The Quick Time-to-Market Business Memo

Don’t work hard. Work smart! Working smart means more productivity in less time.

HR Avant Garde ™ maintains that the key to creating rapid time-to-market successful business strategies is pattern recognition. Why treat each business problem as a unique snowflake when you can discover commonality among business problems to arrive at quicker business analyses?

What is the first step in solving a business problem? It is not to find the root cause, but to have your attack plan ready to go as the tool that will help you discover both root causes and their corresponding solutions more quickly.

Time is the great equalizer – your only resource that is not scalable. Is working long hours really a badge of honor or perhaps an indication that we need to improve our efficacy? As we try to outrun lesser versions of ourselves, I am sharing with you this webinar where you can gain the skill acquisition to work smarter!

  • Learn the commonality among most business problems.
  • Develop your own customize template to use on-the-job for the rest of your career.
  • Scale your new business memo template from 90 second verbal responses to yearlong project management analysis.

Vincent Suppa works with startups and investors and teaches graduate courses at New York University. His email is suppa@suppa.org.

© Vincent Suppa 2017

An Executive Perspective on HR: A Strategic Framework for HR

There are no HR problems. There are only business problems with HR solutions.

Most HR professionals speak with confidence about whether or not they are adding value to the HR function. However, executives no longer think that is good enough. The C-suite is now demanding to know if HR adds shareholder value to the business – not to its own function.

When HR is not adding shareholder value and performs as a hygiene factor, firms accept industry standards and decrease their vertical integration by outsourcing significant portions of the HR function.

CEOs do not want to have HR conversations with HR. They want to have great business conversations with HR. How can HR measure its business success instead of merely its HR success? This is accomplished by discovering the link between HR initiatives and, through pro forma income statements, its impact on net income.

When HR professionals don’t present pro forma income statements as part of their project portfolios, they are bereft of the information that  definitively answers the question, “Did HR add shareholder value?”

In this webinar, discover eight income statement categories that all HR initiatives should impact. If your HR project does not impact at least one of these eight categories, consider not greenlighting the project at all for the benefit of the company.

Vincent Suppa works with startups and investors and teaches graduate courses at New York University. His email is suppa@suppa.org.

© Vincent Suppa 2017

Is Your HR Department Really an Admin Department?

How much of your "HR" work is really admin?

Your company loses its competitive differentiator when HR functions as admin.

Look at any organizational chart. Administration is still necessary, and yet you’d be hard pressed to find an admin department.

Decades ago, companies had admin departments with many administrative employees. Today, firms have fewer administrators against more regulation and increasing bureaucracy!

In our knowledge economy, people remain the differentiating competitive advantage as companies require fewer operating assets, with even those assets – computers and software – now commoditized. Since regulation tends to center on differentiators, government compliance focuses increasingly on employees.

Admin deserves its own department as does HR.

Admin deserves its own department as does HR.

But does filing more electronic forms and enforcing compliance make it less of an admin function because it involves humans? The answer is in the Shakespearean quip, “A rose by any other name…

If administration is being performed by companies bereft of admin departments, then who performs admin? Admin departments, of course. Only they are now called HR departments.

Administrators are vital and even maintain own professional associations. The American Society of Administrate Professionals and International Association of Administrative Professionals are two excellent examples.

When companies misclassify administrative employees as HR, they do so to the detriment of both professions. We recognize administrators’ unique skillsets distinguishing them from HR. Unfortunately,  HR departments now absorb admin to the dilution of HR.

By confusing the two roles but only giving one its own department, we undervalue the importance administrators provide while denying them their own career path.

We also cloud the career paths of HR professionals. Once their jobs get outsourced to vendors efficiently handling payroll, compliance and other benefit administrative work, they realize all too late they actually worked in admin despite their HR title.

We make this claim because companies only outsource functions on which they don’t compete. For those functions, they accept industry standards vendors provide equally to all clients, including competitors.

True HR cannot be executed by vendors since employees are the great differentiator. And firms never outsource what they compete on. (For more on this, watch the video below and read “Why Your Company is an HR Company.“)

Merely giving administrators HR titles offers little security when algorithms are able to perform the same functions more efficiently against newer technologies.

Sadly, administrators with HR titles realize their admin role only after their companies decide to cut checks to vendors instead of them.

What can both administrators and HR professionals do to protect their own unique careers? We have ideas on that too!

Vincent Suppa works with startups and investors and teaches graduate courses at New York University. His email is suppa@suppa.org.

© Vincent Suppa 2016

How to Increase Margins After a Disruption

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Once disrupted, can your product be repositioned for the luxury market?  (Image: Pixabay)

We recently talked about how the best companies combine talent and technology in the most efficient way to innovate in their field.

Most leaders inside the boiler room pave their way in pure technology plays. But some companies build their new competitive advantage upon the premise that most of us have moved so comfortably into the digital world that it has elevated analogue products to where they can now be monetized as luxury goods.

Replaced by digital music files, vinyl recordings now sell for larger margins to audiophiles.

Disrupted by digital files, vinyl recordings now sell for larger margins to audiophiles.  (Image: Pixabay)

Vinyl recordings, excluding their content value, were commodities as a sound medium. Now they are an expensive, high-margin acquisition for audiophiles.

Think of how traditional analogue watches were gradually replaced with digital timepieces in the 1970s. Once the transition was nearly complete, traditional timepieces regained lost market share by repositioning themselves even further into the luxury market.

A hand-written note is treasured when most messaging is digital.

