Sunday, June 27, 2010

You Don't Know What You Don't Know...In This Case...We Do...

I'm a big fan of Cisco and their CEO John Chambers. In a recent Newsweek interview, he focused on "Knowing What You Don't Know" and impact on the future of leadership. His perspective, always refreshing to me, gets to heart of issue facing strategic Human Capital Management (HCM)...looking into the future at what is coming and its impact on HCM leaders to enable business and mission success.

We recently hosted an Enterprise Symposium at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) focused on looking at areas of collaboration across the Defense Intelligence Enterprise. A very good friend and I were co-leads for a session titled "Developing the Workforce of the Future" where we sought to frame the 2020 workplace, challenges faced executing the mission in 2020 and attributes of both leaders and intelligence professionals needed in 2020. The session provided a great opportunity to engage participants and provide an update to the DIA Workforce of the Future white paper from 2003.

We were honored to have Karie Willyerd (Former Sun Microsystems CLO and now Future Workplace) share with the audience insights from her and Jeanne Meister's new book "The 2020 Workplace". While there were many key points and new knowledge taken away...several things stood out for me.

1. By 2020, the Generational mix at the workplace will be drastically different per the attached slide. The implications to leaders and leadership development are significant.

2. The understanding that to become an expert requires 10 years of dedication. However, knowledge is doubling every two years and in some areas every one year. Impact to you and I you ask? We can't possibly keep up with that much data. Hence our reliance on social networks will continue to grow and expand.

This gets to topic of this DNA of Human Capital blog today...The old phrase "You don't know what you don't know" is really not applicable to HCM leaders and the tsunami of the 2020 workplace, five generations in the workforce and the continued expansion of knowledge that will make expertise not nearly as important as your social network to get work done.

The task at hand for HCM leaders is to prepare their organizations for what the future is bringing. In today's challenging environment, it is difficult sometimes to look into the following week or quarter, much less at 2020. Yet, like the certainty of the tides...this new environment and workforce will inevitably come ashore like oil in the Gulf of Mexico. We will have to collectively look at this new future and determine how we position our human capital capabilities to ensure success in this environment.

For our own credibility, we will not be able to say we didn't know what we didn't know...because in this case...we did.


1 comment:

  1. Keith - interesting information and nice blog. We saw a lot of human capital issues start in the aerospace and defense industries with an aging workforce who retained a great deal of knowledge. As they retired a couple things happened, the skill sets left the company and/or they were hired back as very expensive consultants who were also drawing on pensions. Not being strategic in planning and really understanding what those resources did on a daily basis drove up costs and created a lot of frustration.

    Given those learning experiences, a few key findings resulted:
    - Know which resources pose the most risk to the company
    - Align your people to the business processes they enable
    - Don't treat all business processes the same - some are more strategic than others and some impact revenue/growth more than others

    Given these concepts, it's very easy to now mitigate future impacts to your company. You can quickly see if you have your biggest risks in the more critical businesses processes. You can quantify the costs of high and low performers. By knowing this information, risk mitigation plans and transitional development programs can be proactively put in place.

    For example, conducting this type of analysis at one company showed the following metrics:
    - 24.4% of the overall workforce was less than one-year from retirement age
    - Of those close to retirement, 1 in 5 were working on the most critical business processes within the company and none had transition plans in place
    - Approximately 17% of the workforce was rated as low-performers, which cost the company almost $14 Million in Labor and Benefits annually

    Instead of managing their resource risks in their most critical areas, the company spent their time focused on outsourcing IT and finance functions to other parts of the world. These functions may be cost centers and could help profitability long-term, however a bigger risk is losing the ability to execute in the most strategic and revenue generating functions of the company which are customer facing.

    If retirement age (from the example) is not the critical attribute you want to analyze, substitute location, language, certification, talent rating, security clearance, etc. The principles remain the same = know who is working on what, then develop skills and mitigate risks.