Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Dave Ulrich: The Market Oriented Ecosystem (MOE)



Yeung and Ulrich - Market Oriented Ecosystem (MOE)

This is my second post reviewing and providing my insights on Arthur Yeung and Dave Ulrich’s new book, Reinventing the Organization.

My last post on this suggested that Dave’s new organisational logic means that we need to think about what happens outside of an organisation before we look at its internal arrangements.

However, for me, my logic from The Social Organization (TSO) still applies, ie we need to understand the capabilities an ecosystem will provide and the principles it uses in doing this in order to identify the most optimal organisational solution for a particular environmental context.

For Dave and Arthur, the key thing about the external environment is that it is uncertain and fast changing - or superdynamic. This means organisations need to be more market oriented, and they suggest the key ecosystem capabilities an ecosystem needs to provide are information, customer, innovation and agility.


Josh Bersin - network of teams


They also suggests some ecosystem principles (which provide a basis for an ecosystem’s common shared values / style) to respond to the new environment:
  • Establish a consistent set of priorities
  • Create the future by anticipating what the market will be
  • Win through a focus on growth
  • Stay a step ahead of the market by anticipating targeted and future customers
  • Effectively use different options to execute a growth pathway: buy, build or borrow
  • Seek and inspire agile employees
  • Use scorecards and data to drive a growth mindset
  • Always reinvent strategy because strategy is never finished.

In this environment, and with these capabilities and principles, they suggests the best organisational solution for any company is a Market Oriented Ecosystem (MOE).

The book reviews seven main case studies of this organisational form - Amazon, Facebook and Google in Silicon Valley and their digital cousins - Alibaba, DiDi, Huawei and Tencent  in China (as well as Supercell in Finland, which is a bit of an outlier, organisationally as well as geographically, as explained below).

The MOE is first of all, an ecosystem (generally defined to mean a network which extends beyond an individual firm). Given the logic reviewed above, a MOE is deliberately designed to involve external allies - partners providing staff, skills, structures and systems and stakes in the ecosystem.


Niels Pflaeging - value creation structure


But the MOE resembles an ecosystem within the orchestrating organisation too, with autonomous teams (cells) working alongside each other through a network rather than as a result of hierarchical coordination. Amazon’s single threaded teams is a great example. And I think this logic works - if an organisation is cellular internally, it also makes it easy to work with cells which are outside. It also provides the customer focus required by the MOE (see TSO on horizontal teams).

The other distinguishing feature of the MOE is that this uses a digital platform to support the operating network. As I noted in TSO, it’s quite hard to scale a network without a common platform, so this makes good sense too. It also provides most of the required information and agility, and together with the cells, innovation. The use of a platform makes the MOE a highly centralised ecosystem though. (Work is done autonomously within the cells, but the leadership of the ecosystem is centralised under the platform owning part of the MOE.)

Note, however, that I don’t think Dave and Arthur are referring to what I would call a platform based organisation where a digital platform enables autonomous groups to work together without hierarchical management or other forms of co-ordination. (I think the best example of a platform based organisation is Haier who also presented at the Drucker Forum last year. If you’ve not seen it, then Gary Hamel has provided a great case study of this company / platform / ecosystem in HBR recently. I particularly like this example because Haier’s platform treats internal and external micro enterprises in just about the same way, so it’s much more similar to a biological ecosystem than a MOE.)


Dave Gray - podular organisation
Instead of this, MOEs just use platforms to support the network (rather than the network being constructed on the platform). For example, Facebook’s internal use of Workplace is included as an example. Workplace as a product is a digital platform as it provides apps through the system, and it’s also an organisational platform as it enables cell based and multi-company networking, but it’s not a platform based organisation platform (!).

My favourite case study is Tencent as I think this makes Dave and Arthur’s ideas about platforms very clear. “Tencent shares its expertise and resources in technology, legal affairs, government affairs, and talent and organisation management with its strategic partners. For instance, Tencent offers technological and service infrastucture through Tencent Cloud…” In addition, Arthur's in-house consulting team “offers consulting, training, and coaching support to help key strategic partners upgrade their leadership, key talent, and organisational capabilities”.

Therefore, although the platform fits mainly within the structure element of an organisational systems model, there can also be an aspect which is more about the style that people work in, within and across their organisations, too.

Of course, none of this that new. That's not a criticism of the idea or the book, in fact it reinforces the suggestion that this is happening, and it is important.

