Wednesday, 4 July 2012

What should be the CIPD’s new strategy?


   You may have noticed that the CIPD did select one of my top ten choices for their new CEO – Peter Cheese – who started work there this week.  And like every new CEO, I’m sure Peter is busy thinking about the new directions he wants to take the organisation in.

Well, since the CIPD took my advice last time (even if they paid Sam Allen Associates for it), I’m encouraged to provide a spot more input.  What direction should the CIPD now move in?

Here are five points to start:


1.   Developing more focus on Strategic HR (or HCM)…

One of the problems for the CIPD is that it’s not separated in the way of ICAEW and AAT for Accountancy etc.  That means the institute needs to cover both operational and strategic activities and it suffers because of the difficulties that HR generalists used to suffer before Ulrich’s strategic partner / admin expert split.

One option would be to bifurcate though I’m not actually suggesting this.  However if it does remain as one organisation it needs to ensure it’s the strategic agenda which gets more weight.  HR (and business as a whole) is an an inflection point – and this means HR / HCM strategy is more important now than it’s ever been before.

The previous CEO wasn’t an HR strategist (eg her comment: “I mean, what is strategic HR?”).  Peter is.  And it’s time to highlight our increasingly strategic agenda.

This doesn’t mean that the CIPD needs to promote one approach.  Next generation HR was a mistake when there are a broad variety of possible new generations.  It’s fine as a blogger – I need to promote a single perspective in order to get heard.  A professional institute needs to reflect the complexity and diversity which exists.  Its purpose shouldn’t be to direct practitioners in one single direction, but to develop thinking about the different routes they may want to take.  The key is to help practitioners think about these options for themselves.


2.   …. Including more focus on Social HR

As I explained in my last post, social capital is increasingly important compared to human capital and forms a major part of HR’s inflection.  Social HR is going to be the big new theme for quite a few more years.

This isn’t just about social media, but technology is a key new enabler for a more social approach to managing people – and more importantly, the relationships between them.

The CIPD does understand this – which is why it has produced the report I describe in my last post (Peter already gets it too) - but the institute also needs to put much more focus into this new agenda – eg it needs to be a big focus in the annual conference (see below).

And the CIPD needs to use social media much more itself too (the digital team are doing some great work already, but social media still needs to be much more widely adopted across the organisation), role modelling the broader use of these technologies across HR which is an increasingly important requirement.

It’s either this, or other functions will continue to shake their heads at our social illiteracy.   And of course, we’ll also fail to capture the opportunity to transform our processes, and the effectiveness of the organisations we work within.


3.   Being more social itself ie more membership based

The last two points refer to what HR / the CIPD need to do.  This point is about how it needs to work.

Using social media more is part of this too, but again being social is about more than just using technology.  It’s a wider point about how all key stakeholders – especially the CIPD’s members – are included in formulating its agenda.

The key opportunity for this is to make more of the CIPD’s local groups.  These need to receive much more support and attention as they provide the main opportunity available to the CIPD to get close to its members.  OK, a lot of these groups are less than dynamic but if they were supported, if they had a proper role in the CIPD’s policy development, then they’d attract more of the broader membership too.

The existing groups could also be supplemented in various ways, eg through sector based groups, interest groups etc.  And each of these groups should be supported to develop their own ideas, and conduct the research which they see as appropriate.

To do all of this, ‘CIPD Towers’ needs to see itself less as a head office, and much more of a facilitating and co-ordinating group, helping share and draw out key points from all of its members.


4.   Getting rid of Bridge (spit!)

By far the worst decision of the previous administration was to buy the CIPD its own HR consultancy, Bridge.  I’ve heard less about this group recently, but the CIPD are promoting their own consultancy services even more actively .  This makes no sense at all and if I ever was to stop my membership of the institute it is the fact that I am paying into something to help it compete with me (not that it ever will compete with me effectively, hah!) that will almost certainly be the the main reason.

Besides this, once the CIPD has managed to get closer to its members, it will be able to achieve the same results – and more – by partnering with member consultants, not competing with them!

Get rid of it Peter!


By the way, I enjoyed attending the CIPD’s opening in Singapore last year, and hope Sarah and Stuart are still having a good time there.  But I don’t understand the strategy.  Partner with CIPD members in Singapore by all means, but that doesn’t mean having to have an office there.  I think the real reason for being in Singapore is to support Bridge.  Sell Bridge, and they don’t need to be in Singapore.


5.   Developing these themes through the conference

The CIPD’s annual conference is still the institute’s main set-piece but is much less impressive than it was.  Improving it might involve being more strategic, being more social, using social media, involving groups and members, and of course, not involving Bridge.

One way of achieving all of these benefits would be to have me as a speaker!  Despite being an increasingly popular speaker all around the world I’ve not been invited to speak (outside the exhibition, eg my sessions on blogging and tweeting last year) by my home institution since February 2008.  That means CIPD members are missing out on some of the most strategic and social thinking about HR than exists – in the UK and elsewhere (I know that’s blowing my own trumpet, but that’s better than referring you to the various other commentators which have made these points themselves).

Apparently this year’s conference is going to feature mostly practitioners – so I, and therefore the CIPD members, are likely to miss out once again.  I think that’s a mistake.  Yes, all conferences need to include a good proportion of practitioners, but consultants do play an important role, and it’s here that new thinking tends to emerge.

I repeat the same point – HR’s at an inflection point, and if Peter, and the CIPD, wants members to understand what this is about, they really need me on that stage.


Of course, we shouldn’t forget about unconferencing.  ConnectingHR has shown conference organisers how successful conference-type events can be when developed through a more social lense.  The CIPD could make a lot more use of this type of approach (though incorporating other more social features like just ensuring all presentations have a good amount of time for Q&A would be a great place to start!).

And whilst I’m on the topic of the conference, I might as well note the issue which all members already understand which is that the current venue / location is wrong.  If we can’t go back to Harrogate, can we move to, or switch between, smaller places like Blackpool and Bournemouth - or just move about the country like SHRM?  Whatever the solution it needs to be somewhere in which people can stay more connected than is possible in Manchester.

Or, how about getting all the local groups to find somewhere within their geographies, and we get people together like that – and then use social technologies (live video streaming, status updating etc)  to link all these different groups together?  That would give enterprise 2.0 folk in other functions something to think about and could be a really, really interesting and productive conference / unconference event as well.



So – do you agree on the above?  Do let me – and Peter - know if you do – and more importantly, if you don’t.

Plus, of course, I’ve only suggested five points here  – do you want to add any personal suggestions, and we’ll see if we can get to ten?



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