Tuesday, 11 March 2008

CK Prahalad at HCI Human Capital Summit

I didn't manage to get to the Human Capital Institute's annual summit again this year (I very rarely get the time to go to conferences these days unless I'm speaking).

But I've been checking out the HCI's live blog and it seems to be going well. The highlight for me would have been CK Prahalad's speach on strategy and the centrality of the individual, a theme close to my heart:

"People and employers are changing their relationships to meet the new economy. Human beings are the new form of currency and valuation in companies."


If I've interpreted the blog post correctly, Prahalad seems to have talked about applying his ideas on 'botom of the pyramid thinking' to innovation in business and talent management.

"Innovation has changed": it's about co-creation between different parties: businesses and consumers, employers and employees etc. Assisted by social networking, it's also often about
micro-producers and micro consumers (in Chris Anderson's Long Tail).

To encourage innovation to take place, organisations need to:

Ensure Aspiration > Resources

"Entrepreneurial talent is attracted where your resources are low and enthusiasm is high. When resources are high, but enthusiasm is low, innovation becomes hard to find. Satisfied employees don’t mean anything. Excitement is what creates energy and innovation. Democratize information, change the game, and leverage the resources."

Fold the Future In

Start from the future looking backwards rather than the present looking forwards - this is the way to create value.


Focus on Next Practices

Use best fit, differentiated HR and management practices that support this future vision, rather than the best practices everyone else uses today:

"True growth occurs by focusing on next practices instead of best practice. Best practices leads to agreement on mediocrity."


Provide an Innovation Sandbox

Provide people with the opportunity to play, experiment and make mistakes - but make the boundaries of this clear to them:

"Innovation can be constrained. Embrace constraints allows people to recognize the sandbox they have to play in."


Innovation in Talent Management

I think Prahalad made a great case for linking together soft and hard perspectives on talent management:

"Talent management connects social and technical business processes. You need IT and analytics to achieve data management. Without understanding who is doing what, without having the business processes in place to understand the social aspects and focus on the individual, talent management cannot occur."



But Prahalad is also clear that businesses need to transform - and his requirements for transformation are all about the soft:

  • imagination
  • passion
  • courage
  • humanity
  • humility
  • intellect
  • luck!

This is why I've been posting recently on my concern that we're overemphasising the hard by trying to be too much like other business functions, when too create value, we need to be in touch with our people's needs, which are soft, and that means we need to be confident to be unique.