(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. For the first time, Kronos was named one of the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For according to global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work. Congrats to them! Enjoy the article.)
Just in case you don’t recall, back in 2013, I had the opportunity to interview Kronos CEO Aron Ain about innovation. The reason I’m bringing this up is because during the interview, Ain commented that the goal of any company should be to “innovate themselves out of business”, meaning that companies should continuously strive to develop that “thing” – whether it’s a product or service – that, if someone else created it…it would put them out of business.
Think of the concept like disruption, but within your own company. Little did I know at the time, that Kronos was taking that goal seriously (and literally).
At last year’s KronosWorks, Aron Ain shared with the crowd of 3,000 customers, partners, and Kronites the project that the company has been working on. The idea was simple. The company wanted to understand what it would take to put themselves out of business. So, they decided to challenge themselves.
Project Falcon: Innovate the Company Out of Business
Before I share with you the results of their challenge, I want to share with you how they got there. I think it’s quite remarkable. Kronos put together a diverse group of people, gave them office space 20 miles away from their Massachusetts headquarters, a budget of $5M, and one year.
Kronos let the group operate independently as their own start-up, including selecting their own name. The group decided on Project Falcon to represent the fast-flying, agile, bird of prey capable of striking quickly. The group’s mission was to “irritate each other, in a nice way”. It was to discover what technology would eclipse what Kronos was currently doing. Then, create it themselves.
Not every business has the culture to pull this off. Less than half of global professionals trust their employer, boss, or team/colleagues, according to the “EY Trust in the Workplace Study”. If trust doesn’t exist, there’s no way that business projects like Project Falcon can take place. If managers and employees cannot trust each other, the project would never get off the ground.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of concern. Ain said he would go check-in with the group every six weeks or so. He confided to the crowd at KronosWorks that there were times that he was “worried but supportive”. I asked Bill Bartow, vice president of global product management at Kronos, what kept management from jumping in and directing the project. “The Kronos culture is built on a strong foundation of trust and transparency. This is necessary to foster an environment that encourages the bold thinking and calculated risk-taking required to drive real innovation. Aron specifically challenged the original ‘Falcon’ team to put Kronos as we know it today out of business. We can be that bold because all Kronites are trusted to act with the best interests of our customers and each other at heart. Without a culture that provides that sense of empowerment, the game-changing breakthroughs we made with Workforce Dimensions wouldn’t have been possible.”
Bartow’s comment reminded me of the quote in the book “Creativity, Inc.” from Pixar CEO Ed Catmull. “It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.”
So, what was the result of Project Falcon? It’s called Workforce Dimensions, a smart solution that allows organizations to best manage and engage their workforce.
Workforce Dimensions: A Smart Solution for Your Organization
Workforce Dimensions helps organizations eliminate the time-consuming burden of critical workforce processes such as timekeeping, scheduling, leave management, and workforce demand forecasting. It does this through assistive artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Managers have one-touch, real-time access to information and data on any device. This allows them to be proactive (versus reactive) in making workforce and human capital decisions. It also includes compliance. Imagine a workplace where managers would never have to resolve a time clock punch exception because the exception wasn’t generated in the first place because the employee was reminded to punch-in and punch-out via their mobile device.
And, all of this would take place in the secure cloud.
Chris Mullen, fellow Workforce Institute board member and human resources director at the University of Colorado Boulder is an early adopter of Workforce Dimensions and shared his thoughts. “At the University of Colorado Boulder, we are seeking to further empower our employees while improving their experience with workforce management. We partnered with Kronos on the early adopter program because Workforce Dimensions goes well beyond timekeeping to improve the employee experience, the supervisor’s experience, and provides benefits to our organization like increased compliance, ease of use, and analytics for better decision making.”
Trust Creates Opportunities for Technology
I’ve always said that the future of work means organizations have to get comfortable with allowing technology to do what it does best. So, people can do what they do best. The only way that’s going to happen is if trust exists. This extends to the customer experience as well.
“To fully prepare for Workforce Dimensions, Kronos challenged itself to innovate everywhere,” said Jennifer Dearman, vice president of customer success at Kronos. “To make sure that organizations have an optimal experience with Workforce Dimensions, we have reimagined our approach for every customer interaction starting with onboarding and continuing through deployment, education, and support, just to name a few key areas. It was important for us to take a fresh look at everything that happens around Workforce Dimensions to help our customers drive user adoption within their organizations. This ensures they achieve the outcomes they desire.”
I was really impressed with the Workforce Dimensions story and solution. If you want to check it out (and I hope you do), visit the Kronos site and request a consultation.17