The List Effect

Drivers of hybrid cars can explain the change that comes from a short feedback loop. They’ll attest that the behavioral transformation offers real—and real-time—value. A miles-per-gallon metric on the dashboard flashes after every five miles. Drivers attentive to this data often shift their behavior to optimize mileage. A small cadre of zealots actually takes this to the absurd extreme of “hypermiling,” slowing their cars to rates of crawl that maximize mileage while sending their fellow motorists into fits of frustration. But the vast majority of hybrid drivers do not engage in such extremism. Given a real-time feedback loop, many decelerate to an optimal minimum (55 MPH, anyone?) that lets them reach most appointments on time, while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint and taking at least a baby step toward weaning the country from odious, petroleum-provider regimes.
 
 
 Note that this occurs without the heavy hand of government regulation. That’s because compliance comes easily: the lighter the foot, the higher the MPH readout. It’s a short feedback loop—the difference between adjusting the flow of water while standing in the shower and running from sprinkler to spigot to adjust the flow while watering the lawn. Consumers wouldn’t tolerate waiting until the end of the month to find out how much they’d spent on groceries and restaurants. They demand real-time receipts, so that they can adjust their spending. That’s how it is with the dashboard effect.
 
 
And so it is with the Baker’s Dozen “List Effect.” Just a generation ago, HR was known as personnel, or, in unionized companies, labor relations. The professional association was the American Society of Personnel Administrators, with barely 3,000 individual members. In 1989 the group changed its name to the Society of Human Resources Management, or SHRM, a change that rapidly professionalized the HR practice. Today SHRM has 250,000 global members representing companies with an estimated aggregate budget of over $200 billion. Yet, even in the HR market, no reliable independent ratings measured HR service providers, a fact bemoaned by HR leadership.
 
 
HRO Today and HRO Europe began ranking several categories of HR service firms in what are known as Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Ratings. Since 2007 the Baker’s Dozen lists have been based on a highly successful customer satisfaction survey methodology. Practitioners in the HR field have produced our rankings in post-RFP bid meetings and asked the bidder about why they scored well or poorly in our survey. Our customer satisfaction driven approach has become the gold standard in vendor evaluation. This month’s covers multi-process outsourcing (see page 18), and it’s as valuable as any.
 
 
And in this month’s cover story (see page 14), listen to Dick Whitford, HR leader of the Transportation Security Administration, address the importance of measurement in his world. In essence, he says, no measurement amounts to no accountability. That’s something he can’t afford. Can you?
 
 
I could not explain quantum physics if it would stop Bernie Madoff from stealing my PIN number, but I do know that this phenomenon parallels one notion embedded in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: Observation changes what is observed. As a member of the media machine—which often, alas, spends its energy chasing celebrity gossip—I am proud of our “List Effect.” Likewise, as a driver of a hybrid, I am proud to be a tortoise, passed on the highway by so many hares.  
 
 
Dirk Olin
Editorial Director

 

Posted October 19, 2010 in Contributors

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