Inspiration through Impact

Si existe, que nos salve de Peña Nieto – If he exists he should save us from Peña Nieto
March 11, 2015, 12:21 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Images of Mexico’s president and his family visiting the UK have circulated the internet, magazines and news throughout the week… “Here we see Angelica Rivera (low level celebrity from the 90’s soap operas, now married to the president) wearing similar clothes as the Windsors, visiting London in a golden chariot, having dinner in Buckingham Palace…” – That is a very different welcome than the Mexican people would give them, if I may say it, a very different one from which the Pena Nieto family deserves. Personally, I can only say that I am annoyed and even offended. The reactions of the First Family towards the Mexican society are some sort of a joke, as if they could hear nothing; actually as if they didn’t care. It’s clear to me that they have no worry. They sleep in their “White House” and move around guarded by a large number of security personnel wearing dresses worth ten thousand dollars… The needs of the “people”… they couldn’t care less. The Queen spoke of the “enduring friendship” between Mexico and the UK, Nick Clegg remarked that he hoped the visit would usher in a “new era of UK-Mexico relations which will bring our people even closer together”, and FCO Minister Hugo Swire tweeted that he found Peña Nieto’s speech “inspiring”. Even by the tawdry standards usually applied to British relations with Latin America, this takes some doing. Mexico is in the grip of an urgent human rights crisis with Amnesty International describing torture as “out of control” and accusing police and security services of having “blood in their hands”. More than 100 000 people have been killed and more than 22 000 have disappeared since Mexico launched a “war on drugs” in 2006. The most recent outrage in Mexico has been the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 students, which Peña Nieto insisted had nothing to do with the Mexican authorities – despite growing evidence of the contrary. I am aware that international diplomatic relations are necessary, but, is it necessary to take Paulina Peña (daughter) for the state visit to Buckingham Palace? Is it necessary for Sofia Castro (step daughter) to make a selfie wearing a Dolce & Gabanna worth 7 275 USD posing as Amal Clooney? Is all the publicity, show off and appearances necessary for a president that very honestly is doing a poor job? “And in the meantime in Mexico”… – letters show up in a frame in the same old school way of those 90s TV shows – In the meantime in Mexico… How can you forget about your missing son? How can someone ask you to learn to walk the streets in fear? How can someone ask you to live with 63 pesos while one kilo of tortillas costs 16 pesos? How can you get used to see corpses on top of corpses, piling up in your country? How can you get used to mass graves being found in which bodies cannot be identified? How can you tolerate for the responsible person of this absolute disaster to wonder around London in a golden chariot? How can you stomach to see them travelling the world problem free when all above are your daily concerns? No, it is not fair. And the whole thing is not a part of any national political agenda. I am very sure. The whole thing reminds me of Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France… As her servants informed her of her people being hungry; she answered – If they don’t have bread, they should eat cake – Point being that she was so far away from reality in Versailles she had no idea of what was happening to the people in Paris, and this is how I feel. I don’t think the Peña family should move out of their home and live like most Mexicans do, the only think that I ask for is for some sensibility and compassion for those that sponsor their lifestyle; to have some knowledge and understanding for the adversity they face and to stop being part of the poison that is killing Mexico. They shouldn’t complaint about the modest way people are voicing their need for change or defend themselves when they are the ones defending themselves with a large security detail, and the very least, they should stop saying to the national media that “the people” should mind their own business when they travel to Vegas (in the middle of the 43 missing students crisis) to have some fun and they owe “no one an explanation”. They do owe an explanation to the people that elected Enrique Peña into office and pay for their eccentricities. The kindest thing one could say about Peña Nieto with regards to the 43 missing students, the drug war, the murder of thousands, and the threats to journalists who try to expose these crimes, is that he has been totally incompetent, unforgivably slow to react, and has failed to adhere to even the most anodyne of his pre-election promises to approach the problems with narcotrafficking from a less militaristic standpoint. This failure means Mexico’s security services are still armed to the teeth, making it easier for them to commit exactly the sort of human rights violations condemned by Amnesty International and other human rights groups across the world. In light of these acts, David Cameron’s vague assurance that he would raise the “human rights issue” during Peña Nieto’s UK visit is laughable. The prime minister expresses horror when Isis militants behead captives to send a message to the west, and yet welcomes with open arms the president of a country in which innocent people are publicly beheaded by drug cartels in their hundreds, protected by a culture of silence and indifference. And yet, we should expect nothing less from the west’s attitude towards Latin America, which has been characterized by this kind of hypocrisy for centuries. Across the region, the US in particular has been unrestrained in its meddling with Latin American governments, frequently installing or befriending tyrants that submit to its will and then denouncing them as soon as they cease to be useful (sounds like something they have done in Africa and the Middle East right?). Similarly, US congress is preparing to issue sanctions against Venezuela for human rights violations committed by the security forces during protests last year; an incredible feat of double standards, given that even the harshest critics of Venezuela would agree that the human rights situation there is not even close to the crisis in Mexico, or for that matter, Colombia. Not that I want to give them any ideas. The US has enough power and inflicts enough pain to the Mexican people and economy as it is. Those who defend European and American policy in Latin America would probably invoke realpolitik; they might argue that the west’s hypocrisy is justifiable, given the need for nations to look out for their own interests. Whatever the reason, we shouldn’t be under any illusion about the consequences of those double standards. It’s not socialist leaders like Castro or Chavez who suffer the consequences from those actions; it’s the regions poorest and most vulnerable people – like those 43 Mexican students that do. For the Peña dynasty luck is not eternal and after a few days of a “dream” they will go back to Mexico, where Mexicans await them with open arms loaded of doubt and resentment. The results of this discontent are more and more visible. The People are often underestimated. This is a Nation thirsty and hungry for justice, disgusted of being laughed at, straight on their face. And if the Peñas were a bit more educated, they would know a bit more about history (which of course they don’t), they would realize that all large revolutions begin with social discontent and unequal wealth distribution. Many protesters now chant to “they take so much away from you that they take the fear away from you”. None is calling for a revolution now (I am not politically close to someone that would instigate or become active in one), but one has to speak up:  The Mexican people won’t tolerate this death and poverty circus forever. As Nemesio Garcia Naranjo said once: Pobre de México tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de Estados Unidos – and the only thing I am left to add is “pero si existe, que nos salve del reino de Peña”.