Michael Arena - adaptive space


However, if you've not come across some of these examples of platform enabled organisation, then firstly, it already exists in Dave and Arthur’s case study organisations, even if this is largely limited to two main geographies.

But it’s also not that new in terms of the ideas being articulated as an organisation form. Eg the book's platform enabled organisations are similar to the following models which I have illustrated throughout this post:
  • Josh Bersin's network of teams (though this doesn't demand a platform)
  • Niels Pflaeging's value creation structure (with the informal network formalised through the platform)
  • Dave Gray's podular organisation (with a more formalised version of the technological part of his backbone making up for a less significant cultural aspect) 
  • Michael Arena's entrepreneurial teams and communities (once again, with the adaptive space network formalised through the platform)
  • McKinsey's agile organisation
  • BCG's dynamic platform structure
  • My own melded network organisation, from TSO.

In TSO, I focus internally within organisations so I only touch on external ecosystems. (I also don’t put much focus on internal platforms as I wanted to write about organisational management rather than the use of market mechanisms. In fact, for me, this is the best thing about Dave’s book - it’s packed full of case study evidence about platform enabled organisations and closely linked organisation forms.)

McKinsey - agile organisation


I agree, and do state, that internal and external are becoming more blurred. But for me, the best thing for most organisations to do is sort out their internal organisation - before they grapple with the additional complexity outside. These organisations can still create internal networks of teams, and use internal platforms.
 

In fact, although Dave’s organisational logic suggests we need to look externally, beyond a single organisation, before we look internally, most of the book’s examples focus on their internal networks of teams, not the way their ecosystem involve allies from outside the organisation.

In particular, the book’s other main case study, Supercell in Helsinki, is a great example of a network of teams approach. However, this company doesn’t really do much externally. Yes, it has partners with shared resources, as most organisations do these days, but I don’t see any evidence of an external ecosystem. And the company’s website provides interesting points about its team focus but says nothing to suggest it followed Dave’s new organisational logic in developing this.

Dave also suggests Amazon first created its capabilities within the organisation and only later magnified this throughout its ecosystem.



BCG - dynamic platform structure


Dave’s case studies also demonstrate that the model is fairly flexible in the way it is applied and suggests that it can be extended to other, non digital sectors, including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, finance, consulting and other professional services. For example, Walgreens / WBA’s stores and organisational management systems are seen as MOE cells and platform too. Now I’ve worked with Boots here, which is a great company, but not what I would understand as an ecosystem or even less so, a platform enabled organisation. But then if the model is going to potentially extend to any organisation I think you do need to interpret it quite loosely.

My insights from this are:
  • I do think it will be useful to look externally at potential parters and the opportunities for creating an ecosystem before focusing on internal organisation design (see TSO for how to do this internal piece). I’m fully persuaded of this evolution in organisational thinking.
  • This won’t always result in creating a MOE or even an external ecosystem and that is fine.
  • Regardless of this, creating an internal network of teams is an increasingly good idea. It provides many of the benefits of an MOE with less bother, and provides a great basis to extend externally later on as well (and one again, see TSO for how to create this internal network of teams, or other melded network options).

Jon Ingham - melded network organisation



More on creating a MOE in my next post.

(This is the last one: http://strategic-hcm.blogspot.com/2019/09/dave-ulrich-reinventing-organization-MOE.html.) 

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Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Social Leadership panel, plus Linda Hill and Julian Stodd



I participated in a panel at Symposium's Talent and Leadership Development conference earlier this month. The panel was on social leadership, which I thought was an interesting though rather surprising topic to be discussed in this sort of form. And I was even more surprised when the conference chair opened the session by suggesting that social leadership was an increasingly topical term.

However, I was pleased by the suggestion and do believe that social leadership is something we should be talking about, although I'm still not sure that many people are.

If it is a topical term, then this must be mainly due to the efforts of Julian Stodd, author of the Social Leadership Handbook, as well as various other linked publications and his blog



For Julian, social learning and leadership are required responses to the current Social Age, enabled by digital technology. I disagree with Julian on quite a bit of this. I don't think social collaborative technologies are a key part of social leadership, though they are certainly part of the reason that social leadership is needed. But leadership needs to be social however it's done, the technologies are just tools to help do it.

I also don't agree that social leadership subverts hierarchy. Hierarchical leadership isn't going to go away (neither are work, jobs or careers) and needs to be social as well.

