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Professor Eric Clemons: Time for Some New Senior Vice Presidents?

Danny Sullivan made a great reply to this Eric Clemons’ previous post on TechCrunch today. As you know, I’ve been pretty quiet here on my blog lately. I’ve been busy on the phone, organizing speaking, planning a book and talking to people about really changing the world either as an executive and/or as a consultant while quietly executing some search projects.

In the “cage match” post, there is one phrase that got me out of my silence because the ignorance was too much for me to hold my tongue… Eric Clemons said:

“Mr. Sullivan argues that in all his years thinking through and working through issues in internet advertising he has never heard any company or any individual complain about paid search. In contrast, I have been hearing this complaint from senior vice presidents in travel companies for years, and this year the chorus has been joined by retailers and manufacturers”

Dear Mr. Clemons,

Continue reading Professor Eric Clemons: Time for Some New Senior Vice Presidents?

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Speaking Of Facebook – It Needs Change Management of Customer Service

There has been some discussion today of Facebook’s business model.

Forget about monetization, can Facebook survive without any useful customer service improvements? While 98% of the service works great on autopilot, there is absolutely zero customer service for the things where you do need help. I don’t mean bad customer service, I mean there is absolutely no customer service for certain issues. Continue reading Speaking Of Facebook – It Needs Change Management of Customer Service

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How To Reorganize Management For Social Media, Search Marketing and Internet Advertising

Every once in a while Robert Scoble puts down the camera and writes an amazingly thought provoking blog post. Not a perfect post, but one that makes you think about the state of things. Scoble’s comparison of certain VCs to big companies struck a chord with me due a speech I’m working on. I’d like to redefine the problem as a “lack of confidence and/or vision in revenue models” so that it applies to iphone application startups to big companies.

Let’s start an exploration of these issues in more detail:

There is an almost total lack of imagination regarding potential emerging revenue streams – When I attend search engine conferences, I hear over and over how “63% of transactions occur offline after an online search (comScore 2006).” Tying together that transaction with it’s higher relevancy holds the key to a revenue stream potentially larger than Google’s Adwords product. Having once spent 6 months of my life trying to raise capital for a search advertising concept, I have to agree with Robert that there is lack of willingness to engage in serious funding conversations of this type – until half a dozen other people do it…that’s messed up!

In large businesses, there is an obsession with basing business cases on expense savings rather than the potential for new revenue streams– Going back to that example above, financial services institutions could play a large role in this. However due to the lack of risk management processes that caused the housing crisis, they are risk adverse at this moment and risk removing themselves from this once in a lifetime opportunity. I saw 4 companies give presentations on their business cases on mobile retail banking and they all focused on the reduction of call center costs! Think about that a second, moving things from a PC to a phone will reduce call center volumes? Highly questionable at best form cost savings perspective, certainly missing the revenue opportunities completely.

Everything in the world is converging, yet most companies have silos and are hiring specialists (set up for failure) – When banks are trying to become relevant in mobile and mobile is trying to get into advertising and payments, can you afford to hire people with one dimensional skill sets? The answer is no, not if you want to win.

With increasingly rapid cycle times in technology, competitive benchmarking is becoming less useful – If none of your competitors has made a tough decision to reorganize a department, shift financial resources to new ways of doing things in marketing or customer service, how can you improve via benchmarking? Stated a different way, if your process is broken and all of your competitor’s processes are broken, you can’t possibly create market leadership by benchmarking. You have to hire the best and most brilliant people who hold little if any limiting beliefs and give them the authority to innovate based on what customers want. Serving those needs in the Peter Drucker fashion is the only way to create true market leadership. This does not mean that competitive analysis is dead. It does mean that the benchmarks you need to pay attention to are the breakthroughs regardless of industry.

Existing legacy cost centers in large corporations are creating barriers to innovation and efficiency both internally and externally – These cost centers prevent reallocation of budgets to adopting usage of superior and more efficient technology or Internet/mobile advertising due to their all or nothing nature – smooth and frequent shifting to most economical resources is the unfortunate rarity. There is a large number of reasons for this and this topic is worthy of a post of it’s own (please submit suggestions). Cost centers make the silo problem worse and hard to solve.

Traditional management consulting needs to acknowledge proprietary technology and data models as strategic and gain an implementation focus – If you come in for 6 months and never implement anything and nobody does any of the suggestions, your net present value is actually negative.

We need to take back control of companies to focus on the customer as priority #1 – 5 year plans with a stack of initiatives in year 4 are interesting, but no longer practical. Notice I say take back control. This is the way the world used to work before endless Powerpoint and overly large bureaucracy like 18 month committee approval cycles. In fact Tom Peters stated on February 3, 1998 on Charlie Rose show as saying “I got tired of the McKinsey bureaucracy”

C-level management and boards of directors treat social media, search marketing and Internet advertising like an island instead of integrating it into one’s culture and redesigning processes from scratch to support it – This is disruptive to companies using these products and companies that provide these products alike due to the lack of growth and monetization. But guess what? You can’t redesign these processes without bringing in people with a combination of skills that include both traditional management and the new tools. Right now we have people at the extremes. This doesn’t work. 🙂

Carolyn Shelby and I will be giving a talk to c-level executives on these an other related subjects this Wednesday at the Gleacher Center in Chicago. You may RSVP here. It is my first in a series of talks I hope to engage the world in over the coming years as we embrace this great challenge together! I need everyone’s help to help shape this vision and create this reality and maybe some famous quotes around the way. It is the furthering of a conversation that started with my appearance discussing these issues on SEO 101 – it starts at the 13:30 mark. Brian Mark said he’d love to see a Search Engine Strategies session on this, we are still working on fulfilling Brian Mark’s dream (24 minute mark).