A Post-it Story
March 7, 2015, 8:26 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

I hope you get something out of this one, either freedom or love.

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Technology and the Development of Human Resources
February 4, 2015, 1:14 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last December, I was involved in a series of conversations with senior executives of large multinationals that were answering in a way or another the key question of: What is the role of an HR team in an organization?

I took a consultant’s approach while answering this question and identified the key levers that would influence the function of Human Resources in an organization; Continued to key drivers within and prioritization of them.

With a couple of months working on the “correct” answer to the question (which can be anything from purely functional to almost spiritual), I decided to use Technology as a common thread for the changes this field has had in organizations over time.

The field of Human Resources can be divided into two basic areas:

  • Personnel management focusing on administrative and legal processes associated with employment of people. This includes things such as managing payroll, providing health care benefits, and handling the administrative and legal details associated with establishing and terminating employment contracts. I like to refer to this as the basic care and feeding of employees.
  • Business execution focusing on talent management processes associated with aligning the workforce to deliver business results. Business execution is often described as “getting the right people in the right jobs doing the right things.” You might also add “in a way that supports the right development for what we want people to do tomorrow.” I refer to this as maximizing and sustaining workforce productivity.

Personnel management is critical to organizational performance but it is not seen as strategic. For example, while it is difficult to motivate employees if their paychecks don’t show up, paying people on time is not going to give a company competitive advantage.

In this sense, personnel management is similar to other crucial support services such as processing expense reports, maintaining e-mail systems, or managing building facilities. The personnel management side of HR typically gets little attention from line of business leaders unless it fails to work.

Business execution represents the strategic side of HR. HR’s ability to increase business execution is the primary reason why HR matters to operations leaders.

Line leaders rarely ask personnel management questions such as “how do I ensure people get paid on time?” They often ask business execution questions such as “how do I get people aligned around the company’s strategic goals?” If HR leaders want greater influence with the CEO and his/her direct reports then being good at business execution is how they will get it.

Why HR struggles to deliver business execution

If line leaders care so much about business execution then why are HR organizations so often viewed as administrative functions consumed with personnel management issues? If HR can help operations leaders “get employees to do what they need them to do,” then why aren’t these leaders proactively reaching out to HR executives for help implementing business strategies? The answers to these questions hinge on an HR department’s ability to truly drive increased levels of business execution.

One reason HR organizations struggle when it comes to business execution is, it is harder to support than personnel administration. Personnel administration is largely about implementing well defined and efficient processes (e.g., ensuring the proper information is collected when enrolling employees in a health care benefits program). In contrast, business execution requires predicting and changing employee behavior (e.g., identifying employees who have the potential to become future business leaders and giving them assignments that allow them to realize this potential).

