Sunday, April 12, 2015

HR Innovation

Innovation even at functional level, needs to be seen in the context of business level strategy.
HR is the steward of business’s most valuable asset-people, and thus, it plays strategic role in business transformation. HR is uniquely positioned to provide senior levels with a 'sanity check.' Is there a disconnect between HR real-time experience of what is needed, and leadership development at the top? How would you look at this situation from an internal communications and relational perspective? Is there a leverage point somewhere? What if you're in HR and really feel you're working with vintage models, or focusing on the wrong problems. Or put simply, how do you manage HR innovation effectively?

Innovation even at functional level, needs to be seen in the context of business level strategy. The business strategy of the organization may not be predominantly innovation based. Most departments suffer from lack of innovation in some way or another; even the departments that are supposedly specialists in that very thing. HR is often charged with providing the tools and training to facilitate models coming alive. There is a lot of talk about the need for 'next generation' leadership for sustainable performance in business environments that have become very complex very fast. In terms of implications on a management practice level, real innovations in HR territory seem to be very difficult to achieve. The culture has to invite and encourage innovation. Innovation in HR requires two basic things...not mutually exclusive of one another yet not required for both to be present, either.

Guts: HR needs to partner with organizational leadership to solve the big issues and set the bold course for people management. Quite often, when sitting to discuss conditions with C-levels, they are unclear as to their business' direction! HR should not assume business and organizational leaders have the critical information that they need to develop an HR strategy. Another example of where "guts" comes into play: Based on the information available, HR must be willing at times to take action when complete information is unavailable. In such instances, the knowledge, skill and savvy along with the confidence has greatly impacts the results of actions be taken. In terms of innovation, complex business challenges require an experimental approach, not an experienced approach. That takes guts. Innovation is about emerging practice. It's become much easier to justify taking actions where elite organizations have already performed implementation and achieved some degree of success. Many times, the organization seeks the safety net far too quickly in the planning rather than allowing the innovative spirit a freer reign. The needs to be able to justify seems to have taken precedent over the challenge associated with pioneering innovation.

Trust: In most companies, leadership is driven from the top levels of a company. It is this level who set the stage. It is much easier to consider implementing new thoughts when the C-level executive team in your organization trusts your judgments and your ability to produce. When HR earns support from organizational leadership that proposed initiatives will achieve predictable outcomes - You will gain acknowledgement and trust that you can solve the challenges which surface within the organizations. The problem is it requires a radically different approach and an abandonment of the drive for best practices and benchmarks. If HR is to make a breakthrough, it should configure itself to drive differentiated value for the unique organizational challenges, opportunities, culture, products, markets etc. Trust is not a one-way street, HR should be the first to start building the relationship in a way that management can understand.

Change is inevitable, a HR function supporting an organization that needs innovation for competitive advantage must look different and deliver different value from one that must enable operational excellence, culture of innovation, capability building and talent empowerment.


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