Friday, January 29, 2016

Can the Marriage of Watson and Amelia Produce the Perfect HR Robot?

Once conceived as a metal humanoid complete with retractable arms, blinking lights and a synthesized voice, a robot made no attempt to hide what it was: a man-made machine programmed to perform a specific set of functions and tasks. It served a purpose, to serve the human. It absorbed, amalgamated and analyzed large amounts of data.  It took the danger out of jobs and kept everyone safe. It had no need to compete with humans or harm them -except to eliminate the occasional villain of course.

The concept of using artificial intelligence in our day-to-day lives hasn’t changed much over the years other than the fact that it’s become a reality. In many ways, the objective is still the same; to automatic redundancies, increase efficiencies, reduce costs and generate revenue, i.e., make our lives easier and secure. But here’s where it’s evolved…

Today IPsoft Amelia and IBM Watson’s cognitive technology come close to passing the Turing Test: a test used to measure a computer’s ability to think, behave and respond like that of a human. It’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between Amelia, IPsoft’s virtual assistant, and a real live person on the other end of the phone. Amelia even looks like a snappily dressed, blond haired, blue-eyed woman. Not only can she understand what people ask -in 20 languages, she also responds appropriately to the caller’s emotions both visually and verbally. All that aside, here’s where Amelia and Watson fail: they struggle with simulating our less intelligent behaviors. They don’t make enough mistakes and they don’t lie well. Not to worry though, they’re working on that.

As humans, we’ve been anthropomorphizing objects since the dawn of time. Before we learned to talk, stuffed animals sang and danced in our faces by family members, friends and strangers. As we grew, we named our dolls, our footballs, our plants and cars, even parts of our bodies. The habit of naming inanimate things and talking to them never really left us, even as rational adults. So speaking to an avatar about a problem in the coming future, in some ways, isn’t that much of a stretch though I’d prefer to hear the error-free truth from a human let alone a robot.

There is already a movement afoot to have Avatar like support for human resource problems. It's perfect for benefits administration. How well will it work for recruiting and assessing candidates? Is that next?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Success Wakes Up How Early?

I read the post below from CB Insights  the other day and wanted to re-post it here. According to the information in this list provided originally by Laura Vanderkam  of the World Economic Forum there are 14 things successful people do before breakfast. The writing in red was added by CB Insights to point out that - at a minimum - it would take you about 3 hours and 36 minutes to accomplish all this.

Hum - I'm a fairly successful person and have known some other very successful people but I don't know too many of them that wake up at about 4:30 AM to get all this done before heading off to work. Maybe the implication is not that you do it all everyday - it's just these are the kind of things you do?

Oh well - it is an interesting list all the same. Though if it were my list I'd drop off #13. To heck with the email.

Here's to hoping you all have successful mornings!

Friday, November 13, 2015

What I learned About Running a Business By Throwing Darts

I recently started to learn how to throw darts. Pretty much everyone can throw darts – but not everyone can hit what they are aiming at (me included) so I decided I’d go online and see if there were lessons about the proper way to throw darts: Of course there were. And it really came down to three simple (but not easy to execute) steps.
  1. Alignment
  2. Aiming
  3. Motion

The first thing you have to do is make sure you are positioned the right way (alignment) so that aiming and motion are not impeded. Once you have that right, you look at what you want to hit – focus on that very specific target. Lastly, you have to throw it the right way. And the throwing motion has to work in concert with the alignment and targeting.

Think how many times your business or a project you are working on misses out on one or more of these items.

We’ve all heard employees complain that they aren’t given the right tools or support (alignment) to complete the task. Or how often people say they aren’t sure about what the goal is, or how the company’s processes don’t support the stated goals.

In addition to running my own business I teach management courses. I’ll often get the question that asks whether management is really just something innate. Next time I get that questions, I just might use my darts analogy – everyone thinks they can do it, but without learning how, you’ll mostly miss the target. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We are looking for unsung heroes

We are looking for unsung heroes that are courageously taking a risk and challenging the status quo in their own, genuine way.  We want to honor people that have put forth a creative thought, led with compassion and created a movement because we believe that doing these things day-in and day-out is how we will make a positive difference in the world. 

Nominate someone or someones that has put forth a creative thought, led with compassion or created a movement for a 2015 E+ Award.  We will be selecting an awardee for each category:

- Youth Effort - Under 21
- Local/Regional Effort - Northern Colorado (all ages)
- National/Global Effort - Reaches beyond Colorado (all ages)

Nominating them only takes a few minutes. The deadline for making a nomination is November 2, 2015. Award recipients will be announced January 1, 2016.

Simple Lessons for Creating High Impact Speeches.

This is reprinted from a post by Ava Diamond* and I really liked it so I thought I'd re-post it here for my audience. Not my normal post - but good stuff all the same!

Masterful speakers don’t just pop out of the womb that way.  They learn, they study, they practice. They fail, they figure out why, and they get better. They overcome their fears and build their skills. And they deliver powerful messages that transform the lives of their audiences.

So how can you become more masterful?  How can you deliver a speech that inspires, that entertains, that educates…and that moves people to action?

1.  Start Strong

Don’t start talking as you’re walking out on stage.  That behavior often comes from nerves and takes away from your power opening.

Instead, say “thank you” to your introducer as you walk up.  Then, confidently walk to the center of the stage.  Stop.  Take a moment to ground yourself. Make eye contact with the audience. Smile. Take a deep breath. 