A hand-written note becomes treasured when most messaging is digital.  (Image: Pixabay)

Fountain pens lost their dominant share of the market in the 1950s with the arrival of the ballpoint pen. Today, a fountain pen is a high-end luxury good with higher margins than their 1950s’ counterpart.

Inside the Boiler Room celebrates disruption. As disruption increases the efficiency and productivity of the market, disrupted industries can reposition themselves from high-revenue, low-cost commodities to high-end, high-margin luxury goods.

As communication is now almost exclusively digital, handwritten letters, especially those showcasing beautiful calligraphy, are even more valued by their recipients .

HR Avant-Garde spent time with Kunal Sheth to see what he had to say about our premise on how, with enough disruption, analogue can sometimes trump digital with higher margins than before.

Vincent Suppa works with startups and investors and teaches graduate courses at New York University. His email is suppa@suppa.org.

© Vincent Suppa 2016

HR Specialties with Bright Futures

The future of HR is business-line specialties replacing conventional HR categories. (Image: Pixabay)

The future of HR is business-line specialties replacing conventional HR categories. (Image: Pixabay)

As technology becomes more powerful, which HR specialties remain relevant in the marketplace? In our previous post, we illustrated why middle level management jobs are being decimated. Because most tactical HR jobs are in middle-level management, we are changing the paradigm of what constitutes an HR specialty to ensure skill security and earning power.

Strategy cannot operate beneath another strategy; the former is tactical by definition. With algorithms automating tactical executions using big data, people become less relevant to the process.

Computers excel at defined routine tasks. They play chess well. Yet even the best algorithms can’t innovate original strategies. We can transition HR from tactical executions beneath strategy by developing HR specialties along business strategies.

HR Avant-Garde has notable success mentoring HR protégées in disciplines as varied as big data and social media. While attending HR career fairs, they find themselves with few rivals. If you specialize in traditional HR functions, how many people are competing with similar skills? How much smaller is the applicant pool for HR experts specializing in pre-IPO startups requiring post Series A funding ramp ups?

An HR specialty in turnaround companies reorganizing under bankruptcy protection is another in-demand niche with few competitors.

How will you future-proof your HR career? (Image: Pixabay)

How will you future-proof your HR career? (Image: Pixabay)

How many of your colleagues have developed expertise in the HR complexities surrounding mergers and acquisitions? US companies are horizontally integrating into Asia and Latin America lacking HR specialists who can integrate and incentivize international teams around a coherent strategy.

This new paradigm of HR disciplines avoids being obviated by technology by centering on strategic business lines instead of HR categories. These neo-HR specialties with their business-line focus are in high demand while remaining in short supply, because they go against the conventional HR approach.

The Least You Need to Know:

Consider being the HR guru in these business specialties to give you a competitive advantage in a market saturated with conventional HR practitioners:

  • Pre-IPO Startups
  • Social Media
  • Big Data
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Turnaround
  • Internal Marketing
  • Innovation
  • Companies horizontally integrating across boarders
  • Companies increasing or decreasing their vertical integration

Vincent Suppa works with startups and investors and teaches graduate courses at New York University. His email is suppa@suppa.org.

© Vincent Suppa 2015

Why are Real Wages for HR Jobs in Decline?

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Can you be replaced by an algorithm that feeds on big data? (Image: Pixabay)

Which HR specialty will maximize your paycheck while limiting your exposure to redundancy in today’s on-demand economy?

Computers excel at defined tasks. Tasks accomplished through explicit rules, no matter how complex, can be completed by software. This is why tactical jobs’ wages against inflation have decreased since the 1970s. Most middle management jobs are tactical and continue to be eliminated by algorithms feeding on Big Data.

Just as previous humanoids have become extinct to make way for modern man, the middle-level manager is a concept of the past. (Image: Pixabay)

Just as previous humanoids have become extinct to make way for modern man, the middle-level manager is a concept of the past. (Image: Pixabay)

Looking at transactional jobs as historical examples, consider the 1960s workplace and how voicemail and email has eroded the secretarial professions.

Middle-level managers reached pinnacle earning in the pre-computer age. Their function was not to generate strategy but in directing flows of information between worker bees and executives.

These jobs still exist, but with shrinking numbers and declining real wages. Jobs that cannot be done via explicit rules – manual labor and strategy creation – are safe from elimination and explain much of income inequality.

Many HR specialties are both middle management and tactical. They include recruitment, ER, compensation, benefits, training and HRIS. These functions remain vital, and as more intelligence is programmed into software, their value added will even increase. However, as technology requires fewer workers to accomplish more with less training, HR tactical specialists will continue to see their real wages decrease.

Even before the financial crisis of 2008, real wages for US workers were trending downward. (Image: Public Domain via Wikipedia)

Even before the financial crisis of 2008, real wages for US workers were trending downward. (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Technology decimates lawyers’ billable hours so why would HR specialists be any safer?

When technology hit the US agriculture sector, the new motto was, never have so few fed so many, as the number of farming professionals decreased while crop yields increased.

As technology becomes more powerful, mobile and cheaper, which HR specialties will keep you relevant in the marketplace? We’ll explore the answer in our next post.

The Least You Need to Know.

  • The intersection of algorithms and big data is automating many middle level management functions. This pushes wages down.
  • This automation means fewer middle level managers are needed; most traditional HR jobs are middle level management jobs.
  • Machine to Machine Learning (M2M) and Master Algorithms will exacerbate this phenomenon.

Vincent Suppa works with startups and investors and teaches graduate courses at New York University. His email is suppa@suppa.org.

© Vincent Suppa 2015

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