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10 Insights On Inspirational Leadership For 2016

Scott Mautz

Start your 2016 leadership strategy with a sense of renewal by considering the following question:

Is inspirational leadership the holy grail of leadership?

I define such a pinnacle – the holy grail of leadership – as that which engenders the highest levels of employee engagement and commitment.

So, by that definition, then yes, hands down, inspirational leadership is the summit. And your employees would agree with me.

A major study examined a half million employees and their assessment of 50,000 leaders in terms of 16 core leadership competencies. The outcome of the study showed the ability to inspire “is what most powerfully separates the most effective leaders from the average and least-effective leaders. And it is the factor most subordinates identify when asked what they would most like to have in their leader.”

A pursuit worth the effort – but then you probably didn’t need a study to tell you that. We all know how it feels when we are around an inspirational leader. Inspirational leaders spur the expenditure of discretionary energy. You feel uplifted. The power of possibility surges through you. You might even physically get the tingles as you are reminded and reinvigorated about what could lie ahead. You feel connected to the mission, to the leader, to others, and to your work. You feel worthy, and worthwhile. You aim higher and try harder. You feel compelled to take action.

You can trigger this response.

And it turns out there are plenty of opportunities to do so. In a major survey, 55 percent of managers said the ability to inspire was the single most important leadership attribute. And yet only 11 percent said their current manager was inspiring.  Anecdotally and honestly, how many of the leaders around you can you say are truly inspiring?

So there is no question of the void to be filled. The question you may have is, can inspirational leadership be taught?  In another major study, almost 900 executives were asked to pick one leadership attribute out of 16 to focus on for improvement. Among the 310 who chose to work on improving their ability to inspire others, when doing so they moved from the 42nd percentile, (below average), to the 70th percentile – a statistically positive gain and evidence that you can indeed learn to become inspiring.

You absolutely can elevate your inspirational firepower. And you don’t have to wait – you can start 2016 with a reinvigorated leadership agenda. What follows will fire you up to do just that. Here are 10 ways to inspire others to action.

1. To inspire, be inspired

To inspire others to action you have to emit a passion for your own actions. Financial guru Suze Orman has openly admitted that the single secret to her success is her willingness to show her passion for what she is doing.

Warren Buffet says that at Berkshire Hathaway, 75percent of the managers they hire are independently wealthy and don’t need to work – by design. Hiring such a profile allows them to focus on talent that simply loves and is passionate about what they’re doing “because that passion brings out an enthusiasm and a dedication in others.

2. Be custom-built contagious

Closely related to point # 1 above, while it is certain you must have passion to foster passion, it is just as essential that you demonstrate this passion and energy in your own way. If the energy is emitted in an inauthentic manner, it defeats the purpose. Yes, you can light up the room with loud and heartfelt oratory – that’s certainly one way to go if it feels natural. But introverts take heart. Some of most inspirational leaders I’ve ever seen command the room as they do what I call “elegantly electrify.” They might not even speak very often, but when they do, it is with a quiet authority and an underlying, and intense focus and passion.

There are many ways to transmit your energy. However you choose to do it, the bottom line is you must do it. It is a fundamental requirement of inspirational leaders to be able to turbocharge via osmosis.

3. Remember it’s about them, not you; a greater cause, not your cause

There is an underpinning of modesty and a sense of servitude inherent in inspirational leaders. They are connectors, not climbers, more interested in relationships than their own reward. They ultimately see their role as serving something greater than themselves and couldn’t hide it if they tried. Keep this mantra front and center for the times you might stray off center.

4. Motivate them to prove you’re right (about them)

Sorry for the tongue twister – here’s what I mean by this: The first part of this involves a commitment to actively instill confidence in others. When we do, often the first thing they want to do is demonstrate we were right to place such confidence in them. They will show their appreciation by wanting to further earn yours.

The second half of this idea though is not just to express confidence in someone and detach, letting the energy from the positive transaction wane and leaving the compliment feeling empty. Instead, remain an interested stakeholder in their ultimate success. For example, instead of just stating your confidence in someone, you can say, “I believe in you and I believe you are going to crush this project. I’m here to help you see it through to the successful conclusion of which I know you are capable.” You get the idea. Instill confidence and install a conduit of continued support. They’ll take great pride in proving your belief in them is well-warranted.

