Friday, 4 March 2011

The Big Rethink in HR


Winter newsletter  So what does the Big Rethink look like within HR?

You may be interested in these notes on innovation in HCM from my Winter newsletter:


Unfortunately innovation is not something that is seen as a priority by many businesses (see this article and this one in the FT for example).

I think this is a shame. Yes, HR’s role in enabling innovation within the business is a highly important one, but innovating its own approach and processes is increasingly important too. And it is an area crying out for innovation. After all, Laszlo Bock at Google points out:

“HR is still essentially doing talent reviews the same way they were done 40 years ago, and doing compensation the way it was done 20 years ago.”


Also, as Gary Hamel and Julian Birkinshaw stress, the main opportunities for innovation are increasingly moving from products, services and business models to organisational management.And although these authors gives examples of non-people management innovations (for example in time and expense reporting!), the main opportunities they discuss fall clearly within HR.

This is why I suggest HR teams need to focus less on best practices and more on next practices, and best fit. ‘Maverick’ organisations such as Semco,Netflix, Zappos and HCL Technologies show the scope of what is possible, and their approaches can be adopted by more ‘normal’ organisations in modified form as well.


Want to innovate your HR strategy and processes?  Let’s chat.


You may also be interested in this webinar on innovation in HR, scheduled for 12th July.


My other Big Rethink posts:




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  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com



  1. Hi Jon - it's refreshing to hear an influential voice advocating the need to consider 'best fit' HR.

    There is a perceived safety in reaching for best practice solutions, sometimes without evaluating whether they'll fit the organisation.

    I consdider best fit HR as an approach that understands all the best practices, but uses an understanding of the organisation objectives and culture when devising HR answers.

    I collaborated with a colleague to write a paper exploring this further (it may be even make it to their blog!), which is here:

    Let's not walk away from best practice completely. You have to be a best practice virtuoso before you can extemporise convincingly ...

  2. Well said John,
    This is something I plan to be working more on this year. I see pockets of innovation, but the challenge seems to be in driving wider adoption. Remember Maverick?

  3. Hi Dom, I wrote a lot about best fit vs best practice in my book - and linked HRM to the pursuit of best practice, but HCM is all about best fit.

    Thomas, no, I've absolutely not: Maverick boss Richard Semler's company is Semco which I refer to in my post!


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