Thursday, September 26, 2013

5 Considerations When Pitching an HR Product

We are trying to raise money for our world-beater new HR product. Problem is, we have to convince a bunch of very skeptical people to give us their money to help us do it. I think they should recognize our brilliance and open up their wallets. But since that isn't going to happen, we have been refining our story: Our Pitch.  For those of you who are embarking on a similar path, here are 5 considerations when pitching your product (with tongue only slightly in cheek)
  1. Size Matters: How big is this market we call HR? You can argue that it is a $4.5 Billion industry or even a $21 Billion industry. If you are going to argue that you have a world-beater product, you better know how much of the world you are going to beat.
  2. The A Team: The senior management team should have some clue about what they are doing, and should have some experience doing it. That's not to say a really smart tech guy and a great product person can't figure out something worth doing, but your learning curve could be rather steep. 
  3. Be an Aspirin in a Room Full of Headaches: You have to build something that people really want. You have to solve a problem worth solving. If you are doing one of those projects where your main product mantra is “they just don’t know they need it yet” you are going to have a very long sales cycle.
  4. Be Jack in The Bean Stock: You need to show that with only a little bit of water, that puppy is going to take off! (This may not be 100% true, but the people you are talking to have to be told it is).
  5. Know where the Exit Sign is: Strangely enough, when people give you money they really want to know when they are going to get it back. You need to be very clear about what happens in about 5 years from now. The fact that no one has ever been accurate in this prediction is not relevant; you just need to show you are going to try.

After you have these 5 ideas down, now all you need to do is say them over and over again about 40 or 50 times. If you are lucky (and yes, luck does have something to do with it) you eventually find someone who believes in you. It is a beautiful thing!

Wish us luck…we are almost there!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Do Recruiters (or Hiring Managers) Get the New Career Path

A fellow named Sir Ken Robinson who is famous for a TED talk about how schools kill creativity said in a recent Fast Company article the following:

“It’s important to note, that there just isn’t a straight line between what you do at school and what you go on to do in your career. I argue that it is like being in the ocean. You keep correcting your course according to the things that happen to you. But companies force us to write resumes as though it were a plan.”

He goes on later to say that “…companies need people who can think differently and adapt to be creative.” And finishes his argument making the point that we live in a world of ideas and concepts where imagination is the most important element of our long term success.

But do we look for imagination when we recruit? How often do we throw out the resume that isn’t an exact match to a specific set of skills? Is this getting even more pervasive now that we let automation drive our screening process? The HR space is rife with companies claiming they can find you the better candidate faster. But they can only find the candidates that fit narrow criteria.
How can that work if – as many studies have shown – skills learned today will be obsolete in 3 to 5 years?
How do we recruit for the “best athlete,” the one who has that well rounded set of skills that allows them to adapt, and to be creative and productive in uncertain and changing times?
When I was in the early days of my career I worked in a consulting firm. We specialized in building automated tools to help support complex business systems problems. As we grew very rapidly we wanted to understand how we could grow managers more quickly. Accordingly, we set about assessing what the common characteristics were for our most accomplished leaders. We found two things: 1) it was not our best engineers who succeeded, but the ones who had some form of liberal arts education in their background. And, 2) they had experienced a wide ranging and diversified set of experiences at the firm. They had not stuck to a single career path.
So that kid with the degree in art history, take a second look. S/he just might be your next CIO.

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's Flooding Out There

I awoke this morning to the phone ringing at 5:45. It was the Assisted Living facility that my mother-in-law lives in. The entire first floor is underwater. It has been raining in Colorado for 4 days. That is unheard of.  We are practically a desert here. Average rainfall for this area is around 15 inches in an entire year: we've had 12 inches (and more) in the last 3 days. This has not been one of those flash flood types of events (although some places have had a bit of that); it has been just a steady rise of water. My wife and I want to go get her mother.

We can’t

The roads are all closed.

I can’t get to my office either. There are about 4 different ways that I can drive from my home to my office. But they all pass over the Poudre River. I tried all four this morning. The river that is usually about 10 to 15 feet across is as much as 50 to 100 feet across. The bridges are still intact, but they won’t let us drive over them.

When things like this happen, perspective changes. I had a lot of urgent things I had to do today. Not so much now. Now we need to try and make sure those we love are safe.