5. Inspire people to become better versions of themselves (not better versions of you)

Inherent in this sentiment is a commitment to understand the unique DNA of those you interact with and a desire to help them build from that singular blueprint. It is both an investment in and an understanding of the individual. It requires unearthing the best qualities of each person. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell likens it to the plight of the gold prospector who is “always on the lookout for potential gold mines. When they find traces of ore, prospectors assume there’s a rich vein to unearth, and they start digging. In the same fashion, inspirational leaders search for the best traits within a person and commit to uncovering them.”

6. Communicate a clear, resonant vision with stretching goals

People want to know where they are going, and why. They want to be connected to something bigger than themselves and pursue goals with intrinsic value that help them accomplish things important to them. Communicating such messages in a clear and compelling manner is a central function of the inspirational leader. And if your vision requires change by the way, make your case for change clear. People also want to be challenged and be given a chance to rise to the occasion. So set the bar high without being unrealistic.

7. Act like a pace car

In auto racing, the “pace car” rides ahead of the field for a few laps at a high, even keel speed before the race starts. Then, having enabled a running start, the pace car drops out of the way as the cars behind accelerate past with vigor. Likewise, the inspirational leader sets the pace for the organization, role modeling the behaviors they want to see, helping the “field” to a running start, and then getting out of the way after fully charging and empowering the organization.

8. Provide reality and hope

The key here is to provide a balance of both. It’s hard to be inspired by someone who infuses high doses of optimism and possibility, but is clearly not grounded in reality. Likewise, while transparency is inspiring, when that transparency involves a rough state of the union address, the constituents need to hear a reason to believe and a plan for better, brighter days ahead as well.

9. Know the tenets of “how to be,” not just “how to do” (to inspire)

Inspirational leadership is not just about how to do, it’s as much about how to be.  Research shows there are 6 core attributes that employees find most inspiring in their leader – 6 “how to be’s” if you will:

  • Be humble (people are drawn to humility, especially when it includes showing vulnerability)
  • Be authentic (which makes you accessible)
  • Be accountable (including a zeal for facing challenges head-on)
  • Be caring (including caring enough to really listen to what others have to say)
  • Be trustworthy (including doing what you say you are going to do – the well-documented  secret to Nelson Mandela being such an effective and inspirational leader)
  • Be driven (including an ability to get to the heart of the issue, cutting through the baloney, and making things happen)

10. Get (and expect) results

The truth is, while losers can be lovable and yes, at times inspiring, you are much more likely to be inspired by a lovable winner. Winners get results. Getting results inspires an organization on many levels. And expecting results does the same.

So make 2016 your year, the year you recommitted to inspirational leadership. The net result will inspire everyone involved – including you.

Want more insight on effective leadership strategies? See A Necessary Redefinition Of Responsibility And Leadership.

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What Gen Z’s Arrival In The Workforce Means For Recruiters

Meghan M. Biro

Generation Z’s arrival in the workforce means some changes are on the horizon for recruiters. This cohort, born roughly from the mid-90s to approximately 2010, will be entering the workforce in four Hiring Generation Z words in 3d letters on an organization chart to illustrate finding young employees for your company or businessshort years, and you can bet recruiters and employers are already paying close attention to them.

This past fall, the first group of Gen Z youth began entering university. As Boomers continue to work well past traditional retirement age, four or five years from now, we’ll have an American workplace comprised of five generations.

Marketers and researchers have been obsessed with Millennials for over a decade; they are the most studied generation in history, and at 80 million strong they are an economic force to be reckoned with. HR pros have also been focused on all things related to attracting, motivating, mentoring, and retaining Millennials and now, once Gen Z is part of the workforce, recruiters will have to shift gears and also learn to work with this new, lesser-known generation. What are the important points they’ll need to know?

