Hacking HR to Build an Adaptability Advantage

Eliminate HR

By Patrick Malcor on June 19, 2022

Realize that there is no need for a separate organization to manage "Human Resources." This is an outdated concept and it wrongly, unnaturally displaces responsibility for developing people from managers to bureaucrats. Put basic developmental tools in the hands of managers and demand high standards for your company's culture.

At our company, we combine personality testing (during recruitment) with ongoing 360-degree feedback as basis for development. We complement this with an experienced outside advisor that coaches and consults with our full management team and with groups of employees. We do not rate or "score" or topgrade individuals in any way. We recruit great people to spend their whole careers with us, and we take our time to hire with many stages of screening and project work before offering a fulltime position. Every one of our employees in 9 countries gets a robust development plan and access to advancement, training, and profit-sharing... and we have no HR department.

We still have our share of challenges, but at least everyone feels strongly about our culture and our value of personal responsibility for development.

HR process being hacked:Organizational Development

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For those following this topic and for members of the Hacking Team, just a quick note to say that more information is coming soon on how to work on developing this into a full hack. I will share any info here and we'll figure out an easy way to collaborate, maybe with a shared google document. In the meantime I am enjoying the very thoughtful and creative discussion on this forum. Thanks!

andy-lippok's picture

As Fiona points out in her comment, there is a considerable body of evidence, particularly from Deming, Scholtes, Seddon and others that when you look at the performance of an organisation - however you measure this - then around 90% to 95% (you can argue about the precise number but not about the scale) is due directly to the system, i.e. the way the work works. That means that around 5% to 15% of the performance is wholly due to the individual. That is not to say that the individual and team of workers are not involved in the work, but the level of total control they have over the design of the work and how their performance is measured, etc., is actually and demonstrably minimal.
It is little wonder then that when we try to manipulate people to perform better - whether it be through targets, rewards, punishments, rankings and rating, appraisals, slogans, and more - the performance does not improve. And yet when you get the people who actually do the work to study the work, then through analysis of the underlying root causes of the failure of the system to do better, and then have the people redesign the work, wonderful changes occur - service imporves, cost reduce and more increases. None of the change happened becasue we did anything TO the people, it happened because the people ACTED ON THE SYSTEM.
As Fiona points out, there is a stack of evidence and case studies to show what happens. Just go to to the Vanguard websites to see the evidence. The challenge for HR is whether the profession and the practitioners are prepared to chnage their thinking and adopt radical approaches that truly make organisations adaptable. I believe people are naturally adaptable, it is the command and control management paradigm of the last 250 years that has inhibited the people. I say ditch C&C and adopt systems thinking, you'll love it!

stephanie-sharma's picture

Andy and Fiona, Thank you - I am well aware of the research out there and who is at the heart of it and believe systems thinking and the associated implications should be a key part of how we rethink/reframe/rebuild or eliminate HR. That said, I also believe it is the 'time' to challenge some things or the way in which they are defined. Maybe it is true that 15% or less comes down to the individual (generally) as these famous researchers have defined, is the lens by which we understand this or define the systems and organization translating into meaningful work? I would say if this research is there and accepted then would we really need to hack HR? I guess what is your explanation for why these proven and well accepted bodies of evidence not creating the workplaces of adaptability, innovation, well-being, retention and overall contribution?
When I said I needed to get connected to the writing here, I meant to these various points you are all making on posts so that I can see what connections are being made to this hack and the world of research and methods we have known and those we have yet to discover!
I simply need time to read through and understand the connections. Hopefully this helps with where I was coming from.

Did you all listen to the hangout from last Monday morning? It included a notation to Deming's work as well - I'll go back and refresh on the call. I had technical difficulties and had to move to Twitter during some of it.

fiona-savage's picture

Hi Stephanie, No I did not listen to last weeks hang out are you able to share the link i would very much like to hear the call. The Deming research is counteractive one reason for not being adopted. Also many leaders are reluctant to give up their perceived power . On studied in a local justice in Scotland showed by using the systems thinking method that the time from charging people to having them in court was over 220 days. When the rearranged the work this went down to 35 days, the police loved it and so did all the accused, the legal profession were less happy as this reduced their work! It was estimated that the method would save millions!

There are more and more organisation taking up systems thinking in both public and private sector
http://www.thesystemsthinkingreview.co.uk/index.php?pg=18&backto=1&utwks...

heiko-fischer's picture

salut steph, maybe it would help, like Andy and I proposed, to get together on Skype or Google and think through this together. Whatcha say?

fiona-savage's picture

my e-mail is fmsavage@gmail.com. Hangouts are better than Skype if we can organizing the technology! I am still not that familiar with Google hang out but i know we can get up to 10 of us on video conferencing FREE and without those dreadful adds that are not on SKYPE since Microsoft took the product over .. If we all swap e-mails we could develop a google Eliminate HR circus? I am relatively free in the evening this week and at the weekend

heiko-fischer's picture

Mine is heiko.volker.fischer@googlemail.com
Also free mostly in the evenings, Berlin/Germany Time.

heiko-fischer's picture

Salut Andy,
I'll ask the same question I asked Fiona - how does this translate into concrete and positive steps towards eliminating HR into a "better system"?
Curious...

andy-lippok's picture

Hi Heiko,
I guess the way it translates for me is that where in my experience the Vanguard and other systems thinking types of interventions have really worked well, the reaction from the HR people is "wow, this is doing me out of a job now, because I no longer am doing a lot of the work in which I used to get bogged down, e.g. absence management, grievances, disciplinaries, appraisals and pereformance management, bonus schemes, suggestion schemes, engagement and motivation, etc. This is because by enabling the employees redesign the work and showing the managers that their role is now to remove the obstacles and problem solve, then the behaviours and culture change comes for free! What is there then left for us HR people and departments to do? Much of the remaining work can be outsourced, e.g. recruitment, payroll, pensions, employment law, etc. So what really is there left for me to do, other than perhaps to become systems thinking intervention leaders and coaches!"
I'm of the view Heiko that we're not that far apart in our thinking and certainly not in our approaches. I think there is just so much to take in here with all these posts, too much to read and study and see in very little time, and we haven't yet held any true dialogues - only the exchange of comments.
As you suggested earlier, what this needs is some kick-off hangout of the team members to get a grasp of the purpose and scope of the hack now.

fiona-savage's picture

"Eliminating HR" in a practical manner……………..
The obstacles that stooping employees from doing a good job are removed in system thinning, many of these are created by HR see below list of blockages :
 Appraisals
 Forced ranking
 Bonuses
 Numerical targets
 Slogans
 Reliance on inspection
 Functional specialisation (or ‘silos’)
 Payment by Results (currently in the news)
 Outcomes/Results Based Accountability (a new mole on the scene disguised as something friendly and logical)
 Prince 2
 Endless written plans

Once the blockages are removed HR has significantly less functions to perform, leaving the legalities of HR and policies be administered, possible out sourced depending on the size of the organising.

Managers focus on managing the system not the people, because at least 85% of outcomes are down to the design of the system. Get the people doing the work, to design the system for the outside in, i.e from the customer’s point of view. As you can see by the videos employees enjoy their works are engages, feel they have purpose, absenteeism drops customers love the system.
One of the biggest cost to an organisation is failure demand ;

1. Value Demand – doing that which adds real value to your external and/or internal customers
2. Failure Demand – failing to do the right things that would deliver value or doing the wrong things both of which consume more resource to minimise the damage caused by these failures.

Failure Demand runs between 40%-60%. In both public and private organisations, in the first Aviva video, the sales manager found that failure demand in her department was 80%!. In the Scottish public sector the “Christy report June 2011? estimated failure dammed at above 40%, simply put, for ever billion pounds spend they are wasting 400M! The Unreasonable Learner is a group both Andy Lippok and I are actively involved in have been involved lobbing petition MSP, Scottish Government and civil servants on this topic!

The Unreasonable Learners www.unreasonable-learners.com/

Lifting the human spirit by exploring new ways of working together within organisations our colleagues within this group are eclectic ! The founder of the group was trained by by Edwared Deming , other by Peter Sege and John Seddon and more. We also have members who present at symposiums on CAS, Human Systems, other trained in Spiral Synamics, postgrad degrees in Mindfulness, Physiologists, and Chartered FCIPD. We have all a common understanding of systems thinking and have all learned that that you can have the best intentions, great motivation but if underpinned by the wrong think, introducing new methods is just like putting icing on a S*** pie!

