Collision Conference 2019

Collision Conference 2019

In May we attended the Collision Conference 2019 in Toronto. Now in its fifth year, Collision is the fastest growing tech conference in North America, and for the first time, in Toronto. Over 25,000 attendees from 125 countries, 730 speakers, and 1100 startups. I learned a lot. Now that the dust has settled, I distilled my previously posted top daily summaries (found in my LinkedIn account) down to the top-3 things learned each day.

Day 1

  1. Snap (Snapchat): The community created 400,000 lenses which were used 15B times in the last ~8months. Their goal is to have the right lens available at the right time
  2. Amazon – To get developers to join your company you have to demonstrate you have an “awesome idea”
  3. “(it’s now) easier to broadcast, harder to get heard” – Dan Gardner

Day 2

  1. Now coining the term “Virtual Talent” (under perpetual employment with you, but 100% remote) instead of “freelancers”. The Future of Work prezo by Taso Du Val @ Toptal
  2. “We haven’t taught (citizens) how to learn new skills (to stay update in today’s employment climate).” – Daphne Koller @ Coursera
  3. Darren Hendler of Digital Domain (they worked on latest Avenger’s movie) asked us to guess which of 6 people (shown) was not human, but CGI generated (hint: none). The Digital Human technology will soon allow a digital version of you to speak autonomously, using content you didn’t necessarily generate. The “you” speaking will appear 100% authentic. Imagine where this could lead…

Day 3

  1. “The war for talent is over. Talent won”. – Sarah Nahm, CEO, Lever
  2. “Invest in your (company’s) culture early” & “Culture is not won & done” – Max Mullen, Co-founder, Instacart
  3. “70M US jobs to be impacted by AI by 2030” – Leagh Turner, President, Ceridian
  4. “Ensure your people understand their impact (on the business)” – Leagh Turner, President, Ceridian (couldn’t not include this 4th item)


Is Your Onboarding Failing?

Is Your Onboarding Failing?

Have you ever hired someone only to have them resign within 6 months, or 3 months, weeks, or perhaps even 1 day?  When your new hire starts, their job search didn’t end. You likely don’t have an on-boarding plan, but but as you will see in this video, the new employee does and you may not like it..

In this first of two videos where I describe the importance of developing an on-boarding plan. Watch the second video here.


Kudos to Enable Education for their expertise in producing this on-boarding educational video. Enable Education makes the process very easy and expertly helped shape the narrative.

What is On-boarding?

What is On-boarding?

Most companies do not have on-boarding plans and push new employees into the deep end.

To compound a company’s on-boarding challenges, every year up to 25% of your staff are transitioning into other jobs and each one goes through their own, often hidden, on-boarding process.

Your company may not have an on-boarding plan, but the employee does. If this job does not work out, they will quit, forcing you back to square 1 of the recruiting process.

Transitioning people into new rolls is a relentless reality of business. Having a plan respects the people you have hired.

In this second of two videos where I describe what on-boarding is, why you have likely underestimated the number of staff impacted by it, and why your company should have an on-boarding plan. Missed the first video? Find it here.



Kudos to Enable Education for their expertise in producing this on-boarding educational video. Enable Education makes the process very easy and expertly helped shape the narrative.

Starting to Understand Culture during On-Boarding

Starting to Understand Culture during On-Boarding

During the interview process, virtually every candidate asks about the culture of the prospective new company, which is rarely known, and is thereby given little weight when deciding the merits of a new job. People wrongly believe they can adapt to virtually any culture, or can impact the culture to suit them (there is some truth to the later, if you’re joining a small company).

What is culture then? How do you determine culture? One method is by learning the symbols, norms and assumptions.

Symbols are the logos, dress code and décor.

Norms are shared social, often un-written, rules. What behaviour is tolerated, discouraged or encouraged? How do people interact with or treat each other or other departments? Are there shared values (e.g. trust) or routines (e.g. meeting minutes)?

Assumptions are undocumented rules or truths within an organization. “We always do X this way”.

Will your symbols, norms and assumptions align with your new company’s or create friction? You either have to adapt or alter your cultural norms or identify which are helping or hindering your performance.

In your on-boarding plan, ask your new colleagues why and why not they enjoy working there. The answer is often the answer to the culture question.