Northeastern University led the way with an extensive survey on Gen Z in late 2014 that included 16- through 19-year-olds and shed some light on key traits. Here are a few points from that study that recruiters should pay special attention to:

  • In general, the Generation Z cohort tends to be comprised of self-starters who have a strong desire to be autonomous. 63% of them report that they want colleges to teach them about being an entrepreneur.
  • 42% expect to be self-employed later in life, and this percentage was higher among minorities.
  • Despite the high cost of higher education, 81% of Generation Z members surveyed believe going to college is extremely important.
  • Generation Z has a lot of anxiety around debt, not only student loan debt, and they report they are very interested in being well-educated about finances.
  • Interpersonal interaction is highly important to Gen Z; just as Millennials before them, communicating via technology, including social media, is far less valuable to them than face-to-face communication.

Of course Gen Z is still very young, and their opinions as they relate to future employment may well change. For example, reality is that only 6.6% of the American workforce is self-employed, making it likely that only a small percentage of those expecting to be self-employed will be as well. The future in that respect is uncertain, and this group has a lot of learning to do and experiences yet ahead of them. However, when it comes to recruiting them, here are some things that might be helpful.

Generation Z is constantly connected

Like Millennials, Gen Z is a cohort of digital natives; they have had technology and the many forms of communication that affords since birth. They are used to instant access to information and, like their older Gen Y counterparts, they are continually processing information. Like Millennials, they prefer to solve their own problems, and will turn to YouTube or other video platforms for tutorials and to troubleshoot before asking for help. They also place great value on the reviews of their peers.

For recruiters, that means being ready to communicate on a wide variety of platforms on a continual basis. In order to recruit the top talent, you will have to be as connected as they are. You’ll need to keep up with their preferred networks, which will likely always be changing, and you’ll need to be transparent about what you want, as this generation is just as skeptical of marketing as the previous one.

Flexible schedules will continue to grow in importance

With the growth of part-time and contract workers, Gen Z will more than likely assume the same attitude their Millennial predecessors did when it comes to career expectations; they will not expect to remain with the same company for more than a few years. Flexible schedules will be a big part of their world as they move farther away from the traditional 9-to-5 job structure as work becomes more about life and less about work, and they’ll likely take on a variety of part time roles.

This preference for flexible work schedules means that business will happen outside of traditional work hours, and recruiters’ own work hours will, therefore, have to be just as flexible as their Gen Z targets’ schedule are. Companies will also have to examine what are in many cases decades old policies on acceptable work hours and business norms as they seek to not only attract, but to hire and retain this workforce with wholly different preferences than the ones that came before them. In many instances this is already happening, but I believe we will see this continue to evolve in the coming years.

Echoing the silent generation

Unlike Millennials, Gen Z came of age during difficult economic times; older Millennials were raised in the boom years. As Alex Williams points out in his recent New York Times piece, there’s an argument to be made that Generation Z is similar in attitude to the Silent Generation, growing up in a time of recession means they are more pragmatic and skeptical than their slightly older peers.

So how will this impact their behavior and desires as job candidates? Most of them are the product of Gen X parents, and stability will likely be very important to them. They may be both hard-working and fiscally savvy.

Sparks & Honey, in their much quoted slideshare on Gen Z, puts the number of high-schooler students who felt pressured by their parents to get jobs at 55 percent. Income and earning your keep are likely to be a big motivation for GenZ. Due to the recession, they also share the experience of living in multi-generational households, which may help considerably as they navigate a workplace comprised of several generations.

We don’t have all the answers

With its youngest members not yet in double digits, Gen Z is still maturing. There is obviously still a lot that we don’t know. This generation may have the opposite experience from the Millennials before them, where the older members experienced the booming economy, with some even getting a career foothold, before the collapse in 2008. Gen Z’s younger members may get to see a resurgent economy as they make their way out of college. Those younger members are still forming their personalities and views of the world; we would be presumptuous to think we have all of the answers already.

Generational analysis is part research, but also part theory testing. What we do know is that this second generation of digital natives, with its adaption of technology and comfort with the fast-paced changing world, will leave its mark on the American workforce as it makes its way in. As a result, everything about HR will change, in a big way. I wrote a post for my Forbes column recently where I said, “To recruit in this environment is like being part wizard, part astronaut, part diplomat, part guidance counselor,” and that’s very true.

