Friday 30 June 2017

Review of The Social Organization

I love this review of The Social Organization by People Management's editor, Robert Jeffery:

"A complex, serious book brimming with ideas that challenge HR convention, such as reward structures or the concept of organisational values, with genuine panache."
"An important, realistic and frequently inspirational book that implores HR to do things differently - and isn't afraid to show it how."

You can buy your own copy here, or at Amazon etc.

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Thursday 29 June 2017

Influential HR Leaders

Thanks to CoreHR for including me in their list of 9 Influential HR Leaders You Should Follow on Twitter.

Please do! - I'm at @joningham - 

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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.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

#HRVision17 - DaVita - da community company

I had a great couple of days in Amsterdam at Osney Media's HR Vision conference last week where I did a keynote on moving focus from individuals to groups. I described how most organisations have four main types of group, each of which need to be treated differently, which are hierarchical functions, horizontal project teams, networks and communities (from The Social Organisation).

Organisations often prioritise one of these types of group as well and it was great to see a session from Gwen Burbidge from DaVita, which sees itself as a community first, and a company second. And yes, this means it does work differently from most other companies which are mainly based on hierarchical functions.

Gwen, pictured above, also used the metaphor of a village several times, which I use in the Social Organization too. The company's CEO is called the major. The slide in the above picture provides a couple of snapshots of DaVita employees and cultural artefacts. For example, one is of the three musketeers, and their motto 'one for all and all for one' is frequently heard in the organisation.

This isn't a small company though, it's a community of 70,000 team mates which is something quite special, I think.

A lot of this comes from intentionality, i.e. the actions they take to make it a community. One of my favourite points is that everyone has their own favourite walk-on music! I'm not quite sure how this works but imagine their offices get quite noisy around 9, 1 and 5.00.

The mayor often asks intentionally directed questions, for example what is it your parents taught you that you are still very grateful for, what should be be improving, and what was your DaVita crazy moment in the last six months?

They also have start / stop / continue meetings, announced in advance so that introverts can prepare for them, and they often look for someone who knows about an area to lead these.

All senior staff participate in reality days where they go and work at a clinic at 6.00am with the team mates working there.

The purpose of all this is to create a place where people want to work (or a village they want to live in). The metaphor here is like it being a mix of air and water - they want to be profitable, but they know this needs them to be a good place for people.

It's a terrifically impressive case study, and definitely the sort of organisation I'd love to work in, if I was ever going to again. In The Social Organization, I write about maverick organisations which manage their people completely differently from 99.999% of the world's businesses, and I'd definitely put DaVita in this list of companies.

I was a little disappointed when I asked about how DaVita's HR processes are different as a consequence of them being a community, as there didn't seem to be any. That can't be a good choice. Although they have just implemented Workday which is probably a good fit.

You may also be interested in the slides from my keynote:

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Enterprise Digital interview on The Social Organization

I've been interviewed on The Social Organization for the Enterprise Digital conference.

The book is available at Use code AHRTSO20 for a 20% discount.

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Saturday 3 June 2017

The Social Organization out in the UK

Great to see my new book, The Social Organization, out in the UK.

Use code AHRTSO20 on the Kogan Page website for a 20% discount