I’d like to hear others like John Furrier, Fred Wilson, Dick Costolo and Don Dodge to chime in on this issues first chapter…

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If You Were Recruiting An Acoustic Guitar Player…Tommy Emmanuel

If you were going to recruit an acoustic guitar player, what attributes would you seek?

If you were recruiting in the traditional manner, you’d seek these attributes:
– college degree in music
– experience working for an orchestra or band
– experience in an educational institution as a music teacher

But if you were looking for a true leader and innovator these measures would miss the hidden gems. People who are self taught are often thought leaders and innovators who lead to breakthroughs because they lack certain limiting beliefs. Tommy Emmanuel is one such person. Let’s look at his unique attributes:
– Tommy is self-taught, having picked up a guitar at a young age
– Tommy has never had any formal training in music
– Tommy has never learned how to read sheet music, yet he knows how to play literally thousands of songs
– Tommy never uses a set list in his solo performances, the creativity flows from circumstance and audience participation
– Tommy constantly innovates and reworks his songs making incremental improvements

Yet, Tommy now plays 300+ nights a year on five continents!!! If you looked at his resume based on traditional measures, you’d likely pass him over. But in the scarce talent, post baby boomer generation we are now entering, people need to look beyond keywords and look into passion and self-taught competencies. Those who do will build industry leading companies. Others will rapidly fall behind and lag in relation to their peers.

I’m fortunate to see Tommy again this evening in Chicago! I had the great pleasure of interviewing Tommy Emmanuel in 2003. Such a remarkable and inspiring person. Here are some samples of his live work on Youtube, enjoy!

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HR Technology Conference : Lehman Brothers Leverages Recruiting Beyond Talent Acquisition

Heather Redderson, VP, Global Talent Technologies, Lehman Brothers
Derek Mercer, CEO, Vurv Technologies

When I saw this description I knew I had to attend this session…

The HR systems at Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest investment bank in the world, have traditionally been siloed, probably just like yours. But, competing with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, VP Heather Redderson knew she had to integrate them all so her 27,000 employees could collaborate around their careers and new opportunities for internal mobility. She’ll tell you how she aligns and compensates them and tries to leverage best practices, and fill you in on the internal community she’s created for employees with new tools and competitive intelligence on those other, bigger guys.

When Heather arrived, Lehman Brothers systems appeared disorganized. How disorganized? A Summer intern gets to give a presentation to a C-level team during the first month she is there. The intern’s presentation? Two slides. One basically system mapped out the systems Lehman has. The second with all demonstrating how many don’t talk to each other. The intern stated that “this was a problem that needed to be fixed” and then sat down.

I don’t know if the intern got a full time job at Lehman upon graduation. If they didn’t I’d love to hire this person at the next company I work at. Why? People who can point out the root cause of problems and say this is what needs to be fixed are all too rare. The intern likely created the vital executive sponsorship for the magnitude of the changes that Heather is now making.

In reference to internal mobility, internal employees were frustrated as they were applying and never got hired. Hiring managers were frustrated with volumes of people applying for roles at the wrong level. Employees were frustrated with lack of execution.

Using Vurv and Congos there is now rule driven reports and drivers. They now focus on the relevancy of resumes and are trying to add other data elements to the mix.

$12 million dollar savings in just four months by reducing outside contingency recruiter fees! Put all new initiatives for 2008 on hold and reallocated budget money. Focused on utilizing what we have better.

Discovered that there were many people in roles with job descriptions that didn’t match. Fixing that through transparent conversations is occurring at a rapid rate.

Lehman HR mantra:
To recruit talent
To protect our employees
To gage our landscape

They are also creating an alumni site. (I wish that BlackRock would create an Alumni site, it would bring me joy in so many ways.

It’s clear that Heather’s efforts are not only transforming HR, they are transforming the process and way the whole organization operates. That’s what it’s all about effective execution with what you have. Develop a data strategy and process then iterate and improvement. I’ve always loved Lehman Brothers scrappy style when I worked on Wall Street, it’s good to see them laying a foundation for future transformation and differentiation.

More on this when I have time to elaborate on an element I saw that fascinates me. Soon.

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Jason Alba Author – I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???

Recently I blogged about how retained recruiting firm executive search activity on Linkedin was rising. Maybe they got an advance of Jason Alba‘s new book, I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???, and started putting the concepts to immediate good use! I had this to say about the book:

“Jason has written a highly practical guide to Linkedin that will quickly allow a new user to understand and utilize Linkedin. It’s also a great guide to the Linkedin’s hidden gems – finding high quality people through endorsements and off Linkedin content such as groups and identifying thought leaders through blogs linked from profiles.”

I’m honored to have been asked by Jason to contribute ideas to the book as well as some Linkedin best practices at the end of some of the chapters. Jason is one of the people I’ve met via Linkedin and I know my life is much better for that as he always makes himself available to talk and help my goals in any way he can.

While certainly any Linkedin novice would benefit, Jason’s book most needs to be read by c-level executives, all HR executives and recruiters who don’t yet understand how to fully utilize Linkedin. There tools on Linkedin besides last company worked at and job title – the community would function better if people learned to use the community more wisely and this can happen quickly if people read Jason’s book.

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LinkedIn View Quality Rising After Non Eventful September 11

I logged into my Linkedin panel the other day and saw top tier retained search firms viewing my profile…I’ve had several other recent experiences that I can’t make public that seem to indicate a healthy reallocation of capital away from the mortgage and housing market is occurring and may in fact be accelerating after a non eventful September 11th. I’m hoping this will be part of a long term trend, not just a blip.

Your profile has been viewed by 9 people in the last 3 days, including:

Senior Associate at Heidrick & Struggles

  • Director at Gap International
  • Someone in the Marketing And Advertising industry
  • Research Consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates