Friday, March 21, 2014


  Today, instead of talking about a concept or idea, I'll just put together an exercise on how we can do things differently. But of course before that I will put a picture of some inspiring painting. 

  I recently discovered the art of Egbert Van der Poel, I am a huge fan of the crudity of Francisco de Goya's painting and I accidentally stepped into the good Ol' Egbert, who lived a hundred years before Goya, wich surprised me. His work somehow reminds me of the Spanish's famous painter although there were more than a hundred years of difference between them.

  Particularly there is a painting in which after a restoration they have discovered a new part of it, I encourage you to read the whole story, I found it fascinating.

Barn Interior - Egbert Van der Poel / Collection of Calvin Colling, Grand Rapids, Michigan

  Now let's get to work. For this exercise I will lay out an hypothetical case of a Software Company (Dough Inc.) in which is necessary to create an appraisal management framework from zero. I will use SCRUM to distinguish needed phases that would be needed in the creation of an appraisal and talent&development management plan.

  Note that all the valuation has been based on ad-hoc estimations based solely on my own experience and it is intended to be solely illustrative for the main purpose of the exercise. I am aware the lacks of internal consistency and technicality issues in some of the facts of the whole exercise, but I would suggest this to be taken only as what it is: an example which would need to be reviewed in order someone is interested on its escalation (i’d be happy to help if this is the case, don’t hesitate contacting me).

Dough Inc.

Mission: Help to manage the money of our customers so they can live better.
Vission: Create a personal finance control environment so easy it looks like a game.

  Personal financing software company Dough, which has leaded the desktop personal financing software by its simplicity for the last 4 years has recently seem his business is suddenly threatened by the competency, who have migrated their products to the Mobile Market long before they have even considered doing it. Despite the mobile market, the company still has its leadership position strong in the desktop market as well as a well founded brand awareness. However it took too long to them to analyse and jump into the mobile platform and this is reducing their competitiveness exponentially.

They have also realised they have not taken advantage of their current cloud system (which was originally designed to sync app data between work and home computers) although it is totally finished and works seamlessly, unlike the services in their competitors. After a quick estimation they thing their team is enough capable of delivering an interesting mobile product in no longer than 4 months.

However, the Director’s Board has decided the time to create a structured appraisal and talent&development management framework has arrived. They want to start with the appraisals to decide the members of the team that will lead the new mobile division. Business Intelligence has estimated the new mobile division will be in charge of the 40% of the income in less than a year and 70% of the income in less than 3 years period, and D’sB has decided to grant only to top-performers and most engaged employees to join these new division. Only the ones whose attitude is more aligned to the company culture and values will have the chance to be part of the mobile team and its expected fast growing opportunities.

The company never has had a talent and development management framework because they did not consider it was something they needed (they only had a product which was working perfectly well and they were not considering any steps ahead of maintaining their leadership position). Nevertheless, now they have seen the perfect time to set it up.

The team will use the same methodology they use to develop their software to develop their development plan: SCRUM. In SCRUM there are three main roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team.

In this case, the Development Team will be made up of 6 HR Specialists, the Scrum Master will be one of the Project Managers of Software Development (which has a wide experience on Scrum implementation and carrying out Scrum Master’s role), and the Product Owner role who will be held by the newly hired HR Development Expert.

There will be only 2 people left in the HR team which will be in charge of describing the necessary key positions in of the new mobile division, prior to the first RELEASE when will come the time start designing and organising the upcoming training for the managers and the rest of the team.

The SCRUM TEAM takes to commitment to have its first release for the end of the second week, delivering a tool with the required minimum consistency (according to the previously agreed Definition of Done) to start the work of implementation.

Because there is no previous history and velocity measures, all the SCRUM Team agrees they can accomplish 32 Story Points in each Sprint.

In the first Sprint Init meeting the SCRUM Team design together the Product Backlog.

Story Pts
Topic I want to… so I can… Notes Priority Status
Initial Tools … make an inventory of the workforce based on the person and position. … balance the person/position ratio to its real need and identify the potential. It will let us make a detailed analyse of needs that will be the foundations to the training plan. High (Sprint1)

Initial Tools … define the positions. … control and identify possible unbalances between responsibilities and tasks. It will let us know if there is duplicity and overloading in any positions. High (Sprint1)

Initial Tools … make a valuation and classification of the positions. … measure the efficiency of the compensation plan. It will be important to know what is the compensation line in the company so we can figure out how to transfer this into a totally new division.

Initial Tools … make a valuation of the rewards in the competency and the market. … evaluate the internal equity and the competitiveness. It is important to set up mechanisms to prevent human capital flight particularly in a moment of such strategic significance.

