Thursday, 15 June 2017

#HRVision17 how to divorce from Dave (Ulrich)

Two sessions at HR Vision focused on the Ulrich model and how this may now be being updated.

First up was Xavier Savigny from Bureau Veritas in a session titled 'Get ready for the future, and how to divorce from Dave'. Xavier described a number of cultural changes required by HR (e.g. saying no but also offering a new solution).

In terms of structure, Xavier suggested a change to Ulrich's three wedded stool, as shown above.

  • HR business partners become HR coaches, more focused on building the required skills in business and people leaders
  • Centre of Excellence specialists become innovation laboratory scouts recognising the need for these staff to continuously transform and experiment with new approaches
  • Service centre advisors being replaced by a digital platform (RPA, AI, chatbots, etc).

These are all useful and appropriate changes, though in a sense are a second honeymoon, rather than a divorce, e.g. specialists surely should always have been innovating?

However, if nothing else, it'll be interesting to start calling HR's updated structure the fried egg model! (see the above picture).

The second of the two sessions was delivered by Reza Moussavian at Deutsche Telekom and was titled 'What digital really means for HR - Dave and doing the same-same will not help!'

For Reza, the Ulrich model is too structured, hindering us by promoting structured thinking. Deutsche Telekom have therefore installed disruption into HR through a digital and innovation unit. This tracks all the HR startups, has run an internal HR tech conference, and uses design thinking which it sees as the greatest enabler for change. Eg it has developed 21 personas representing DT's workforce.

I was pleased to hear that, as I had suggested in my own keynote, HR is also responsible for digital collaboration.

Once again these changes are interesting and appropriate, but again, not that significant. Ie they still support a three legged stool and once again, the type of innovation Reza has introduced is really only the sort of thing that the central policy team (the seat of the stool) should always have been doing.

It's got me thinking - is this enough, or do we still need more radical transformation to the Ulrich model?  More on this next week.

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