Systems think reduce the role of HR, reduce cost from failure demand and absenteeism, which will in turn increase bottom line, in addition the bottom line will increased because customers are satisfied and returning s and employees engaged.

stephanie-sharma's picture

Two things caught my attention about this hack (other than the title of course):
1. "(HR function/peson/dept) unnaturally displaces responsibility for developing people from managers to bureaucrats."
HR has become the 'owner' of talent vs. the manager with co-dependent and enabling systems that lack connection to the business and remove accountability from the manager who's title was designed around the success of the humans on his/her team.
2. Emphasis on selection inclusive of science but supported clearly by the manager from the beginning of decision-making to the potential for long-term employment.
I am now carefully diving into this discussion and look forward to adding questions, ideas or confirmation.

fiona-savage's picture

Ops! Posted twice!

fiona-savage's picture

Stephanie, can you expand/clarify what science would be used to support selection?

I full agree that systems lack connection, they also have not been designed from the customers perspective get the people who do the work to re-design the work in order to achieve purpose and what really matters to the customer.

stephanie-sharma's picture

Hello Fiona!
Thank you for reading, thinking and stimulating a clarifying discussion! You are keeping so well connected to this work!

Science that replaces the point of contact: resume-based, key-word screening systems that lack depth and sort to the most viable word-smith would be the first place. This would mean a compliment to the screen based on resume/application that could be an on-line psychometric assessment or basic screener to sort experience minimum and other requirements. Amazon currently does not do a perfect job of the screening but they do a much better job than most based on how many applicants that hit their system and the time and attention given to every single application. This is the first most important place by which the organization connects with a talent that is either 'cold' to the system or known through 'referral' or internal processes. (Both of the latter should have a higher touch but should also include a screen beyond the application, of some sort.

Science at the point of determining who finalists should be. Not who should be hired but who should be considered. Here again, a psychometric assessment built on top performers in the position would be optimal. It would not say yes or no and that would be an insult to the science but would provide the hiring manager with information about how the individual would approach the work and if he can commit to that 'how' to allow for the greatest success!

Science at the point of Development would then extend a culture of 'who' a person is into the culture and framework. These same assessments could potentially be used for development though I have seen some of the best use of development science be specific to incumbent development and non-role specific to role across teams with a common language.

All of this has to be built with managers who have the talent to manage! What it takes to manage at one type of organization may not be exactly the same as another. These talented managers then honor talent and hone it into top performers, at the individual level. Without a science for all of this, we are left to the subjectivity of decision making by each human at each entry point, and to the technological capability to sort the right key words (which are also defined by a human in the first place without connection to performance!)

fiona-savage's picture

Thanks for clarifying what you were referring to as scientific Stephanie. The method you describe is in line with the process used over the last 20 years in pharmaceutical industry. On line psychometric testing and day assessment centres, followed by a competency interview with the line manager.

The concern I have about this method, is that clones can be recruited, I feel the method screens out candidates rather than screen in the best candidate….. I can understand why companies choose the method it’s easy and safe! However, do we not need a broad mix of individuals in organisation? The world is changing faster than ever before in history, all nine core technologies are double every 7 years, therefore adaptable is key. Organisations need to able to draw on a pool of very different people, if the change in an organisation is slower than the world around them the organisation will become irreverent. Which is what nearly happens to IBM in the early 1990

We are all challenged when it comes to reflecting and challenging our own assumptions which makes us less adaptable. It’s interesting some schools and business are introducing mindfulness to help this. Also with the rapid development of neuroplasticity, structural cognitive modifiability and mediated learning which showing intelligent and ability is not fixed, I am wondering if psychometric tests don’t just reinforce our assumption that intelligent and ability are fixed ?

Given that less that 15% of outcomes are down to the individual is this method of talent management still the most appropriate? You can recruit a fantastic candidate and place them in a poor system and the outcome will not be good and this has nothing to do with the candidate.

Managers need to understand the fundamentals of any system 85% to 95% (one can argue pointlessly about the precise figure but the scale is key) is due to the system, i.e. the way the work works and is designed. That leaves roughly only about 10% that is due wholly or in the total control of the person doing the work. Having the “talent? to manage the people means they are managing less that 15% of what create the outcome! Mnanagers need to manage the system, however, we all need to learn how to be mindful and changing our underling assumption/automatic beliefs

stephanie-sharma's picture

My experience and the associated meta-analysis is that the right science helps to ensure the opposite of the cloning effect you describe.
It actually objectively assesses innate talents which are part of the equation to doing a role, manager or other. It is managers that hire in their own way that hire more of those like them - a sort of clone outcome then results and this is commonly noted. This effect still happens even with the added science and some of this is OK but we want to enhance the subjective manager decision with something that screens in a diverse set of talents, abilities and styles that are connected to what is required in the role, that can be changing, requiring of adaptability etc. The right science builds diversity of idea, background, etc. into the process!

It is likely that my experience in a science-balanced approach and this single aspect/point related to the initial post of this mini-hack, is difficult to explain in text exchanges. Simply I was just affirming the original point that a rich talent-based science would add objectivity to hiring decisions and the associated outcomes we are all in agreement about are aligned to this initial path.

I am not sure I agree with the notion that only 15% or less comes down to the individual so I will try to catch up on the points you have made in other posts regarding this and the research behind it!

fiona-savage's picture

Hi Stephanie, just to clarify its not my notion that only 15% or less comes down to the individual, it is statistical proven by Edward Deming statistician and other, I know its difficult to changeling deep seated assumptions, I also found it a challenge, but once the shift in thinking occurs its a light bulb moment, and changes how we mange the system, its counter intuitive so difficult to grasp. Once organisation develop systems that give individuates good individualises will do a good job. Do you research on Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Peter Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes and other.

Also did you watch these two videos from Aviva? They also disbelieved that 85% of outcomes are down to the system when they first heard of systems thinking, so you are now alone! Organisations never measure failure demand so are unaware of this measurement.

How do we change thinking?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcdahNIu820&feature=player_embedded
Aviva Systems Thinking

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF-ERyiDWI0

Stephanie I possible did not make myself clear, I am qualified to deliver some psychometric test and appreciate the science behind them. However sciences is not absolute it is relive to the evidence at a particular point in time. i.e medics does not operate on the new biology. I am questioning if with all the new science taking pace around how we think, is equating psychometric test to recruitment not similar to Ernestine quote ?No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.? These test have been used for over 20 years in recruitment. I simply question my own thinking and suggest you might also like to challenge your assumption, given the new since that is emerging with rapid development of neuroplasticity, structural cognitive modifiability and mediated learning which showing intelligent and ability is not fixed.

fiona-savage's picture

Thanks for clarifying what you were referring to as scientific Stephanie. The method you describe is in line with the process used over the last 20 years in pharmaceutical industry. On line psychometric testing and day assessment centres, followed by a competency interview with the line manager.

The concern I have about this method, is that clones can be recruited. I can understand why companies choose the method it’s easy and safe! However, do we not need a broad mix of individuals in organisation? The world is changing faster than ever before in history, all nine core technologies are double every 7 years, therefore adaptable is key and the need to able to draw on a pool of very different people.

We are all challenged when it comes to reflecting and challenging our own assumptions which makes us less adaptable. It’s interesting some schools and business are introducing mindfulness to help this. Also with the rapid development of neuroplasticity, structural cognitive modifiability and mediated learning shows intelligent and ability is not fixed. I am wondering if psychometric tests don’t just reinforce our assumption that intelligent and ability are fixed ?

Given that less that 15% of outcomes are down to the individual is this method still the most appropriate for recruiting?. You can recruit a fantastic candidate and place them in a poor system and the outcome will not be good and this has nothing to do with the candidate.

Managers need to understand the fundamentals of any system 85% to 95% (one can argue pointlessly about the precise figure but the scale is key) is due to the system, i.e. the way the work works and is designed. That leaves roughly only about 10% that is due wholly or in the total control of the person doing the work. Having the “talent? to manage the people means they are managing less that 15% of what create the outcome! However we all need to learn how to be mindful t.

fiona-savage's picture

"Eliminating HR" in a practical manner……………..
The obstacles that stoop employees from doing a good job are removed in system thinning, many of these are created by HR see below list of blockages :
 Appraisals
 Forced ranking
 Bonuses
 Numerical targets
 Slogans
 Reliance on inspection
 Functional specialisation (or ‘silos’)
 Payment by Results (currently in the news)
 Outcomes/Results Based Accountability (a new mole on the scene disguised as something friendly and logical)
 Prince 2
 Endless written plans

Once the blockages are removed HR has significantly less functions to perform, leaving the legalities of HR and policies be administered, possible out sourced depending on the size of the organising.

