Top 100 v1.14 Dan Hilbert

Top 100 v1.14 Dan Hilbert

Posted on 14. Jul, 2009 by in Blog, Top 100

So far, the people covered in this series are a part of the industry’s bulwark. These folks shepherd new ideas into our universe with the painstaking care of estate conservators. Much of the ebb and flow of influence is spent on nuanced movement of the status quo.

Influence is precisely a complex calculus of popularity and connection. The development of influence requires a combination of larger than life persona and a level of connection that resembles good ole boy backslapping. You are either in the middle of the self-reflecting giddiness or you are an outsider.

The surprise is that so much energy goes into the maintenance of the existing state of affairs. Influence can not be harnessed nor accumulated if things are changing all of the time. The industry’s resilient sameness is exactly a consequence of the same old people doing the same old stuff.

Except, it’s not really like that at all. When you are gasping for traction; seem on the verge of an amazing insight or trying to peddle the future into our risk averse community, it’s always going to seem like it’s all windmills and you’re all Quixote.

So many people want to change so much. The development and deployment of influence takes patient building of credibility. It often requires a business-like acceptance of the idea that getting something done is preferable to getting nothing done and usually preferable to being right.

Then, there are the very few for whom being right is either a professional posture or a tremendous accident of good timing. Where John Sullivan is a professional agitator, Dan Hilbert has the good fortune of being the right guy in the right place at the right time. And, make no mistake, he is uncompromisingly right.

Hilbert is in HR by accident. The serial entrepreneur builds and sells companies for a living. His work history began with a successful stint as a third party recruiter. He placed systems engineers.

At the peak of the dot com giddiness, he found himself detoured with a very sick spouse and an equally sick company. One thing led to another and he became the VP of HR for a little gas station company called Valero. In Dan’s tenure, the firm went from $2 billion in annual revenue to $95 billion. It was one of the fastest growing companies in the history of American business.

Not knowing anything about HR but external Recruiting, Dan was free to apply his extensive supply chain experience to our standard problem set. Since he was too green to know what was impossible, he built analytics systems that were capable of predicting business performance. When his HR analytics began predicting plant disasters and productivity curves, the management at Valero began to listen.

Hilbert racked up a bunch of awards. Valero peaked. Hilbert collected on his stock options and got out of the business of being in HR-Recruiting.

He built Orca Eyes, his HR analytics company, from scratch in a town between Austin and San Antonio. The firm ties disparate HR databases together to produce accurate and predictive analytics.

Lots of HR people really hate it. While there’s a lot of kicking and fussing about introducing accountability into HR-Recruiting, nothing ever seems to actually happen. HR-Recruiting is high on conflict avoidance. Great business is high on conflict resolution. Continuous improvement requires an applecart upsetting demand for lower prices and higher quality. This is deeply ingrained in Hilbert’s psyche.

Hilbert prefers to talk to the folks in the CFO’s office. They understand that it’s exactly possible to measure and predict much of human performance. They know that well managed supply chains produce sustained competitive advantage. An awful lot of them have given up hope that anyone in HR-Recruiting will ever understand the real nature of business.

So Hilbert stands, at the tip of our evolution as an industry, collecting lightning bolts.

One thing is really, really clear. HR-Recruiting is going to be disrupted in the exact same way that other service professions were plowed under. In the near future, the function will be performed with complete accountability, more reliable results at a price point that’s closer to 10% of current expenses. When that happens, Hilbert’s Orca Eyes toolset will provide the roadmap.

With OrcaEyes, the complex map of HR data is synthesized into actionable reporting prioritized by business impact. Simplified from the cacophony of typical HR reporting, key initiatives are coded in Green (OK), Yellow (watch it) or Red (Something’s broken). The reporting framework clearly and specifically ties HR-Recruiting expenses, policies and practices to precise business consequence. With the tool in place, HR becomes a predictive engine for the organization.

Dan has the kind of sense of humor and self-confidence required to be an industry’s real change champion. Get used to hearing his name bandied about. He’s a classic example of what happens when you let someone with a little Recruitining experience into a decision making role.

John Sumser is the founder and CEO of TwoColorHat, a company specializing in market strategy for HR – Recruiting /component/page,shop.cart/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,6/”>cialis tabs Vendors. You can /component/page,shop.cart/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,6/”>cialis tabs keep up with his other stuff at Follow the rest of the Top 100 Influencers project.

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4 Responses to “Top 100 v1.14 Dan Hilbert”

  1. Glenn Gutmacher

    14. Jul, 2009

    I knew Dan when he was at Valero, getting his ATS vendor HRSmart to create all kinds of customized reporting under his guidance, which helped that product immensely (as well as other HRsmart customers trying to push its envelope, as my company at the time was). It helped allow him to develop those fabulous metrics that impressed senior management which John’s profile alludes to. Just thought readers might like to know another dimension behind the story.

  2. Cory Kruse

    14. Jul, 2009


    The ability to influence based on a strong belief….or experience….or reputation….or association, is common in our business. When all of the above plus accurate, comprehensive, complex, and most importantly – REAL DATA come together, you get Dan Hilbert and Team at OrcaEyes.

    As a battle-tested industry vet since the late 80′s, there are a handful of people that I could apply the word “Evolutionary” to. Dan is on the roster. Simply put, Dan is not out to impress with just another tool, he is passionate about providing a platform which business leaders can utilize to make critical decisions!

    Disruption and accountability are not words most HR professionals care to hear, however, we ( have utilized OrcaEyes to facilitate behavioral change within our client base while driving service level higher and costs substantially lower.

    I am blessed to know Dan as a friend, professional, and partner. Great choice John!

  3. Tom Janz

    14. Jul, 2009

    John has nailed the amazing uniqueness that is Dan Hilbert with an even more resounding click of the keyboard than normal. A tighter than normal turn of the phrase and passionate skewing of the flab that passes for political correctness in HR circles. I can only hope that Dan will contribute his latest achievements to a wide audience, either personally through a blog on his site, or through those who follow his trailblazing.

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