Predicting and changing behavior is hard. Two things are required for an HR organization to effectively support business execution.

  1. Expertise — The HR organization must have expertise in methods for predicting and changing employee behavior. For example, understanding how to use goals to motivate employee performance or being able to measure employee performance in a way that allows the company to accurately predict future potential.
  2. Implementation — The HR organization must be able to efficiently deploy its business execution expertise across the organization. It does not matter if the HR department knows how to increase employee performance if the department cannot effectively share this knowledge with the line leaders who actually manage employees.

How technology enables HR to evolve to business execution

Technology has and continues to play a pivotal role in enabling HR organizations to move from personnel management to business execution. To illustrate this process, let’s take a look at four different “generations” of HR that have emerged over the past 20 plus years.

  • Pre 1990: Generation “Personnel Administration.” Prior to 1990, many HR organizations were almost entirely focused on personnel administration. This was due in part to the sheer amount of time required to manage administrative HR processes before the widespread implementation of HR automation technology. In fact, prior to 1990 many HR organizations were not even called “human resources.” Instead, they had titles such as Office of Personnel Administration or Personnel Department. The main focus of HR in this generation was on how to efficiently process employee paperwork.
  • 1990 to 2000: Generation “Human Resources.” Two things happened in the 1990s that led to personnel management being redefined as “human resources.” First, implementation of ERP technology significantly reduced the time needed to perform administrative HR tasks. This freed up HR organizations to focus more on business execution topics. This led to significant advances in the expertise found within HR related to predicting and changing employee behavior. Many of the talent management techniques we now take for granted were largely developed in the 90s (e.g., action learning, competency modeling, structured interviewing, goal setting).

Second, the widespread adoption of personal computers made it possible for HR organization to utilize more sophisticated talent management techniques to support key talent decisions. For example, using computer based tools for and forms for evaluating employee performance and assessing job candidates. Throughout the 90s the focus of HR steadily shifted beyond personnel management to include processes designed to improve the quality of workforce decisions (e.g., determining who to hire, proactively managing employee turnover, or using job goals to drive employee development).

  • 2001 to 2010: Generation “Talent Management.” Widespread adoption of Internet systems in the 2000s allowed HR organization to more efficiently share data across what had previously been independent HR processes. For example, automatically importing data collected during the hiring process into systems used to support employee development and management or the creation of an employee profile that truly represents the employee’s life cycle from beginning to end,

Greater access to data enabled HR to shift from focusing on specific employee decisions to aligning talent management processes. No longer was HR limited to being a series of isolated silos focusing on staffing, training, compensation and succession. Now HR could function as a set of integrated talent management processes designed to ensure a steady supply of high performing talent in critical job roles.

  • 2011 to ?: Generation “Business Execution.” As companies increasingly adopt cloud computing applications, HR organizations are spending less time maintaining in-house talent management tools and more time on how to most effectively use these tools to increase workforce productivity. The shift to the cloud also enables HR technology vendors to invest more resources into creating highly scalable, user friendly applications that embed HR expertise in tools that are accessible to line managers. This should allow HR professionals to shift their energy from managing processes to actively supporting business execution. HR is focusing less on simply keeping track of who employees are, and more on ensuring these employees are being used effectively to support the company’s short and long-term business strategies.

The impact that cloud based business execution technology has on HR can be likened to the impact that global positioning satellite (GPS) technology has on the use of street maps. It allows companies to take information off of shelves where it was rarely accessed and put it in the hands of decision makers when they need it in a format they can readily use. The result is an increasing number of HR organizations that are fundamentally and profoundly improving how line managers run their businesses.

Turning HR into a Business Execution department

While technology plays a critical role in enabling the transformation of HR from personnel management to business execution, technology by itself does not create this change. HR leaders must effectively use this technology to drive more business relevant conversation with line leaders.

Rather than asking operations leaders about HR topics such as employee engagement or leadership development, HR professionals must start conversations by asking line leaders about what it is they need people to do. What kinds of people do they need in the company to support the company’s growth strategies? What do they need employees to do differently tomorrow from what they are doing today to effectively drive new business initiatives?

Running a business requires doing three things:

  • Defining Strategy — Figuring out what you need to do to succeed.
  • Managing assets — Securing the capital & resources required to support the strategy.
  • Driving business execution – Building and managing the workforce to effectively leverage company assets to deliver strategic objectives

Defining strategy is commonly owned by the CEO and marketing. Managing assets is often owned by finance and supply chain. HR, for perhaps the first time in its history, now has both the knowledge and tools needed to play a true leadership role in driving business execution.

