But I've just sat through a very interesting, even somewhat inspirational, session from Susan Kelly at Syngenta. Now I had thought that I might end up posting on this for a number of reasons including there being points in the slides about innovative topics like collaboration and gameful engagement (the role of gamification in supporting engagement) but don't actually think this is anything they've done anything on - yet. (I also did some work on their performance management framework a few years back which was also in Susan's presentation - and even had some of the flowers - and soil - on one of her slides in my garden last Summer - probably why our kids won the local parish council's tallest sunflower competition this year!):
However what really resonated for me was Susan's comments on needing to rethinking IC's role and recognising that insight is key. The one thing Syngenta business leaders want from their IC people is to really challenge them - based upon this insight.
That took me back to another key point from the conference - one more of Anne-Lise Kjaer's wise insights that the biggest barrier to change for our organisations today is that we don't have time to think. And that this is a problem because we desperately need a new model. I agree. That’s why I’ve been so excited about the theme for this conference: ‘competing on the curve: re-engineering IC for agility, productivity and impact’. Exactly.
In fact if I can digress further I'd like to quickly comment on a theme running out of some business meetings recently. These are all large UK companies, but aren’t performing particularly well. In one meeting in particular my contact was at pains to stress that the company is well in the top quartile for their HR support. However he/she never goes to conferences - so how do they know? - and where's the impact?
In one of the meetings, we talked about how the senior HR leader never even use the corporate social networks which are heavily promoted by their IC teams (I think I've posted on them as a case study before too) - and they don't know anyone who does.
And one of my contacts talked about his experience in developing as a leader as being about ironing out all of their quirks (whereas I talked about becoming more and more eccentric!).
I don't think any of these companies understood the need for a new model (a more personal and social one). And they're not doing any thinking about how they need to change even if they did. Their own hubris about their own effectiveness also isn't going to help. So I can't see their business performance increasing at all - can you?
In fact I think they’re all likely to become increasing misaligned with the needs of their business and even more so, the hopes and expectations of their employees.
Going back to Susan's presentation, we need to develop beyond being simple HR or IC experts and become Achievers and Strategists (from Torbert):
- The Expert asks "Who am I?" They lead through controlling the world around them through the quality of their knowledge, intellect and expert ability.
- The Achiever asks "Am I successful?" They seek to manage people efficiently and effectively to achieve work goals.
- The Strategist asks: "What can we contribute together to make a difference?" They are clear about their gifts and are seeking to discover how to integrate them with the needs of their organisation and of society
IC business partners therefore need to let go of their expert identity in order to start building a new one.
I think the suggestions from the groups when we got into talking about the capability needs for IC teams suggested most attendees are still focusing on themselves as experts rather than strategists. I'd also suggest this is the reason for the different perspectives on measurement I commented on yesterday.
I'd finish with another of Susan's quotes from Vonnegut:
"We are who we think we are, so we should be very careful who we think we are."
I think we need to do more thinking. Now this is probably more of a comment for those IC (and HR) people who aren't here, rather than those who are. But one of the other things Susan talked about was Syngenta always making time for development - taking 40 people at a time and ensuring they know what they need to. I bet not many companies here do that on a regular basis. (Although I see from the slides from one of the earlier presentations that I’d missed that RBS, with their 1300 marketing and communication staff!, clearly do.)
Mind you, the 27% of attendees whose organisations don't give access to social media sites may just be best of spending a day in the office to challenge this approach. But that's another blog post!
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