2026 and All That

The problem with most of the writing on the future of work is that it is done by hipsters in coffee shops. That’s the future of some work…the rest of it – might not be so wonderfully Starbucks.

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

There are lots of articles around at the moment about the future of work. They pop up in my timeline frequently, often accompanied by videos of futurologists at conferences outlining their vision of work in the 2020s and beyond. There’s something funny going on, though, because I seem to be hearing two very different stories without much overlap between them.

The story I hear coming out of management conferences and any number of consultants’ websites is all about how technology will revolutionise the workplace, how it will empower us and enable us to have more fulfilled working lives. It will trash hierarchy too, as we’ll all have access to so much more knowledge and information. Technology will force the democratisation and devolution of corporate decision making. Generation Y feature strongly in all of this. After all, they (and even more so, the next lot) won’t stand for hide-bound ideas…

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My first day with #Androidwear – LG R Smartwatch

I’m a big fan of all things tech and especially all things Google. I was 8th in line to try Google Glass in the UK when they launched the bootcamp. That’s my level of geek.

Whilst the press have been focused on the upcoming launch of an Apple watch I’ve been keenly following the development of #Androidwear. I’m more excited about this for the following reasons

  • more people have Android phones and it is a more affordable platform. Apple is expensive – and despite the disproportionate level of media coverage has declining market share. Chinese companies are coming on strong in the mobile market – expect to hear lots more about Xiaomi, OnePlus and Oppo over coming months
  • I use lots of Google products so it offers me a high level of integration. I basically live my life through Android – notes, reminders, calendars, document storage…
  • It’s the first platform to offer a range of watches (Sony had a smartwatch offering several years ago, Pebble was a successful Kickstarter – this isn’t the first offering but it is mass market)

Today I received through the post an LG R watch. I’d decided to get the most ‘watch looking’ of the launch products that I could and this looked like the most likely to fit the bill. The Moto 360 looks gorgeous but early reports suggested that battery life would be less that the LG R and I’m a bit of a power user when it comes to my mobile technology.

So…initial thoughts.

  • The interface which is based on information cards takes some getting used to – but by the end of day 1 it’s feeling quite comfortable for most regular actions
  • Being able to touch your watch and say ‘Ok Google, play The Kinks’ and then have Sunny Afternoon blare out of my phone was very cool. Awkward in public, but a really fun experience. The music player is let down currently by the fact you can’t select playlists directly from the watch
  • The Twitter functionality that is built in is interesting and how it might change my use of Twitter is interesting. Essentially a notification comes up on the watch of a mention and I can then RT, favourite or reply to that Tweet. RT and favourite do as you’d expect. Reply automatically opens the Twitter app on my phone with the handles of the people I am replying to already populated. Neat. It needs both devices to work but is a better experience than attempting to type on a tiny screen. There is an app called Bunting that allows voice dictation to Twitter and I’ll probably try it but I imagine hastags and handles will confuse it mightily. Emails work on a similar basis
  • When you receive a call you can see the caller and then swipe to reject it, swipe to accept it on your phone or send it to voicemail and send a text saying ‘busy’, ‘I’ll call in a bit’ or similar. I could see this being handy in quite a few situations.
  • It has built in basic fitness functionality – it tracks steps towards a daily goal you set and can monitor heart rate. I can see this actually being really helpful over time. I’m a bit of a stats geek and I like having targets to go at
  • I’ve been able to send texts to my wife by saying ‘OK Google, text Kerry…’. I’ve been impressed with the accuracy even with background noise. I also tried ‘show me my calendar for tomorrow’ and that worked too.
  • I can change watch faces and download new ones – which I probably won’t do that often but if you are out hiking you can choose to see a compass and if I’m away from home I imagine I might use the dual timezone options
  • Battery life seems to be holding up – I’ve been playing all day and I still have a third of the charge left). On a normal usage pattern I’ll probably get 1.5 days out of it. I’m not fussed about needing to charge it nightly as I don’t wear a watch to bed
  • The screen was easily visible in sunlight on a low brightness setting. Of more concern is that I don’t think it will be very subtle in a cinema etc when the lights are off
  • Looking at the range of apps available is bewildering and might tell you something about modern priorities – the range of apps already available includes i) faking a call on your phone so you can leave an awkward conversation ii) remotely getting your phone to make a fart noise iii) using your watch to advance presentation slides iv) using it as a remote trigger for your camera. Of these I can possibly see me using iii). And maybe ii) if I’m being honest…

Overall I’ve been impressed so far. Bluetooth connection has been steady with the exception of a blip straight after a software update and this already feels like my main new watch, rather than a gimmick.

I’ll post another update when I’ve spent more time with it and experienced the Google Now notifications (designed to think ahead and provide information before/when you need it) a bit more.






Humane Resourced 2 – update

The new book is just having one final edit before being published in time for CIPD14.

I completely apologise for the delays, all my fault.

Kate Griffiths-Lambeth and Alison Chisnell have been amazing in covering for my rubbishness. I owe them serious thanks and if you are an author of a chapter in the book it will be due to them that you are popping up on Kindles everywhere next week.

I’ll be chained to my PC tomorrow making sure that any mistakes are fully attributable to me.

Thanks for your patience.



In praise of ConnectedHR

I’ve spent the past couple of days in Amsterdam feeling completely on the fringes of things. I’m at HRTechEurope and whilst I am learning a lot and meeting some great folk I found the first day really hard. I didn’t know many people and those that I did know were understandably not really focused on babysitting me. Unlike say, the CIPD conference or L&D show I am surrounded by specialists in something that is on the boundaries of my knowledge. I love my tech, but my HR tech jargon is a little rusty and my knowledge of providers is such that I just mentally inserted the word ‘blah’ into quite a few things said to me.