And I don't agree that women are going to continue to earn less than men in the Social Age. I deal with this in The Social Organization. Social leadership is very much based on traits traditionally linked to women. This doesn't mean than men can't learn and demonstrate them, but it's often not the most natural way for many incompetent men to behave. The future belongs to socially competent women, and a few men, and rewards are going to shift to what's really important in this new world (I talked about this in my reward presentation in California too).

I'm also much more positive about HR!

But I do love Julian's key ideas about social leadership, eg that it is "authentic, grounded and free to anyone to develop, adapt and share. The starting point is 'How can I help you succeed?, not 'How can I get you to do...?'" And that humility sits at the heart of it. I also love the way that Julian acts as a social leader personally too. I may be an influencer / mover and shaker, and this can only be based on personal rather than positional influence (since I don't have a traditional position). But it's also achieved in rather traditional and perhaps rather egocentric, rather than more modern or social ways. I believe social leadership is important but I'm not putting myself forward as a role model of a social leader!

However, social leadership is something which is now being talked about by other people, even if they don't use the term. For example, at the California HR conference at the end of August, where I was speaking about reward innovation, my favourite session was from Linda Hill, author of Collective Genius. Linda spoke about leading innovation, but explained that this is about encouraging creative abrasion - a diversity of often competing and conflicting ideas; creative agility - testing ideas eg through design thinking by getting closer to the people you're designing for; and creative resolution - effective decision making vs either compromise or domination. So this is social leadership too.


I agreed with Linda's points, though I thought a lot of this was about organisation, not about leadership. Leaders need to ensure that the right organisation architecture is in place, but they don't necessarily need to design that architecture - this is a specialist competency and responsibility. What leaders need to do is to lead their people, and increasingly the networks between their people. This is the social bit. So I was pleased that Linda also recommended HR helping executives understand the network side of what they do.


However, this shouldn't just be about leaders' own personal, ego networks, which were the focus of Linda's presentation. It needs to extend to the development of broader organisational (and ecosystem) networks too. 

It also needs to extend to leaders' ability to form the right relationships and have effective conversations too. Linda referred to Boris Groysberg's work on leadership as a conversation which I think is great too.


But in my Symposium panel, I suggested that the role of leaders is also more complex than this. Firstly, leadership needs to be much more distributed than it is now. We do need everyone in any organisation to be a leader.

In addition, leaders need to lead all the various groups I refer to in The Social Organization. These include the teams doing the work of the organisation (especially when these are horizontal teams, not just groupings of individuals working in functions); communities of people relating with each other (I think communities can take a broader role than Julian); and the broader, more distributed networks of connections across the organisation. Innovation needs all of these to play an effective role (see Michael Arena, Adaptive Space) so leaders need to lead in each of these spaces too.

The main issue, which I describe in The Social Organization, is that leaders today tend to lose empathy as they rise up the organisational hierarchy (see, for example, Adam Galinsky, Friend & Foe). Is this because we promote and select the wrong people into leadership positions? (yes) Or because increasing power corrupts the people working in leadership positions? (yes as well) Either way, the move towards teams, communities and networks should help reduce the focus on hierarchy which is more evident and impactful in traditional functions.

But at the moment, there's not enough focus on helping executives, and others, develop empathy and humility, plus intimacy, interactivity, inclusion and intentionality, and create and support personal and organisational networks, and harness these in an increasingly varied set of organisational groups. So there are example of organisations that are doing great things in all the aspects of social leadership I've mentioned. And I was very impressed with the stories my co-panelists, Aimee Badcock at Philips and Robert Ritchie at Salford University, were sharing.

But I don't yet know of any companies which have completely transformed their approach to leadership development to do everything I've just listed here (eg differentiating leadership of communities from leadership of horizontal teams). And it is this which I think is now required as an effective response to the Social Age.

I've been doing more work with leadership teams on this agenda recently and do contact me if you want to know more:

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Monday, 23 September 2019

Dave Ulrich: Reinventing the Organization



I continue to be impressed by Dave Ulrich's ability to articulate the future of HR, leadership and organisation. Since my current focus is on organisational management, that applies in particular to Dave's recent focus on organisations, with the suggestion that organisation has four times the value of talent (in Victory through Organization). So I really appreciate Dave writing the Foreword to The Social Organization (TSO) too.

And now, writing with Arthur Yeung, Dave has once again moved his thinking on a significant notch. Reinventing the Organization deals with the formation of the Market Oriented Ecosystem (MOE) which I referred to when posting on Dave's and other sessions at the Drucker Forum in Vienna last year.