As someone who loves change, I believe there has never been a more exciting time to be immersed in both the HR and the technology space. How do you feel about what’s on the horizon as it relates to the future of work and the impending arrival of Generation Z? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Social tools are playing an increasingly important role in the workplace, especially for younger workers. Learn more: Adopting Social Software For Workforce Collaboration [Video].

The post What Gen Z’s Arrival In The Workforce Means For Recruiters appeared first on TalentCulture.

Image: Bigstock

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About Meghan M. Biro

Meghan Biro is talent management and HR tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. I am the founder and CEO of TalentCulture and host of the #WorkTrends live podcast and Twitter Chat. Over my career, I have worked with early-stage ventures and global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. I have been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. I am the co-author of The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Revolution of Leadership One Person at a Time, and a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. I also serve on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands.

How The Digital Economy Is Defining An Entire Generation

Julia Caruso

millennial businesswomen using digital technology at work“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

As a part of the last wave of Millennials joining the workforce, I have been inspired by Jobs’ definition of innovation. For years, Millennials like me have been told that we need to be faster, better, and smarter than our peers. With this thought in mind and the endless possibilities of the Internet, it’s easy to see that the digital economy is here, and it is defining my generation.

Lately we’ve all read articles proclaiming that “the digital economy and the economy are becoming one in the same. The lines are being blurred.” While this may be true, Millennials do not see this distinction. To us, it’s just the economy. Everything we do happens in the abstract digital economy – we shop digitally, get our news digitally, communicate digitally, and we take pictures digitally. In fact, the things that we don’t do digitally are few and far between.

Millennial disruption: How to get our attention in the digital economy

In this fast-moving, highly technical era, innovation and technology are ubiquitous, forcing companies to deliver immediate value to consumers. This principle is ingrained in us – it’s stark reality. One day, a brand is a world leader, promising incredible change. Then just a few weeks later, it disappears. Millennials view leaders of the emerging (digital) economy as scrappy, agile, and comfortable making decisions that disrupt the norm, and that may or may not pan out.

What does it take to earn the attention of Millennials? Here are three things you should consider:

1. Millennials appreciate innovations that reinvent product delivery and service to make life better and simpler.

Uber, Vimeo, ASOS, and Apple are some of the most successful disruptors in the current digital economy. Why? They took an already mature market and used technology to make valuable connections with their Millennial customers. These companies did not invent a new product – they reinvented the way business is done within the economy. They knew what their consumers wanted before they realized it.

Millennials thrive on these companies. In fact, we seek them out and expect them to create rapid, digital changes to our daily lives. We want to use the products they developed. We adapt quickly to the changes powered by their new ideas or technologies. With that being said, it’s not astonishing that Millennials feel the need to connect regularly and digitally.

2. It’s not technology that captures us – it’s the simplicity that technology enables.

Recently, McKinsey & Company revealed that “CEOs expect 15%–50% of their companies’ future earnings to come from disruptive technology.” Considering this statistic, it may come as a surprise to these executives that buzzwords – including cloud, diversity, innovation, the Internet of Things, and future of work – does not resonate with us. Sure, we were raised on these terms, but it’s such a part of our culture that we do not think about it. We expect companies to deeply embed this technology now.

What we really crave is technology-enabled simplicity in every aspect of our lives. If something is too complicated to navigate, most of us stop using the product. And why not? It does not add value if we cannot use it immediately.

Many experts claim that this is unique to Millennials, but it truly isn’t. It might just be more obvious and prevalent with us. Some might translate our never-ending desire for simplicity into laziness. Yet striving to make daily activities simpler with the use of technology has been seen throughout history. Millennials just happen to be the first generation to be completely reliant on technology, simplicity, and digitally powered “personal” connections.

3. Millennials keep an eye on where and how the next technology revolution will begin.

Within the next few years Millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce. As a result, the onslaught of coverage on the evolution of technology will most likely be phased out. While the history of technology is significant for our predecessors, this not an overly important story for Millennials because we have not seen the technology evolution ourselves. For us, the digital revolution is a fact of life.

