Innovations for HR at TNW Europe 2015

On April 23 and 24 I visited The Next Web (TNW) Europe Conference in Amsterdam. For me the two days were very inspiring. The energy level was high, the mood was very positive and it looked like everybody was an entrepreneur.

“See technology through the lens of human needs and wants”

David Mattin, the Head of Trends & Insights at trendwatching.com shared an important insight: do not focus too much on the technology, but start seeing technology through the lens of the human needs and wants. Ask yourself the question: what human need or want are you addressing with your solution?

The main part of the conference you could find me in the Green Room. The Green Room was the platform for the Boost Startup sessions. 75 startups (I did not count), selected out of 400 requests, each pitched for four minutes. After the pitch the jury could ask some questions and on to the next founder and CEO of company xyz.com (“The next Airbnb, the better WhatsApp, the focused FourSquare”). Generally the quality of the presentations was high, although it was a pity that most of the teams seemed to have been trained by the same trainer.
With great admiration I looked at the teams, putting all their time, energy and probably money in their great ideas.

7 startups for people at work and organizations

I was looking for startups that are offering innovative solutions in the people and organization domain. With the lesson of David Mattin in mind: solutions that are able to address a need or want of people working together in organizations.
Below you find a brief overview of some of the new ventures that I found interesting. The list is by no means extensive, as I am sure I missed several clever innovations; I am also sure I did not totally understand all the propositions.

  1. Somewhere
    “How the world works”The trend is away from clearly defined jobs, and moving to assignments that are crafted to the specific talents and wishes of individuals. Somewhere helps people to get an idea what people actually do. On somewhere.com people describe what they do, how they work, where they work and why they work. People are also asked what the future of work will look like. The profiles of people are captured in visual vignettes. People interested in work and the future of work can be inspired at Somewhere. Organizations can connect to the Somewhere community, and start building relations with people that might fit in their organizational culture. I like the tagline: “Where we’re going we don’t need CVs“.
    Somewhere won one of the two prices awarded to promising startups at TNW conference.
  2. I hate statistics
    “The fastest way to learn statistics. And the funniest too :)”When I studied psychology, long time ago, statistics was a big stumbling block for most of the students. Apparently this has not changed a lot. The founders of Ihatestatistics have developed series of modules, where students of the social sciences can learn the basics of statistics in a highly interactive environment, learning from stories and receiving instant feedback.
    Simple and playful. You would expect it already existed. It clearly addresses a need of students in social sciences.
    I see great applications in organizations, and also for HR professionals. The basic knowledge of statistics of many people in organizations is too low. With the increased possibilities created by big data and analytics it becomes even more important people can interpret analysis in a sensible way.
  3. Social Seeder
    “Every company has ambassadors, we help to recruit & activate them on social media”Social Seeder is a campaigning tool to recruit and activate online ambassadors of an organization on social media. What I saw looked very neat and easy to use. You invite people to become ambassador and you provide them with interesting content they can easily share with their contacts/friends on social media. The organization can create different groups of ambassadors for different purposes.
    The metrics show the reach of the ambassadors, detect the popularity of the messages and also discover top ambassadors. Social seeder can easily be used for employer branding.
    Question I would have: how do you make sure the ambassadors are provided with interesting content they like to share?
  4. Part-up
    “Start working together! Platform for temporary teams”Part-up provides a platform to create temporary teams. On the platform you can start a “Part-up”. You specify your dream, your talents and your means. Potential team members who are willing to start with you on realizing the challenge can sign up. When the team is complete, you can start working together. When the task is complete, the team members rate each other, and the ratings become part of their profiles on Part-up. People who participate in Part-up are called Uppers.
    I like the concept, and I see a clear application in organizations. More and more organizations want to create empowered temporary teams in specific areas. The concept clearly needs some work, but I am sure that after some first projects in organizations Part-up can be developed to the next phase.
  5. The LearnScape
    “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”The LearnScape is a learning eco-system that uses social apps,
    e-coaching and safe intranet to stimulate formal and informal learning.
    The LearnScape comes (in the future) in three flavors: sCool for children in primary education, Higher Education for learning communities at colleges and universities and Corporate for communities of learning in organizations. What I saw of sCool, which was launched first, looked very practical, simple and modern. Promising and worthwhile to follow in the coming months.
  6. Meetberry
    “Make the world’s most inspiring companies your workplace”In my blog post “The Workplace as an HR intervention”  I wrote about corporates who are moving into startup and innovation hubs, like B-Amsterdam, to stay connected to the outside world and get inspiration for innovations. This can also be organized the other way around: ask self-employed professionals and startups to come work in your offices. If I understand it well, this is part of the offering of Meetberry. On the website I see Microsoft Netherlands offering workplaces at their offices at Schiphol on May 12, 2015. If you donate some money to make-A-Wish you are welcome. Interesting experiment.
    Meetberry rents empty office space as well.

One more interesting innovation I learned about at TNW: the Adobe Kickbox. Adobe Kickbox (the material is delivered in a read box) “delivers an actionable process for discovering new opportunities, validating customer engagement, and evaluating new business potential“. In the red box: money
($ 1,000 on a credit card), instructions, other innovation tools and a Starbucks gift card and a candy bar, for caffeine and sugar. Adobe has distributed 1,000 red boxes to Adobe employees around the world, to accelerate innovation. The Kickbox material can be downloaded for free (without the creditcard).

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