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Adaptive Design

This is a great visual about inclusion. But it's wrong....

This is a great visual about inclusion. But it's wrong....

Written by Kevan McBeth, Chief Purpose Officer, Affective Consulting

I have come across this really great visual a few times over the last several months (most recently on the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy Facebook site) , and although it very beautifully demonstrates the difference between inclusion, exclusion, integration and segregation, there’s been something about it that bugs me.

The differnce between inclusion, exclusion, segregation and integration

After really thinking about it, I started to realized that there are a couple of things that could be changed/ edited to make this a better representation of what true inclusion is all about.

The green dots should be different.

I get it. the green dots are supposed to represent those who are “typical” - those of us who are able bodied, caucasian and without barriers. And that is fine- it’s a reality that we should acknowledge. But when we talk about true inclusion, we are talking about creating a culture that strives for equity and embraces, respects, accepts, and values difference.

And that isn’t just about the differences in the blue and red dots. That’s also about the green dots too- we are all unique individuals with a rich and wide level of diversity as well, so why shouldn’t this be acknowledged in the visual as well? In fact it’s a critical piece of the definition.

The red and blue dots need to be different too.

If we are using a people first philosiphy, and moving beyond the idea that you as an individual are your physical or cognitive ability, or the colour of your skin, or your sexual orientation is something that inclusion is all about. The colours are vital to the overall visual, but by just using colours, you are potentially continuing to reinforce the labelling of individuals and not taking into account who they are beyond the visual differences that you naturally identify when you see someone who isn’t just like you.

By changing the size of the dots, you are making a distinction that everyone is different, while at the same time connecting the different coloured dots to green coloured dots - afterall, we may look different, but we may also share experiences, religious beliefs, backgrounds, opinions and more. These parts of who we are make us uniquely us, but also give us the chance to connect with others through common connections.

The inclusion circle needs to “pop”!

My biggest issue with the diagram above is this - it just doesn’t represent the incredible impact that an inclusive culture truly is!

Inclusion isn’t just about bringing different people into the center and making their lives better- if it’s done properly, it actually makes everyone’s lives better. It creates a culture of understanding, empathy and belonging. It makes people more open and caring. It reinforces our natural instincts to be kinder to each other.

I am not an educator, and I know that inclusion has it’s supporters and detractors when it comes to classrooms. But consider this- outside of the obvious benefits for children with disabilities who have been given the opportunity to develop prosocial skills and be a part of their natural peer group, typical students in an inclusive environment are not adversley affected, but rather in general experience positive academic outcomes for students overall.

And when it comes to businesses developing a more inclusive environment, I think I will leave that to this amazing video of Mark Wafer, a Tim Horton’s owner who believes in the business case for inclusion to make that case for me.

My version of the inclusion graphic.

My thoughts and views are my own, so I encourage you to take this or leave it - or better yet, in the spirit of inclusion, send me a note and tell me how it could be better! I would love to generate greater discussion on inclusion, and if you have a suggestion for me on how this could be a better representation of such an important topic for us all, I would love to hear from you.

Isn't this better?

HR Doesn't Need Big Data - It Needs Adaptive Design

HR Doesn't Need Big Data - It Needs Adaptive Design

Written by Kevan McBeth - Chief Purpose Officer, Affective Consulting

I have been reading a lot of blogs and articles lately that have been touting the next great thing in HR Strategy- integrating big data into the overall strategic planning process. Many even go as far as to suggest the need for HR professionals to improve their skills in defining and collecting an increased number of data points, as a way for HR departments to better inform the overall decision making process for corporations far and wide. The idea, according to one blog I read this morning, is that HR drives critical initiatives that improve the overall productivity and effectiveness of the organization as a whole. Therefore, as a reliable business partner it needs to provide data to other departments to allow them to work efficiently and smoothly.

And while I agree whole heartedly with the idea that HR is a critical business partner, capable of supporting (and even driving) organizational productivity through a highly engaged, skilled and optimized workforce, let’s pump the brakes on this whole “HR needs Big Data” talk. 