Only then do you open your mouth.  And you start with something powerful.

The first few times you take this silent pause before you speak it will feel awkward. But what it does is conveys to the audience that you’re confident, you’re in charge, and that you are ready to connect with them.

2.  Focus on Them

Your audience can tell when it’s all about you. And you’ll lose them.

Your total focus has to be on what you can give them that will be of value to them, and will help them transform their lives.

Yes, you may be there to sell your ideas, sell yourself as an expert, sell your products and services…but this cannot be your primary focus.

When you are focused on delivering value to your audience and to serving them in the highest way possible, those other things will happen.

3.  Connect with Your Eyes

One thing that separates great speakers from mediocre speakers is their ability to connect with the audience.

So how do you do that?

Eye contact is critical.

A mistake that many speakers make is they try to give the impression that they’re making eye contact with the whole audience, so they move their head like a sprinkler head, back and forth, back and forth.

Instead, connect with one person at a time.  Deliver a thought to one person, then switch to another and deliver the next thought. Over the course of your talk, your audience members will feel you are speaking directly to them.  They’ll feel connected.

4.  Be Human

The days of the “sage on the stage” are over. Today’s audiences want to engage with a real human being that is authentic, vulnerable, and has a message that will help their lives get better.

Be you. Be real.  Allow your personality and your humanity to shine through. 

Don’t imitate a “great speaker” you saw.  Don’t take on a persona of what you think a speaker should be. 

Don’t strive for perfection.  That will sabotage you every time.  (click to tweet)

Just get on stage and deliver the absolute best talk you can for that audience in that moment. 

5.  Don’t Be Distracted by the Haters

Focus on the audience members who are smiling, giving you eye contact, nodding their heads, and are engaged.

If you focus on those who look like they are in disagreement with you, it will throw off your game.

By focusing on those who are loving your message you’ll feel more confident and relaxed, and will give a better performance.

These five tips will help you be more powerful onstage.  They’ll help you connect, and to stay confident and relevant.

© 2015 Big Impact Speaking

*Ava Diamond is a speaking mentor and messaging strategist, and is the founder of Big Impact Speaking.  She has created such programs as Speak Your Way to Clients and Cash, and the Rock Your Speaking Academy.  A professional speaker for seventeen years, she helps entrepreneurs rock their speaking so they expand their influence and reach, become known as the “go-to” expert in their field, and get all the clients they want.

Download the complementary Rock Your Speaking Power Pack at http://BigImpactSpeaking.comContact Ava at  or at 970-224-3015.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ode to the Skeptical HR Leader

I am doing my job quite well; thank you.
I work from dawn to dusk.
And if I feel I can’t get ahead
I am good enough, I trust.
I am an HR leader.
And I do my job quite well.
I hear of new technology.
But I’ve been burned before.
I still feel the pain
Of the last big project we bore.
So what’s all this I hear:
Big data, artificial intelligence and social HR?
I’ve heard it all before.
Risk will tarnish my star.
Too much magic sauce
Promised for HR gain.
So what if I don’t have time
Change isn’t worth the pain.
I’m, an HR leader, I’ve heard it all before.
I was born to question,
I’m skeptical of the sell.
I’ll sit back and see what happens,
More time will surely tell.
I’m an HR leader
And I do my job quite well.
HR revolutions can wait

………until I have more time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Give a Con a Break

The City of San Francisco banned the use of criminal histories as part of the pre-employment process. Several other government jurisdictions have considered similar legislation. This trend is born of the idea that criminal histories may be racist (because minorities tend to be convicted at a higher rate than non-minorities) and that it exacerbates the unemployment problem – especially among those with criminal records. OK – so I am sympathetic to the whole concern about racism creeping into our judicial system and I understand how that can correlate to unintended job discrimination. But isn’t this more an issue that should be taken up at the judicial level? When it comes down to our responsibilities as hiring professionals, aren’t we the ones best suited to assess whether a person represents a “bad hire” for our companies? If a person represents a real risk to the safety of our employees or our customers or if the person could potentially abuse their position to hurt our company and our shareholders through fraud or theft or some other action that reflects poorly on the company – shouldn’t we try and reduce that risk? Of course we should!

But for me the more interesting question (and more difficult challenge) is how do we truly assess that risk and make smart hiring decisions about people with previous legal or drug problems. Should they all be damned forever and a day? Story ended. That would be the easy way to handle the problem. No need to worry about complex hiring procedures or concerns that people won’t follow the exact dictates of the company. We hire no one with a previous conviction or a previous problem with drugs. Period!

We’re better than that.

A previous conviction does not have to be a permanent sentence of unemployment. The real solution to the problem above is that criminal history alone should not be the only reason for rejecting a candidate. Yes – I understand (I am in the background checking business after all) that there are very real circumstance that mean zero tolerance (access to vulnerable populations like children or elderly for example) where the risk is just too great. But that is what I mean when I say that a criminal history record alone should not decide the hire/no hire choice. A criminal history record PLUS a high sensitive position – should mean no hire. Other situations such as repeat offenders, people with a pattern of multiple problems, a conviction along with lying on your resume might all be reasons for rejecting a candidate. Patterns and context should dictate hiring risk – not just single data points. Its people we are dealing with and people can make mistakes and still move beyond them. This is where our professionalism comes in. We use data to help make decisions – we don’t let data make the decisions for us.