#transformHR day 2 - @joegerstandt and @jasonlauritsen

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Closing out Day 2 of the Transform HR conference was the Talent Anarchy due of Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen (or is it Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt) on the topic of Social Gravity and the future of HR.  As noted in this blog a couple weeks ago, Joe and Jason recently published a book coincidentally called "Social Gravity," which focuses on the power of relationship in one's life.

Joe and Jason rev up the Wayback Machine and begin talking about the roots of Talent Anarchy back in 1998.   One would watch several video tapes and when finished they were deemed a recruiter.  They were given a phone, a phone book, a fax machine, and a stack of resumes and told to do their job.  How has the workplace changed 14 years later?

Technology has been the catalyst that has caused a sea change at work according to Lauritsen.  Look at Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica.  Despite a much smaller workforce, Wikipedia has beaten Encyclopedia Britannica at every turn.  Similarly, Nobel prizes were being run by teams, instead of individuals; work was becoming a team sport.

Social capital is critical.  It is those resources available to an individual through one's relationships to and connections with others.  Social capital is a tool for making things happen, just like financial or human capital.  What are the information, ideas, expertise, goodwill, trust, and cooperation that can make a difference?

Talent is an equation that equals the product of human and social capital.  Unfortunately, they argue, we are too often caught up in our own silos.  According to Lauritsen and Gerstandt, Silos vs. Culture, Brand, Speed, and Innovation often don't play well together.  They stand in the way of utilizing social capital.    As a result, HR must go from structuring work to facilitating it; from managing talent to unleashing it.

Lauritsen and Gerstandt then turn to the 6 Laws of Social Gravity.  These laws can help HR draw more social capital to the organization:

  1. Be open to connections - Too often, we judge a book by its cover.  As humans we are not naturally open.  To be a social architect, we need to assist employees in determining how relationships form.  Where do our friends come from? Who are our strong ties?  Who are three best friends?  How did you meet?  The number one predictor is physical proximity.  As a result, HR can leverage proximity by moving employees frequently to grow networks as well as embracing social technology.  Similarly, HR professionals should teach, coach & hire for social skills.
  2. Get involved in meaningful activity - What are employees passionate about?  The organization should be a safe place for people to talk about their passions.  In conjunction with the above, passion is the root of proximity, which is the fertile ground for planting the seed of relationships As a result, organizations should support "causes" at work and help people create "passion" projects.  Perhaps meetings should be optional as they kill passion, according to Gerstandt.
  3. Always be authentic - we throw authenticity around like its a common thing, but it is rare.  It is a source for social capital.  Authenticity requires courage....one should let your freak flag fly.  HR should prioritize authenticity, help people develop a personal manifesto and vision, and create a new approach to conversations and failure.
  4. Stay in touch - Lauritsen uses the metaphor of a garden to show how to cultivate relationships.  Connection is not enough; it is an opportunity to be further developed.  Overlap is where the quality comes - it is what creates strong relationships.  As a result, HR needs to build internal and external social networks. as well as design and encourage socializing at and through work.
  5. Use karma to your advantage - It is our human wiring for our reciprocity.  Favors are the currency by which social relationships are built.  HR should thus encourage "team-based" work accountability.  We like to help people; give us the opportunity.  Similarly, we need to make it easier to determine who to ask for help - create a LinkedIn style social network internally.  Finally, managers need to connect employees with customers and the community
  6. Invest in connecting - In what ways will we transform HR to capitalize on social capital for our organization?  HR needs to create time for social in people's day.  HR needs to map the social network in the organization to show its value
In sum, Gerstandt and Lauritsen's talk provided an excellent companion to their book, which can be purchased at the link above.

Computer battery running down.  More this afternoon.

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