Companies like SAP, Amazon, and Apple did not invent the wheel. Rather, they were able to create a new digital future. For a company to be successful, senior leaders must demonstrate a talent for R&D genius as well as fortune-telling. They need to develop easy-to-use, brilliantly designed products, market them effectively to the masses, and maintain their product elite. It’s not easy, but the companies that upend an entire industry are successfully balancing these tasks.

Disruption can happen anywhere and at any time. Get ready!

Across every industry, big players are threatened — not only by well-known competitors, but by small teams sitting in a garage drafting new ideas that could turn the market upside down. In reality, anyone, anywhere, at any time can cause disruption and bring an idea to life.

Take my employer SAP, for example. With the creation of SAP S/4HANA, we are disrupting the tech market as we help our customers engage in digital transformation. By removing data warehousing and enabling real-time operations, companies are reimagining their future. Organizations such as La Trobe University, the NFL, and Adidas have made it easy to understand and conceptualize the effects using data in real time. But only time will tell whether Millennials will ever realize how much disruption was needed to get where we are today.

Find out how SAP Services & Support you can minimize the impact of disruption and maximize the success of your business. Read SAP S/4HANA customer success stories, visit the SAP Services HUB, or visit the customer testimonial page on SAP.com.

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About Julia Caruso

Julia Caruso is a Global Audience Marketing Specialist at SAP. She is responsible for developing strategic digital media plans and working with senior executives to create high level content for SAP S/4HANA and SAP Activate.

How AI Can End Bias

Yvonne Baur, Brenda Reid, Steve Hunt, and Fawn Fitter

We humans make sense of the world by looking for patterns, filtering them through what we think we already know, and making decisions accordingly. When we talk about handing decisions off to artificial intelligence (AI), we expect it to do the same, only better.

Machine learning does, in fact, have the potential to be a tremendous force for good. Humans are hindered by both their unconscious assumptions and their simple inability to process huge amounts of information. AI, on the other hand, can be taught to filter irrelevancies out of the decision-making process, pluck the most suitable candidates from a haystack of résumés, and guide us based on what it calculates is objectively best rather than simply what we’ve done in the past.

In other words, AI has the potential to help us avoid bias in hiring, operations, customer service, and the broader business and social communities—and doing so makes good business sense. For one thing, even the most unintentional discrimination can cost a company significantly, in both money and brand equity. The mere fact of having to defend against an accusation of bias can linger long after the issue itself is settled.

Beyond managing risk related to legal and regulatory issues, though, there’s a broader argument for tackling bias: in a relentlessly competitive and global economy, no organization can afford to shut itself off from broader input, more varied experiences, a wider range of talent, and larger potential markets.

That said, the algorithms that drive AI don’t reveal pure, objective truth just because they’re mathematical. Humans must tell AI what they consider suitable, teach it which information is relevant, and indicate that the outcomes they consider best—ethically, legally, and, of course, financially—are those that are free from bias, conscious or otherwise. That’s the only way AI can help us create systems that are fair, more productive, and ultimately better for both business and the broader society.

Bias: Bad for Business

When people talk about AI and machine learning, they usually mean algorithms that learn over time as they process large data sets. Organizations that have gathered vast amounts of data can use these algorithms to apply sophisticated mathematical modeling techniques to see if the results can predict future outcomes, such as fluctuations in the price of materials or traffic flows around a port facility. Computers are ideally suited to processing these massive data volumes to reveal patterns and interactions that might help organizations get ahead of their competitors. As we gather more types and sources of data with which to train increasingly complex algorithms, interest in AI will become even more intense.

Using AI for automated decision making is becoming more common, at least for simple tasks, such as recommending additional products at the point of sale based on a customer’s current and past purchases. The hope is that AI will be able to take on the process of making increasingly sophisticated decisions, such as suggesting entirely new markets where a company could be profitable, or finding the most qualified candidates for jobs by helping HR look beyond the expected demographics.

