Why Revolutions Matter in HR

Paul Hebert Culture, Current Affairs, Paul Hebert, Recruiting, Seat at the Table

FordtouchI (along with 130 other revolutionaries) spent the Mother’s Day weekend in Chicago planning the overthrow of the HR profession.  Well, actually, we planned the overthrow of poor HR practices, processes and procedures.

I attended and helped lead a session at the 2nd HRevolution “Unconference.”  This group is decidedly social media savvy so there are a lot of posts and tweets about the unconference.  99% were positive – and based on my experience, it was.

But the focus of this post isn’t on the content, the logistics, the people or the outcomes of HRevolution.

This post is why I think it is good to have a revolution in the first place and why you need to look for opportunities to foster and pay attention to revolutions.

Companies Evolve

Few, if any, companies stay exactly as they were when they were founded. The buggy-whip companies either went out of business or found a new market in adult stores in Amsterdam.  We are watching as Ford makes the transition from building simple transportation (cars) to building connected conveyances with Bluetooth, GPS, Facebook and twitter connections.  Ford is moving toward connectivity on the move from just “on the move.”

However, evolution rarely is smooth.  Most successful evolutionary traits come from discontinuities that occur at a point in time where that feature or benefit becomes valuable due to changes in the environment.

In other words – the change has to occur in the organism at the same time there is a change in the environment that makes that change valuable.  It’s a crap shoot many times.

Business Is The Same

Your company is an organism living in the competitive environment.  You, as an HR professional, are responsible for the way in which the organism adapts and changes based on that environment.  You need to be aware of the needs of the company today and tomorrow.  You need to recruit for needs today and the needs of tomorrow.  You need to train existing staff based on new needs in the new environment.

However, if you’re simply waiting until the change in the environment has already occurred, you are probably too late.

Revolutions are the discontinuities in the business environment.  Revolutions provide an early warning system to the normal organizational inertia to stay the same.  You, as an HR professional, can help your company by fostering faux revolutions.

Faux Revolutions

Put together a fake revolution for your company.  Ask a group of folks to gather and create the next step in your company evolution.  What direction will the company go?  What skills are no longer required to drive your business success?  What skills ARE required but not present in your current business mix?

I’m sure Ford never imagined how much they would need computer programmers to connect their vehicles to the internet via satellite.  No survey from customers told them that it was an unmet need.  I’m sure some revolutionary internally suggested that it would be cool to be able to update Foursquare or Facebook from their Fusion (can I get another F-word in there?  Probably, but this is a family site.)

My point is this.

As an HR professional – think about revolutions as a way to peer into a possible future and start preparing for it.  Be one of the organizers of the revolution – enable your staff to think about how they would want the future to be.  Gather folks together who can give you some insight into the weak signals in today’s business world that will ultimately become status quo in the future.

HRevolution didn’t solve all the problems in HR – but it did highlight some signals that need to be paid attention to today – in order to be ready tomorrow.

Evolve quickly by creating small revolutions on a regular basis – I believe forward thinking HR folks will be sponsoring their own internal HRevolution soon – or should!