Thursday 2 December 2010

Thoughts on the HRO Europe Summit 2: Presenting with Peter Cappelli


  So as I wrote last Friday, the week before last, I was in Amsterdam for the HR Outsourcing (HRO) Europe conference and was on a panel together with:

  • Consultants Andy Spence and Jane Owen Jones
  • Nigel Perks from one of my old clients, BT Global Services
  • Peter Cappelli from Wharton.


Cappelli had just presented on his Talent on Demand book before the panel.  He certainly presents a persuasive (and well practiced!) case.  But I’ve posted my challenges here twice before (1, 2) and I’m still not convinced.

So, I posted previously that:

In fact, the very best organisations will be doing the very opposite of what Cappelli suggests.  This isn’t about being an academy organisation, but truly treating people as sources of competitive success.  Taking advantage of this opportunity is about finding the best people and bringing them into an organisation, knowing that they will create advantage for an organisation (eg job sculpting) rather than just plugging them into a particular hole in the organisation.


So in the panel, I talked about carer partnership – which I’ve posted on previously, and can feel I’m going to do again.  And I urged people to be creative – to learn from the mavericks like Netflix, Zappos, HCL Technologies etc. And do something different to everyone else.

Yes, I know you already know this…. But you’re not doing it are you?  (In fact, credit where it’s due – Cappelli did have a good line to close with: “Companies are talking about it, but they’re not doing anything about it.”  Spot on.)


I also thought Cappelli’s proposals originated from a very US based mindset and were out of alignment with the way things work in Europe, so I felt even more dissonance than I did when I saw him present the same presentation at the HCI Summit two years ago.

I’m sure Cappelli must get challenged on this (and I’m sure he would have been in Amsterdam if he’d left more time for questions). And he did say that that his ideas applied less in Europe, but left it at that.

Actually, I think the challenge applies elsewhere as well. For example, maybe not in China, but certainly in India which Cappelli referred to as well (see his new book). So when Cappelli was asked about the opportunities of reinstating a ‘family model’ to keep employees for longer he said that this can’t work. But of course, in India (and even elsewhere in Indian firms) it often does – see my post on HCL Technologies for an example.


So I wish Cappelli could have contextualised his presentation for the European market and to bring in a focus on outsourcing (as David Fairhurst managed to do in his presentation on McDonald’s).

So actually the key point for me would be to encourage conference organisers to stop booking keynote speakers who trot out the same presentation time and time again for years at a time (pretty much word for word in this case) – particularly now you can simply look these up on someone’s blog!


By the way, I construct a new presentation every time I speak, so it’s always fresh and aligned to the particular event I’m speaking at. I’m probably not as expensive as Peter Cappelli either. Just thought you’d like to know…



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