Wednesday, 29 April 2009

HR 2.0 – a more strategic approach to HR (update from Bucharest HR 2.0 conference)

 

   In my last post, I suggested that we should think about HR 2.0 as a change in management approach, rather than simply the use of web 2.0 technology.

I want to justify this perspective in this post.

A fundamental principle behind strategic HR is that we need to focus on outcomes, not activities.  Web 2.0 is about activity.  It refers to what we do, how we do things, and the technology we use to enable this.  It doesn’t deal with the effects of using this technology.  Therefore, in my view, it’s not a basis for strategic HR.

(I’m slightly over-stating the case here – there are occasions on which simply improving the use of technology without any further change will result in competitive advantage.  But I think these occasions are fairly rare.)

I think this is what we found with e-learning.  A major part of the reason why e-learning has failed to live up to the benefits that were initially anticipated is that we focused on e-learning as an activity (requiring us to introduce new e-learning courses) rather than the outcome of having learnt, including electronically, which would have taken us more quickly towards a blended learning approach.

I’ve made the same point in connection to HCM as well.  HCM isn’t a more strategic approach than HRM because it involves a different way of operating (although it does).  It’s different because it focuses on a new outcome – human capital – which HRM doesn’t include.  HCM is therefore qualitatively different to HRM.

I think HR 2.0 needs to be qualitatively different to HRM too.  This is what the ‘2.0’ tag is about.  If we were talking about a slight shift, an incremental improvement on HRM, we’d be talking about HR 1.1 not 2.0.   Or at least some people might be talking about it – I probably wouldn’t bother.  I am talking (today, at the Bucharest HR 2.0 conference), and writing (here) about HR 2.0, because I think it is a fundamentally different approach to HRM.  And I think this offers new and sizeable opportunities for HR to have more impact on their organisations, and provide a direct impact on competitive success.

(If your want some good arguments to support this case, consult Gary Hamel’s ‘The Future of Management’ in which he shows how management 2.0 is fundamentally different to traditional management still in operation in most of our organisations today.)

This is also why I recently updated the web name of my blog (the name in the top bar of your internet browser: ‘HR to HR 2.0 and human capital (HCM)’, and why I’ve included HR 2.0 in my elevator pitch.

The outcome of HR 2.0, is, I think, social capital.  I’ll write further about this link and explain a little more about social capital in my next post.

 

 

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