Former Google HR head’s start-up to encourage behavioural change at work

Humu is a software that will help managers and subordinates in their respective roles, and assist them in overcoming their weaknesses to perform better.

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Laszlo Bock, who headed people operations at Google till 2016, is now focusing on his own start-up called Humu, co-founded with two other ex-Google staffers. Humu is a software that blends behavioural science and machine learning to help managers and employees bring about changes in their behaviour.

The software provides time-based alerts that encourage the managers to find out from their team what they need, what their weekend plans are, and so on. It encourages meaningful interaction that goes on to have a positive impact on productivity and workplace culture. Based on behavioural economist, Richard Thaler’s popular ‘nudge theory’, Humu accepts inputs in the form of data pertaining to productivity, HR and personal surveys, which it studies and analyses. Based on the analyses it then nudges the managers and employees, by sending them mails or messages, prodding them to act at the right time.

The alerts remind the staff to appreciate a colleague at an upcoming meeting, or thank a team member for an initiative, or raise certain questions, and so on. Humu will also help draft a ‘thank you’ note by suggesting a link for the same. The privacy settings can be opted for as per individual needs. So if required, the managers can be allowed access to the calendars of their subordinates. They can use the software to encourage the quiet team members to speak up at meetings, by sending them messages just before a scheduled presentation.

Humu is all set to ensure that change in organisational culture becomes a reality and does not just remain relegated to meetings and discussions. This is one of the rare software that actually puts the data gathered to productive and meaningful use.

However, the effectiveness of Humu depends on how effectively it is used. If the alerts in the form of messages and mails are ignored by the receivers or shrugged off as being too simple or trivial, the whole purpose will be defeated.

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