Managers focus on managing the system not the people, because at least 85% of outcomes are down to the design of the system. Get the people doing the work, to design the system for the outside in, i.e from the customer’s point of view. As you can see by the videos employees enjoy work , are engages and feel they have purpose, absenteeism drops customers love the system.

One of the biggest cost to an organisation is failure demand ;
1. Value Demand – doing that which adds real value to your external and/or internal customers
2. Failure Demand – failing to do the right things that would deliver value or doing the wrong things both of which consume more resource to minimise the damage caused by these failures.

Failure Demand runs between 40%-60%. In both public and private organisations, in the first Aviva video, the sales manager found that failure demand in her department was 80%!. In the Scottish public sector the “Christy report June 2011? estimated failure dammed at above 40%, simply put, for ever billion pounds spend they are wasting 400M! The Unreasonable Learner a group both Andy Lippok and I are actively involved in, have lobbing MSP, civil servants and petition Scottish Government on this topic!

The Unreasonable Learners www.unreasonable-learners.com/

Lifting the human spirit by exploring new ways of working together within organisations colleagues within this group are eclectic ! The founder of the group was trained by by Edward Deming , other by Peter Sege and John Seddon and more. We also have members who present at symposiums on CAS, Human Systems, others trained in Spiral Dynamics, postgraduate degrees in Mindfulness, Physiologists, and members of Chartered FCIPD. Others work with UNICEF. and social enterprize. We all a common understanding of systems thinking and are continually learning and sharing with each other. We have all learned that that you can have the best intentions, great motivation but if underpinned thinking is wrong introducing new methods is just like putting icing on a S*** pie! (excuse language)

Systems think reduce the role of HR, reduce cost from failure demand and absenteeism, which will in turn increase bottom line, in addition the bottom line will increased because customers are satisfied and employees are engaged. This further reduced HR role as significantly few people issues arise and when the do managers are able to deal withthem

Hope this answer your question Heiko

heiko-fischer's picture

How about a Skype conference to connect us all in a live discussion? Interested?

fiona-savage's picture

Systems think can include a rage of theories, Complex Adaptive Systems, other related theories might include Human Systems, Spiral dynamics .

Andy and I focused on systems thinking as described by Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Peter Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes and other. You can find extensive information on the web about this particular form of systems thinking. For me light bulb moment was when I realised that 85% plus of an organisations performance is down to the design of the system, leaving less than 15% of outcomes down to the people. Dan Pink quote comes to mind “For too long, there has been a mismatch between what science knows and what business does?

Systems Thinking (Deming and others) is a fundamental challenge to the current management orthodoxy. It is diametrically opposed to command and control thinking. Gone are the functional specialization and procedures. You no longer hear that’s not in my job description? or “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

We have seen some amassing transformation of performance in both public and private sector using the systems thinking method. Including a reduction in failure demand which reducing costs. Phenomenal outcomes, for public services waiting times, rescued from months to next day provision.

See Forget your people – real leaders act on the system, posted here on the MIX. http://www.managementexchange.com/story/forget-your-people-%E2%80%93-rea...

Aviva insurance in the private sector has been very transparent in their uses of systems thinking and these two videos below show the repose, I will let the story of Aviva speak for its self.

How do we change thinking?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcdahNIu820&feature=player_embedded
Aviva Systems Thinking

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF-ERyiDWI0

If your intresed to find out more on Sytems thinking as discribed above do a webserch on any of these names Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Peter Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes.

Heiko, I did a web search on RH viewed your consultancy website Resourceful Humans, however I did not find much more. Is this a particular methodology you have developed?

Are there any similar videos to the above you can share with the group and demonstrate and outcomes from using RH?

Can you clarify if RH focus on the people or the system?

In large organisation that have a legacy system of hierarchical C &C how does Lean stat up roll out?

How do you create an entrepreneurial mindset in public sector organisation such as the NHS?

Could you expand on both performance management and bonus sharing?

I am sure more will be discussed in Andy’s hack on Systems |Thinking.

heiko-fischer's picture

Salut Fiona,

first of all, I am impressed with your theoretical knowledge and your passionate advocacy for Systems. It's got to have solid ground to stand on!
Let me take your questions in order :-)

Is this a particular methodology you have developed?

As I mentioned I am not so sure footed in the theoretical, coming more from practise, so I googled "Methodology".

According to Wikipedia a "Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of study, or the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge. It, typically, encompasses concepts such as paradigm, theoretical model, phases and quantitative or qualitative techniques."

If I had to frame the Way of Resourceful Humans, and our butte(RH)fly model in particular this way, I would phrase it similar to the LeanStartup entry:

""The Way of Resourceful Humans" is a action-based management philosophy for developing businesses and products through a radical elimination of HR and redefinition of Management Functions. First proposed in 2008 it has its roots in the original HP Way. Based on previous experience working in several 'starfish' like organisations like eBay and Crytek, The Way of Resourceful Humans claims that organisations can unleash team potential and increase their enterprise sustainability by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and team-based learning. Though still largely unsubstantiated, the overall claim is that if companies invest their time into eliminating HR as a function to meet the needs of Resourceful Humans, they can sidestep the need for large amounts of managerial administrative work and useless control."

Are there any similar videos to the above you can share with the group and demonstrate and outcomes from using RH?

Unfortunately not yet. We are in the process of creating a sample video with our partners at Swissotel and umantis to that end.
If you are truly interested however, I can upload a Podcast we created back at Crytek with the CEO Cevat Yerli, who outlined the why's and how's of the Way of Resourceful Humans.

Can you clarify if RH focus on the people or the system?
It makes no such distinction. It's like asking what wins the race - car or driver? Both.
But as the name implies, it focuses on the human being first to create the conditions they can thrive in.

In large organisation that have a legacy system of hierarchical C &C how does Lean stat up roll out?
I don't know exactly. Would be interesting to hear Eric Ries' point of view on this :-) I suspect he comes completely from the product angle and circles back to what people need in order to create good product through validated learning. The core elements RH shares with LeanStartup are the iterative processes, getting a natural rhythm into the organisation and rapid prototyping without politics - this is called agile or scrum in the Games industry, where RH was born.

How do you create an entrepreneurial mindset in public sector organisation such as the NHS?
With a looooooooot of patience :-) Many of my Masters' peers from Ashridge worked at or for the reformation of the NHS. There is a lot of history in that organisation and a lot of inertia. Overall, if they were to apply the Way of Resourceful Humans, they would start in any given cell of the organisation, link the individual passion (care) to the contribution of the NHS (health), develop an ideal model of the NHS and then begin chipping away at the status quo towards that ideal. It is important to know that the ideal can change, as the world around the NHS constantly changes. Of course the NHS, like many other organisations of such nature, is bound to one billion laws. However, laws can change if there is a good case for it, so that's more of an obstacle, not a dead end.

I am not sure if you would even aim to create an entrepreneurial mindset at the NHS. Speaking from an idealistic mindset, I would want a very social minded person in charge there. An entrepreneur would focus on the patients with the highest return on investment. That is not the mission of the NHS as I understand it. However, also a social leader can become more MacGyver-like: resourceful, adaptive, agile. How do you create that mindset? Purpose, Autonomy and Mastery again. The main constraint in an NHS type organisation is likely 'Autonomy' for the miles of red tape that place is candy wrapped in. So as a top leadership team you would need to create the overall conditions for more liberal decision-making processes. Decentralize and deregulate. That's step one, with out it all is nill. But I must admit, I know near to nothing about the NHS, so this answer is largely guesswork, please read as such.

Could you expand on both performance management and bonus sharing?

Whew...that's a whole book :-) We call sta(RH)s and netwo(RH)k our sandbox solutions.

The idea is to evolve the known and tried tools, like MBOs and 360Degree Feedback. Our teams asked a crazy question. What if there were a mutiny and managers would just say: "Screw this! I am no longer copying MBOs and Feedbacks for all my team-members, I am done. No more." and walked out.
How would teams manage without managers? With that crazy notion we designed netwo(RH)k and sta(RH)s.

Liberated from management review cycles, calibration rounds, politics, bell curves and all that non-sense, people would revert back to giving each other feedback directly. Not at year end, not after a quarter, but when feedback is due. "Hey Jane, great job that customer!", "Hey James, I really need those pumps in a better quality, this way they leak." Their feedback wouldn't be in management jargon or cite competencies, but be straight-talk.

We extracted three core design principles from this: Simple. Social. Realtime.

Now we went to the drawing board and combined a Game-like User Interface (simple & intuitive) with an enterprise network like Facebook (social) and made performance data and feedback accessible and transparent to everybody (realtime).

