Elizabeth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

Agility

After a particularly frustrating series of days working for a state institution, I was reflecting on the concept of agility and how important it is for an organization. More appropriately, I was ranting about how NOT agile a public higher education organization is. So I decided to Google “business agility”. And since Wikipedia is clearly the destination for accurate information (*sarcasm*) and you really should believe everything you read on the Internet (*more sarcasm*), it was only natural to include information from their entry (which, by the way, is cited as Dyer, L. and Ericksen, J. (2009). Complexity-based Agile Enterprises: Putting Self-Organizing Emergence to Work. In A. Wilkinson et al (eds.). The Sage Handbook of Human Resource Management. London: Sage: 436–457.)

Agility is a concept that incorporates the ideas of flexibility, balance, adaptability, and coordination under one umbrella. In a business context, agility typically refers to the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways.

Where to begin pointing out the ways we are not agile? I often feel like each day I am trying to change the course of a cruise ship with a canoe paddle. All frustration with the business practices required by the State of Illinois aside, let’s focus on the communication side of a business.

We cannot craft messages and responses by committee anymore. The world is moving too fast and the situation will have changed and incorporated more information faster than the statement can be reviewed by 3 of the required 7 people. What about establishing the core values, mission, brand platform and promise, and overarching key messages, and then deputize people to be company ambassadors at all levels?

Also, if your entire communication/sales strategy is based largely on printed material and direct mail, how up-to-date do you think the information is that people will have in their hands? I am not advocating banishing all printed material, as they have a time and place. However I am suggesting that our customers are so much more savvy than ever before and will go to the places where they want to consume information (websites, blogs, social networks, friend networks, etc) rather than try to figure out how a business is trying to force them to consume the information. Meeting the customers where they are looking for information requires agility in a business, and specifically in the marketing and sales areas. It also requires the leaders of both areas to buy into the concept, versus continuing with “the way it has always been done”.

Going back to the Wikipedia entry,

There are several key distinctions between the agile enterprise and the traditional bureaucratic organization. The most notable is the agile enterprise’s use of fluid role definitions that allow for dynamic decision making structures. Unlike the rigid hierarchies characterizing traditional bureaucracies, organizational structures within agile enterprises are more likely to fluidly adapt to changing business conditions into structures that support the current direction and any emergent competitive advantage. (Dyer, L. & Ericksen, J. (2007). Dynamic Organizations: Achieving Marketplace Agility Through Workforce Scalability. In J. Storey (ed.). Human Resource Management: A Critical Text (3rd edition). London: Thomson Learning: 263–280.)

How can we change the state and structure of public higher education (Illinois specifically for my knowledge base) to become more agile? To me that is the new million dollar idea. Wish me luck finding it.

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June 25, 2011 Posted by | communication, higher education, leadership | , , | 2 Comments

Bleeding, Box Scores and Pro Sports Injuries

I have known for some time that if it bleeds, it leads. That’s how news is decided, primarily for TV, but also for the other mediums. I can sadly say that at least 75%, if not more, of the TV coverage we have had here at the university has been a tragedy/travesty: apartment fires, federal investigations for fraud, vandalism (twice), etc. This is certainly not for lack of pitching the good stories to the media. We even create the angle/hook/sensation for them. It doesn’t matter.

In addition to the bleeding leading, sports will always be covered. Collegiate box scores and game stories always make print, and are often mentioned on local TV. However, I was watching the local newscast Monday evening, right after Albert Pujols fractured a bone in his arm in a game and will be out for quite some time. The newscast started on the hour, and that was the ONLY topic covered until the 13th minute. Now there was a commercial series or two in there, but still! There are so many positive things happening in St. Louis right now, including Marine Week down on the riverfront. Instead, we get to hear the interview of the 10-yr-old at the stadium telling us that he would have punched the guy in the head if he broke his arm.

Now I kept watching this particular newscast because I was in awe of how much of the beginning segment was dedicated to this topic, and naturally it was to become fodder for my blog. But the fact that Joe and Jane Sixpack keep watching crap like this is the reason it continues to happen. And the reason why I don’t often watch the TV news.

June 23, 2011 Posted by | communication, media, public relations | , , , | Leave a comment

New Implications for Your Job Search: 7 Years on File

All Facebook: the unofficial Facebook resource, posted an article recently (ALERT: Job Screening Agency Archiving All Facebook) about Social Intelligence Corp, which offers a background checking/screening service for employers. From their article:

The FTC decided Social Intelligence complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the same set of rules that keeps your bill-payment records on file with the consumer bureaus for seven years, according to Forbes.


That means your antics documented, photographed, posted and tagged on Facebook will be available to your prospective and current employers for 7 years. I have heard comments from folks saying that isn’t it about time we stopped trying to pretend like people we really aren’t in order to get a job? Sure that would be the perfect world. But do you really want to be the trailblazer to set that trend? If so, your job options will be severely limited–best of luck with that.

So if you haven’t already appropriately adjusted your privacy settings and stopped posting the ridiculous and embarrassing photos and status updates, now is the perfect time. Get your head out of the sand! Seems to me given this development and the recent facial recognition technology addition, folks better start thinking more seriously about their online reputation (especially kids getting ready to enter the workforce in the next 7 years.)

June 22, 2011 Posted by | reputation management, social media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data”

I love the quote from W. Edwards Fleming, “In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data”. [Excerpt from Wikipedia: William Edwards Fleming (October 14, 1900 – December 20, 1993) was an American statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. He is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward, he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the last through global markets) through various methods, including the application of statistical methods.]

I came across a few blog posts/articles recently addressing marketing trends, stats, etc., that I found interesting. Just sharing light reading to consider as we continue our marketing and advertising efforts!

How are we paying attention to data? How do we have the right blend of data versus instinct? For my job specifically, how is higher education marketing and recruiting adapting to the changing consumer behavior, specifically on the web, and getting away from the direct mail (spray and pray, shotgun method, etc.) strategy? What is a good percentage of your budget to move away from the “tried and true” methods and test in some of the strategies described in the following posts? So much to consider!

June 17, 2011 Posted by | communication, higher education, marketing, social media | , , , , | 2 Comments

Facial Recognition Technology = Creepy

I think I agree the title of the  PC World article: Why Facebook’s Facial Recognition Technology is Creepy. The more photos people tag of you or you load and tag yourself, the better the facial recognition technology gets at recognizing you in photos and making suggestions for folks to tag you. How is this not creepy?? It’s starting with Facebook, but will soon be everywhere. Those photos you thought were innocent of you doing keg stands in college? Even if you’ve untagged yourself, it is still findable online and attributed. And don’t say that you can “opt out” of the service…that just means people cannot automatically tag you. But that isn’t stopping the technology from gathering data and refining the ability to recognize your photo.

In addition to my own privacy, my biggest concern is kids/teenagers/college students who already think they are invincible online, and don’t think the first time (let alone twice) about posting compromising, silly photos of themselves on Facebook and other sites. I spend a lot of time with college students talking to them about how to manage their reputation online and to start thinking very early about what their image is online BEFORE they have to start looking for jobs. This will certainly be a part of my presentation from this point forward, but I am only hitting a small number of kids.

I love the suggestion she has in the article–opt out of the service immediately, and start randomly uploading pictures of inanimate objects and tagging them as yourself to keep Facebook guessing what you really look like!

June 15, 2011 Posted by | reputation management, social media | , , , | 1 Comment