Enterprise hits and misses - the push for talent gets real, remote work meets reality, and vendors get an event grilling

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed June 6, 2022
This week - the push for talent gets put to the use case test, while enterprise events get the satirical treatment, and retailers grapple. Remote work "flexibility" runs smack into real world policies - and all the way into the whiffs section.


Lead story - Getting HR and talent right: extracting use case lessons

MyPOV: Talent, workforce management, labor shortfalls, automation: it's hard to come up with a more pressing issue for enterprises - I don't care what industry.

This week, diginomica use cases brought out HR lessons. Start with Stuart's How LEGO shapes its long term HR thinking brick-by-brick.  LEGO is about to embark on a Workday implementation with the long-term in mind. But for now, I found it interesting that LEGO decided to apply the same remote work standard for all their employees. Stuart quotes its Chief People Officer:

We did a lot of research, we piloted a lot of things and then we made a belief, that's partially data-based and partially belief-based, that we're actually pursuing the same approach for all of our salaried colleagues.

So, there is trust in the system for teams to manage around it and to work within that  framework. There are clearly some colleagues who are still pushing for more flexibility. But we feel that, being a Danish company, equality is a very, very important value in the Danish culture and in the LEGO Group. So it was important to us to land on something where everyone is treated in the same way.

It is an interesting stance. Not sure I agree with it - I'd need to learn more - but it does reflect my view that each company needs their own remote workplace formula (under what circumstances are workers remote/hybrid, and why). Whether this becomes an impediment to attracting talent for certain roles will be an important subplot - not just for LEGO but for all HR organizations. The next LEGO CPO quote hits on that:

Maybe five years ago, certainly 10 years ago, there was a lot of hyperbole that digital revolution was going to dis-intermediate talent and talent wasn't as important. I certainly see no signs of that. There's definitely movement, where you need to place talent, what kind of skills are needed. But as we clearly all are seeing in the world today, there's a shortage of talent and great people with the right skills for the future have never been in greater demand.

Stuart took a fresh look at Walmart's HR strategy in: How Walmart's focus on the intersection of tech and HR delivers a sense of community for its workforce. Now, this one really pushes my buttons -  I've never left a Walmart thinking, "Wow,  I can't wait to shop here again what a bunch of engaged, happy employees!" That said, I've been curious if equipping retail employees with better tech could be part of the answer.

Walmart is also emerging with an exceptions-only type of policy for true remote work, though there is some flexibility in location, including Walmart campuses (check Stuart's piece for more on that). But in terms of my question, what did jump out was Walmart's internal [email protected] app. Stuart quotes Walmart's CPO:

It allows, within a two weeks window, our frontline associates to trade off schedules and or to create schedules that adapt to their life. Those of us that are very fortunate to go into an office that might be afforded that same flexibility, it's not the same for the majority of our associates. So we call it flexibility. We do believe that it has to match what the person's role is with, what the business outcomes and requirements are.

I like this direction better than the principle of treating all employees the same. Why not use tech to create the utmost flexibility, but customized for role constraints? As to whether I'll pick up on a Walmart employee morale boost next time I shop, that remains to be seen...

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Mark issued a notable use case update in The Pension Protection Fund's cloud transformation - a progress report two years on. Martin delved into a startup with a contrarian twist on cloud architectures in Time for a 'cloud-alike' approach to architecture? Nebulon pitches a deep infrastructure strategy.

Neil scorched sloppy AI ethics thinking in The forgotten margins of AI ethics - a paper on AI ethics with teeth. Speaking of scorching, Brian has seen enough trade shows this spring to categorize their shortcomings. Check his satirical A Rosetta Stone for technology conferences - decoding what not to do now we're back in the convention centers, where no vendor comes out unscathed. Brian lured me into a spicy reader comment, which I won't reveal in its entirety here, but I nominated "nostalgia events" as another all-too-common event type: 

Enterprise software vendors did a lot of impressive things during the pandemic to serve their customers, but one thing they didn't spend any time on was creatively rethinking on-the-ground events. Most did not push to incorporate a meaningful hybrid component... 

Those who put on "nostalgia events" would have us believe the last three years didn't happen, that we can hop into a time machine and never wear masks and love three hour keynotes and over-moderated customer panels and jock keynotes and all the things you have dismantled here - as if none of this ever happened. I can appreciate the desire but not the result.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top eight

Overworked businessman


Not all "research papers" are created equal:

Meanwhile, Elon Musk wrote a grouchy note to Tesla's executive employees, calling for the workers to come into the office and stop "phoning it in" or to quit. Without Bullshit's Josh Bernoff analyzed Musk's email, and issues a mixed review: What's wrong (and right) with Elon Musk's emails banning remote work? "Many of the best intellectual workers expect to be able to work anywhere. Musk is basically telling them, “You’re wrong, fuck off.”

I can't lie: I don't hate Musk's emails. Granted, I'd sooner be run over by a Tesla than work for Tesla. Whether these emails are a whiff depend on the outcome. If talent drain occurs, then we revisit.

If you really want to see some poor communications, I'll defer to this beauty:

Well, I'm gonna go see if I can compile enough proverbs to become a thought leader. See you next time...

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed

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