Wednesday 21 December 2011

New HR Competencies for Innovation and Technology


   Dave Ulrich’s latest update to the global HR competency framework was announced last week.  I’ve been using and talking about the various iterations of this framework for about 15 years now and on first look, it’s my favourite list so far.

The competencies are:

Strategic positioners who understand evolving business contexts, stakeholder expectations, and business requirements and translate them into talent, culture, and leadership actions

Credible activists who build relationships of trust and have a clear point of view about how to build business performance

Capability builders who define, audit, and create organization capabilities required for sustainable organizational success

Change champions who initiate and sustain change at the individual, initiative, and institutional levels

HR innovators and integrators who look for new ways to do HR practices and integrate those separate practices to deliver business solutions

Technology proponents who use technology for efficiency, to connect employees, and to leverage new communication channels, e.g., social media.


In a sense, it’s not that much of a change from last year.  Strategic architects has been renamed positioners which might not be much but it’s a useful shift because positioning suggests a sense of uniqueness and competitiveness ie it’s not just about architecting the same HR model as every other organisation.

Talent managers, Organisation designers and Culture Stewards have been grouped together as Capability builders which I think again is useful, as it emphasises that talent, organisation and culture aren’t just resources, but can be sources of competitive value in their own right.

Business allies and Operational executors have been dropped which again I think is positive.  Operational execution is the basic minimum, not the difference that leads to success.  Business alliancing is pretty basic too, and it’s removal emphasises, to me, that HR doesn’t achieve the difference that makes the difference simply by being closer to the business – it achieves this by creating unique positions of organisational capabilities.  These are what is important, and they’re different to, not the same as the value that can be provided by other business functions.

That just leaves change champions – fine – and credible activists – which was my favourite competency in the previous list.  Plus – and this is where it gets interesting – HR innovators, and Technology proponents.  (No mention of measurement which may surprise some people but I think is right.  But also no mention of facilitating decision making, which I still think Ulrich made a mistake of removing from 2003’s to 2007’s iteration.)


I think innovation and technology are essential additions too.  Innovation is critical to achieving unique positions and capabilities, and technology – especially, though not just social media - is becoming increasingly central to achieving this innovation too.

Have you seen these posts last week on HR innovation?


I’ll also be continuing to post on HCM technology next year – including on the new site linked to the HR Technology Europe conference which I’ll be MCing again next year.



  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com



Post a Comment

Please add your comment here (email me your comments if you have trouble and I will put them up for you)