The next step is for HR leaders to take ownership of this role. We have the tools and knowledge, we just need the courage and conviction to use them.

Meryl Strip, The Guru
September 2, 2014, 11:39 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized

As the workschedule goes around the clock I have little time to collect thoughts. Its more of a time of doing. Yet, I bumped into this quote from Meryl Strip. Captures the feeling, doesn’t it?

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” _ Meryl Streep

The main thing is to Get out of the Building – Validate!
May 31, 2014, 5:42 AM
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In the last few weeks I have had the chance to consolidate some of the tools I have seen to initiate projects in the area of management consulting and technology. And the reality is, that although the Philosophy behind them and the lingo in front of them is quite not the same (the industries although very different are not opposing – for all of them you need a large amount of post it notes) the main principles of these tools are basicly the same:

1. Understand the problem/need that you are to solve for your client/customer
2. Structure your thoughts around the problem and see them from every angle trying not to miss anything.
3. Come up with an hypothesis to solve the problem or need that is addressed
4. Test it and either implement or go back to your sketching board.

In any case, thes use of so many of these tools in the last week have made me pick a current favourite, which interestingly enough is not one of the latest tools that the cool kids shared with me recently. It’s something a bit older that even if it still looks a little casual for corporate use, I think it can get a project ahead just because well… it’s very slick and smart. Yes, I am talking about the Lean startup Machine’s Validation Board, and here she is… Ta-ta!

According to Grace Ng, the VP of Design at LSM, the project’s goal was to “help entrepreneurs all over the world get out of the building and talk to customers.” Ng explains that “so many products fail because they aren’t solving a problem that customers care enough about.” That right there, understanding consumer need, is the difference between helping people with a useful product and a redundant flop.

As you’d expect, the Validation Board essentialy helps startups implement Lean Startup practices into their everyday processes. It’s not an instant ticket to success, but it’ll help entrepreneurs validate their best ideas and if you ask me, you can use it also for a Turnover project as long as you keep the EBIT impact in focus.

So how do you go about using it?

1. Start with hypotheses about your problem and customers. – A common mistake is starting with a solution. But solutions are worthless if the problem isn’t a real problem. .As for your customers, choose a “segment” rather than a demographic: not travelers ages 20-30, but maybe people who travel to gain cultural understanding. That allows you to craft a specific solution for a similar group, rather than a diverse group of people who happen to be the same age or gender.

2. List core assumptions about the problem. – For example, list why it’s a problem. If you think tourists have a problem finding local places to visit, is it because they don’t speak the language? Because other websites lead them to tourist traps? Or everything’s too expensive? Depending on the answer, the ultimate solution will be different.

3. Test your riskiest assumption. -  For example, you might riskily assume that people want to see non-tourist traps. So “get out of the building,” hit the streets, and start offering free tours. Do people get excited about your neighborhood cafe, or are they clamoring for the Coit Tower? Ask them why they’re willing to follow you around. At one Lean Startup Machine workshop, a team actually went out and collected DNA samples, defying protestations by the judges that people would keep their saliva to themselves.

In the tech context, the key here is not building a product yet; you’re just testing; or in the management consulting context, don’t start with your PNL just yet. People really overestimate, ‘- Oh, I need to build it, I need a team. There’s no way I’ll ever be able to learn this without building it.- And it’s just wrong. It’s not true, Both consultants with an MBA and top developers are expensive people and will rarely be willing to work for free or long into the night for an idea that’s not already thought through.

For those that really need to see “it”, my good friend @cjcheshire is turning into one of the voices setting the tone around prototyping. Follow him to see how codeless magic can happen.

4. Look for a “minimum success criterion.” - This is the lowest possible response that will validate your assumption. For example, for the impromptu tour guide, it might be that 10 percent of people are willing and happy to take your quirky tour. Or, even better, that 10 percent of people are willing to give up something, like an email address for future updates. If your assumption is validated, test the next riskiest assumption; if it’s invalidated, your problem hypothesis is wrong, so come up with a new one. And so on.

The validation board may not be a magic bullet – it can’t come up with problems and solutions for you – but it can save you lots of wasted time and money. Oh… and it is so pretty and for free here.