As AI takes on these increasingly complex decisions, it can help reduce bias, conscious or otherwise. By exposing a bias, algorithms allow us to lessen the impact of that bias on our decisions and actions. They enable us to make decisions that reflect objective data instead of untested assumptions; they reveal imbalances; and they alert people to their cognitive blind spots so they can make more accurate, unbiased decisions.

Imagine, for example, a major company that realizes that its past hiring practices were biased against women and that would benefit from having more women in its management pipeline. AI can help the company analyze its past job postings for gender-biased language, which might have discouraged some applicants. Future postings could be more gender neutral, increasing the number of female applicants who get past the initial screenings.

AI can also support people in making less-biased decisions. For example, a company is considering two candidates for an influential management position: one man and one woman. The final hiring decision lies with a hiring manager who, when they learn that the female candidate has a small child at home, assumes that she would prefer a part-time schedule.

That assumption may be well intentioned, but it runs counter to the outcome the company is looking for. An AI could apply corrective pressure by reminding the hiring manager that all qualifications being equal, the female candidate is an objectively good choice who meets the company’s criteria. The hope is that the hiring manager will realize their unfounded assumption and remove it from their decision-making process.

At the same time, by tracking the pattern of hiring decisions this manager makes, the AI could alert them—and other people in HR—that the company still has some remaining hidden biases against female candidates to address.

Look for Where Bias Already Exists

In other words, if we want AI to counter the effects of a biased world, we have to begin by acknowledging that the world is biased. And that starts in a surprisingly low-tech spot: identifying any biases baked into your own organization’s current processes. From there, you can determine how to address those biases and improve outcomes.

There are many scenarios where humans can collaborate with AI to prevent or even reverse bias, says Jason Baldridge, a former associate professor of computational linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin and now co-founder of People Pattern, a startup for predictive demographics using social media analytics. In the highly regulated financial services industry, for example, Baldridge says banks are required to ensure that their algorithmic choices are not based on input variables that correlate with protected demographic variables (like race and gender). The banks also have to prove to regulators that their mathematical models don’t focus on patterns that disfavor specific demographic groups, he says. What’s more, they have to allow outside data scientists to assess their models for code or data that might have a discriminatory effect. As a result, banks are more evenhanded in their lending.

Code Is Only Human

The reason for these checks and balances is clear: the algorithms that drive AI are built by humans, and humans choose the data with which to shape and train the resulting models. Because humans are prone to bias, we have to be careful that we are neither simply confirming existing biases nor introducing new ones when we develop AI models and feed them data.

“From the perspective of a business leader who wants to do the right thing, it’s a design question,” says Cathy O’Neil, whose best-selling book Weapons of Math Destruction was long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award. “You wouldn’t let your company design a car and send it out in the world without knowing whether it’s safe. You have to design it with safety standards in mind,” she says. “By the same token, algorithms have to be designed with fairness and legality in mind, with standards that are understandable to everyone, from the business leader to the people being scored.” (To learn more from O’Neil about transparency in algorithms, read Thinkers in this issue.)

Don’t Do What You’ve Always Done

To eliminate bias, you must first make sure that the data you’re using to train the algorithm is itself free of bias, or, rather, that the algorithm can recognize bias in that data and bring the bias to a human’s attention.

SAP has been working on an initiative that tackles this issue directly by spotting and categorizing gendered terminology in old job postings. Nothing as overt as No women need apply, which everyone knows is discriminatory, but phrases like outspoken and aggressively pursuing opportunities, which are proven to attract male job applicants and repel female applicants, and words like caring and flexible, which do the opposite.

Once humans categorize this language and feed it into an algorithm, the AI can learn to flag words that imply bias and suggest gender-neutral alternatives. Unfortunately, this de-biasing process currently requires too much human intervention to scale easily, but as the amount of available de-biased data grows, this will become far less of a limitation in developing AI for HR.

Similarly, companies should look for specificity in how their algorithms search for new talent. According to O’Neil, there’s no one-size-fits-all definition of the best engineer; there’s only the best engineer for a particular role or project at a particular time. That’s the needle in the haystack that AI is well suited to find.

