Agile HR: Trends and Opportunities

Agile HR: Trends and Opportunities

The future of human resources (HR) lies at the intersection of strategy, data analytics, design thinking, and a new set of practices and mindsets ushered in by the world of agile methods and organizational agility writ large. 

And the time is ripe for HR professionals to have the bandwidth necessary to devote themselves to such matters. Numerous HR services—particularly those that are more compliance and administrative in nature—have been prime candidates for outsourcing for years. Automation, furthermore, has the potential to eliminate or reduce further many repetitive HR tasks.

In the March-April 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis outline a number of ways in which HR is adopting agile principles. In their article, “HR Goes Agile,” Cappelli and Tavis highlight how HR practices are beginning to trend away from the old approaches governed by rules and plans. Taking cues from agile, they contend, HR is increasingly moving toward a feedback-driven approach characterized by simplicity and speed.  

Here are some highlights

Read More

On the Origins of VUCA and How it Affects Decision Making

On the Origins of VUCA and How it Affects Decision Making

It’s not just you; it’s not just me. The acronym VUCA is more popular than ever. 

According to Google Trends, interest in the term is at an all-time high, following a distinct trend upward in the past several years. 

Like many ideas, however, VUCA as a framework for understanding turbulence in one’s environment wasn’t an overnight sensation. The acronym—which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—began decades ago with attempts to help develop strategic leaders at the U.S. Army War College.

One of the earliest references to VUCA that I’ve found is in a 1992 article in the Journal of Management Development by Herbert Barber titled, “Developing strategic leadership: The US Army War College experience.” In the article, he describes how the U.S. Army War College and The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences sponsored a conference in February 1991 that 

Read More

Human Resource Management and The Great Unlearning

Human Resource Management and The Great Unlearning

Exciting changes in the world of human resources (HR) abound. As noted by Stephen Barley (University of California Santa Barbara), Beth Bechky, and Frances Milliken (both of New York University) in their recent article in Academy of Management Discoveries, 

“Few people would deny that the nature of work and employment has changed over the last four decades, not only in the United States but in many countries worldwide. Moreover, the nature of work is likely to continue to change as we move further into the 21st century.”

Such changes make HR work continually dynamic, with evolving practices with regard to new technologies, the increasing prevalence of contingent workers, and more. Barley and his coauthors also mention the rise of artificial intelligence and the rise of project-based work as fundamental shifts that will influence careers and even how people think about themselves in relation to their organizations and society. 

These changes alone are enough to keep HR leaders and other executives up at night. 

Yet I wonder

Read More

Wellness? How About Comprehensive Employee Fitness

Wellness? How About Comprehensive Employee Fitness

Within the military, attention in recent years has been shifting among senior military leaders toward a model of health for service members that included the idea of resilience. Notably, in 2011, a whole special issue of the high-visibility journal American Psychologist focused on the U.S. Army’s idea of “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness,” or CSF. In the opening article, then U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George Casey Jr. described it this way:

“… the Army is leveraging the science of psychology in order to improve our force’s resilience. More specifically, we are moving beyond a “treatment-centric” approach to one that focuses on prevention and on the enhancement of the psychological strengths already present in our soldiers. Rooted in recent work in positive psychology, CSF is a “strengths-based” resiliency program that shows promise for our workforce and its support network so our soldiers can “be” better before deploying to combat so they will not have to “get” better after they return.”[i]

Although I’m a Sailor (i.e., in the Navy; more specifically, the Navy Reserve) and not a Soldier, the notion of resilience has seeped across the branches of service. And while most of the personnel burden for the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan has fallen upon the Army, the Navy has also begun to appreciate the notion of resilience. That’s good, because resilient service members will be better equipped to handle the increasingly dynamic nature of their work, and, when they eventually leave military service, they’ll have yet another skill that transfers to the civilian workplace.

It’s also a concept that’s critical for leaders working in any industry that’s either beginning to experience—or is in the throes of—what’s becoming the turbulent, modern business environment. Work organizations that embraced a concept of “comprehensive employee fitness” would surely benefit through the more engaged, more motivated workforce that would result.

Read More

The Death Star Aimed at Your Scrum Team

The Death Star Aimed at Your Scrum Team

I worry about many companies that are starting to use scrum for project management or product development. 

I worry not because scrum doesn’t work. It surely can, and when done right, it can be a highly invigorating and effective process for all involved. 

I worry about companies that are starting to use scrum for two reasons:

Read More

What Everyone in HR Needs to Know About Change

What Everyone in HR Needs to Know About Change

Models for planning and executing organizational change abound—for example, Kotter’s eight steps, among many others. These models are helpful in highlighting many of the critical aspects of organizational change, and I highly recommend immersing yourself in them. 

That being said, I find that such models often deal more with planned organizational change than with unplanned or continuous organizational change. 

And in an increasingly turbulent world, it’s important for human resources (HR) professionals and the HR function overall to

Read More

The Rise of HR … Agility

The Rise of HR … Agility

It’s easy to fall into patterns and comfortable routines. 

Some of those are great. Take, for example, dental hygiene. Or strength training. 

But if our routines too often keep us around the same people, we run the risk of stagnating. It’s even worse if we’re isolated—or insulated, depending on how you look at it—from other ideas. 

That’s one reason why I enjoy professional conferences. Even if you’re around people in a similar area of expertise or interest, you’ll learn a great deal from their different perspectives and experiences. 

Last week, I spent a few days at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Anaheim, Calif. And in between all of the

Read More

What 280 Executives Said They Face

What 280 Executives Said They Face

Turbulence ahead.

That’s one key message I learned while writing the inaugural issue of The VUCA Report™, which outlines findings from an ongoing study I’m spearheading here through The Strategic Agility Institute.

This study essentially focuses on two elements: (a) the forces of change that executives face and (b) what they’re doing about it. We were fortunate to have had 280 responses 

Read More