Kris Dunn

can’t wait for ILSHRM13

August 19 and 20th. Chicago, Illinois. ILSHRM13. BOOM!

This is the event I’ve been looking forward to all summer. The folks at Illinois SHRM have put together a tremendous line up of speakers and I’m really excited about attending. Daniel Crosby’s keynote has the fantastic title: “You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Speech”. Dwane Lay is doing both a keynote and a concurrent session – I’ve seen him a couple of times and he’s always entertainingly thought provoking (or is that thought provokingly entertaining?). Kris Dunn and Laurie Ruettimann were two of the first bloggers I followed and inspired me to start blogging myself. For me it’ll be worth the trip to Chicago just to see them present.

In the concurrent sessions, there’s Doug Shaw, Paul Hebert, Susan Avello, and so many more. All folks with strong reputations for thinking differently and bringing new perspectives to the issues we all face. I haven’t seen Paul or Susan present (yet) but I’m a big fan of Doug’s take on HR and business and his down to earth presentation style. Attend his session if you can.

I’ll be there too. This year, my boss and co-conspirator Cheryl Gochis and I have been on a world tour*, speaking at several different conferences. I don’t want to brag too much about our skills, but I’m confident we are the only speakers who have used a life-size cardboard cutout of Chewbacca to make a point about employee engagement.

In Chicago, we’re presenting two concurrent sessions: “Creating Culture Change on Cruise Control” and “HR: Simplifier or Complicator”. No Chewbacca this time around but we’re ready to bring our energy, passion, and perhaps a different take on HR.  I like to believe that the company I work for does HR different than many companies and it’s fantastic fun to share what’s worked for us (and what hasn’t), learn from all the participants, and meet people who are trying to move the field forward. No matter how good I think we’re doing, there is always so much to discover and so many ways to raise our own game even more.

So What Are Our Presentations About?

Changing cultures is difficult – really difficult – so the “Creating Culture Change on Cruise Control” session looks at ways we can leverage existing HR processes to make that change easier. Cruise control isn’t autopilot and it’s doesn’t make the journey instantaneous. We still have to steer, but cruise control lets us make steady progress uphill, downhill, around corners, while allowing us to focus on more important aspects of the drive.

The “HR: Simplifier or Complicator” session is based on the idea that people are either simplifiers who make it easier to get work done and accelerate results or are barriers who complicate and slow things down with drama, politics, and “War and Peace” sized policy books. Laws, regulations, and human nature are complicated enough so we look at some ways that HR can help cut through all that and be a simplifier. A little bit of fair warning for you: it’s at 7:30am on Tuesday, we’ll be ready to rock full force, and we like plenty of interaction, so this will not be a session to ease you into the morning. Get up, get your coffee, and get excited.

Say “Hi”.

If you are attending the conference, please find me and say “hi”. One of the best parts about conferences is meeting new people and kicking around ideas.

See you there!




*World tour in the sense that we’ve spoken at different places on the world, not necessarily around the world. A subtle difference to be sure.


friday kick to the head

A big ol’ caution this morning. Do NOT watch these two videos if you’re really comfortable going with the crowd, hanging out at the corner of Average Avenue and Mediocrity Drive. There are some tough choices represented here and tough choices carry consequences. And, often, beautiful rewards.

First up, Joe Gerstandt reminding us we are either Plagiarism or Revolution and encouraging us to Pick That Fight:

(a second caution: do not let Joe’s youtube channel keep playing unless you’re really, really wanting that kick in the head)


Next, by way of Kris Dunn, the HR Capitali$t, who shared this beauty from Ray Lewis about getting pissed off for greatness:

What thinks you?

the fast and furious way to organizational shrapnel

Kris Dunn over at HR Capitali$t (you should be reading his posts daily) recently posted Is Giving Employees a Yes/No Vote in Firings a Better Way to Go? It’s an interesting piece about software company Valve’s unusual practice of terminating through employee vote.

It got me thinking about the danger of copying innovative pieces from other companies without also using all their supporting systems. Removing the key leadership responsibility of performance management from leaders and putting it into the hands of peers is a very good plan for disaster. It’s not too hard to imagine the workplace devolving into the Lord of the Flies anarchy of a 6th grade popularity contest.

It’s also pretty easy to make the mistake of off handedly dismissing it as “it’ll never work”. Remember Puttnam’s Law: It is more acceptable to fail in conventional ways than in unconventional ways. The reward for succeeding in unconventional ways is less than the risk of failing in unconventional ways. Us humans like to downplay and ignore innovative success despite evidence that it seems to be working.


My only knowledge of Valve is from reading their Employee Handbook and their organization is completely unlike  99.99% of the companies out there. It is as flat of organization as you will find so the management structure as most of us know it simply doesn’t exist. In their structure, the employee vote doesn’t undermine performance management, it supports it. And it works because all the supporting systems work together. Analyzing or adopting this one component in isolation of the rest of the system is futile.

Consider it this way. Highly modified cars often have giant turbochargers, use nitrous oxide, run on exotic fuels (not available at your corner mini-mart) and can put out 4,5, or even 10 times the original power. But, installing a huge turbo or filling the trunk with nitrous bottles in your economy car after a marathon weekend of The Fast and the Furious is a quick shortcut to turning your engine into very expensive shrapnel. Yes, turbos, etc. can provide big-time power, but all the supporting systems (engine block and internals, transmission, differential, axles, etc.) must also but upgraded. Radically changing one component of interrelated systems rarely works.

What thinks you?