In many ways I see the book as a follow-on from mine. TSO dealt with the opportunity for melding networks, including the use of platforms, internally. MOE is a build on that, extending the ideas internally and developing them externally too. But I still believe that in the majority of cases, the first useful step to create a MOE might be to develop something more like the melded network from TSO. That then provides a great basis to develop this approach outside of the firm too (see more on this later).

Regardless of where you start, Dave’s book is by far the best book you can read to understand the development of platform based ecosystems, particularly over the last five or so years. It's a deep book, and quite hard going (for me, that's not a negative) so although I've been through the book twice, I need to spend quite a bit longer on it too. Therefore, my notes here summarise my early, rather than fully formed, thoughts.

However, I think I have now got my head around why Dave suggests the book provides an evolution in organisational thinking - a reinvention of the organisation rather than just incremental experimentation. Dave explains this as “reinvention means more than just changing people’s reporting relationships, building teams or announcing a new strategy. You must build a fundamentally new organisation, redefining how your organisation works. Besides understanding and shaping your work setting, you need to change how you coordinate the work, the principles that govern it, and your own and others’ leadership actions.”

If I'm correct, then Dave’s organisational reinvention isn’t about the MOE itself, but the way we see organisations which Dave suggests has progressed from a focus on structure (leading to a focus on hierarchy / bureaucracy) to one on more holistic organisations (the systems view of McKinsey’s 7S or Jay Galbraith’s Star model), and mainly through Dave’s own insights, onto the outcomes or capabilities which an organisation provides. I think TSO develops these ideas further too, describing how organisational forms and other options can be selected to provide the capabilities and organisation principles which are required. That logic applies to the selection of a MOE just as it does a functional, team based or other organisational form. So despite the following diagramme, I don’t think the MOE itself is the radically new idea.


The new idea - and I suppose it’s not that new, but as a result of this book, it’s now more strongly articulated, is that we should always think about an organisation’s ecosystem and not just an individual organisation. Eg I liked the suggestion that MOEs focus on stakeholders more than processes.

So actually, the new logic, I think, is to be clear about the external environment and the required capabilities, and then to develop the ecosystem, systems and structures to support them. I think that this is at least a partial reinvention of organisation design. So I’d adapt the diagramme like this:


By the way, the mini-slide I’ve chosen to illustrate capability on the top left in the above diagramme is the one from TSO showing how the different elements of an organisation from the systems perspective can link with the different aspects of capability, ie human, organisation and social capital. I still think that works for an ecosystem too, although the social capital needs to be extended to what I normally call relationships capital, which is the value of the connections and relationships outside of the single organisation.
 
You could argue, and maybe this is what Dave is doing, that the traditional ways of seeing systems and structures needs to be replaced by the key features of the MOE, which I explain in a later post. However, I don’t think that’s so. MOEs still have the 7S’s structures, systems, shared values, style, staff and skills, or the Star model’s people, rewards, processes and structure (see the ecosystem model from IRC4HR below), or whatever other set of elements you pick (eg in TSO I present the Organisation Prioritisation Model which focuses on work, infrastructure, people and connections as well as a largish number of organisation and HR enablers, which might not be a reinvention but is, I think, a bit more suited to today’s organisations, and ecosystems too).




Assuming that a reinvented organisation has got to have a particular feature takes us back to the first step in Dave’s evolution diagramme when we assumed all organisations had to have a hierarchical, functional structure, just with a more modern equivalent replacing this. I don’t see that as helpful and certainly don’t believe it would contribute to more evolved thinking. Much better to start with a set of core elements and then build up from there.

It’s still helpful to have an archetype. Dave’s three legged stool for HR is a good example of this, but that’s different to saying all HR organisations need to have three legs. Or that all organisations need to have a platform.

Dave actually suggests there are three archetypal MOEs but I’m just going to review their basic features - see my next MOE related post over the next few days for more on this.

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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

New opportunities in strategic HR


So I got into a bit of a rant with HRD Connect about people strategy.

It's probably not my best argued article but it might be one of my most passionate?

And look, I know many companies are doing this, but not enough. And for many, the ideas around creating value and people based business strategy are still completely new.

So they may be looking after their people reasonably well, sure, but are they thinking about their people as the centre of their strategic success? - doing that makes a lot of difference in my experience.



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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

HR Mover and Shaker




It's great to be included in HR Magazine's lists of HR most influentials again this year, and to meet so many other great HR people at the awards ceremony last night too.