Social is the past… MOOC’s are the future
May 29, 2014, 8:53 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

While recruiters continue to gain skills in search techniques, candidates are elusive and wary of getting unsolicited emails, InMails, and efforts to get them engaged with your firm on Facebook or LinkedIn. Anyone can understand that.

Recruiters, especially not corporate recruiters that have to rely more heavily on their network’s growth potential should also be much smarter about how they find and engage with candidates. A really good candidate has no need for trivial engagement with you and knows that he or she can easily find another position.

The best recruiters use a targeted strategy to identify which candidates are most likely to not only have the skills their organization needs, but which ones are staying current in their field, are learning new skills, and which ones are motivated to work hard.

Younger candidates are attracted to firms that offer access to learning opportunities and older candidates are anxious to gain current, relevant skills.

There may be no better way to do this than to look in-depth at what MOOCs have to offer.

MOOCs (Massive, Open Online Courses) have been growing in popularity for some time. These are college-level courses that are mostly free, and enrollment is quick and easy. They are offered by top schools such as MIT, Stanford, and Harvard (personally have taken on several of them and I am very satisfied)  as well as by a number of firms that provide their own courses, developed by experts. Enrollments in MOOCs have soared over the past few years and as of last October the largest provider, Coursera, had enrolled five million, and edX, a partnership between Harvard, Berkeley, and MIT, had more than 1.3 million.

Sourcing With MOOCs

One MOOC provider, Udacity, also offers a program where recruiters can access student resumes. Firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter have paid Udacity and Coursera to match them with high-performing students.

Most of the courses have online forums where students engage in conversation. A corporate recruiter can use these as a way meet candidates and assess their skills. Some of these participants will be recent grads with little experience but who are fast, motivated learners. If you can get your hiring managers to take part, they might be attracted to one or more of them.

Screening With MOOCs

While completion rates are low, those who do finish a course are often the most motivated and have demonstrated their ability to stick with a task to completion.

A number of recruiters are starting to consider candidates who have completed a MOOC. Anyone who has completed a course, or a series of courses, most likely has the same knowledge as someone who attended the brick-and-mortar version. Some of these courses are better taught online than in a classroom because they encourage interactive discussions, require homework, and get students engaged in collaborative projects. A participant’s ability to collaborate and their contribution to the discussions can provide insights into their eventual work habits.

Engaging Candidates With MOOCs

You might want to think about going one step further and consider partnering with your training or development function to develop your own course. This would not only meet the desires of Gen Y to gain new skills, but would also provide an authentic way to engage with potential candidates.

Sites like UdemyMoodle, Udacity, and others allow organizations to create their own private courses. These can attract potential candidates and provide a platform for engagement that is authentic and useful to the candidate and your firm. If you can involve hiring managers, as well as fellow employees, you will have one more high-quality source of candidates.

Or, you can choose to sponsor a course offered by a university and use it as a way to find new candidates as well as to learn about the capabilities of potential candidates. AT&T and other organizations are already sponsoring courses for their own employees using MOOCs. There is no reason this could not be expanded to include potential employees.

A staffing firm for the creative industry, Aquent, has already started offering free classes using MOOCs to attract candidates and develop their skills before placing them. This has increased the supply of candidates, ensures quality, and is a selling point to hiring managers.

Improve Retention With MOOCs

Gen Y in particular expects that the firm they work for will provide them with development, learning opportunities, and mentors. One of the reasons often given for leaving a job is lack of opportunity and lack of development. Formal training is expensive and small startups do not have the cash or time to invest in training or a staff to provide it. MOOCs can provide a cost effective (usually free) way to encourage engagement and retain good employees.

Huge Variety

If you do not have the capacity to build your own courses, there are a growing number available. A website called MOOC-list lists of all the courses now offered on MOOCs.

The MOOCs revolution is here and 2014 will be a year when those who pioneer how to use them for recruitment will be able to reap benefits for many years to come. Take some time and learn more about them, enroll in a course, and get a hiring manager involved.

Assessment Center Galore
May 8, 2014, 9:19 AM
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A significant number of companies worldwide use some form of assessment centre methodology to evaluate candidates for recruitment, development and promotion – and most seem satisfied with the process. But is that confidence misplaced? Recent studies suggest it may be.


First, a definition: An assessment centre is a methodology (not a location) in which participants are run through a variety of job-related exercises while trained assessors evaluate their behaviors.  Created at Harvard, implemented by German intelligence in WWI, refined by the British and Americans in WWII, and legitimized for business by IBM in the 1950s, the assessment centre has long been held in high regard by HR professionals as an unbiased way to predict candidates’ future performance.