Netwo(RH)k turns performance management on its head. It is an online tool, which instead of top-down MBOs, let's anyone draft objectives (in max 140 words), validate it by attaching it to a valuable contribution for the enterprise (140 words) and identify partners who s/he needs to complete this objective. Now it's up to those partners to agree to investing their time and energy into the requester's proposal, to refine it, challenge it or deny it. netwo(RH)k creates value through passionate followership! (I have the autonomy to choose where I invest myself, by validating my purpose to the proposed activity and act upon it with committed mastery in service of my choice). Let's say you get this in your inbox:

"Fiona, I have a large public client who want to go democratic. Would you introduce Systems Thinking to the delight of their 2000 managerial staff in Q2."
Now it's up to you to say: Yes. No. Or: I can't deliver in that timeframe. Or: I would need additional information what kind of managerial staff. Junior? Senior?
Once you have agreed, we are in a performance contract. Now it's up to you to define milestones along the road with me, so we feel comfortable that we can roll this out. Let's say you deliver a training a month and have managers take a test at the end. If the score is 90% or above, we are green. 70-80% yellow and below 70% red. In my performance dashboard I can now check (since you might be allover the world) where you stand each month very simply by checking the status of progress. You might add comments, you might not. If you delivered to my satisfaction and you feel it was a worthwhile investment of your time, we are likely to engage in more contracting in the future. If not...I would look for another provider and deny work requests from you in the future as well. The enterprise becomes a social performance marketplace.

sta(RH)s evolves 360 Feedback by giving people a scarce amount of stars as a virtual currency on a social platform. Let's say I am a manager at a 300 people company and manage 10 people. I get 10 stars per quarter. I am now free to distribute my stars to anyone in the organisation who I feel has contributed value this quarter. Cleaning lady, CEO, colleague, partner, minion...whoever. All I got to do is validate the star with a reason (140 words). If I awarded you a star, you would receive this in your inbox:

"Fiona, you have received 1 star from Heiko on sat(RH)s. His reason for valuing your contribution is: "Fiona, great job rolling out Systems Thinking at NHS with a 90%+ :-) score!!" Please log onto stars to see your other feedback this quarter."

I have now 9 stars left to distribute.

At the end of a financial year, the organisation can now enter any amount they wish to distribute as bonus to the organisation. They enter that amount into stars and the tool automatically calculates what one star is worth. (€ Bonus / # total stars = € Value for 1 star). The tool now automatically calculates what your bonus is depending on how many stars you have received all year from your colleagues.

How is this not turning into a popularity contest? Well, first of all - it simply won't. It comes down to people being basically good. However, as checks and balances go, sta(RH)s has a simple accountability measure. Anybody else in the organisation can now also log onto sta(RH)s and check in on their feedback or anybody elses. They could see that you got a star from me for your work at NHS. If they see I gave you 10 stars because of your pretty dress, they would likely sit us down to talk to us. Why? It might be that I have contracted with this person, he did a great job, but I have no stars left to value his contribution, because I have shot all my stars at you for no apparent reason, that he could agree upon.

Now, this is the recognition part of stars.

In the Design and Implementation of sta(RH)s at a Client, it is critically important to find the right number of stars per level. You shouldn't have enough for just anybody, otherwise you are in no need to wreck your brains about who really truly contributed value. This needs to be an actively informed choice.

What's truly fascinating about both sandbox solutions is two things. People stop worrying about bonuses. They start caring for finding and maintaining healthy relationship and their result: meaningful feedback. Valuable feedback is the actual currency in sta(RH)s, because it ensures personal and professional development. netwo(RH)k enables strong teams to find each other, sta(RH)s enables them to recognize that strength.

Now let's bring the managers back in the picture. Their role has changed. No longer are they "accountants" or "administrators", they are coaches now. Helping people inteprete their sta(RH)s feedback, enabling good working relationships. They can look up our performance contract, and when they see you go yellow or critically red, they can invest their time and energy to support you BEFORE failure occurs in realtime. Both tools give them a games like visual map of both performance relationships and recognition flows to see if those match. The sandbox solutions cut through the clutter and complexity of the enterprise, right to the heart of the matter! This way Managers become enablers of Resourceful Humans.

Actually there is a killer feature we are rolling out now in netwo(RH)ks i'd like to share with you (might interest you as it relates to the systems thinking i believe). Traditionally management development is theoretical. It's 3 enlightening days away from the office, then back into the hamster wheel. It might take hold in you as a person, but very rarely evolves the system. Our new netwo(RH)k feature changes this. As a CEO or leadership team (or anybody for that matter) you can now turn your live-netwo(RH)k into a sandbox. All your real data is cloned in a safe zone. There you can now fiddle around with it. Let's say our major client is the NHS. I now go to sandbox mode and ask netwo(RH)ks to remove all NHS relating activities in my company to simulate losing my largest client. I can now work on scenarios with my team to prevent this, to remedy this or dismiss the scenario. I could also simulate what would happen if I win the BBC tomorrow or the NHS doubles its engagement. netwo(RH)k immediately let's me see the impact on people, their time and activities...in realtime.

Pretty neat, huh? :-)

Hope this answers your questions.

fiona-savage's picture

Hi Heiko, Thanks for your response have read through once but will take time latter to digest. What did you think of the hands on piratical case studied and videos stems thinking from a Deming and others work in Systems thinking within boundaries?

What did you think of the fact that 85% plus of an organisations performance is down to the design of the system, leaving less than 15% of outcomes down to the people.?

Aviva insurance in the private sector has been very transparent in their uses of systems thinking and these two videos below show the repose, I will let the story of Aviva speak for its self.

How do we change thinking?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcdahNIu820&feature=player_embedded
Aviva Systems Thinking

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF-ERyiDWI0

heiko-fischer's picture

Salut Fiona,
very interesting videos. How exactly do you relate their content to the topic of "Eliminating HR" in a practical manner?

fiona-savage's picture

Hi Herko

Below is a case study that was posted on Andy's System thinking group what happened when HR used systems thinking

Outcomes The results achieved in just the first following adoption have been impressive.

 Reduction of wasted capacity by 50% (10 FTE).
 Better service for the customer.

? The number of queries successfully resolved for the customer at the first point of
contact rose from% to 96%.

? The number of progress chasing and complaint calls(failure demand)fell from 44%
to 17%.

 Staff are reporting better job satisfaction and higher morale.

http://www.systemsthinkingmethod.com/downloads/Vanguard_Camden_HR_case_s...

heiko-fischer's picture

I wonder how many HR practitioners out there are actually currently involved in eliminating HR currently...
I only know of Clovis and myself. Are there others? Are you guys pursuing this 100% right now in your work?

stephanie-sharma's picture

From a different lens, I am a consultant that is pursuing it as a strategy by which to transform organizational performance in client partnerships.
Likely not in those where I enter thru HR unless they are as open, aware and ready for true impact as those of you in this HACK are!
We are approaching it potentially less boldly through redefining the role of HR and what it means to the business.
For us, and hopefully our clients it begins with a senior leader who understands that human value has not truly been realized and that 'managing' it through HR and the managers they have or the structure, hasn't been working either.
That starting with how people engage, connect to the purpose and are therefore not only retained but can provide innovative long term value to the bottom/top lines, might mean a shift in how they are supported. Does the organization have the courage to support them in these new aspects of 'how'. Ultimately it is about the business case for ensuring that realizing human value and contribution is about hiring with science, developing individually, supporting with enabling systems including those that foster innovation, health (low stress), high flow and creativity will all measurably differentiate the organization, long-term. (most of this was outlined in this mini-hack vision)

Having worked closely with HR leaders and C-level leaders as part of my consulting when with Gallup, there must be a readiness and willingness about such a strategic shift. If there is not, then there must be potential that a 'starting point' might get traction and build the trust and proof-of-concept to shift the organization. This is commonly a selection criteria by which we decide who to work with.
Another great place for our focus is in our "5-50" model where we help start-ups think about this from the start, how they live the culture they want to have when they hire their 50th employee. (or 49th per the US news about healthcare and small business today!)

I look forward to reading all comments and learning more about the synergies and lessons I have yet to consider and apply!

andy-lippok's picture

In my view HR and people practitioners should start to become the change it and they want the organisation to be, and I reckon the key area would be around the systems thinking as espoused and demonstrated both academically and eminently practically by Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes, and countless others.

All change beings at the thinking level and not the doing level, yet the result of the change in thinking then delivers change at the doing level. Great intentions, motivation and competencies underpinned by the wrong thinking changes little.