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Impacts of the Shadow Organization during On-Boarding

Impacts of the Shadow Organization during On-Boarding

How well you perform at your new role will largely be affected by how well you interface with new manager(s), colleagues, staff, stakeholders, decision makers, influencers, clients and certainly others.  If you don’t create good alliances with this group of people, projects you work on will be at risk, and resultingly so will your on-boarding.

For each project or exercise ask yourself which decision makers are essential to move forward.

Decision makers are in turn influenced by the opinion of their trusted network for advice and counsel. This network, and we all have them, is essentially a shadow organization.  Each of the individuals in trusted network brings influence due to either their expertise, control of information, connections to others, assess to resources (money and people), and/or loyalty.  Any of these people can positively impact your efforts or derail them. You need to identify who these individuals are.

Ask your new manager for list of key people outside your group whom she thinks you should connect with (by now you should have met with key people within your group). Using the strategy in an previous blog, strive to ask these people the same set of questions.

Detractors from your efforts or projects usually caused by to one or more of these reasons:

  • Desire to maintain the status quo.
  • Fear of looking incompetent. E.g. adopting new technology they don’t understand.
  • Threatens their power.  E.g. Removing their control, recognition, or usefulness to the business.
  • Negative consequence to their allies. E.g. Your changes may negatively impact people or business units they care about or feel responsible for.

The above may not be adversaries if you can just manage or mitigate any impact. Think hard about how to make it hard for them to say no. Avoid asking them to make a decision that will involve any of the above impacts.

Find alignment with key players where you projects/work can mesh or leverage each other.

Build alliances that will help you advance your work. You need Technical advisors, Cultural advisors and Political advisors, and a mix of internal and external advisors. You may have been hired to make changes that may regrettably, but unavoidably, impact others, however, for the good of the overall business.  If so, you will need your own network soon.

Remember that in today’s business climate, no senior-level manager (perhaps you) is hired to maintain the status-quo. They (you?) are hired to make impactful changes to the business.

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On-Boarding: Helping Your Boss Succeed

On-Boarding: Helping Your Boss Succeed

The purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the techniques to ensure your new manager remains on your side.

Your Manager’s Pain Points are Your Successes

Some early wins should be based solely on your manager’s priorities. If not stated during the interviews or offer letter, during your on-boarding you will undoubtedly learn what are your manager’s pain points.

Your new manager will have a greater impact on your performance than anyone else in the company. As such, you need to foster a good line of communication with him/her on a regular frequency. You need your manager’s support for your 90-day on-boarding plan to avoid becoming overrun by the new job.

Five Essential Conversations

There are five important conversations to have with your new manager. These items can be individual conversations or blended. There is however a logical sequence to the conversations (these also make excellent interview questions!):

  1. State of the nation: A conversation on how s/he views the organization with a goal of arriving at a situational agreement. Reaching a shared understanding of the situation(s), its challenges and opportunities is essential. This will become the foundation for everything you will do. Regularly confirm and clarify the situation and objectives and don’t let key issues remain ambiguous or misunderstood.
  2. Expectations: You need to manage expectations. Learn what is required from you in the short and medium term and the associated success criteria.
  3. Lines of Communication: Determine how you and your manager will engage going-forward and the frequency. What decisions can you make and what kinds require his/her consultation or approval.
  4. Resources: Determine what resources (funding and personnel) are available to you. Do you have what you need to be successful?
  5. It’s all about me: How will your term in this role enhance your personal development and what areas will need improvement? What professional development will help you in your new role?

Have these same five conversations with your new direct reports, but after your on-boarding is well underway.

Help Me to Help You

The list below contains the different ways your manager can positively impact your impact to the company, depending on the STARS role your company exists

Start-up Approving needed resources quickly
Establish clear measurable goals
Provide guidance for strategic decisions
Help staying focused
Turnaround Same as Start-up plus:
Provide support for making and implementing tough personnel calls
Help cutting deeply enough and early enough
Provide support for changing or correcting the external image of the company and its people
Accelerated Growth Same as Start-up plus:
Support for the required new systems and structures
Support for funding of the new systems, structures and staff.
Realignment Same as Start-up plus:
Help making the case for change
Sustaining Success Constant reality testing
Support for playing good defense and avoiding mistakes that damage the business
Help finding ways to take the business to a new level

For all of the above, ask priorities for the next 30 days.

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