Many thanks to Jenny Roper and all the judges.


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Monday, 16 September 2019

Top UK HR blog






“Employee experience and journey mapping are great, but can feel a bit like putting shiny engagement lipstick on a clunky organisational pig!” (Jon Ingham, 2019)


Jon Ingham is a consultant, author and speaker. His HR posts may be relatively infrequent (expect a few every month), but they’re consistently fascinating, and have been so since he first started his blog in 2007. Jon makes it easy to subscribe to his blog, too – as you’d expect from someone who’s professionally comfortable with technology. He was named one of the Top 100 HRTech influencers in 2019.


Twelve years after I started blogging I'm still delighted whenever someone tells me they read this blog, never mind finding it fascinating!

 I've told Changeboard I'm going to post a bit more regularly now too!
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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Employees first and the Business Roundtable



You probably know about the US Business Roundtable's redefinition of the role of the company recently - it was certainly all over the California HR Summit when I was there.

Like many, I'm a bit suspicious about the spin involved in this. I mentioned Jamie Dinon's complete lack of understanding about the realities of his workers' experience in my session, so for me, his inclusion in the signatories doesn't do much to support the statement and the claim that investing in employees starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. Perhaps if Dinon shared his £31m pay with his employees a bit more fairly I'd be a bit more convinced there's some meaning behind his stated desire to help the average American worker.

However, the statement can only be a step in the right direction, even if it's only a small step, and adds some weight to existing calls for more inclusive capitalism, going back to Charley Handy in the 1990s and more recently, Michael Porter's ideas on shared value.

I still think we need to reorder the first two commitments. The order should be employees, then customers, then finally, as the statement suggests, shareholders. That's the sequence in which businesses create value through their organisation, customer and financial value chains.


It's also the basis for creating value - providing new opportunities for a business rather than just supporting what a business already wants to do.  Ie we need to think about the role of the four value chains reading left to right, not just right to left.

The sequencing is supported by Glassdoor research as well, eg this piece recently:




And it should be the order of the prioritisations made by companies too.


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Monday, 9 September 2019

Informa Interview on Digital HR Transformation




I've been interviewed by Informa Middle East on my upcoming training courses on digital HR transformation in Dubai.

The interview is available on Informa's site, or you can read it below:


How are HR functions evolving in 2019 and beyond? 

HR is changing very dramatically. A lot of this, though certainly not all, is about digital technology. And the great thing about digitalisation is that HR is firmly connected to the agenda. We may not be doing very much - a number of surveys show that we are behind the curve on this compared to other functions. But we are certainly paying attention and looking for practical and impactful opportunities to move forward. That’s a change from recent times.

For example, I’d suggest the first wave of digital change was around social media. I got involved in blogs and wikis maybe 15 years ago but it took another 5 to 10 years before most HR functions started to take it seriously. And most of what we do in many areas, including recruitment, learning and communication has totally transformed as a result. But it’s not that long ago when I used to speak at conferences where the main theme seemed to be that there was nothing new going on in HR. I remember one event in particular where the chairman suggested that HR was very straight forward and not really changing, it is just about doing simple things well. Most people applauded politely but I fell off my chair I was so shocked to hear such insular and limited thinking. But I don’t hear that sort of statement now.

The other thing that has changed in business investment in HR and people technology. Up to about 5 years ago it seemed to be Finance, Procurement, Supply Chain and other areas which was getting all the investment and most new innovation was taking place in these areas too. Today, money is piling into HR technology, including our ability to handle data and perform analytics, and this means we’re much better able to take advantage of the digitalisation agenda.


What is HR Digitalisation?

Yes, sorry, I should have explained what I mean, although that’s harder to do than it might appear. The simple answer is that it is the impact of digital technology on HR. Going deeper than that depends on how you look at it and especially on whether you take a high level of more specific viewpoint, as there is no one single definition. 

From a very specific perspective, it is about how we deal with data in HR, and that we are using systems rather than paper plus manual entry of and updates to the data. But for me, digitalisation has to be more that just using an HR system as we’ve been doing that for decades but haven’t traditionally called it digital HR. So it is more about use of other, newer, disruptive technologies that enable us to do things in a very different way.

From a higher level perspective, I think it is also about how we respond to business (and workforce) digitalisation. Aligning with the business as it changes will always inform more change within HR than simply planning changes looking inwards. So it I think digitalisation needs to include these effects as well. For example, digital often means working in less hierarchical, more collaborative sorts of ways. Part of this is using a digital workplace and HR’s contribution to this. But a much bigger challenge usually is changing mindsets and behaviours to become more collaborative.

