MCBASSI & COMPANY

3 Mantras for the New Year

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Happy New Year!  We hope it’s off to a good start for you.

Do you live in the world of big data and analytics?  Or are you fascinated or even mystified by the current buzz around these topics?  If so, we’d like to share three mantras we use at McBassi to guide our work in those areas:

  1. My 15-minute Board of Directors report should be filled with insights worthy of their attention.
  2. It is much more important to be helpful than it is to be smart.
  3. Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Mantra #1 elicits a variety of reactions from our clients, ranging from “Geez, if I had 15 minutes in front of my company’s Board and had to fill it with insights worthy of their attention, I’d be in deep kimchi” to “We’ve got no discretion: the Board tells us what to report to them.”  Whatever your particular reaction, repeating this mantra frequently will help you focus on creating actionable business intelligence in your work (as opposed to mountains of electronic reports).

Mantra #2 is important because many people who work in this field tend to be really smart – but some of them seem to suffer from the need to prove it again and again.  This can result in impenetrable presentations that are impressively grandiose – yet also ignored.

Mantra #3 is for those who are waiting for their company’s data warehouse to be completed (or perfected) or for a technology tool that will magically produce insight at the press of the button.  That’s not going to happen – so stop waiting and start working with what you’ve currently got available.

Repeat daily for best results.

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Six Human Capital Risks Your Board Needs to Know About

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Boards of directors have a fiduciary responsibility to manage risk.  Although there is no shortage of risk on the “people side” of most businesses, it is rare for boards of directors to have the right information to prudently manage these risks.

Part of the problem is that boards tend to focus too heavily on executive talent and too little on employees below the executive level.  But another part of the problem is that HR often fails to provide a coherent view of what creates, limits, or destroys value on the people side of the business.

The figure below, originally proposed by Jim Marchiori (Executive Director, University of Colorado Global Energy Management Program), presents a risk-based “people management framework.”  It can be used both for helping boards to ask better “human capital questions” and for improving HR reporting to the board.

  

Some questions to bring this perspective to life include:

1.  Capability Risk:  Do our people have the knowledge, skills, resources, and business processes that will enable them to perform effectively?
2.  Alignment Risk:  Do our people really understand our business strategy and goals?  Do they perform their day-to-day jobs in alignment with those goals?
3.  Availability Risk:  Are we finding and acquiring the right people?
4.  Turnover/Demographic Risk:  Are we retaining key people?  Do we have a pipeline sufficient to replace departing employees?
5.  Engagement Risk:  Do our people go the extra mile?  Does this show through to our customers?
6.  Leadership Risk:  What is the risk that any initiative will fail because we don’t have the leadership depth or quality needed?

These are the sorts of questions you should be building into your organization’s HR analytics strategy, including a process for regularly updating your board of directors on high-level metrics, trends, and predictive analytics.

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New report on board of directors and HR

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A new report by David Creelman and Andrew Lambert is the first that I have seen on boards of directors’ evolving role on the people side of the business.

It places “a spotlight on how boards are now addressing their responsibilities for oversight of human capital; how they themselves are changing their own behavior; and what part the senior ‘people professionals’ are now playing in facilitating boards in both of these dimensions.”

It’s an encouraging read – one that I commend to you.