And I'm looking forward to seeing Dave Ulrich speak before me on Thursday.
I'm hoping he'll say something about the next version of his HR competencies which RBL and a group of partners, including AHRI, have been developing over the last year.
As usual when these competencies are being updated, I'm struggling a little to see how they could be improved, especially as I did particularly like the last, 2012 version. However I do have these few thoughts on what I'd like to see included:
This is my favourite competency from 2012 although I do explain it a bit differently to Dave. To me, this is about establishing a strategic position for a business, but it's about doing this through a focus on people (or organisational capabilities), rather than products, services or even core competencies. It's therefore a bit similar to Michael Porter's ideas around competitive positioning - which is why I like the name of the competency - but centred on the organisation rather than the business value chain.
I therefore hope this competency is retained. If it is, I suspect Dave will update it to align more closely with his ideas on outside in, which to me would be a shame. To me the key idea which lies behind strategic positioning is that it's about competing through people, so I'd like to see more focus going into the concept of putting people first and building a business around the people. So my own suggestion for a new title for a slightly updated competency would be Value Creator (but based on my ideas about value creation, not Ram Charan's.)
This competency still makes complete sense. Once you've identified the organisational capabilities which provide you with a strategic positioning, you then have to build these capabilities. However the name of the competency is dreadful as most people assume it's about individual not organisational capability.
Also I think the three constituent elements of organisational capability - human, organisation and social capital all require different sorts of activities to build them. So I'd separate the competency out into these three areas.
- Human Capital Developer and Employee Champion
A bit of a mouthful but ideally I'd want to emphasise the need to build both skills and engagement, in the same way that Dave's roles currently emphasise both human capital development and employee advocacy.
- Organisation And Workplace Designer
Dave's been saying for some time that we don't win through people, we win through organisation, and I suspect this will get more focus in the new version of the competencies. I also think that will be apt if it does. However, I'd expand it to cover workplace design as well, and despite my comments on the workplace conference I attended in Sydney, it was great to hear AHRI's Peter Wilson referring to workplace design as an HR capability in his introduction thus morning. We need more people to think like this.
- Organisation Developer and Community Manager
Although I don't want to distract from any of the above, much of what Dave and others mean when they talk about the organisation isn't the physical organisation at all, it's the people, but specifically the relationships between people. This is what I'm talking about tomorrow as the New HR.
This is also still critical but I'd want to emphasise the prime need to focus on human oriented, digital technologies. My suggested name for an updated competency is Digital Activist. The activist part of the name comes from the current competency, Credible Activist, which I don't think we need as the other competencies together provide an activist approach, possibly with the exception of this technology oriented area, and I address the need for credibility below.
Innovator and Integrator
Both parts of this is still critical too. I'd perhaps suggest a better title for it would be something like Best Fit Strategist - so it's about selecting, innovating, aligning and integrating the various activities to fit the needs of the value creation strategy and three capability building areas which I've identified above.
I've already suggested that I don't think this is needed, though I do agree the need to gain credibility is key. I suspect that Dave may refocus this on being a business ally, supporting Ram Charan's ideas, but with more focus on outside in as well. I think it's less about this and more about developing the right relationships, and I love Dave's new focus on this area, and can't wait to see HR love maps become as common a part of what we talk about as the three legged stool is now.
I use a model of relationship management developed by CM Parks which provides a ladder with different levels of trust edge eloped within a relationship. The highest score level of trust is being a friend in business. I love the model because it's easy to demonstrate that whereas sales people know they need to become a friend in business, most HR people still seek to draw a line some way below this level. I think that now credibility and relationships are so important we can no longer afford to do this. I'd suggest being a Friend in Business as the title of this new more relationship focused competency.
Idea Collector and Generator
This isn't a current competency but needs to be from now on. Dave suggests the half life of knowledge is about four years. Given this we can't rely on what we learn in our professional qualification but need to keep learning much more deeply throughout our careers. Someone at AHRI suggested yesterday that you've learned all you can in a job after four years. It's complete nonsense. Within that four years the job will have changed completely and you therefore need to learn a quarter of what you learned initially every year you stay in it. I've been in HR for 20+ years, invest heavily in my knowledge and skills, so I can bring my clients the very best and latest insights, and I still can't keep up with the amount of new stuff I need to learn, all of the time. Most HR people don't relative how far and how quickly they're falling behind, and we need to rebalance it.
This doesn't exist currently either and Dave's not going to add it, but he might add something about being a data scientist, as analytics are now probably just as important as technology. But actually the need isn't about data, but wisdom, and despite the calls to move HR from art to science, we really need both of these to be developed.
And actually I think Dave's moving in this direction too after having influenced him at the Art of HR conference last year. Dave designed a new slide for this focusing on architects (science) and anthropologists (art) and is using these at many of his presentations around the world now - it'll be fun if it comes up tomorrow!
For Dave, the art is about what's next, questions rather than results, the trends which are not yet fully understood and creating HR for the future. Forget about science, this is what we now need to be doing!