LET’S TALK PASSION, COBBLER. Part 1 of Mission report from HR Tech 2014 Amsterdam


HR Tech Europe Conference. Amsterdam, October 24-25. Overwhelming. Noisy. Initially confusing. Even with conference app. One week later – attempt to untangle.

6 thematic streams – HR Technology,  HR Shared Services & Outsourcing,  Cloud technology streams –  for really TECHy ones. Social Enterprise, Future of Work, Talent management – for the ones like me. Sure there was some mingling of profiles: mix up rooms, get exposed to an inspiring presentation and you might change your views on whether it’s always nonsense to put a cart (technology) in front of the horse (cultural change).


The first keynote SMART SIMPLICITY (YVES MORIEUX, The Boston Consulting Group *) – think of engagement. Ever knew that only 11-23% of population feel engaged at work? The others are divided between passively disengaged (“It’s just a work”) and actively disengaged (sabotaging). And that’s with no major difference through the age groups, continents, private or public sector – in case you thought it’s smth wrong with you. Everything is OK with you – disengagement is an intelligent reaction to the reality, where people don’t see real purpose of what they are doing partly because their managers have only 30% of time to manage their teams (incl. putting their work in the perspective thus revealing the purpose). Yves Morieux feels he has an answer on how to change things:

Could be an avatar for my blog.

Could be an avatar to my blog. Simplicity that is.

More explanation on this to be found in Yve’s Ted speech (condensated version of his keynote, albeit without winning moments of French olympic team, but just 12 mins and really a revelation.

But back to the keynote: Cooperation multiplies energy at work (think of relay race: the team that cooperates well (aka French team) wins even if the individual members are weaker than opponent’s (USA just in case). The right thing is to reward those who cooperate. But it’s difficult to capture cooperation effort, since one needs to degrade his own performance for a better common result – not spontaneous behaviour in current work culture. But here come in managers.  Managers role, as defined by Yve’s,  is to make people do what they would not spontaneously do. Got, it, managers?

And shorter gems:

“if we don’t reward those who make a difference we will not make the difference”.

“Punish not for failure, but for refuse to help or ask for help ” – you feel OK when you can quote LEGO CEO telling your kids what you’ve learned while away from their homework.


Right after first keynote DAVID MCCANDLE came. INFORMATION IS BEAUTIFUL, data is new oil/soil  and Debtris – everything that impressed me so much in February. Couldn’t share “wow” of those who saw this for the first time in October. But if you’ve never seen Debtris, watch it. You will like it. And big data. Just make sure you understand – it’s neither natural nor magic. It’s privileged access to big numbers and variety of data plus very specific skills brought to excellence – you can hire this or develop in house, but it will cost.


And of course I went to see EUAN SEMPLE, who was moderating Social Enterprise, “my” stream (though at the end I think I spent more time elsewhere, guilty in mingling). Euan’s presentation SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION IN THE WORKPLACE (not that we have not recently seen him in Guimard) gently rephrased Yves keynote: the only way to succeed in bringing purpose to work life is to change from overly structured/siloed/process driven organisations to those more social, connecting, making things simple. Things do become simple when you empower connections and trust. What if everything was simple? (shame not everyone is Semple).


And then it was by accident that I appeared in IBM PRODUCT DEMO room. Felt awkward – since no intention to make a corporate purchase any time in my life, and with few people in the room – I did feel pressure of expectations. Discovered however, that Kenexa was bought by IBM and recently IBM Kenexa Talent Suite was announced. Looks like EPSO social media pages, future EPSO Candidate and Recuitment portals, Sysper, Yammer and SharePoint  combined with a seamless user experience.  I do believe in fairies, I do, I do.

Edit: and I just discovered on internet that Kennexa Talent Suite nicely sits in advanced visionaries corner in Gartner’s magic quadrant:



Then followed the  presentation with the most promising name: RAWN SHAW, pitched to explain WHY CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND ME? Why hasn’t collaboration become 100x easier now when there are so many ways to do it? Because we range from Digirati through Fashionistas to Conservatives and Beginners,  all in the same working environment, which creats chimeric collaborative cultures or even bear-shark-topus’es:

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Told you it was not easy to navigate through the agenda, make choices, match timeslots and expectations. Thought I came to presentation, and it appeared to be a Lab. Or was it Executive Briefing – main difference it was twice as long. Not boring though. Run by JASON AVERBOOK, Chief business innovation officer (what a title!) from Appirio (what?). He also  has a title of CEO of Knowledge Infusion (that I find more intuitive). Pitch was the following:  HOW TO PREPARE YOUR ORGANIZATION AND WORKFORCE TO BE WORKPLACE 2020 COMPLIANT.   Jason’s insights broadened my perspective: 1) Freelance is becoming predominant relationship in work market. Isn’t it the answer to our prayers to let us move to agile and rational as opposed to safe, because we can’t afford mistakes when we hire someone for life?  2) Great vs. performing. You need to choose where you want to be seen as great. It’s OK to be simply performing for lots of your daily tasks.

Thanks to Jason I also know now three main reasons why people leave jobs: 1) because of manager; 2) because of process, 3) because of technology. I always left them because of my husband (and i know cases of people leaving because of someone elses husband or wife), but  exemptions just confirm patterns.

The coolest thing however was fashionistas video:

 Digerati or beginners, meet your new workforce! Show them Ares!

And I will stop here. The text its already too long and you are probably busy sharing fashionistas. Doubt you already got it why cobbler in the title, for that you will need to continue to Part 2 of my Mission report.  As for passion – it’s not just those Cupidons in the first picture. It comes as a secondary product of engagement – without which no happy HR stories. Thinking of it now – “Let’s talk purpose” would have been better. But the baby has got the name already.

P.S. And here comes the 2nd part of it: Time to take red pill, cobbler.


* most impressive Frenchman after Alain Delon as Tancredi in Lucino Visconti’s The Leopard. The feeling might be related to the fact of me listening to audio version of di Lampedusa’s book both days when walking to the conference and back to the hotel.


One Response to LET’S TALK PASSION, COBBLER. Part 1 of Mission report from HR Tech 2014 Amsterdam

  1. […] (Continued from LET’S TALK PASSION, COBBLER. Part 1 of Mission report from HR Tech 2014 Amsterdam.) […]

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