Being Good at Being Good

We all remember the cowardly lion singing the song Courage and asking the movie audience: “What makes the Hotentot’s so hot, what puts the ape in apricot?” He, of course, answered “courage.” Sadly, the lion, like so many business executives, made this assertion based on logic rather than data. Or, if he had a data set, he did not share it during the song.
But it does make me wonder what makes the Hotentots so darned hot. By which I mean, why do some companies consistently score better than others on the completely data-dependent HRO Today Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Surveys? While Cowardly Lion supporters might want to answer “courage,” we just cannot be sure. So we thought we would ask them.
At the 2013 HRO Today Forum, we will do just that. We will be having a series of Baker’s Dozen panels that will be joined by the top providers in a variety of different service lines. For the providers, it gives them to opportunity to discuss what they do best. For practitioners, it is a much more important opportunity.
HR leaders or their supporting procurement functions have to make critical decisions every three to five years about the partners they choose to support the HR mission of the company. The right decision will lead to career advancement and success as well as the satisfaction of a job well done. The wrong decision can be, well, a career-ending injury.
If you listen to provider presentations, and many people on the buy side have told me this, they all sound pretty similar. But they address why they are good for you, not clearly why they are just good. By putting them on the stage together, we can compare them to each other and not just see the differences but also the aforementioned similarities.
These similarities might prove to be like the attributes of a great candidate or the determinants of what makes a great company. It could be ability to develop cultural fit, ability to gain subject matter expertise, or something else. But what are the attributes of a great outsourcing or technology partner? And, if you could identify some commonalities, how would it impact the formation of questions on RFPs? How would it change the questions you might ask in follow up to a presentation?
This is not different from a less rigorous version of the analysis process in the award-winning book by Jim Collins, Good to Great. I am emphasizing “less rigorous” but not “less informative.” In fact, companies with great service cultures have commonalities. This is something that seems to be intuitive, but what are those attributes? The attributes that resonate with some potential buyers might be different from others, and we believe the examination merits time on the agenda. We are also interested to see if the same attributes that predict great outcomes on, say, MSP also predict them in RPO.
Whatever the investigation determines, it will be interesting. We know we have a lot of data on who the customers like. But why do they like them? Well, that will be the subject of the discussion.
The HRO Today Forum will be held from the night of April 30 through the afternoon of May 2. You can find more information on We hope you can attend, and we hope that these panels provide some valuable insights and perspectives for your partnership selection/procurement process.

Elliot Clairk

Tags: Consultants & Advisors, HRO Today Global, Professional Contribution

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