I will spend much of December writing, and the site wil lbe back in full swing in January.  I thank you, my readers, for your patience as I’ve taken time for some soul searching.  Most of you know, this is not a for profit enterprise, but a labor of love, and I will continue to give back to the industry that has given me so much already.



State of the Blog

On systematicHR’s third anniversary, I suppose it’s fitting to do a state of the blog. The basics are rather easy. Over 700 posts on a variety of topics in HR strategy and technology, and over 1700 comments. This is of course excluding the 250,000 spam comments that I so luckily have software and services filtering out for me.

I suppose more interesting is the analysis of readership trends. You (my readers) have not been growing over the last six months, and systematicHR seems to be stuck somewhere between the 5-10,000 unique readers mark on a daily basis. While I’ll easily compete with other top HR blogs and even many commercial or association sites, I’ve been rather “bummed” that the growth has stopped. There are an additional 2000 readers who receive full posts through their e-mail boxes or in a feed reader that are not included in these numbers. Overall, it makes for quite a healthy readership. While I have not taken a survey recently, the direct e-mail subscribers lists and the IP’s the hits come though show that you are who I thought you would be. There is a good representation from vendors and consultants. But by far, most of you are from name brand Fortune “2000” companies. (and no, I don’t think that people with Yahoo addresses work in Yahoo HR!)

While it’s been a mediocre year growing the readership, I attribute this to a couple of things.

  1. I’m often late responding to current events or even to posts written by fellow bloggers. systematicHR is written in advance by at least 60 days and often quite a bit more. This is only because I also have a “real” job to attend to, and honestly don’t have the time on a daily basis to manage the site.
  2. I’m much less active in the HR blogosphere than I used to be. Not only has there been an explosion of other HR bloggers, but I don’t really have as much time to go and read them all. Therefore, I’m a bit less engaged in discussions than I used to be, and perhaps systematicHR suffers for the lack of being cited as often.

systematicHR did have a good year in 2007 from a PR standpoint. HREonline put us in their best of the web list, and once again we were a nominee to the best blog awards by I’ve always tried to stay out of the fray here. For one thing, it’s really not important to me. For another, I don’t consider myself a recruiting blog. Therefore, I have generally not even bothered to let the readership know these things are going on. From a different angle, posts at systematicHR have been syndicated in a variety of ways appearing in both mainstream national print media as well as other popular news websites.  But truly, it doesn’t matter much what everyone else thinks.  I think this is the best HR blog out there based on my own criteria.  I write on a daily basis and put out content that I think will be interesting to HR strategists and technologists.  I don’t write about other blogging personalities, about what I had for dinner last night, or about politics.  At systematicHR, we stick to the point and we do it every day.

Every year I have to mention one more thing. People ask why I do this and when I find the time. The truth is, there is no time, but there is a reason. As Jeff Hunter once said, “it’s a labor of love.” People engage in social media to participate. I’d like to think that I can contribute to the HR community is a broader and more extensive way than if I was just sitting behind my desk. I’d like to think that my ideas are interesting, useful, and very occasionally valuable. But that’s for someone else to decide, as I’m obviously biased.

That said, I’m honestly thinking the end is near. It was my wish to be able to blog publicly and not behind the anonymity that is required for my situation. The energy that is put into maintaining a separation between this site and my job is not insignificant. However, and on a more positive note, my original goal was to publish 1000 quality posts with good information and ideas. I think that milestone will come sometime in mid-2009, and whether I get there or not remains to be seen, but I promise that I’m not signing off quite yet. Regardless of what happens to my participation in this site, it has been a fulfilling and enjoyable endeavor.

Thanks for reading.


Happy Holidays (systematicHR on a break)

Thanks for reading this year.  systematicHR is coming around towards its 3rd anniversary on the web, and there are more readers than ever before.  I’ve never taken a break, even when on vacation, the site keeps plugging away.  However, this year I think I’ll take a pause for 3 weeks through the holidays.  I wish everyone a great holiday season (whichever holiday you celebrate), and I’ll look forward to continuing conversations next year.

To start out with, I have a whole week planned on performance management.  Many of our organizations are going to be heading into review and development season, and I thought that would be a great way to kick things off.  So we’ll all relax for a while and come out of the new year swinging.

All the best,


Second Again

The first installation of the HR Blog Power Ratings are out (by the HR Capitalist) and systematicHR came in at second on the list.  We never seem to win these things, but that’s ok.  systematicHR has a great readership and the simple fact that the “Power Ratings” indicates that we have content that the surveyors would recommend to their HR colleagues is gratifying.

We’re not sure what the HR Capitalist means by “I don’t always understand Dubs” but it’s true that I sometimes go off on innovation, generational issues and such, straying away from mainstream HR technology or strategy.  At any rate, we’re glad to be here and glad you’re reading.


2 Years – A Self Proclaimed systematicHR Love-Fest

Yup, my first post on the HR Technology Discussion Board was 2 years ago today and I’ve posted over 500 times since then. You have also written over 1000 comments. About 2000 of you read this site directly on a daily basis, and we’re syndicated on sites such as “The Industry Radar” where we created a site record of 9800 views for our HRIT post.

No matter how many people are reading, it’s the conversations that really make this worthwhile and I’d like to thank a few people for continuing to engage me in discussion and for their incredible insight this year. I know I’ve missed some, so I might update the page:

Andrew Marritt, Chuck Allen, Colin Kingsbury, Donald Glade, Gautam Ghosh, Howard Gerver, Jason Averbook, Jason Corsello, Jeff Hunter, Lavinia Weissman, Lexy Martin, Martin Snyder, Michael Specht, Naomi Bloom, Romuald Restout, The Other Systematic, Tom O’Brien

It’s also been a trying year where I’ve dealt with attorneys, battled people stealing my content, and generally run into issues with the cost of running the site. What started as a place for me to record my thoughts on the industry that only I would ever want to read has certainly turned into an interesting but fulfilling “hobby.” Yes, I do have a real job that averages 65+ hour weeks. Jeff describes his similar situation as a labor of love, and I view it the same way: an opportunity to bring value to the community and an assumption that we’re smarter than what’s provided on the mainstream sites.

Give me a comment or two letting me know if you have any feedback, or tell me what you’d like to read about this coming year. Thanks to everyone who has read, commented, and e-mailed me. I look forward to our continued discussions.