HR Congress 2019 in Nice – Key TakeAways (Day 2)

The HR Congress in Nice - Day 2

I’m attending the HR Congress 2019 in Nice, and after my First Day Report, here are the wrap-up of the second day’s sessions.
I tried to pull up the key learnings from the day and the main ideas that struck me.

Intro session

The morning plenary session was again moderated by Nigel Barlow, who also “won” the task to deliver the second speech of the day as prof. Adrian Furnham was, unfortunately, absent. In his intro, he made an excellent point about asking what’s the future of humans in the future of work, linking back again with the Human side of HR we need to focus on.

An exciting keynote came from Vishen Lakhiani, entrepreneur and founder of Mindvalley. He spoke about “Hacking Cultures” to be more successful, creating a strong tie with the topic of Resilience seen on Day 1. He has introduced a fascinating concept, looking at four critical motivators of Human Actions (Meaning, Growth, Abundance and Happiness), that he has related to Maslow’s pyramid.

The 4 key motivators and Maslow's Pyramid. Source: Vishen Lakhiani.
Fig.1 The Four key motivators and Maslow’s Pyramid. Source: Vishen Lakhiani.

The key focus as an organisation should be to establish the correct “footprint” of where we want to stand around those four motivators and intentionally design our culture to support each of these.

Culture is not something that should be seen in isolation, however, but rather as something that is part of a Growth Mindset.

The Philosophy of Growth. Source: Vishen Lakhiani.
Fig.2: The Philosophy of Growth. Source: Vishen Lakhiani.

To really ”hack our culture for growth” we need therefore to look at actions under each motivator:

  1. Belonging: creating a culture of connection
  2. Esteem: make people relish life
  3. Growth: give opportunities for continuous learning
  4. Meaning: make it more than ‘work’.

Nigel Barlow went back on stage, illustrating his Build a Garage model for innovation. Luckily I was not in last year’s conference as it was a piece already used (see below)

Video: Nigel Barlow Garage Innovation

The main takeaway is, again, that you need to be intentional to foster creativity. You need to create both physical and mental space for it to happen.

Specialized Tracks

I jumped in between the Employee Experience and Talent track today.

Max Hunter interestingly pointed out about a key discussion point of this event being the tension between the focus on Talent (i.e. the individual) and Culture (i.e. the whole). I will come back on this topic in another post, as I think it’s really an interesting point in our professional journey.

  • The Power of Storytelling was brilliantly illustrated by Melissa Boggs, Chief Scrum Master at the Scrum Alliance. She correctly points out that stories are essential to sustain change because Stories get told anyway. If we don’t make room for the positive stories, we will be left with the negative ones that will circulate in any case. Gossips alone are storytelling. And she made a high point about the most important ones being the stories we tell ourselves. How much of a difference does it take when we tell us that we will succeed?
  • Volker Jacobs presented the result of the research The State of Employee Experience, showing the importance of this topic across the board. Interesting to notice how each stream speaker has been mentioning the concept of EX< although from different points of view. Plus EX should not necessarily be a costly endeavour. Also, in scale-up scenarios, it is essential to start with the resources available, stated Ellie Terry.
  • Great session on Culture Change by Siobhan McHale, which presented her focus on patterns recognition and analysis to sustain Change. A good reminder that culture is not only made of Employee Experience (although this has a significant influence) but rather is a crucial component in how we can reach real transformation. Sher’s soon release a book, and looks at four steps in a change journey:
    • Diagnosing Patterns
    • The Power of Reframing
    • Breaking the Pattern
    • Consolidate the gains
  • Needless to say that her book is already on preorder in my Kindle account:-)
  • Marc Stigter presented his new approach to cultural analysis through the concept of developing a Culture Blueprint. This to avoid the issue of complexity in analysing and changing the culture. Going down to what is truly important is critical when managing a complex system such as culture.
  • Everyone owns the employee experience is the crucial learning from the Vodafone case presented by Catalina Schveninger. A genuinely fundamental realisation in the journey to implement real employee experience. Another essential understanding came that after making employee experience touchpoints that are valid for regular times, you also need to understand the important life moments that are key for the employees. Whether it’s a move, a birth, a divorce… Many moments affect individual employees lives and have an impact on their experience. She then went more in detail on the current experience with redesigning learning around experience, a revealing journey.
  • What do you do if your company employees 550,000+ workers? You make this workforce the primary component of your corporate strategy in delivering value for customers and ultimately for shareholders. This is the case of Deutsche Post DHL, presented by Ralph Wiechers. The way the EVP is developed gets tailored to each different role, across the 220+ countries and multiple business models they operate in. Employee experience design needs to be heavily decentralised because it needs to be relevant for the people. Technology becomes essential to then deliver at scale personalised solutions, for example, using recommendations engines. A proof of concept has been developed, which is now focused on data acquisition through effortless tools (e.g. import from online tools like LinkedIn). This will enable the technology to deliver value.

Closing Sessions

The closure is down to Dave Ulrich, probably one of the most misunderstood management gurus in the world. It’s a problem when you are the father of modern HR, but when your model has aged already but is hold tight by too many consulting companies around the world. However, people don’t often listen to his most recent ideas.

What’s the best thing we can give as HR to an employee today?

It’s an organization that wins in the marketplace.

Dave Ulrich

His newly crafted thinking has looked at companies that are scaling fast and are innovative. Companies are moving from being hierarchies to becoming Market Oriented Ecosystems. In this framework we as HR need to become architects of the organisation. An idea that I can really connect well with.

HR Congress 2019 in Nice - Key TakeAways (Day 2) 1
Fig. 3: Principles of Market Oriented Ecosystems by Dave Ulrich

This new role will happen by displaying six new areas of competences for HR:

  • Appreciate and anticipate the Changing Environment, helping organisation develop this competence.
  • Clarify and facilitate an agile strategy implementation.
  • Diagnose and embed unique capabilities for the organisation.
  • Design and deliver new ecosystem organisations
  • Architect and implement the new governance, with the appropriate talent mix
  • Build and coach the appropriate leadership.

By doing the above, we as HR are delivering upon the promise of creating organisations that genuinely win on the marketplace, fulfilling the mission he clearly had illustrated. How energizing can this be?

Here to an end. As usual, lots of food for thought. There are no radical new ideas about HR, but am comforted to see a lot of my thinking shared, discussed and in some cases challenged from different angles and points of views.

And you? did you find these topics interesting?

(Report of Day One is available here)

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  1. […] Taghi from Deutsche Post DHL. I had already seen a presentation during the HR Congress in Nice, but her point of view added some flavour on the journey they are doing. Her presentation title […]

  2. […] for its Development. Their holistic approach is instead really focused on bridging that gap between Talent and Culture we have recently seen […]

  3. […] and Leadership is another way of looking at the debate we have seen during this year’s HR Congress, on the role of HR: is it about Culture or Talent? It also gives a new perspective on how […]

  4. […] The first report in chronological order is TI-People State of Employee Experience 2019 Research Report. TI-People is a consulting company solely focused on Employee Experience, that has recently launched the concept of the EXI – Employee Experience index. The report was presented at the HR Congress in Nice.  […]

  5. […] it seems the next iteration is that of looking at organisations that form an Ecosystem. We have already mentioned in the past the model suggested by Ulrich et al of a Market-Oriented Ecosystem. But more space is […]

  6. […] by Siobhan McHale, an HR leader with deep expertise in Culture Change. I had met her at the HR Congress in Nice, where she led a session on Culture Change, anticipating the key concepts highlighted in this […]

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