Friday, 16 July 2010

Andrew McAfee on HR Happy Hour: close but no dice


   I don’t manage to make many HR Happy Hours (actually just the TRU London one – for obvious reasons), but I do listen to the archives (and I know Steve Boese listens to Talking HR too).

But I had to catch tonight’s show: Enterprise 2.0 and HR, with Andrew McAfee.  As you may know, I’ve recently been posting on HR 2.0 here, and attended this year’s Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, which included a keynote from McAfee.

Of course, all of this meant that I found a lot of the show to be a bit of a repeat.  More importantly than this, I also felt that it largely missed the point.

McAfee described the changes in web 2.0 technology, the growing impact of millenials, and the need to manage knowledge by finding and locating experts etc (“If only HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times as productive”).

To me, none of these factors are as important as the socialisation of the workforce.  Creating an environment where people know each other, trust each other and can work together effectively because there’s a social context behind what they do.  This is partly about understanding the strong and weak ties McAfee mentioned.  But it’s much more about the subject of Mark Bennett’s tweet (“I think *capturing* "know-how" is not as effective as having those who have the "know-how" *collaborate* with others”).  It’s about creating relationships between people and influencing their conversations, not just linking people up to experts.

This is why not just Enterprise 2.0, but Enterprise 2.0 and HR is such a hugely important topic.  If we see Enterprise 2.0 as something that’s about technology (or in McAfee’s term, not not about technology), then HR’s role is limited mostly to adoption.  Actually, that’s still a really important role, but not as important as a strategic planning one.

HR’s role isn’t increased that much if we just focus on ties.  OK, a human search engine may be more powerful than a traditional one, but it’s still not going to lead to much of an advantage.

But if we think about socialisation, then HR’s got to be firmly in charge of the agenda.  We’re the people who understand how people can be brought together to collaborate effectively.  And we can use some of our existing tools such as team and leadership development, organisation design, culture change etc to produce a more social workforce too.

By the way, the impacts of doing this are much greater than ‘making people feel good’ which was McAfee’s summary of the benefits for HR leaders.  Relationships can create competitive advantage.  This is the real 2.0 opportunity – for business and particularly HR.


Also see these posts on the Enterprise 2.0 conference on Social Advantage:


and on social learning and HR 2.0 on Strategic HCM:


then there’s:


I’m proposing to present at the next Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco:


Have a look at some of the links – they should keep you busy!



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