Class notes - week two, Fall 2017

During week two of classes the student life felt like it was starting to sink in.

Table of contents

I biked both days this week to avoid parking fees, which since I’ve bike commuted less this summer than I have in many years just felt like a great motivation and got the blood pumping. Before Wednesday’s class, while grabbing dinner in the basement of Carlson School I sat down at a table with a slightly older African American woman and struck up a conversation. She was not a student, told me she was retired after decades of working as the assistant warden at a state correctional facility and now she gets to explore new things that she’s interested in. Said that particular evening she was on campus for an event on the role that journalism plays in today’s world and that the featured speaker was Don Shelby, who she then pointed out was sitting about ten feet behind me. So that was cool.

This was also the week when I gave up on trying to take handwritten notes on the tablet screen. I’m not so sure whether writing them out really does improve retention, but I am now certain that trying to write them with a Surface Pen is just too slow going. I switched over to typing my notes literally in the middle of Wednesday night’s class and quickly realized just how much more efficient that is for me. Then I remembered how I get a decent amount of note-taking practice participating in the collaborative notes effort at the NTC each year and yeah .. it was worth a shot but this just works better. And that then made me think that it would be fantastic to organize similar collaboration with my new classmates. So I put a call out at the end of class, but think I explained it kind of awkwardly and it didn’t seem to catch on. Might try to come back to that later in the semester.

Notes from Strategic Planning

This week’s class centered on a hands on stakeholder mapping exercise. It was a great experience and extraordinarily valuable practice for engaging in real world strategic planning activities. The room was polled for ideas on who the stakeholders were in the PennDOT case. 19 were identified and then each of the 9 tables in the room were asked to think about, from the stakeholder’s perspective, how would you judge PennDOT’s performance. A SWOT/C analysis was then undertaken to identify major issues and start proposing strategies to fix PennDOT.

Because most of this week’s class time was spent on an experiential learning activity, there was limited lecture time to yield these bits of knowledge:

  • One important place to start in strategic planning process is figuring out who are the stakeholders
  • “If you want to have a good idea, have lots of ideas”
  • In a SWOT analysis, strengths and opportunities are generally in the present, while weaknesses and threats are generally in the future
  • Every effective process will take advantage of strengths and build on opportunities to overcome weaknesses and threats.

Notes from Strategic Human Resources Management

  • Reframing of the term Strategic Human Resources Management as Strategic Human Resources Leadership
  • People quit bosses, they don’t quit organizations
  • Strategic means using your resources wisely and getting the job done better
  • Core contract = you help me develop, and I help the org progress
  • A lot of what we talk about in this class is idealistic. Not unrealistic, but hopeful.
  • To have a really effective strategy, there needs to be a shared strategy.
  • Beyond getting revenues for an org, managing and leading the org culture is the most important thing a chief executive can do.
  • People need to be trained to accept change. Preparing employees for change means fostering buy in.
  • SHR - not as much about rules and procedures as it is about being able to adapt as needed
  • Harvard research, early 2000s: satisfied employees = satisfied customers = better revenues
  • Greater financial rewards do not correlate with improved performance. Biggest predictor was more autonomy.
  • Flip side of the shift to defined contribution retirement plans, made it easier for people to change jobs.
  • Leadership isn’t about positional equity or authority, it’s about developing people and creating more leaders
  • SHRL = integration of the leadership of people of the organization with the strategic mission of the organization
  • This is not an HR class. Not interested in teaching how to enforce policies and procedures. This is about developing your skills as a leader in a nonprofit or government organization
  • One of the hardest transitions to make is from being a manager of employees to a manager of supervisors. Because you can no longer model the work being done and work alongside them, further removed from the process.
  • You can get more innovation by keeping good, innovative employees happy and encourage them. Not by putting out a suggestion box.
  • Balancing the budget through innovation takes a really strong culture and not easy, but can be done
  • Achieving organizational excellence must be the work of HR
  • SHRL begins with one person having a better perspective and starting the change.
  • Within life we often see necessary change as contingent on external changes, without understanding the power that we have. Small actions ripple out. If enough people do the right thing it snowballs and has a leverage effect for the organization.
Written on September 25, 2017