Discussing Leadership and Management with HCM Provider Lumesse’s Daniela Porr




According to Lumesse, it is building the world’s first open talent management platform, integrating recruitment, onboarding, and talent management solutions, as well as customers’ own solutions. Lumesse’s Open Talent Management Platform integration is fast, seamless, and secure, and functions equally well in the cloud, private cloud, on premise, or as a hybrid solution. Lumesse has approximately 2300 customers in 70 countries, showing its strength in competing with other major players in the recruitment market.

I spoke with Lumesse’s Daniela Porr, head of product management for Lumesse’s talent management solution, recently. As Lumesse is known for its acknowledgement and support of diversity both internally and with its range of customers around the globe, I thought it would be suitable to discuss the topic of leadership with Porr. Her main responsibility is to ensure that the Lumesse team supports its diverse global customers, from strategic compensation management to core human resources (HR), performance and development, and learning. Lumesse’s product team is formed of people coming from many regions of the globe, as is the case with most teams at Lumesse: in the product group alone, there are about 10 different nationalities from across North America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

In fact, Lumesse distinguishes itself through the diversity of its people and its embracing of differences from a global perspective. The company employs local experts with local knowledge to support its clients in various regions of the globe, including Europe, Asia, and North America. And the Lumesse team does not impose or advocate for a uniform model of management across its offices around the globe. Porr told me that in her role it is important to appreciate cultural differences and take advantage of the opportunity to continuously learn and adapt to various ways of acting and doing.

Porr spoke to me from her experience interacting with managers from Lumesse’s customer base. The typical customer of the Lumesse talent management suite is European-based with global outreach. Porr revealed that the customers she is acquainted with have learned that they obtain better results from employees if they deliver rough frameworks and develop regional differences. Along with regional differences one also has to acknowledge the maturity and complexity levels of the organization.

Lumesse’s “geographically smart” differentiating factors are reflected at the product level with the product’s configurability features, which allow for modeling of local rules and values. This can be done within one instance of the system. For example, at the recruitment module level Lumesse offers different regulatory requirements models depending on the country. As a result the workflow will differ drastically from country to country. Other vendors typically install different instances at the local level to achieve these very specific requirements, but Lumesse has this functionality built-in.

Over the years, Lumesse has gone through a series of acquisitions, allowing it to grow into a modern open talent management platform. The acquisitions include Norwegian-based vendor EasyCruit and U.K.-based I-Grasp in 2005, German company ExecuTrack In 2007, MrTed’s SaaS talent acquisition capabilities in 2010, then the Edvantage group in 2011.

Growth through acquisitions brings its own challenges such as developing and maintaining a strong, unified company culture. It seems Lumesse has been able to rise to the challenge with the diversity acceptance approach outlined above, and a mix of informal and formal management strategies, which Porr explained to me in detail.

Throughout Porr’s career she has observed the distinction between formal and informal approaches to leadership development and the importance of a balance of both styles. One factor that indicates a formal culture is a strong HR department with a large enough headcount in its headquarters to give roots and enforce company-wide policies and programs regarding leadership. This type of culture is also characterized by strong mechanisms of control to ensure that the rules are followed and various locations are process compliant. In this case regional influences can become minimal. Before the big economic crisis that we are currently undergoing this model was common at the level of big corporations.

The opposite culture—informal—sees force-feeding the same HR policies and leadership programs into all regions as leading to good numbers but not great employee satisfaction. As a result, regional programs of leadership are encouraged to be developed and run alongside central programs. For instance, some regions can even use a separate e-learning or informal/social learning platform. So headquarters will often tend to deliver frameworks that allow for regional variations to be expressed and implemented. The HR department also looks different in this type of culture, as it distributes its members to various regions as opposed to having most of them concentrated at its central location. These companies tend to invest more in tools that support informal learning, or mentoring and coaching. The downside of this approach is that it may be more difficult to measure. Today, this model appears to have become more popular among European businesses.

While these models appear to oppose each other they are in fact most effective when used to complement each other in a viable leadership model. For instance, a more formal culture encourages leaders to acquire coaching methods and not resort solely to personal charisma and improvisation, while an informal culture makes room for the personal touch of the leader and for more humane interactions. But, if a company slips too much into the formal mode it may become quite flat, bureaucratic, and ultimately suffocating—it can curb regional inspiration and innovation in order to protect central values. And, if a completely informal model is followed, chaos may ensue. Therefore HR’s biggest task is to figure out the balance between informal and formal leadership styles, depending on the complexity, global spread, size, etc. of the company.

It is interesting to note that the Lumesse open platform model follows suit in this balanced leadership approach, as the company believes that even a full suite HCM can never deliver everything that a customer requires. Due to the constantly evolving nature of HCM and the constant stream of innovation introduced by established and emerging HCM providers, monolithic, closed models applied to software are not a viable option and they do not allow organizations to stay ahead of the game. The vendor believes in a cooperative model where a client may want to opt for a few modules from Lumesse and other modules from its partners. The Lumesse platform allows both the vendor and third party suppliers (clients, or other software providers) to develop and deliver extensions to Lumesse’s offering.  Lumesse’s fast evolving, open talent management ecosystem enables its customers to design and continually update the talent management suite that works best for them.

Lumesse’s model promotes an open market where a client can switch from one option to another quickly. For instance if customers want video integration as part of their talent management suite they can choose between HireVue and Cameo. With this approach the vendor eliminates previous integration costs and efforts and remains agile since its main concern is to find solutions for its customers’ demands quickly rather than having a customer wait for Lumesse to build it.

Thanks to its diverse workforce and understanding of local cultures, Lumesse offers a flexible solution that can respond to global companies’ HCM challenges. As my discussion with Porr revealed, the open model that Lumesse embraces promotes diversity and may facilitate future acquisitions. Perhaps the question that the vendor faces in this open model is what types of applications are possibilities to be developed organically as opposed to being offered through a third-party provider only.

I’d like to thank Daniela Porr for her time and valuable insights on leadership from her interactions with Lumesse’s customers, and how Lumesse’s own flexible management styles are reflected in its solution’s flexibility. In the coming months I will be working on an HCM buyer’s guide which will feature further discussions about leadership and other related topics.
 
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