Managers need to recognise the organisation as a system, it’s their job to remove the obstacles within the organisation. They also need to understand human motivation (Dan Pink, Alfie Kohn, etc.). Design of the work from the outside in, and focus on what is the real purpose what matters to the customer. Then, analyse the demand, design measures for what matters, then when you understand the systems thinking that determines the current way of doing things, you simply get the people who do the work to re-design the work in order to achieve purpose and what really matters, and what happens is almost magical! Service improves, costs reduce, morale increases, and the culture change happens for free. At no time do we do anything to the people, we simply get the people to work on the work. That's the systems thinking at the practical and yet quite profound level that I believe HR could help to make organisations more adaptable and adept.
If you want to work more on the Systems Thinking hack, please join the team on page 2!

I am not sure here if we are talking about eliminating the HR department or eliminating / reforming (some of) the HR related practices related to managing human resources?

If we are talking about Eliminating the HR Department, then we have to think very clearly about what would happen to the activities traditionally done by them: who will do those? is it practical to outsource those (that is for me have them managed by an external professional service)? and what are the implications? And would you keep a role (or a process) to deal with the more strategic aspects? Perhaps we could work out a model for how all this would work.

If we are talking about reforming some of the HR practices in organisation, then it would be interesting, I think, to list those that we may or may not find outdated and propose something else. Here is my starter
- Annual appraisal process (too ritualistic and cumbersome) >>> have a less formal, ongoing development conversation driven by the individual. Ultimately: everyone should make their own inquiry with their team members (and in himself) about how they are doing and how they develop
- L&OD offer (too easily out of date, out of needs, and everyone doing the same thing) >>> Everyone has a budget (time, money) to conduct his/her own learning according to how it wants to contribute and develop. Team can also agree to develop together
- Value, Culture... (too easily becoming piece of paper rather than a reality) >>> Contribution, Intention, Coordination & Diversity rule! Who needs a single culture?
- HR Strategy (another piece of paper that is here to justify a larger budget) >>> People, Capabilities must be an integrated part of the business and organisation strategy, executed by the business.
What are yours?

heiko-fischer's picture

Salut Didier,

having eliminated HR once at Crytek (Europe's largest Game Studio), being in the process of doing it again at the Swiss company umantis, as well as having extensive insight into Clovis Bojikian's work at SEMCO with Ricardo Semler in 'killing HR' - I would like to share how we looked at this:

1. Transformational HR is not a function, it is competencies.
These competencies migrate into small teams, wrapped in a minimum structure process framework, grounded in a shared value foundation.
This is a Change Management effort where teams are involved to design their own recruitment, l&d, performance and bonus solutions.

eg. at umantis the HR team is creating a workshop format to teach managers how to create recruitment cultures. they also add base knowledge about labour law, behavioral interviewing and other "baseline" skills. the teams then have an ambassador meeting where they agree on a common cultural thread that makes all teams identifiable as one company, despite different approaches.

eg. at Crytek the HR team interviewed all managers about their experience with performance management and bonus sharing. since there were no positive experiences, we designed on bottom up with them.

2. Transactional HR is base processes & services that leave the organisation.
These processes & services migrate to 3rd parties providers or are bundled in startups leaving the enterprise.
This is basically a service design effort, which requires clean lean processes and interfaces.
This tends to become a software solution.

What do you think?

fiona-savage's picture

I would agree with much of what you say Didier . In command and control organisations, there are a lot of practices systems thinkers abolish
Some common are:
 Numerical targets
 Appraisals
 Forced ranking
 Bonuses
 Slogans
 Reliance on inspection
 Functional specialisation (or ‘silos’)
 Payment by Results (currently in the news)
 Outcomes/Results Based Accountability (a new mole on the scene disguised as something friendly and logical)
 Balanced scorecards (an attractively presented mole)
 Prince 2 (a very time-consuming mole)
 Endless written plans (a very hard mole to beat)

Heiko, I would like to clarify what you mean by Lean processes? Are you referring to Lean as in Womack and Jones or systems thinking Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes, and countless others?

You also mention that Transformational HR is not a function, it is competencies. All change beings at the thinking level and not the doing level. Great intentions, motivation and competencies underpinned by the wrong thinking changes little.

Managers need to recognising the organisation as a system, it’s their job to remove the above obstacles within the organisation .
They also need to understand human motivation (Dan Pink). Design of the work from the outside in, and focus on what is the real purpose what matters to the customer. Then you simply get the people who do the work to re-design the work in order to achieve purpose and what really matters, and what happens is almost magical! Service improves, costs reduce, morale increases, and the culture change happens for free. At no time do we do anything to the people, we simple get the people to work on the work.

What are your thoughts, is it time to apply systems thinking, which would see many functions of HR disappear?

heiko-fischer's picture

As a proposal for a fully-formed management hacks during the next phase of the hackathon. I would love to get all your input on our HR2RH butterfly transformation framework (but I am really thinking about rechristening it "repatriation framework" :-)

Like I mentioned before, it borrows from many sources. Dan Pink, Design Thinking, etc...

It could be a start as a reference model for us to Eliminate HR.

http://www.resourceful-humans.com/images/Mix/butte%28RH%29fly.png

Feedback welcome.

heiko-fischer's picture

Salut Fiona,

I meant "Lean Startup" Thinking (Build-Measure-Learn), as in quick and iterative - as is games development.
Refer to "Why the Lean Startup Changes everything" http://hbr.org/2013/05/why-the-lean-start-up-changes-everything

In terms of HR and lean, I just meant "as small as possible, and then two people less" ;-)

I think its important that the teams have some common reference model to begin the transition with.
To that end it almost doesn't matter which one.

Crytek used Scrum and Agile, umantis is using LeanStartup, SEMCO used...common sense :-)

I am not sure where I stand on the "Systems" debate. RH borrows from all sorts of approaches, it's more of a menu approach - based on a shared view of humanism. There are elements of the HP Way which are 80 years old and parts of the business model approach as well as Lean Startup. Some of those completely bypass traditional academic models, others are complimentary, useful or in parts informed by Gestalt, Appreciative Inquiry, Complexity Thinking, etc.

My problem is that of psychologists. Once you buy into ONE systems, that's it. You are married.
HR has a tendency to speak systems and abstract, instead of people and business. Therefore I am prone to bypass that debate.
No business team I spoke with was ever interested in this kind of debate. They wanted to know about tangible change.
The systems debate didn't help us any in that way.

My talks with Dave Ulrich about RH basically bogged down when Dave mentioned RH needs to be more grounded in academic thinking.
My problem was that what we did seemed so simple it required no Phd, nor was there a good one system out there to use.
Since then I stopped thinking about it and held it with Peter Drucker to focus on doing...

All great practitioners I have met like Clovis Bojikian of SEMCO never thought of a system (other than democracy as a framework).
They simply did in a very human way. Two other great RH companies in Germany, the retail giants Alnatura and DM, both base their management on Rudolf Steiner's philosophy with what they call "The Human as Benchmark"

Maybe it is time to abandon that kind of debate? I don't know.

With the current dilema on HR of too much conceptual thinking and too little focus on doing, I am not sure we are advancing the topic of a more humane enterprise by killing HR, through the systems debate.

However, I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog entry on the subject:
http://fractalsauna.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/moral-and-organizations-why...

fiona-savage's picture

OPS wrong place I have now added this at the bottom

Hi Heiko

I think we are talking about the same approach here:

Dismantle traditional department into
1- repatriate some of the people responsibilities to the rest of the organisation
2- create specialised support team (self organised / co dependent)
3- translate transactional into IT infrastructure & third parties
The vision being to make the organisation more responsive, empowered and responsible.

And your example are interesting too. Would you have some info about the results now?
What is the size of HR? What do people think of the system? are the small HR team satisfied with their new roles?...

Also, I thought that this hackatlon was about articulating how we would get to the goal of reforming HR.
And I think that it would be worth exploring some areas in more detail (it's often there that it matters), for example:
- How does the system work with keeping up with the legal employment requirements in different countries?
- Is recruitment better handled internally or externally?
- How would a major capability shift would happen in this system?

Again, I am very sure that the approach is working and I think we should articulate a path so that more can follow it.

Didier

heiko-fischer's picture

Salut Didier,

yes, I believe we are on the same track. I love the word "repatriate"! Best term I've come across so far.
Please find my answers to your questions below:

Would you have some info about the results now?

1. Crytek - Europe's leading independent Game Studio

What is the size of HR?

When I came aboard Crytek had around 300 people in 4 offices globally. 150 people in the main office in Frankfurt.
At the peak of the RH Model between 2008-2012 the teams ran independent of any central HR for four years.
We had a core RH team of 3 in Frankfurt to lead the transition and 1 regional RH ambassador to enable regional transition.
We had a task force including the CEO, Business Development, Operations and Finance to drive the HR2RH transformation.
The Product Owners and Scrum Masters embodied many of the traditional HR competencies at that period.
Core HR actually left the organisation of 800 people at that time and 6 global studios.