Lastly, it is about using the innovative opportunities provided by digital technology to approach HR in a different way and to be more ambitious about how we can support and also drive the transformation of our businesses within the new digital world of work as we continue into the fourth industrial revolution.


What are the key drivers that enable digital HR transformation?

Because digital HR has to align with digital business, one important enabler in the extent of digitalisation in the rest of the business. If the rest of the organisation is already using digital technology then it’s going to be very natural to extend this approach into HR. In addition, the workforce is likely to be more digital savvy then as well. Plus another common impact of digital is to weaken the boundaries between silos, so again, if the business is using digital, then it just makes it very natural, and pretty much a requirement, for HR to follow the same approach.

Despite the fact that digital does encourage collaborative, non-hierarchical behaviours, the hierarchy is and will probably always remain very important. This means that senior leaders’ sponsorship and role modelling of digital transformation is incredibly important too.

The workforce needs to be digitally savvy, but so does HR. I’ve already suggested that HR is much more interested in digital technology now. But we need to keep abreast of what is available, follow the case studies, and be aware it’s potential. And most importantly, have the creativity and insight to understand what could be different within our own organisations.

What else? Well, going back to my comments about digital needing collaborative behaviours, we need a connected workforce. One which uses the technologies effectively to collaborate and cooperate to do work, but avoids collaborative overload. And one which is transparent and empathic, which works together because people know it’s the right thing to do, rather than being lots of individuals jockeying for advancement, playing petty politics and engaging in turf warfare.


What steps are organisations taking to digitise their HR functions?

Going back to one of my previous answers, HR is paying attention to the businesses they are part of, and are getting closer to our workforces in order to understand how to better align with both of these. I’m particularly pleased to see more focus on approaches like design thinking and employee experience as I think this helps a lot in managing digital transformation as well as just being more broadly effective.

HR is already starting to digitally people management processes and organisation designs and development activities.

And it’s looking at how we can be more effective within the function itself. I think robotic process automation has caught on well, to reduce the manual side of HR’s operations. Analytics is becoming huge in the way and extent to which it is being used. And I think we understand that artificial intelligence is due to add significant benefits to our decision making, though it’s still early days for this in most companies.

But by the way, we’ve both used the term HR function a couple of times. I think one of the most interesting shifts is that we’re getting close to not needing functions. Digital helps us co-ordinate activities without needing to standardise absolutely everything or pull people together. And I’ve already said that it tends to push back agains silos. So I think groups like functions, service centres and centres of excellence are coming to an end, and we’re going to be able to organise people much more smartly, or perhaps let them organise themselves, into teams, communities and networks. This is early days again, but there are examples of HR organisations moving in this direction and finding considerable benefits from doing so.

I hope you can see this ‘evolution’ you referred to earlier is starting to feel a bit more like a revolution now.


What new skills will HR professionals be expected to demonstrate in this new business landscape of Industry 4.0?

From the more specific perspective, HR needs to understand the new digital technologies which are available, how they can be used and the benefits they can provide, and what data they produce and what analytical insight can be triggered with this. HR needs good analytical skills itself so it can interpret and require the appropriate analytics from the various technologies it uses.

But from the higher level perspective, you’re right that the whole landscape is changing too. That changes everything we need to know about and everything we do. For a start, HR can only use digital technologies effectively when we understand the business we are operating in, and can therefore contextualise our work. We also need to understand people. This has always been important but digitalisation makes business more human as well as more technologically enabled. So we need to be on top of key insights from psychology, sociology and anthropology. And also cognitive neuroscience, behavioural economics, design thinking and other areas.

And as I noted earlier, digitalisation also brings previously siloed functions together, and HR benefits from developing a good understanding of other closely related areas. This includes areas which are often already seen as part of HR, including organisation design, organisation development, and culture change etc. But it also includes IT, finance, marketing, procurement, property and facilities management.

But all of this, demanding as it is, is still only a start. Digitalisation also increases the speed of change. The half life of knowledge is already only about three years, ie every three years half of what we need to know becomes out of date. That’s regardless of any desire to progress in our careers. So in all of these multiple fields, there is going to be an ever increasing amount of new insight to learn. So I’d better add the abilities to learn and unlearn, both quickly and effectively, to our list!







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