‘Unlike blah our blah is a genuinely integrated blah that really enables you to blah’

‘Cool, thanks, nice to chat’

Last night I went to an event run by some vendors and I was the first one to arrive. I was standing on my own, in a club in Amsterdam and thinking I wanted to be anywhere but there. I ended up advising the sponsors on tech companies they should acquire based on my knowledge of vendors I’d seen that day. It felt awkward and I felt awkward. I was aware that there was a ConnectingHR event in London and I was missing out on seeing friends and people I felt comfortable about.

Then Lance Haun from the Starr Conspiracy came in and we got talking and he turned out to be a really stand out guy. We ended up chatting for about about 45 minutes and then Dwayne Lay  turned up and whilst I only knew him through Twitter he allowed me to slump next to him and chat if I adhered to a simple rules… no work talk. He was funny, welcoming and drank an incredible amount of Redbull.

Then Gareth Jones turned up. I’d never really had a chance to talk to Gareth in depth and I only really knew him because so many people talk fondly and positively about him due to being one of the ‘original’ social HR people and starting ConnectingHR. I always feel slightly like I’m hanging on the coattails of people like Gareth as they created something – whereas I’m just joining in at a later date. It’s easier to walk into something than to build it and I never underestimate that. Gareth gave me time, patience, laughs and an ear last night and made sure I didn’t feel left out. Another person who I hardly knew was taking time to make sure I was having a good evening. I went gradually went from feeling like an intruder to feeling more relaxed. Time started to stop dragging.

And then Mervyn Dinnen turned up and Merv spent about an hour (to be honest I was a bit hazy on timing by this point, it was a free bar) checking that I was ok, introducing me to folk and giving me advice. He had better ways he could spend his evening, but he chose to give me a hand.

The test of a community is how well it looks after its weakest members – and often those are its newest members. My evening went from this….


To this….


The difference is the people (and a free bar and battered gravy balls). And then David Goddin guided me back to my hotel via tweet.

Off the beaten track

Wonderful overview of the Unfurling HR Conference in NZ by Richard Westney

Up the Down Escalator

It feels to me like HR is at something of a crossroads. I have written about this before. We have a choice. We can take the tried and trusted route, let’s call it the main road, that is direct, functional and gets us to where we think we want to go. Or we can take the scenic route, let’s call it the back road, which will be full of twists and turns, may be a bit rocky in places but is worth it for the unexpected views and discovery of new places you didn’t know existed.

This week’s Unfurling HR Unconference in Auckland felt very much like a back road experience. It was almost off road.

Unfurled3The unconference format was a first for me and just about everyone else in the room. Unfurling HR was the idea of #NZLead’s Amanda Sterling and she put herself out there to get…

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My greatest weakness

‘Sometimes I’m not very good at my job. I annoy people, or miss something, or don’t notice that I’ve annoyed people or missed something. Sometimes I think I’ve done a great job when I really haven’t.’

I imagine that this would be the most honest answer to the interview question ‘what is your biggest development area/weakness?’. I’m currently pulling together an interview pack and debating the merits of this question… I imagine the answer above wouldn’t go down overly well, but it is probably true for most people. ‘I make mistakes, I hope the good stuff I do is better than the other candidates applying’.

The question is obviously asked to check the candidates level of self awareness, but if you really got an honest list it might sound like… well, here is mine

– I can’t pair socks. I’m just not wired to be able to do it. I can spot an error in a spreadsheet at 100 yards, but pair socks? No
– Sometimes I sing out loud in public without noticing it. On the way to this train I just got caught singing Arthur’s Theme by Christopher Cross
– For some reason I feel compelled to leave a restaurant as soon as I’ve finished my food. This leaves my wife feeling rushed and grumpy
– I sometimes use bad analogies, much like an elephant using a toaster, that I don’t notice aren’t helpful at all until a bit later on in my sentence.
– I tend to think I can separate my moods at home and in work better than I actually can
– If someone hasn’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life I feel it is my civic duty to convince them to. This can really interrupt the flow of a conversation
– I’ve been working on simplifying my language and the way I describe things for years. If I get challenged on not understanding something deeply enough (because someone has assumed that from my language) I get riled and set about making them regret underestimating the level of complexity and depth I can achieve. It’s a very ego driven reaction. Not good. I can obviously control it, but when I let it out to play it’s not pleasant.
– I’m not open minded enough to ever go to the ballet
– I challenge more than most, but I know there have been times when I should and I haven’t. Those times weigh heavily on me
– I always forget to turn off my PC
– I hate suits. Mine are therefore cheap and crumpled
– I can never be clean shaven. My face doesn’t allow it. I just have a face that permanently looks like I’m a baddie in a 90’s movie

We are people, with flaws – big and small. The impact of those flaws varies hugely by context. It’s the difference between the micromanager and the manager who is great because they are in the detail. The leader who gives you the space to perform – and the leader who is never about. In the eye of the beholder.

I know that you should answer this question by giving a ‘tangential weakness’ (check out ‘why should anyone be led by you’ by Goffee and Jones) but I think this question tests the ability to sneakily answer interview questions rather than do a job. It doesn’t feel right, I don’t want people to kick off one of their first interactions with an organisation by thinking about the smartest political answer.

Maybe my expectation of honesty from others is a weakness. Maybe. Maybe I find dressing things up to make them more attractive immediately uncomfortable… Maybe producing the equivalent of this sign at interview shows creativity…Maybe my greatest weakness is the classic ‘just being too passionate about my work’.