This and a similar session on the second day were, in my opinion, some of the best ones at the conference, with insightful speakers (Louise Wallwork from BAE Systems, Lucy Lewin from Standard Chartered and Laura Walker from John Lewis) sharing their experiences as best as they could despite frequent interruptions from the CIPD’s / Bridge’s consultant.
I particularly liked Laura’s explanations about how she is working to change John Lewis. For her, the key need is to have a strong sense of insight, as this makes it easier to be courageous when you come up against the company’s immune system.
Louise talked about the experience (or experiment) of the HR team at BAE Systems (a former client of mine) shifting its focus from managing and delivering to building tomorrow’s business. (HR had always had good processes and was always able to talk about the business, but these two things didn’t connect that well – the processes were so defining that HR sometimes found it hard to stop them.)
The company is now starting to look and feel different and its HR leaders are asking themselves what this means for the way they run HR – the capabilities they need in their HR people and the way they’re organised – even things like measurement needs a reorientation to the new approach.
Laura talked about how companies best undertake this reorientation. John Lewis is a community, family oriented business and there are lots of stories (I’d argue that there are in any organisation) so you don’t change by changing the process but by changing the stories.
I thought these were some great examples supporting the need for a clear HR POV and about how HR should tailor what it does around this. Unfortunately we didn’t get much detail on what the companies’ reorientations have involved.
It’s not that I mind models (you’ll know that already if you’ve read many posts here), but when a session is billed as a case study, and you’ve got speakers of Louise’s, Lucy’s and Laura’s experience, they are what people want to see… so less of Bridge’s venn diagrams and hour glasses, and more of the speakers’ stories next time please!
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