Crytek has since reverted to a more traditional HR model. Not for reasons of the RH Model not working, but as investors got on board for a more rapid expansion envisioned by the founders, they demanded a more traditionally manageable structure. I think this lead to one of my key learnings in founder driven enterprises. All founders need to be 100% aligned on the HR vision, or else...

What do people think of the system?

Frankly, people didn't give 2 sh***s about the RH system. We had an incredibly bad reputation as HR. My first conversation with the most senior operations manager ended with him challenging me to provide healthier drinks in the cafeteria. Once I did that, he came back and told me this was the first meaningful and timely change coming out of HR ever. So it was uphill.

People began buying into the system as they got more freedom and responsibility to design the games the way they believed they should look.
It was less the peer-bonus, the no-vacation limit policy or sum-such peripheral measure, but the moment the CEO wanted feature A in the game, the team wanted feature B and he said: it's your party and your job, go with it. That left them stunned. To be working not as employees, but as entrepreneurs. The subsequent reactions ranged from paralysis fear to naive ecstasy.

What I mean to say is that the change to "no-HR" translated more into "no-babysitting" and "a different form of management".
RH was perceived as a rebooting Crytek into a startup culture with the freedom to design great games.
We tried to act behind to curtains as much as possible as RH team.

Are the small HR team satisfied with their new roles?...

Yes! During our kick-off I outlined the RH vision to the team and asked them a simple question:
"If you were to apply to a job as HR leader for a great company today and you would offer one of two value propositions:
a) I build you a great HR Business Partner Model into your Company, or
b) I enable your Resourceful Humans in building a great company without any HR
who would likely get the job?"

Of course, I told them that this is a head fake "Viktor Frankl" style (http://www.ted.com/talks/viktor_frankl_youth_in_search_of_meaning.html).
The main idea being to overshoot the mark so outrageously with the RH Vision and by targeting for zero HR, that at best you come out with a very lean enterprising HR. If you only shoot for lean HR, your will likely fall short of that target too, due to VUCA.

"Treat a man as he is, he will remain so. Treat a man the way he can be and ought to be, and he will become as he can be and should be." - Goethe

The hardest part was to separate admin from core HR on a human level, as those were usually two people who worked very closely together and one would be redundant or outsourced. However, during the transition everybody was fired up and saw the experiment as big plus to their own employability value and personal business plan's development.

Another key factor, when we speak about the proverbial seat at the table: In the RH model, the RH guys were not only at the C-level table, but more importantly, they were invited to the shop floor meetings about game design aka team design decisions. That level of integration upgraded the HR team immensely.

2. umantis, Switzerland's leading HR software developer

What do people think of the system?

It's the honey-mooon phase, so everybody is still enamored with the approach. Voting for their CEO, peer-bonus approach, etc.
However, the organisation is now at the threshold to cross over from 100-200 employees, which is why we have begun the approach to implement an RH framework to being able to scale and retain the adaptive structure.

Are the small HR team satisfied with their new roles?...

Again a resounding yes. All roles are inherently temporary, which is not perceived as a threat but as an opportunity to avoid the "Hamsterwheel Scenario"
The recruiter is developing an enabling framework for teams to design their own recruitment strategy and delivery mode. The admin person is setting up a baseline for payroll processes and ensures hygiene factors are in order. Both know that they can develop into the consulting business or product development business within umantis, as they are now building elements, which they can later help clients replicate in a way. So there is a real business career perspective beyond the usual one-track HR development.

Also, I thought that this hackatlon was about articulating how we would get to the goal of reforming HR.
And I think that it would be worth exploring some areas in more detail (it's often there that it matters), for example:
- How does the system work with keeping up with the legal employment requirements in different countries?

In both these cases the HR2RH repatriation included primers on basic employment law and "cartoon guides" (the official language of software designers ;-) Then interface points to external specialists were designed so there was quick feedback to any arising employment law questions.
I agree however, that this is one of the two biggest hurdles to killing HR (the other being unions) as we operated on the assumption of "common sense" over the letter of the law. This might be a strategy that doesn't fly with larger organisations and their compliance requirements.

- Is recruitment better handled internally or externally?

That depends on which part of it and when.

Endstate in RH so far:
The teams articulated the process.
External partners did the marketing and filling the talent funnel.
All interviewing was done in-house.
Admin was done by the recruitment partners including relocation.

It is important to drive this transition in a digestible pace that the teams feel comfortable with and feel ownership and control over.
Meaning, what's quick and efficient for one team might be slow and wrong for another.
The HR2RH strategy needs to be very adaptive and reflect the overall adaptability required and desired in the enterprise.

- How would a major capability shift would happen in this system?
Not sure I understand this question...could you clarify?

stephanie-sharma's picture

Hi All! My apology for not yet commenting and adding to this robust discussion! I will be commenting on Thursday. Thank you for understanding around travel and holiday time in the US. I am honored to be a part of the group and hope I can add value to the discussion!

Thanks to those that have joined the hacking team for this project. Our team is already full, and I look forward to working on this with you further. I will continue using the forum/topic here to share information and next week I will post some ideas about the way forward. If anyone wants to share ideas here please go right ahead and/or contact me on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickmalcor).

With my black hat on, the challenge with eliminating HR seems to me, how do we give managers throughout an organisation the capability - and most importantly the time - to be able to manage and lead their people really well?
In my organisation, HR is seen as a barrier - but also causing problems are many managers who have neither the time nor skill to be able to look after any compex HR-type issues (such as managing grievances, industrial relations, and driving consistency in occupational health & safety). Not to mention dealing with unions at our biennial enterprise bargaining.

However, I love the concept of recruiting the right people and blending this with 360-degree feedback, and have been advocating for this within my own organisation. Not surprisingly, not particularly successfully when it comes up against traditional HR thinking or managers who are afraid of feedback.

Any thoughts on these issues?

heiko-fischer's picture

Kylie, Clovis Bojikian the former head of HR at SEMCO put it very well. HR needs to understand its mission to get out of the way and just start.

Just...start :-)

fiona-savage's picture

If HR needs to understand its purpose, then that's driven from the organisations purpose, which is simple just ask your customers.

This is the exact opposite of what is done at present ! If Banks and other organisations ask the customer we would not have call centers structure the way they are....

heiko-fischer's picture

"Turning Fear into Curiosity"

Salut Kylie,

track back to my Mini Hack for a more elaborate answer (http://www.mixhackathon.org/hackathon/contribution/kill-hr-human-resourc...)

I think most of the fear stems from lack of a responsible framework to transform HR from administrator into an enabler.
We used the experience of Crytek, SEMCO and many other clients to define a basic framework as guidance, leveraging agile methodology and a lean startup mindset. The idea is to get the support of the board and CEO to transform HR into a business.

Why? Professionalizing HR turns it into a lighthouse function for the adult organisation. HR needs to offer the CEO scenarios to transform the organisation in service of Resourceful Humans, or its own demise (read: turn HR into distributed competencies). This suicide mission seems counter-intuitive, but I am always amazed how many HR leaders quickly embrace this mindset. It finally gives HR a goal, a deliverable to measure up against. Usually we are in this endless marathon as the red headed stepchild. The Way of Resourceful Humans gives the HR function a light at the end of the tunnel.

Step 1 - Deeply understand business and organisational capabilities (readiness)
Step 2 - Separate admin HR (including payroll) from value-adding HR (eg. recruiting, development etc)
Step 3 - Outsource admin HR and implement clean interface points
Step 4 - Engage with the business as a business and a clear HR business vision (read: the HR-less organisation)

Throughout Step 1-5 HR needs to adopt a democratic working style to be an authentic "salesman" of an adaptive Organisation

Now in this process it is up to HR to drill down into the often muddy and fragmented workings of the organisation. This ties together many of the thoughts outlined in the hacks on this platform. In essence it turns HR into a "Socrates-Task Force". No more answers, just great questions:

- What is our organisational purpose in 5 words or less?
- Draft a Business Canvas for the organisation to understand and articulate the value creation chain a in simple way
- Draft Business Model You's to tie every person's personal development goal into this organisation purpose
- Expose the organic lattice (W.L.Gore style) that lives below the surface of the formal hierarchy
- Draft solution prototypes to propose to the business customers (this serves the dual purpose to get the business and HR into a joint agile sprint cycle)

All of this (and more) serves the purpose to drive back Fear of the unknown by professionalize HR, getting deeply intimate with the value creation and "kindly but firmly" demanding that the business transform itself towards a human centric, democratic workstyle.