KPI’s … describe the KPI’s for every position and activity. … analyze the results. Only if we can measure our productivity we will be able to take steps to improve it High (Sprint1)

Appraisal Design … create a tool of annual reviewing that bears in mind not only individual or group performance of an employee but his cultural engagement with company values too. … have a measurement tool for our team that can be used to determine different variables of growth and development. Analize independently the different constructs in which are built and consider the performance as an addition of every one of these to get an statistically valid value.  High

Objective re-designing … redefine the objectives of the positions with SMART criteria. … deliver the leadership team a more optimised and measurable working environment. We need to outline some principles, we need to set a wider framework with leadership’s contributions.

Follow-up Tools … create tools to work with the improvement opportunities in a continuous basis. … identify rapidly the weaknesses and be able to react soon. Design tools fast and easy to work with.

  In the first Sprint Init meeting the SCRUM Team design together the Product Backlog.

  Once the SCRUM Team has built the Product Backlog, we take as startin point the items with highest priority to prepare the first Sprint on Sprint Planning meeting.

  Here is defined the project with 4 Sprints of 1 week each and with an agreed Release in the third week and a commitment of shipping the complete product at the end of the 4th week.

  This has been a quick example of how to implement SCRUM in HR. As I mentioned before there are some consistency gaps but I think its a valid example on how we can use the most advanced and innovative ways of production also into the HR field. The challenge is not on the process, the challenge is on getting creative in order to have the work done in the most agile way posible.

Written listening to "Grinderman - Grinderman 2" album (Rate:8,5/10)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


  Some years ago I remember discovering a piece of art by Salvador Dalí that really captivated me in a way just a few paintings have gotten to do. The work was "Soft-Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)" and it shows two parts of what appears to be an only monster wrestling with himself. Dalí wanted to reflect the self-destruction that occurs in a Civil War like the Spanish Civil War.

Self Construction with Boiled Beans - Salvador Dalí / Philadelphia Museum of Art 

  When we find conflict we, human beings, have developed hundreds of different cognitive-emotional strategies to cope with it the faster the better, even though it means not getting much from it. Although first reaction when spotting conflict let us identify this as a premonition to harmony collapse and we immediately tend to suppress it, studies show how important and neccessary is to deal with it in the right way.

Benefits of Conflict

Increases level of IMPLICATION
CHANNELS animosity
Promotes CONNECTION and sense of belonging
Increases ACTIVITY
Promotes CHANGE
Promotes new IDEAS
Reveals difficulties and ANXIETIES towards tasks
Reveals feeling and underlying EMOTIONS

  However, we need to control the environment of conflict and, as team leaders, try not beeing the source that provokes it.

  The conflict management guru Josep Redorta gives us the key to analize conflicts: "in a conflict situation you must always attack the emotional roots first, they have at the end made it explode." After this we need to clarify what the conflict is, there are multiple and very usefull ways of categorizing the conflicts (Prof. Redorta created the Conflict Analysis Typology, a standardization of 16 conflict elements that help us categorize the type of conflict in a really brilliant and highly comprehensive way). After the clarification comes the analysys of the excercises of power, he says "the power is always in the centre of the interaction". Lastly, analyze the values, norms, beliefs and the importance of them between the conflict and start an strategy to mediate effectively.

  For me the most fascinating part of his proposal is how to deal with different underlying emotions. However, you need to know although it might seem easy to identify different emotions, it is not, and it requires a certaing amount of time and training to master the technique of doing it.

  Anyhow, here I paste you a simple guide of how to react and cease the arousal of this different basic emotions that normally underlie on conflicts. Even though it needs more explanation (I strongly recommend Prof. Redorta's book), I think it might be a useful guide at least to think about it.

Emotion Compensators
Anger Calm / Divert
Fear Understand / Protect
Sadness Care / Cheer Up
Interest Help / Explore
Surprise Guide / Prevent
Excitement/Joy Understand / Share
Disappointment Explore / Guide
Envy Avoid / Explore
Guilt Reduce / Displace
Admiration Rationalize / Learn

  These are important ideas and thought I'd like to share:

- Don't panic if the conflict appears on your organization, look at the bright side, consider this an opportunity to reinforce your team.
- Before acting there are several things you need to think first, and there is a first one over the other ones: what is the emotion this appeared from.
- Think and ellaborate a strategy, elicit a compensator.
- The solution of a conflict is in cooperation and cooperation is an important value, an asset you will be able to use in the future. Use the conflict resolution as an example once you are sure it had a healthy healing.

  Hobbes stated in his Leviathan people live in constant war because man need to share sources of pleasure, which are defined as scarce. Most people is self-interested and causes of conflict are self-inflicted and because of this nature come all the conflict between man: homo homini lupus est.

  I am not saying this statement is distinctively wrong, it is not, but time has passed since the era of the Imperialism and our objectives are different and now the trend is not looking at the causes, but the forms of conflict which are widely more useful if our ultimate goal is to mediate and help solving them.

"So that in the first place, I put for a generall inclination of all mankind, a perpetuall and restlesse desire of Power after power, that ceaseth onely in Death." Leviathan Chapter XI

Written listening to "Country Joe And The Fish - Electric Music For Mind And Body" album (Rate:7/10)