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Practitioners' Pondering's: Strategy and Measurement

Richard M. Vosburgh


Practitioner Ponderings:

Strategy and Measurement

Richard M. Vosburgh, Ph.D.

January 2016

I’d like to begin with heartfelt appreciation and recognition for a significant contribution by SIOP leaders to the professional practice of HR in organizations.  I am honored to be serving on the SHRM Certification Commission in support of the governance process for the newest HR professional certification program.  The chair is Wayne Cascioand also serving is Shelly Zedeck(both past presidents of SIOP) and Jim Outtz(incoming president of SIOP).  We just met in San Diego to review the significant progress made since the introduction of the SHRM-Certified Professional and the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional testing program.  It is an impressively developed program that is fully described in an article by SIOP’s own Alex Alonsoin the October 2015 HRPS People + Strategyjournal, described further below.


I would like to reiterate my thanks to SIOP President Steve Kozlowskifor contributing to the HRPS sponsored HR Association Executive Roundtable interview in the special edition of the October 2015 People + Strategyjournal where John Boudreau and I are guest editors on the topic “Advancing the HR Profession.”  This represents another great collaboration between SIOP and HRPS.  A very active SIOP Fellow, Allan Churchof PepsiCo, was recently elected to the HRPS Board where I was just elected chairperson, so we have a good SIOP/HRPS/SHRM relationship started.  I encourage any SIOP members interested in organizational HR practices to consider HRPS membership, which comes with a free SHRM membership (see  


The first two columns that I wrote “set up” the science–practitioner issues, and the next ones dealt with three of the five significant ways in which I-O contributes to the employee lifecycle:

  • June 2015: Performance Management
  • September 2015: Staffing
  • January 2016: Strategy and Measurement


In the next two columns we will tackle the issues related to the last two employee lifecycle areas: Learning and Developmentand Talent Management.


To find how I-O contributes to these five employee lifecycle areas, from the SIOP website, click on “info for Professionals” and you will see “I-O and the Employee Lifecycle”.  The information here was developed to help us better understand how I-O psychology can benefit organizations in each phase of the employment lifecycle.


Strategy and Measurementin organizations is about:

·  Establishing plans to successfully align your organization around a common vision

·  Ensuring that your business strategy is supported by your human capital strategy

·  Measuring the impact your human resources function has on business results.


Here is an example of the type we used in PepsiCo in the early 1980s.  The process is deceptively simple, essentially two columns on a page, and the impact comes from having the discipline to plan well what will be measured and then incessantly follow up.  We would say: Name It. Measure It. Manage It.


The organization’s strategy

The HR implications

Double our manufacturing capability within 2 years by opening two new plants in Mexico and Macedonia.

Identify leaders to manage the operational aspects of the change.


Establish local outsourcing organizational capabilities then bring in-house:

  • talent acquisition
  • training
  • performance management


Plan a 2-year expatriate program to get both plants running to U.S. specifications.


The SIOP website also identifies how I-O psychologists can contribute to strategy and measurement within organizations:

  1. Facilitation.Successfully facilitate meetings with senior leaders to identify, clarify, articulate, and measure mission, vision, and strategic objectives.
  2. Alignment meetings. Help business leaders align talent strategy with organizational strategy.
  3. Identify KSAOs. Work with subject matter experts to identify the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required for specific talent strategies to succeed.
  4. Metrics development.Develop reliable and valid methods to measure desired organizational outcomes.
  5. Change management. Design and deliver a change management program to implement new approaches to talent planning, attraction, and retention.
  6. Workforce planning. Identify and plan for future workplace talent needs


Example positive outcomes: 

·  Alignment on priorities established a culture of collaboration and trust

·  Limited turnover during the merger process because of clarity of direction

·  Increased market share in a deregulated marketplace

·  Cost synergies exceeding expectations and revenue growth surpassing forecasts

·  Increased bench strength through the improved ability to attract top talent

·  Market expansion through more efficient systems and improved talent placement

·  Employees feeling more “buy-in” and experiencing less stress or negative attitudes


Now I’d like to relate a true story of an I-O psychologist working within an organization to establish the mission, vision and values.  It’s my story, about the company I retired from in 2014 as senior vice president and chief human resources officer.  This story was first described in the October 2014 Profilemagazine article on me and some of it is repeated here with their permission.


Establishing KEMET’s Mission, Vision and Values

When I joined KEMET Electronics Corporation 2011, I was put on a team to establish themission, vision, and valuesof the organization.  KEMET is a leading manufacturer of capacitors and a very global operation, with only 600 of 10,000 employees in the US.  It has been in existence since its Union Carbide origin in 1919.  Roughly a third of the $900M business is in each of the three global regions: The Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific.  You probably haven’t heard of KEMET because their model is purely B2B—business to business. Because anything with electricity going through it needs some kind of capacitor, we are everywhere.  You’ve definitely heard of all of our largest customers.


