Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No Room for New Innovation in HR?

This is the statement I heard at the end of my day yesterday: “We've heard pitches from four HR Companies already this year and haven’t funded any of them. There just seems to be too many of them.”


I am in the process of raising seed capital for my company. Yes. A new HR company. And that is what I heard after my latest presentation to a funding group. They said they really don’t get HR (I don’t doubt that) and that there seems to be too many people in the space right now.

Right on.

I can’t think of a more fascinating space to be in right now. The changes that are going to happen in the way people work, find jobs, get paid, sign up for benefits, work mobilely, work remotely, live in Africa…. and the list goes on, is going to radically change what HR means, how it is managed and the tools we use to practice it.

HR is an extremely dynamic field and the lack of support from venture capital is short sighted. HR can compete with almost any other field in terms of dollars spent in the space, growth opportunity, and market dynamics. And the list of truly clever innovators competes with any field out there.

The problem is that most people who fund new ventures grew up in an age when HR was an administrative function that cost too much money. Yesterday’s senior executives saw HR as necessary but not strategic. Innovation in HR meant cutting costs.

That hasn’t changed much in the companies out there today, but it does not take much insight to see the change coming.

If you want to be one of the most dynamic and relevant enterprises of the future, HR advances happening in the basements and garages of innovative HR entrepreneurs will be a crucial element of your success. And the leaders in this space are going to make a lot of money.

Wake up people in the venture funding world; you are going to miss one of the next big things!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

One View of Jobs in 2020

It has been said (by some pundit somewhere) that a skill learned today will be obsolete in 3 years. So what do you think….should we all stop learning. Probably not.

One of the more radical views of how jobs will change came from John Seely Brown (a pretty smart guy that ran Xerox research in the 90’s). He suggested the corporation of the future will be made up of one employee and a dog. The employee is there to monitor the machines, and the dog is there to make sure he doesn't touch anything.

We may never go quite that far, but the basic idea is right on. Work in the next decade is going to change radically. The new employment economy is going to be even more radically affected by workplace technology than it was in the last decade (think 3D printers are cool now…). There will be a major shift in worker attitudes about the concept of "employment and career". And location will be replaced by “statelessness:” breaking the link between where you work and where you live.

All this adds up to a very different kind of workplace in the next ten years. Will today’s computer programmer be set aside like an old typewriter?

In the county I live in the Workforce Center commissioned a study last year that said (among other things) that to attract and retain jobs in our county we would have to:
  • Dramatically increase the number of workers in physical science, architecture, engineering, arts (yes – arts), media and math.
  • Develop a comprehensive infrastructure (clusters) to support talent and talent development
  • Create a culture of collaboration and cooperation (wonder if today's traditional CEO will get that concept)
  • And strengthen our schools so that they produce better thinkers. Especially ones with a good foundation in math

And, foremost in all of this is that we will have to be a generation of continuous learners.

How will HR respond to that? How will recruiters used to skills based hiring understand how to assess people who may know a little JAVA today, but will need a new (yet to be invented) skill one year from now?

Wanted: Smart person who really knows their stuff and can learn more stuff.

Maybe those kids with liberal arts degrees weren't so wrong. (Especially if they a know a little math as well!)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How Many Light Bulbs Does it Take to Change an HR Person

Three….But they all have to be broken first.

In a posting a few weeks back The HR Introvert wrote a Blog entitled: How Many HR People Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb. I liked these three the best:
  • None. They're used to working in the dark
  • One. But it will take him a while to get the approvals
  • We don't know, their committee is still working on it

But I thought it might be fun to ponder the opposite question: How many light bulbs (ideas) does it take to change an HR Person?
Now I am not saying that HR people are any more set in their ways than any other average professional, but then again, there is that employee handbook.
I was talking to a local bank executive the other day who was interested in having my new company as a customer. We are building a set of HR data products using advance artificial intelligence. Pretty cool stuff and he was impressed (OK – he did want my business) but he said he showed it to the HR VP and she said: “We already have too much data.” Hum.
How many times in HR have we used the phrase: That’s the way we do it here?
HR seems to me to be one of the more dynamic fields these days. That’s why I’m in it. Big Data, Social Recruiting, Just in Time Resourcing, Autonomous Work Groups, just read the blogs of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter and you can see how dynamic it really is. But it is also one of the slowest to embrace change. Maybe we are gun shy in the HR field, but change is going to be the most important factor of our success in the next decade!
So how many ideas does it take to change an HR person? Here’s a few thoughts that come to mind.
  •          One – It just has to come from the CEO
  •          Two – One from a SHRM conference and the other from someone already doing it
  •          None – I don’t have time right now
  •          Will it be on the SPHR test?

Give me some of your ideas.