All posts filed under: People Management

Should we kill the OrgChart?

All HR professionals know that one of the biggest struggle in Organisational Design, is to get managers to move away from simply reasoning in terms of “Organizational Charts”. I guess you all have faced the common scenario in which a manager involves you in the need of an organisational change, and starts the discussion… with an already drafted Organisation Chart. What should be the last step in a articulated process, becomes instead an assumption, which too often ends being a self-fulfilling prophecy, where change is often just a way to achieve other goals. Probably this is one of the main reason why some authors have already started wondering if we should definitely kill the OrgChart, also as a tool to simply guarantee compliance, or at least just write it in pencil. In a very interesting post about the Five Myths of Organisational Design, Naomi Stanford goes to the origin of the word myth to explain the one she has selected first: Design is about the organisation chart. “The myth arises from thinking that the formal …

What is the Purpose of a Company?

The recent statement issued by the Business Roundtable on corporate purpose, has raised a lot of media attention and buzz on professional networks like LinkedIn. Although the statement itself is not as revolutionary as it seems, (already the 1981 version did also acknowledge the importance of multiple constituencies for companies’ long-term success). Yes, for sure the 1997 version did focus a lot on shareholder’s primacy, and overall its true that aligning 200 CEOs around such a statement must have been a difficult endeavor. As HBR underlines, the question is what are the effects of this statement going to be. Multiple authors and academics have focused on the risks of excessive focus on Shareholder value (Ralph Gomory is just one of the many names, that has been focusing on Corporate Goals). This declaration is not setting out a new world of corporate affairs though. the language of the preamble suggests that it is little more than a new description of what CEOs already do—or believe they do. This is why a lot of the articles and commentary, that …

Beyond Generation Stereotypes

In a recent article by Gillian Tett under the title “It’s time to stop talking about Millennials“, the author highlights an important lesson we often face everyday at work: talking of generations in terms of “absolute identities” is not only wrong, but can result in pure discriminations. We’ve got all used to think in terms of distinct generational cohorts, especially thanks to the Advertising Industry. However, this has quickly expanded also to a lot of HR domains, with Recruiting, performance, and the “world of management” trying to make sense of the new generation inflow into the workforce. It all started about half a century ago, when economists first started to talk about “baby boomers” to refer to people born after World War II. Then came Generation X, then the “Millennials” and now the next one: often called Generation Z, although other descriptors exist. However, the Millennial label is the one that tends to generate most tensions (although I believe the Gen Z one will, eventually, be even worse). Baby boomers and Gen Xs grumble that …

What should HR be?

One of the most interesting concepts that I’ve been able to capture at UNLEASH18 in Amsterdam this week, relates to the constant discussion about the role of HR. In a presentation held by Bersin by Deloitte, a new concept has been presented that I can relate a lot to. The idea of Ambient HR. Imagine that HR is the electrical wiring in the walls. It’s essential, and the product of thoughtful design & craft. But when we need light to do work, we don’t waste time wondering about the wiring in the walls. Definitely an interesting concept. That puts into question the current assumption of HR as “Business Partner”, challenging the idea that it should have “a special seat” at the table, one of the long-time discussions that marked HR practitioners calls for the last few years. The idea is that HR is vital (like electricity in our modern era), but it should not be treated as a “special” guest or as an addition to normal business processes. Way to often the tendency is to …

Building Digital Transformation: a Role for HR

In a very interesting article just appeared on the McKinsey Quarterly, Tanguy Catlin and his collaborators address four “key fights” that organisations need to address to be able to achieve a real Digital transformation. If there’s one thing a digital strategy can’t be, it’s incremental. The mismatch between most incumbents’ business models and digital futures is too great—and the environment is changing too quickly—for anything but bold, inventive strategic plans to work. And yet seems too many organisations are just focused on short-term incremental approaches. Digital is seems invariably as just “one portion” or “one addition” to elements we already do, not a strategic choice that need to permeate the entire organisation. Which result in Digital being seen just as a “channel“, or as a new “form of communication”, or as a “new ways of servicing”, or just as a way to do product innovation. Often this recalls me a metaphor that my first mentor, Franco D’Egidio, used to recall the attitude of many organisations to just pursue incremental change, often landing on the opposite …

Disrupting HR: start thinking of HR Customer Service

After many years of discussion and implementation of the HR Transformation framework developed by Dave Ulrich, very few organizations have been really “able” to undertake one of the key challenges posed by that concept: evolving into a true service organization. Many organizations declare to have successfully implemented the model. The key is of course how is success measured. Very often the issue is that HR transformation has been solely pursued with a cost-saving goal, and thus success has been eventually measured by the dollars the HR organization has saved. But at what cost? Way too often the result is a service organization that is distant (not only physically) from the needs of the employees. Managers have effectively to undertake too many HR tasks designed by HR for HR, not really having in mind the different approach a line manager would have. HR Business Partners that maintain the HR generalist mindset, not having evolved in terms of competencies through the transformation, and that continue to pursue HR tasks instead of being actor of the business support. Failing to …

Against the Big Data revolution

Ok, I must really say that I start to get afraid of this hunt for “Big Data” in HR. Apparently on the blogosphere and in the HR domain there is nothing else to talk about. Up to the point that somebody labels this as a A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think. Don’t get me wrong, a lot around this is inevitable. We are producing more and more data everyday. Somebody should be able to do something with it. What I do question is this hunt for a miracle recipe that is lying within this huge amount of data, sort of resembling the famous needle in the haystack. And apparently there’s somebody that holds the secret recipe (in the form of an IT system) to find it. Sorry, but I don’t buy this. First of all because the issue is to define what we are looking for, and not explore the data just for the sake of it. As any student of statistics can demonstrate, give me enough data and I can demonstrate practically …