The CEO was the sponsor for the project—as it should be but is often not the case.  This was not an “HR” project, and it was a real team effort with people from different functions and countries.  Our CEO realized that over the years lots of “lists” had developed—for example, vision, themes, guiding principles, values, leadership behaviors, code of conduct, and so on—and it was unclear which one represented our “core.”  Our CEO requested a “refresh” that was simple, clear, and represented our uniqueness.  The team presented the results of our first effort to the CEO and the Leadership Forum (a high potential group of 35 leaders undergoing an intensive in-house training process).  We were sent back to the drawing board.  We were essentially told: “You missed it.  That’s just another long list of motherhood and apple pie that could be used by any company.  Discover what it is that differentiates us.”


Well, after picking each other up and dusting ourselves off we went and “listened to the people” and how they talked about KEMET. It became clear there were some common themes.  We were able to present a redo at the Extended Leadership Team meeting where our top 150 leaders spend 2 days once a year on company strategy.


The second time around went so much better! There were only minor tweaks with their input.  We felt we had the content right and then spent time on how to show it.  Most companies use lists down the page that spells out an acronym so you can remember it.  We decided that was not “us,” and it would be better to show our mission, vision, and values in a picture where people could tell a story about what we believe in; it’s the classic “elevator speech” approach.


The KEMET valuesstart at the top and “True North” on the compass, where we find our commitment to Unparalleled Customer Experience. That’s the reason for everything else we do.  At the center is One KEMET, operating as one global team.  Internally we are committed to Ethics & Integrityand to No Politics.  Our three stakeholders around the outside are the customer, the employee (Talent Oriented), and the shareholder (The Math Must Work).  Across all this, we energetically operate with Speedand agility, because that’s what our customer’s expect, and that’s the kind of people we are.



Our mission is to help make the world a better, safer, more connected place to live. This is simple, memorable, and passionate, and has the added value of being completely true!  Think of what these capacitors go into and the claim is easy to substantiate:

  • Green: Sustainable technology; in windmills, solar panels, and hybrid cars.
  • Medical: In X-ray machines, pacemakers, and defibrillators that save lives.
  • Space exploration: On the Space Station, Moon Lander, and Mars Rover.
  • Military: Inside satellites, communications, and missile systems; and airplanes.
  • Mobile devices: Helping the world become closer and freer.


Our vision is to be the world’s most trusted partner for innovative component solutions.  This reflects our longstanding belief that our customer comes first and that we must be easy to do business with.  We have learned that our customers are also more successful when they engage us earlier in the design process so that we can contribute the talents of our engineers and scientists to finding or creating the best capacitor for the customer’s needs.


The rollout of the mission, vision, and values was an extensive process.  Our leadership team (top 16 leaders) accepted it June 2011.  Our CEO and a couple of us on the team presented it in our globally televised quarterly town hall meeting in July 2011.  Our HR team did translations into 18 languages and our facilities team got framed posters made for our plants and office locations in the 28 countries in which we operate.  Globally each plant and office location was asked to send in video clips of employees telling a short story (15–30 seconds) about what one of the values meant to them.  We received and posted on line the best of those.  We asked each location to meet and talk about the values.


We also worked on simple behavioral descriptions of what “positive behaviors” would be for each value (these would let you work here), and what “negative behaviors” would be for each value (you can’t work here if you do these things).  For example:


Ethics and integrity:Having the courage to always do the right thing

·  Saying what you mean & doing what you say

·  Knowing and following KEMET’s Global Code of Conduct

·  “Walking the talk” for all our values

·  Holding back needed information

·  Forcing inappropriate action

·  Anything that would not be OK on the “News Front Page”


We also found many ways of integrating the mission, vision, and values (MVV) throughout our HR processes:

•  Recruitment: Our MVV is posted on our external career website

•  Selection: We developed a Candidate Self-Assessment on the seven values

•  On-boarding: We asked managers to do the elevator speech for on-boarding

•  Performance management: We added a section to assess employees on values

•  Employee engagement: In our first global employee survey, we asked how well we were doing on each of the seven values.


In the survey we learned some things that managers could do better to show they believed in the “passion, skills, and engagement of our people” (Talent Oriented).  We also discovered that taking care of the customer was the highest rated set of items in the survey, supporting our “True North” value of unparalleled customer experience.


One very important way we used the MVV was to create a conversation with the Japanese company with whom we were forming a joint venture as a way to understand what they cared about and to show them what we cared about.  It was a very important first step in our relationship that helped to form some early trust.  They quickly agreed that they could support our seven values.  They requested we consider two more, and after we talked about it we really liked the additions.  We added materials innovation (realizing innovation by advanced materials technology) and environmental sensitivity (protecting every element of our environment). Then we had it translated into Japanese. It was very helpful in establishing early good communication.



Unquestionably, I-O psychologists working with human resources and leadership teams can make a big difference in getting alignment and commitment to a common set of mission, vision, and values, and by doing so, contribute to the strategy of the organization and help deliver the results for the stakeholders.


I invite feedback at


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