What really matters in HR — 3 Experts Weigh In

On Today’s Special Edition of the DorobekINSIDER we’re talking HR!

  • Human Resources. I know, these are the people you see when you first get hired. That just may be the problem. And we’ll talk about that. Click here for the full story.
  • To get the best talent — you need to match google, pixar’s and apple’s community culture. Click here for the full story.
  • Finding, retaining and hiring the best and the brightest. Insights from Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service. Click here for the full story.


HR… Yes, human relations… chief people officer… chief human capital officer… they’re all terrible names for a job that SHOULD be so important, but too often at agencies — and many organizations, it is a role that is mostly regulatory, not strategic.

Liz Ryan is a strategist on the people relationships — her company, Ask Liz Ryan, focuses on the new-millennium workplace — yes, the new world workplace. She is also a former Fortune 500 HR executive.

She says that HR — human capital — is still not fully understood or appreciated.


VIA Nick Charney’s Blog:

I came across 
this gem via
 Peter Stoyko’s blog; it’s the
 Valve employee handbook. Before I share my thoughts, here is what Peter had this to say about it:

Behold: the employee-orientation manual of the future; except, I hasten to add, this manual is for an extremely successful company from the here and now, the video-game maker Valve. Take particular notice of the forthright language … the lack of finger-wagging “thou shalts” … and the networked, fluid, collaborative model of organisation, including the emphasis on mobile workspaces (a subject I’ve been thinking a lot about in the last few years).

My own
 hypothesis is (and feel free to disagree) that in a hyper connected world where the expectations of entrants to the labour market are set by market makers (like Valve) your work culture will be the single most important determining factor when considering how to attract top talent. I fully acknowledge that salaries and benefits are important but my experience is that most people I know (at least those who are even marginally entrepreneurial) will gladly trade some of their fixed benefits for more engaging work and all the intangibles that come with it.

If you haven’t bothered to read the handbook (you should btw, it will open your eyes to say the least), here is a choice quotation about how the company approaches the issue of hierarchy:

Valve is not averse to all organizational structure — it crops up in many forms all the time, temporarily. But problems show up when hierarchy or codified divisions of labor either haven’t been created by the group’s members or when those structures persist for long periods of time. We believe those structures inevitably begin to serve their own needs rather than those of Valve’s customers. The hierarchy will begin to reinforce its own structure by hiring people who fit its shape, adding people to fill subordinate support roles. Its members are also incented to engage in rent-seeking behaviors that take advantage of the power structure rather than focusing on simply delivering value to customers. (p16)

It’s too late for guys (and girls) like me

The worst part of this isn’t that I’m working in an alien culture but rather just how further removed from the norm it will be for the next generation should it continue down the twisted path of hierarchy first, everything else second.

At some point, the results we aim to achieve must matter more than the myriad of forms, templates, and platitudes we used to get there.


As part of the White House’s recently released digital government strategy, a new Presidential Innovation Fellows program has been created. The program brings in 15 innovators from outside government who provide expertise on projects, particularly those that are technology related. Tom Fox, vice president for leadership and innovation at
the Partnership for Public Service sat down with Chris Dorobek of the DorobekINSIDER about the program and the keys to its success.

The Entrepreneurs in Residence Program is the original launching pad for the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. The model created by that program takes innovators in government and pairs them with private/nonprofit sector individuals; the government innovators then work with private sector workers to solve government problems that it hasn’t been able to solve on its own. There are already a couple of examples of successes here, one being Visa’s for entrepreneurs.

However, it’s important not to assume that private and nonprofit sector individuals can just parachute into government and fix things. Government has its own language, and does a lot that most people may not be aware of. Because government has a different way of doing things, it’s important to give an on-boarding to the private sector workers about what government functions. The private sector and government sector workers need to have common ground to build off of.

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