Turning Fear into Curiosity happens step-by-step. We need to create pockets of success, communicate those and inspire others. HR becomes the agent of this contagion. That way we drive fear back through the successes of Resourceful Humans.

What do you think?

giuseppe-gerardo-ciarambino's picture

Hi Kylie, you have well-focused some of the collateral problems due to the elimination of centralized HR function.
Managers anchored to the old functions, union agreements, etc ....
Well, the company is a complex system, now we consider a more complex system, the human body in which government is very important the concept of homeostasis that is nothing but a dynamic balance of system that allows correct operation.
When in a system varies a parameter generating an imbalance, all other parameters vary to allow a new equilibrium.
So in our case, if we alter the centralized HR function, we create an imbalance that causes a malfunction; to return to optimal functioning, we need to adopt further changes.

fiona-savage's picture

Why are these complex issues arising? to me it reflects the system that is in place in the organisation in which you work

Everyone goes to work to do a good job, but the system prevents them from doing this.

Organisations are organic system, they posses the characteristics of living entities not mechanic systems. When you understand and apply systems s thinking, you understand that judge, quantify the performance of the system (the way the work works and which determines 95% of the performance of the organisation), Individuals only account for a very small performance of the system. there for “If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.? Frederick Herzberg

heiko-fischer's picture

Basically: HR is crucial in killing HR. It's a meaningful Suicide Mission ;-)

stephanie-sharma's picture

Really appreciate this thread and concur that moving to a more entrepreneurial, direct, less-layered, simple 'get work done' focus could reframe how we think about supporting or engaging the people that work to deliver to the customer. Also agree this would foster those doing the work to design the work, design their performance expectations, development, etc.

There have been many references in recent weeks to applying Reis' Lean Start-up approaches to established/big business - here is one: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672580/5-ways-big-companies-can-pivot-like-....

I would also add that consistent with HR being overly abstract, the evolution of heavily weighted subjective evaluation about performance (which drive promotion to leadership in many organizations) has created a bit of mess with not only who we have helped to become managers but in how they are managing (or not.) This subjectively based process has created a situation in which managers can and are not making decisions about weak or non-performing managers and team members. What if 75% of every decision to promote someone to a manger postion were based on objective criteria? What if the individual him/herself defined that objective criteria in the first place so that expectations about whether or not a person can or cannot manage others is clear from this. A more objective-based human resource value-based (perf) management system would appeal to the business as well. Is this possible?
I know there is an entire mini-hack on performance appraisals but believe that this is one key component to supporting a system in which re-visit and refresh the manager function to manage humans but that we must have the right managers in the first place. Nordstrom as an earlier example promotes largely from within, as many companies do. Maybe they use a scientific assessment to do so for internal as well as external but it is rare to see a heavily objective-based decision-making framework on who GETS TO manage others.

We can't replace HR with managers if managers are not doing the job they were hired to do! ....in the new world where HR isn't there to do the key aspects of their job for them!

heiko-fischer's picture

Salut Fiona,

my experience is that we should stick with the KISS principle.
HR needs to think entrepreneur. Less concept, more doing. (and then reflect on the doing and do better, of course)
Any kind of conceptual thinking traps us and keeps us from actual doing.
That is not to say HR and Leaders do not need a shared conceptual framework, emphasis on "shared".
I think it comes down to very simple definitions as platform for shared purpose of HR. Something akin to:

No profit, no business. No resourceful humans, no profit.
People are not replaceable Resources. Each person's dignity matters.
People are not triggered by simple cause-effect (Carrot-Stick). People are complex with a desire for simple, clear and fair rules.

Basically every organisation should draft its own UN Charter of Human Rights and Business Needs (but not in board DIlbert speak, but in human language, of the employees, for the employees, by the employees)

We try to resist the notion of "Everyone goes to work to do a good job, but the system prevents them from doing this"
This leads to a very fatalisitc approach. The framework was created by people, it can be undone and changed by people.
Bill Gore, founder of W.L.Gore acknowledged this when he created the lattice organisation. He said that underneath each formal system, layes a network of human connections that really gets things done. That system is governed by very different rulesets than the formal layer. This lattice is also exactly where HR needs to gain insights and act upon.

This might come across as harsh, but most HR loses their credibility in the business because of their very conceptual, abstract thinking and talking.
The business is used to doing. We need to get into doing and fuse it into our reflective capabilities. In the Way of Resourceful Humans, HR becomes a business by being a) a business and b) an enabler to the business. (Coincidentally we become a career choice for top talent that way once more. Imagine RH as astronauts and shuttle engineers all rolled into one :-)

Do we need an understand of aerodynamics for that purpose? Yes.
But Systems Thinking often traps us in thinking: There is gravity, we cannot get of the ground.
The magic of the Wright Brothers was in building something that used it.

So my thoughts on your statement "“If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.? are:

“If you want people to do a good job, enable an environment where they can create and seize entrepreneurial opportunities.?

That's the job of HR on the Way of Resourceful Humans.

What do you think?

fiona-savage's picture

If we think of organisations as maniacal entities we have the hierarchical command and control structure with liner and reductionist thinking which is dominate at the moment..

Yes keep it simple, systems think does not need to be complicated, if you did biology at school you have the basic understanding of systems thinking, my basic understanding came from this and my training as a nurse. Organics systems are very adaptable and thats what we are seeking - adaptability in a world that is changing faster than any time in history and maniacal devices become obsolete very quickly.

Taiichi Ohno at Toyota understood the principles of system thinking and and implemented it to archive success. There is no need to get stuck in the thinking.

Interesting last night I was speaking to senior HR person who is very dissatisfied with HR , he commented that HR attract a high percentage of individuals who are , upholder maintainers, controllers inspectors and conclude producers, possible similar to lawyer’s and not necessarily individuals who are genuinely interested in people ?

Happy engaged employees show results on the business bottom line, Its all about people, we are human becoming not human doings!

heiko-fischer's picture

I think we are saying the same thing ;-) I posted "Kill HR" sometime after you.
Great post and good to see there are more pioneers out there.

Yes, for sure. Maybe I thought there would be more push-back, but it seems no one wants the old HR status quo anymore. Across the other posts as well it's clear that people want purpose, self-determination, openness, and innovation -- not more bureaucracy and controls. Yet our organizations all fall down sometimes in delivering that.

fiona-savage's picture

Human Resources or Human Remains
“How can HR tell if I’m a good job??
If HR were doing a good job people are happier at their work and the HR job would disappear!.

heiko-fischer's picture

The people who'd push back on the elimination of HR are likely not on this platform ;-)

It is quite logical when you look at the genesis of the idea: In any startup HR starts its existence as competencies of people (recruitment, people development, performance management etc) and usually only becomes a function as the organisation scales and in turn centralises topics.

Few resist this trend. Mostly, I believe, due to the lack of a responsible and viable alternative structure. And even in cases where they find such a structure, they still hesitate for lack of a reliable transformation framework. Therefore in my experience the main roadblock to eliminating HR is what I summarised in the "enemies of Adaptability" - Fear. Without a guiding framework to eliminate HR (read redistributing power in general), both responsible managers and power-mongering ones will resist this move. Ones to safeguard the organisation, the latter to safeguard their powerbase . Even employees might resist for lack of clearly visible more desirable future. Without that future it's "better the devil we know".

We were hoping that with our HR2RH framework we have at least a basis to offer. However, I understand that it is what Randy Pausch would call a head fake. A fool with a framework is still a fool. In the end it comes down to courageous leaders, responsible management and smart entrepreneurship. This is pretty much how Clovis summarised the success of SEMCO and I can echo that for Crytek and our current customers.

giuseppe-gerardo-ciarambino's picture

Hi Patrick, I am glad to learn that your company has embarked on the path of radical change.
Centralized HR function has to deal only payroll and pensions.
The actual management of human resources is delegated to middle managers who have the responsibility supported by a central litigation office.This can be implemented in medium-sized companies as well as large companies, just draw a substrate organizational matrix.
keep in touch

Simple. Beautiful.

fiona-savage's picture

Nigel and Andy I could agree with you both, in a connected enterprise there is limited need for HR.

An organisation is organic and therefor self-organising. Tools and process have unintentional consequence and form barriers for those who are working with in the system. If a system is going to be redesigned it must be by the people who working within that do the redesign and not HR.

Companies like Nordstrom show that if the culture is correct very few rules are needed and only the legally required polices are necessary .