There is a fundamental flaw that organizations have been making for some time now. Organizations today are driven almost entirely by the need for analytics. Whether used to support decision making or appease and impress shareholders, measures that fit nicely into corporate scorecards or dashboards carry considerable weight in the overall decision making process. But trying to boil down your people and HR practices into a series of data points is steering your organization in the wrong direction. 

Stop treating your people like numbers. 

 I get it. In a number of other areas of business, information from a multiple number of data points within your organization is a way to track and predict your overall success. If an area of your organization is under performing, you adjust inputs to create a more improved outcome. Why wouldn't a similar set of measures and standards be successful for HR practices? 
But it doesn’t work that way with people. No indicator you can extract can show you how to make people more productive if the environment that they work in is one that doesn’t inspire them. No number will show you how many of your people are motivated to do their best every day, or work for their organization with purpose because they are buying into their workplace leadership philosophy. 
Big Data- type analytics are nothing new in HR- we’ve been using employee engagement surveys, workforce planning analytics and other “predictive” types of data for years now. So why is it that in the 2014 AON Employee Engagement Survey, only 61% of worldwide workers said they feel engaged at their jobs, and the Conference Board of Canada states that less than half (48.3 percent) of US workers are satisfied with their jobs in 2015. We’ve had data like this for years- so if data allows us to alter the outcomes and predict a higher level of productivity in the outcome, why aren’t the numbers higher? 

Start treating your employees like customers.

What is needed is not greater, or even better data. What's needed in organzations is a shift back to a leadership philosiphy that meets the needs of the next generation of employees. But more often than not, and despite their best of intentions, most leaders haven’t bought in to making the changes that are critical to moving the dial on employee engagement. They have yet to make the shift in organizational philosophy between seeing workers as servants of the company they work for and deserving the same level of attention, diginity, and respect that is traditionally reserved for their highly valued customers. 

"Leaders who are able to create sustainable, high-performance cultures over the long term see their primary purpose as serving the employees on their teams—not just the other way around," said Matt Tenney, author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons From A Prison, A Monastery, And A Boardroom. "These 'servant leaders' realize that when people know we truly care about them—and not just about what we can get out of them—they tend to go the extra mile."

Predictive Design is the next great thing for your customers. And your employees.

So if big data isn’t the right direction for HR, then what is? Good question. One area of business I have started to pay more attention to is marketing, and the trends coming from many of the larger marketing firms across the globe. This is a great way to better understand what they see as up-and-coming consumer trends. It's an opportunity to explore trends for possible cross-over into the HR world. After all, if we as consumers are looking for a certain level of experience as customers from organizations, why would we be expecting anything less from those same companies as employees? 

I came across a fantastic presentation recently from Aaron Shapiro, CEO of HUGE- a global marketing and design collective that works with the big boys like Nike and MTV. Aaron was presenting his take on the next level of market design, which he called anticipatory design at the Acquia Engage Conference in California back in October. 

Aaron’s presentation outlined the need for a number of shifts to occur in the way that we leverage technology, and the need for organizations to begin to better understand their client’s needs. The next generation of marketing is actually not going to be about more choice, but far less. In fact, what Aaron sees is marketing technology that modifies consumer choice down to a few simple choices- based on what organizations know about you and your interests, your needs and even your schedule. In short, when brands better understand you, they will present you their best match for your request rather than giving you a million options for you to sift through, and potentially risk your indecision or neutrality resulting in a lost sale. 




In my mind, there are huge (no pun intended) lessons here for us as HR leaders. By being more in tune with our employees, and fully understanding who they are and what they need to be their best self, we can create opportunities to put our people in the best possible position for success. Organizations need to be adaptive, nimble and open to positioning individuals in places where they can be the most successful. Where they can be most engaged. 

But to do that, we need to gather a different kind of data than what Big Data can provide. We need leaders who engage with their employees – connect with them on a more personal level. Find out what makes them tick, what gets them up in the morning and what energizes them.

These kinds of data won't show up on a spreadsheet, but if you truly want to improve the overall productivity and effectiveness of the organization as a whole- this is the kind of data you should seek to better understand.