Look Beyond the Obvious

AI could be invaluable in radically reducing deliberate and unconscious discrimination in the workplace. However, the more data your company analyzes, the more likely it is that you will deal with stereotypes, O’Neil says. If you’re looking for math professors, for example, and you load your hiring algorithm with all the data you can find about math professors, your algorithm may give a lower score to a black female candidate living in Harlem simply because there are fewer black female mathematicians in your data set. But if that candidate has a PhD in math from Cornell, and if you’ve trained your AI to prioritize that criterion, the algorithm will bump her up the list of candidates rather than summarily ruling out a potentially high-value hire on the spurious basis of race and gender.

To further improve the odds that AI will be useful, companies have to go beyond spotting relationships between data and the outcomes they care about. It doesn’t take sophisticated predictive modeling to determine, for example, that women are disproportionately likely to jump off the corporate ladder at the halfway point because they’re struggling with work/life balance.

Many companies find it all too easy to conclude that women simply aren’t qualified for middle management. However, a company committed to smart talent management will instead ask what it is about these positions that makes them incompatible with women’s lives. It will then explore what it can change so that it doesn’t lose talent and institutional knowledge that will cost the company far more to replace than to retain.

That company may even apply a second layer of machine learning that looks at its own suggestions and makes further recommendations: “It looks like you’re trying to do X, so consider doing Y,” where X might be promoting more women, making the workforce more ethnically diverse, or improving retention statistics, and Y is redefining job responsibilities with greater flexibility, hosting recruiting events in communities of color, or redesigning benefits packages based on what similar companies offer.

Context Matters—and Context Changes

Even though AI learns—and maybe because it learns—it can never be considered “set it and forget it” technology. To remain both accurate and relevant, it has to be continually trained to account for changes in the market, your company’s needs, and the data itself.

Sources for language analysis, for example, tend to be biased toward standard American English, so if you’re building models to analyze social media posts or conversational language input, Baldridge says, you have to make a deliberate effort to include and correct for slang and nonstandard dialects. Standard English applies the word sick to someone having health problems, but it’s also a popular slang term for something good or impressive, which could lead to an awkward experience if someone confuses the two meanings, to say the least. Correcting for that, or adding more rules to the algorithm, such as “The word sick appears in proximity to positive emoji,” takes human oversight.

Moving Forward with AI

Today, AI excels at making biased data obvious, but that isn’t the same as eliminating it. It’s up to human beings to pay attention to the existence of bias and enlist AI to help avoid it. That goes beyond simply implementing AI to insisting that it meet benchmarks for positive impact. The business benefits of taking this step are—or soon will be—obvious.

In IDC FutureScapes’ webcast “Worldwide Big Data, Business Analytics, and Cognitive Software 2017 Predictions,” research director David Schubmehl predicted that by 2020 perceived bias and lack of evidentiary transparency in cognitive/AI solutions will create an activist backlash movement, with up to 10% of users backing away from the technology. However, Schubmehl also speculated that consumer and enterprise users of machine learning will be far more likely to trust AI’s recommendations and decisions if they understand how those recommendations and decisions are made. That means knowing what goes into the algorithms, how they arrive at their conclusions, and whether they deliver desired outcomes that are also legally and ethically fair.

Clearly, organizations that can address this concern explicitly will have a competitive advantage, but simply stating their commitment to using AI for good may not be enough. They also may wish to support academic efforts to research AI and bias, such as the annual Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning (FATML) workshop, which was held for the third time in November 2016.

O’Neil, who blogs about data science and founded the Lede Program for Data Journalism, an intensive certification program at Columbia University, is going one step further. She is attempting to create an entirely new industry dedicated to auditing and monitoring algorithms to ensure that they not only reveal bias but actively eliminate it. She proposes the formation of groups of data scientists that evaluate supply chains for signs of forced labor, connect children at risk of abuse with resources to support their families, or alert people through a smartphone app when their credit scores are used to evaluate eligibility for something other than a loan.

As we begin to entrust AI with more complex and consequential decisions, organizations may also want to be proactive about ensuring that their algorithms do good—so that their companies can use AI to do well. D!

