Always in Beta

Mark Fogel Change, Change Management, HR (& Life!) Advice, Innovation, Mark Fogel

One of my clients refers to itself as “always under construction”…that’s another way of saying you’re always in Beta… This has been their tagline for close to twenty years and they truly are always under construction in every way they approach business including HR and Talent…

But what is Beta?

Webster’s defines it as:

a stage of development in which a product is nearly complete but not yet ready for release

Are you a finished product or are you in need of tinkering? Are you truly open to flexing and adapting continuously?

I have worked for a couple of organizations, over the past twenty years, that have “continuous improvement” as a call to action for their entire enterprise. The HR function was included in that, however to some extent we weren’t able to practice what was being preached.

HR and Talent teams are often paralyzed by change, as we like to build things for the long term. What I mean by that is we (as a function) build or implement something and then it stays stagnant…sometimes for years.

Want some examples?

How many of you have an outdated handbook? What about your benefit plans or your compensation plan?

Performance reviews from the 1980’s, MBO’s, Smart goals.

How about the way you make job offers and onboard folks…?

Since I am limited to about a thousand words here, I will assume you get the idea. We talk about organizational change all the time, but don’t always practice what we preach.

It goes beyond just the institutional necessities like reviews and raises. It seeps into every aspect of what we do. You purchase software and live with it for years because you have invested money or sunk costs into the product. Your only changes are usually necessitated by your software provider. You rely on them to update or upgrade your platform.

Another big area of stagnation is your career page on your company website. Some have looked the same for years.

Do you follow the same established agendas to how you run meetings, when you hold them, who attends, and why? Is your every day at your company institutionalized?

We are creatures of habit in many ways, even in our personal lives. We like the same clothes, food, and recreational activities.

We love to push and champion change in our businesses, except when we must take care of our own house in HR. Our excuse is we are “too busy tending to others.” There are a few folks out there in the HR space that get this concept and push beyond it, including several who write here on FOT.

For many of us, being comfortable living in Beta is difficult or even impossible as our natural behavioral makeup is risk averse/detail oriented. For others, the barrier is simply fear, complacency, or an “if its not broken, don’t fix it” attitude. 

But my argument for today is that we all need to push towards Beta in our work and personal lives.

I had resisted real change for many years in both work and personal ways. A few years ago, as I embarked on blogging and writing for a few sites, and I realized the opportunity to learn, grow, and experience life in ways that I did not know existed. I saw another world of ideas and possibilities. Challenges to the status quo, kooky ideas co-mingled with game changers.

My exposure to the outliers impacted me and hopefully as you visit this site and a few others in our space, you are all open to seeing the world just a little differently.

The hard part is taking ideas and hunches and acting on them. It requires trying something in a completely different way. It requires shaking up the current state to see if you can get even better results.

When I hear folks talk about bringing their whole self to work, I’m not thinking about wearing a political shirt or bringing your dog or cat to the office. Instead, I am thinking of bringing your ideas and creativity, and offering options in how to move forward in a different way.

Here are some tips to get comfortable with change and Beta before you hit the throttle:

Go to lectures,  workshops, and conference outside of your functional area of responsibility.

Order things to eat you have never tried.

Invite folks from other areas to your meetings for input.

Make it a point to meet and get to know folks outside your comfort zone.

Start small then aim big!

Go ahead, take that next step towards doing something differently – put yourself in Beta and enjoy the ride.