Defining and driving company culture: Q&A with Steve Cadigan, Founder & CEO of Cadigan Talent Ventures


Posted: 24 Sep 2014 11:35 AM PDT

Steve Cadigan MC Moderator COLOR

Editor’s note: We’re counting down to Atmosphere Live with a series of interviews from speakers who will be featured at the interactive online event. Today, we hear from Steve Cadigan, Founder & CEO of Cadigan Talent Ventures, who is moderating our session on HR’s culture of innovation. Learn more and register for Atmosphere Live, which takes place on October 1st, here.

How has technology changed the culture of the companies you’ve worked or consulted for?

Technology is changing the culture of transparency. Not long ago, management decisions were rarely challenged or explained, and those who questioned them often expected and received repercussions for doing so. Now, employees expect management to share information about all facets of the business, while management expects its staff to roll up more information in return. And the companies that value the flow of knowledge between roles and teams are winning at a faster clip than those that hold decisions close. Why? Since things change so quickly, the more intelligence that flows through organizations, the better their decision-making process becomes. With the proliferation of internal collaboration and communication tools, like Jive and Chatter, along with social network streams like Google+ and Twitter, companies can collect intelligence across a variety of topics and make more informed plans and strategies.

Do you live by any principles or mantras when it comes to defining your strategy for using technology to drive HR forward?

This is a hot button topic for me. Throughout my career, I’ve found HR systems and HR technology frustrating. I firmly believe that talent is the biggest driver of value creation, but many people systems are just poor add-ons to company’s financial systems — awful, counterintuitive user interfaces that do more to impede productivity than improve the employee experience. When I worked at LinkedIn, for example, a while back our engineers were so frustrated with some of the HR “tools” that they asked if they could build some of their own.

With that in mind, I try to follow a few simple principles when it comes to HR:

  1. Be clear on the problem you’re solving, and engage end users in product development or selection
  2. Make using the systems highly intuitive
  3. Try to have a consistent feel and platform so the experience is consistent

What do you most look forward to in the year ahead in your field?

What excites me most is the groundswell of recognition that talent is the single largest driver of value creation for organizations — from companies building out their HR strategies to venture capitalists and private equity shops investing in talent solutions. Predictive analytics is going to move from being two fancy buzzwords into an unignorable term for companies that are serious about growing their talent.

I’m also excited about the direction of performance management as we unlock more truly analytical employee insights. We have a lot to learn from professional sports — it’s the only profession in the world today where everything is truly and meticulously measured. Most companies grade performance on gut feel and highly subjective intelligence. Reviews often read like this: “I think Sally is a good leader because I see her motivate her team, she is crisp in our 1-1’s, and her team meets its goals.” What if we could measure the career progressions of everyone who worked for Sally and see an arc that looks different than those who worked for a peer manager? What if we put an index next to the projects that Sally worked on that showed if they were mission critical projects, or projects where the odds of success were low? I don’t think we’re far from realizing this reality as more companies are building technology to help us track more human performance data than ever before.


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