Thursday, 31 March 2011

Double Loop Learning and HR Business Partnering


  Today, I’m doing a session on HR business partnering.  I’m keeping the definition quite broad to extent to the overall business focused approach used by HR functions today, as well as the particular role of the strategic business partner.

And, looking at what makes business partnering effective, I’m suggesting than one thing we can do is to act as if we do have a POV (so my business partnering training really focuses on the ‘how’ HR can become more strategic, supporting the Strategic HR course which focuses more on ‘what’ ie on opportunities for having a different POV).

So I suggest that as well as meeting business needs, business partners should also seek to influence their businesses from this POV.  I link this to Chris Argyris’ concept of double loop learning.  First loop learning is reacting to business needs and changing HR to meet these needs (trying to measure everything HR does in financial terms for example).  Second loop learning is about influencing the business from the perspective of HR and human capital, and what makes HR and HCM, and the people in an organisation, effective.

Let’s go back to Gary Hamel again.  One of his suggestions, linked to the need for ideology, was that businesses should talk the language of people (the words on the right of the slide I’ve attached above).  So yes, HR can gain a certain level of credibility from speaking the language of business – measuring everything in financial terms and using all the word on the left.  But to gain real credibility, and much bigger impact on business, HR business partners (at whatever level) need to think about influencing the business – measuring more of the business in human terms, and using the words from the right.

So, when did you last talk about joy, honour and beauty in your organisation, and if you don’t do this, isn’t it about time you start?


Also see my previous posts on the language of people:


And those leading up to this post:


You can also find out more about this approach, and other aspects of effective business partnering on my Getting to Groups with Business Partnering course delivered for Symposium Events.



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