Looking at 2010 and beyond, HR and people management activities will only increase their value, recognition and influence through the application of new technologies or methodologies.
The first factor which determines the success of this is the ability of something to enhance the economic contribution of people management activities.
The second factor is the ability of the new approach to change people's day to day activities for the better.
Put another way, the acid test of any new method or technology is its ability to convey a sense of intuitive value within minutes, deliver something meaningful in a few hours and ensure that these benefits are sustained over the quarters and years.
What History Teaches Us
Looking back over history, there are many examples of new technologies and methodologies which both increased value and changed processes.
- Henry Ford's Production Line
- Containerisation and Transportation
- Just in Time Manufacturing and Supply Chains
- Derivatives and Securitisation
- Enterprise Resource Planning
- Personal Computers
- Six Sigma
- The Internet
- Mobile Phones
In the main, all of the above have enhanced the economics of the organisations who have employed them. Likewise, they have been significant enough to change the operations of a function or organisation and potentially create a strategy that a CEO can take to shareholders.
It is also worth noting that despite the relative age of the examples above, all are still all very much in use today.
Creating a Context
Naturally at this time of year, there is no shortage of conversations with thoughts for the coming year, along with reviews of both 2009 and the decade that has just passed.
Researching the HR Profession of the Future
Perhaps the most significant contribution to the conversation came from the CIPD and Jackie Orme's speech in November.
That link between culture, leadership and sustainable performance is exactly the focus of our Next Generation HR research... In particular, the need to deliver both short- and long-term results in a way that protects the future. We’ve got an impressive and varied array of organisations taking part in the research. Some are on the stage this afternoon. But they’re all helping us to identify the beginnings of the big shifts that will help define the HR profession of the future.
While these ideas have merit and the research is aways going to increase relaibility, I think the real opportunity lies elsewhere. Likewise, a small survey by Jon Ingham suggests that there are other things to take into account including Social Business and HR 2.0, amonst others.
HR and Technology
What is missing from this is a focus on new technologies or methodologies which impact both the economics and processes of an organisation who adopts them.
There has been a lot of talk around social media and HR. The implications being seen as potentially very positive and transformative. While social media and Enterprise 2.0 is potentially highly disruptive, its very nature suggests that it alone won't re-cast people management or the perceived value it offers. For me, it is a case of 'watch this space'.
JP then chimes in with an idea that combines the technological (platforms) with the intrisicly human (trust).
Stewardship, my word for 2010, is based on platforms. Those platforms need to be underpinned by trust. Not the trust of physics but the trust of biology. Because that is how value is going to be generated.
Now that's more like it...
Happy New Year!