Nordstrom's Employee Handbook

Welcome to Nordstrom
We're glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.
Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

Today, new employees provide reading only the words "use good judgment," supplemented by handbook of other general legal regulations and company expectations. However, using one's best judgment remains Nordstrom employees' number one policy in all aspects of the job.

nigel-barron's picture

I think that little by little HR is being eliminated via social collaboration tools externally (twitter, google+, LinkedIn) and internally (Jive, IBM, Salesforce.com etc). The adaptable organisations are embracing these tools and using them to their advantage which is producing a positive effect on the bottom line (Cognizant is a good example). Does your company have a social collaboration culture?

richard-james-barnes's picture

I don't see that personally. I do see ever expanding anti-communication mines in the form of lengthy, lawyer-driven e-policies being promulgated as HR tries to stem the tide of individuality. I've yet to see one of these policies focused on what employees can and should do (i.e. your social collaboration culture) rather than on what they can get a disciplinary hearing for. We've a long way to go yet and HR I'm afraid is a blocker in the main not a facilitator.

Nigel, I agree with you about the expanding use of social collaboration tools and how their use is displacing a lot of 'traditional' HR functions. Our company can do better to leverage this further and is making some efforts to do so. In the process we are forced to consider this idea you mention of a "social collaboration culture." This is a different challenge than managing an image or a brand, different also than marketing to customers & partners. It's about how to facilitate a beneficial level of engagement to get (and give) exposure to new ideas, perspectives, networks of people & knowledge. How to manage this is an important question now that we have all these tools available.

nigel-barron's picture

Patrick, this Council on Foreign Relations conversation with Ginni Rometty from March this year certainly had an impact on me covering subjects such as Big Data, attracting talent, cyber security, immigration reform, CSR, culture change and what keeps the IBM CEO awake at night.

Ginni talks about three guiding principles in relation to data ('the next natural resource') and its effect on maintaining a competitive advantage in the future:

It will change how you make decisions.
It will change how you in fact create value.
It will change how you deliver value

Here are some highlights:

And I would like to assert -- and I hope we're going to talk more about this -- that data will be the basis of competitive advantage for any organization that you run. It will be the basis in what will be a smarter era -- that it will be the basis for competitive advantage.

you're going to create value different. And what did I mean by that? I'm going to assert that the social network, the social network will be the new production line in a company, in an entity -- I don't mean in a consumer-alone world.

You might have forgotten this: Peter Drucker coined the word "knowledge worker." It was actually 1959 -- 1959, so I was a little toddler at this time. Now, non-routine work -- but what's changed? Obviously, I said tons of data. The tools are different today than they were then. Billions of different interfaces. But today's knowledge workers have access to something around the clock: The have access to each other. That's what's different. And in a social enterprise, I will also assert that your value will be not what you know; it will be what you share. And that is a very different paradigm.

And I see this in -- by the way, what it ends up doing to any company, any organization, it will change who you hire, how you compensate them, how you develop them. And in fact, I see it in IBM. You know, every IBMer today has access to -- boy, you name it; we have wikis, blogs, community, social networking and the like. But in the near future there will be something else, and I'm going to have IBMers -- they're not only going to rate each other; professionals, clients and the like will rate them. You'll be rated by the information you create, how you share it, what's its value. You know, you've seen this -- five stars. Maybe I'll even pay you that way. Five stars, one compensation; two stars, not. So it will be a different future.

And then the last point I'd leave you with is this idea that how you'll deliver value will be different. And value will be for individuals, not for segments.

But I'll end on this point. Actually, the challenge is not technology. As always, the challenge is culture. But remember, this is at the end-all about competitive advantage, be this a company, a country or a government entity. And in the end, I actually think something far more valuable will happen, because the greatest contribution of this shift will force every entity -- private, public, government -- to actually become an authentic organization.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SUoCHC-i7_o

fiona-savage's picture

Nigel, Thanks for sharing this talk. I have for some time been interested in IBM Watson in healthcare as that’s my background.

Interesting that unlearning was mentioned this is a topic that has come up time and time again in a group I belongs called the Unreasonable Learners. The challenge with unlearning as was mentioned in the video is our anchoring biases or I would have called the automatic thoughts. These limit our ability to look through different leans at a given situation.

Am I correct in thinking that the emergence of patterned that comes from big data uses fuzzy logic and not the liner and reductions logic we use and are taught today?

nigel-barron's picture

I'd say that the new data scientists that have emerged over the last 20 years, sometimes better known as Quants, would describe their data sets as very organised patterns. The algorithms they use are very complicated, so complicated in fact that they were partly responsible for the financial meltdown in 2007/2008 and continue to move markets in High Frequency Trading. President Obama recently used Big Data to his advantage to predict voting patterns, this is a great article on how they did it http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/magazine/the-obama-campaigns-digital-m....

We've only just begun to touch the surface as to how Big Data can help us make sense of the digital revolution.

andy-lippok's picture

Good point here and truly revolutionary thinking Patrick. Perhaps the lack of adaptability in organisations is due to the heavy hand of HR who have I think contributed to the elimination of humanity in the organisation, by focusing too much on the tools and the mechanisms of people management as if people are resources. Of course, that's why we now call it Human Resources! We've objectified the very thing that makes the organisation a living entity. I'm with you Patrick on this hack, let's eliminate HR and start from what matters, the people.

Ulrich, I appreciate your comment here. Our core, default principle will always be that managers are responsible for people and for innovative, continuous development. So essentially we are open to anything which enhances that. So far I don't see how HR -- particularly the 'traditional' HR of a large company -- fits into that principle at all. We've had very positive experience working with an outside consultant, one in particular that I've worked with for 10 years and who has helped us design the program & processes that we use. So I definitely see value in looking outside the organization (often) for new ideas and sources of innovation. But again, we're doing that as managers with a simple aim to improve performance & to strengthen our culture. Thanks again for your comment.

stephanie-sharma's picture

I appreciate this segment of discussion and would only add that ensuring managers (maybe even this role defined with this word does not have a place in the organization of the future) are responsible for the people on their team (could certainly allow for bubbles, pods or other) and inviting external information/consulting/expertise are not in any way mutually exclusive in my thinking or experience. Good outside sources should be accountable as well to bringing outside perspective or expertise that aligns with, enhances or co-designs the strategy.

The notes about the shift away from large organizations is very interesting to me. Doesn't decentralization (to highlight one) help with this effect such that innovation, creation, empowerment to do so happens like it does at Amazon (not to open a can of worms about workplace culture but they manage decentralization and innovation brilliantly)? That teams build, create, deliver with absolutely clarity about how it will affect the customer....that the focus is away from the 'steps' and how things are done to the connection to the internal or external customer deliverables. I realize this 'sings' of an outcomes focus and maybe that is a way of the past as well but have experienced the liberating affects of how small teams within large organizations are effective because there is little mandate on process and more accountability on work achieved/delivered/completed/designed.

ulrich-nettesheim's picture

Patrick, sounds like your organization understands that selecting, developing, evaluating talent is the managers job. And that putting those tools in the hands of line management who use them well is exactly right. Congratulations to you and to your organization. Many organizations are struggling to get to where you are, and the HR function has drifted to the bottom as a weak substitute. Who in your organization is accountable for innovating human capital practices that may not be an immediate source of pain today, but could be a tremendous source of competitive advantage in two years? If/when your organization gets to 500 or 5,000, is their some benefit to having internal experts on such practices? Curious what you think. Thanks for your comment!

andy-lippok's picture

But that's the thing for me Ulrich, you should never let the organisation get to the size of 500 or 5,000 people. As soon as it grows it should be split and each element do what's best for the customer. Is that not the way that Semco, or Gore, and many others work best? And please don't tell me about "economies of scale" - that's one of the biggest fallacies around. The real benefit is not in scale but in the flow of work to deliver a service or product to the customer. It's the economy of scale that gave us bad banking, poorly run hospitals, the growth in off-shoring contact centres that made customer service hell, etc.

richard-james-barnes's picture

Andy, this is spot on. I recall railing against the closure of local hospital services in favour of the glass and steel towers of NHS Trusts in the 80s and 90s which was always more about looking after the staff and managers than patients' and families' real needs. Now we are seeing cottage hospital services being reinstalled by the Government! The other department which needs abolishing apart from HR is "Customer Services". This terrible, soul destroying concept took responsibility and accountability to the customer for delivering poor service away from those who were at fault and placed a barrier between customer and service deliverer. The latter have become immune from criticism while the former has infested the planet with the appalling 'call centres' we all suffer from today.

Either radical cultural change at the top will change things or those at the top might find the new power of consumers in the social media world will do it for them. Just ask Mr Morsi what happens these days when you lose sight of your customers.

Ulrich's approach took us a little way there but we now need to replace rigid central departments like HR and CS with bubble-teams (i.e. short term) and more direct interfaces between the end-user and the provider at a personal/team level.