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


About the Authors:

Yvonne Baur is Head of Predictive Analytics for Sap SuccessFactors solutions.

Brenda Reid is Vice President of Product Management for Sap SuccessFactors solutions.

Steve Hunt is Senior Vice President of Human Capital Management Research for Sap SuccessFactors solutions.

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology.

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Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

About Andre Smith

An Internet, Marketing and E-Commerce specialist with several years of experience in the industry. He has watched as the world of online business has grown and adapted to new technologies, and he has made it his mission to help keep businesses informed and up to date.

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awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

Jay Tchakarov

About Jay Tchakarov

Jay Tchakarov is vice president of Product Management and Marketing at HighRadius Corporation. As part of HighRadius’ executive team, he is responsible for defining HighRadius’ Credit and A/R products and for educating the market about the value of automation and advanced technologies. He and his team work closely with sales, consultants, and customers to make sure the products address critical pain points and provide quantifiable, high-value solutions. Jay has more than 15 years of experience in software development, product management, and marketing, and numerous successful product launches. Jay graduated summa cum laude and received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA from Rice University.

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awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

About Derek Klobucher

Derek Klobucher is a Brand Journalist, Content Marketer and Master Digital Storyteller at SAP. His responsibilities include conceiving, developing and conducting global, company-wide employee brand journalism training; managing content, promotion and strategy for social networks and online media; and mentoring SAP employees, contractors and interns to optimize blogging and social media efforts.

Tags:

awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

Tiffany Rowe

About Tiffany Rowe

Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to provide high-quality content that readers will find valuable.

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awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

Tags:

awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

Andreas Heckmann

About Andreas Heckmann

Andreas Heckmann is head of Product Support at SAP. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and WeChat at AndHeckmann.

Tags:

awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

About Joerg Koesters

Joerg Koesters is the Head of Retail Marketing and Communication at SAP. He is a Technology Marketing executive with 20 years of experience in Marketing, Sales and Consulting, Joerg has deep knowledge in retail and consumer products having worked both in the industry and in the technology sector.

Tags:

awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

Henry Albrecht

About Henry Albrecht

Henry Albrecht is the CEO of Limeade, the corporate wellness technology company that measurably improves employee health, well-being and performance. Connect with Henry and the Limeade team on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tags:

awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

Tags:

awareness

Donuts, Content Management and Information Governance

Ina Felsheim

I was on vacation for two weeks, which was awesome, and my girls mainly wanted to do two things:

I had my own list of projects, too. The big one was installing glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. (Grout everywhere. That’s all I’m saying.)

After two weeks of glorious holiday, I sat down to take stock. The old technical writer in me came creeping out, and I began to count how many sets of instructions we followed over the course of the two weeks—more than 15, definitely. And the amazing thing? They were all right. Every. Last. One. From proper application of fabric paint to proper frying temperature for homemade donuts, to putting together a shoe rack that came in 20 pieces.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The difference comes from an increased awareness in the importance of great user assistance. Without successful “use,” who’s going to evangelize your product?

Information Governance: Part of a Larger Food Pyramid

In EIM, we have a well-seasoned group of information developers. They apply information governance principles every day:

  • Create a single source of master information (in this case, product step-by-step instructions)
  • Manage versioning of master information (as product updates happen)
  • Survey end-users of the information to gauge quality, freshness, and applicability of master information
  • Establish master information Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed (RACI) models for owners, reviewers, and informed stakeholders.

Sometimes, we group this knowledge management work into other categories, like content management. However, information governance needs to also be inclusive of these activities; otherwise, how can we be successful? No one can live on donuts alone!

Does your information governance program include content management? Do you have comments about the quality of EIM user assistance (online help, PDFs, printed documentation, etc.)?

Comments

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is the VP of Global Innovation Evangelist at SAP. Over the last 25 years, I've presented to Business and IT audiences in over 50 different countries around the world, on themes such as Digital Transformation, Big Data and Analytics, the Internet of Things, the future of Digital Marketing, and the challenges of technology culture change in organizations.

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awareness