The methodology has served well for many years. Studies between 1966 and 2007 showed an incremental validity of about .40 over other methods such as cognitive ability tests, personality assessments, and interviews. This means that about 20% of job performance could be explained by results from the assessment center.  Having such a strategic window into the future for organizations has been a real advantage for their talent management processes.


But a recent meta-analysis has found the validity of assessment centers to have fallen to about .27, which ranks below the predictive value of other, less sophisticated methods.  This is clearly a concern as organizations can easily spend upwards of 6,000 USD per participant and more on these types of interventions.


What is contributing to this decline?  There appear to be a number of factors at work:


  • Pressure to reduce costs – While organizations recognize and have benefited from the assessment centre approach and methodology, there is significant pressure to find ways to be more efficient and cost effective in their recruiting practices.  This has led to corner cutting and a disregard for best practices.  There has been an alarming trend in the use of “assembly line” or “off the shelf” approaches that have commoditized this valuable process.
  • Unqualified assessors – More and more professionals claim to offer this type of service without having the proper credentials. And when companies try to take the service in-house, most lack the appropriate training and resources (not to mention, time) to do the job properly.
  • Irrelevant competency frameworks – Talent competency models need to be refreshed. Many organizations are working off of frameworks that have been around for three or more years or they are electing to use off-the-shelf models. Either way, they need to assess whether or not the capabilities in these models are reflective of what success looks like in their organizations today and where the organization is moving strategically.
  • Outdated delivery modes – Traditional methods of administering the evaluations simply do not align to the virtual, real-time nature of today’s professional jobs. Many organizations still employ a “paper/pencil” approach where participants are handed instructions for an exercise or asked to respond to a series of paper memos. Such an approach damages the relevance of the experience from a candidate standpoint.


Increasingly I see the impact of these factors in failed assessment programs and with participants who have had bad experiences and are skeptical whether they will get valuable insights from another assessment. How can organizations refresh their assessment center methodology to create a more realistic experience for candidates and gain relevant insights for their leadership development efforts? Time for a Fresh Approach.


In order to confront these challenges head on, I believe the first step is the integration of technology. Technology has become integral to today’s world of work and it is important that the setup of assessment centers capitalize on the latest advancements to create a more realistic experience for candidates.  Properly applied, technology provides:


  • Distributed delivery and scalability to help reduce costs
  • Standardization and control to solve quality issues
  • Contemporary diagnostic tools to regain relevance


Technology-enabled assessment center tools could provide a much more realistic experience – one that “feels right” to participants since it incorporates the everyday digital tools that businesses run on, such as computers, email systems, and so on.  The ultimate goal of an assessment center should be to mirror a “day in the life” of the target role from the participant’s perspective.


Another important step is to conduct a proper job analysis to define the key success factors to be measured during the assessment center.  Simply electing to go with an off-the-shelf assessment or standardized benchmark is a recipe for irrelevant results.  To reliably predict something as complex as human behavior it is imperative to thoroughly analyze what “success looks like” in the target role within the organization.  High performance is organizationally specific … meaning that the success criteria for a position in one organization may be very different from the same position in another company (in my career the consultants joining a top consulting firm, would miserably fail to join another top consulting firm, even in similar functional expertise).  This seems to be the fundamental issue with leveraging a standardized benchmark for talent assessment.


For an organization get the most from its investment in assessment center methodology, consider the following:


  • Ensure your benchmark for success is relevant and up to date by doing a thorough job analysis on the target role
  • Use exercises that reflect today’s world of work and have the proper integration of technology and virtual business challenges
  • Deploy tracking mechanisms that allow you to correlate the results of the assessment with on-the-job performance and continually improve the process over time (Definitely looking forward to experiment on this one)


If you decide to engage an assessment provider, determine how they are able to ensure the proper discipline is applied in all steps of the assessment process from job analysis and success profiling, to administration and evaluation, through to feedback and coaching. Ask yourself: is the process truly being fitted for my organization?  This is critical for effective decision-making and impactful results for the individual and the organization.  Taking a shortcut on any of these key steps will impact the quality and validity of the outcome.


I believe that, fundamentally, the assessment center methodology is still sound and can be a powerful predictor of future performance. But it requires an approach that is customized to your organization’s competencies and culture … uses technology to drive relevance, scalability, and standardization … and is guided by experienced assessment professionals to yield the best results.


Is your organization using assessment center methodology? What has been your experience? How are you handling the challenges?


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