Hacking HR to Build an Adaptability Advantage

keith-gulliver's picture

Self-Build Job Roles

By Keith Gulliver on June 12, 2022

Brief Overview - the notion is one of organisations having an adaptive approach to work, by giving individuals regular opportunities to choose a proportion of what they do rather than having it all determined for them.

It will enable individuals to develop new skills, knowledge and experience through a variety of different options.

These options could be defined by the organisation (e.g. projects or departmental assignments) the individual (e.g. a piece of research) or other people in the organisation (e.g. a hack).

It will also give individuals the opportunity to complete some formal learning (e.g. internal or external courses), do community work or take time out.

It will facilitate the movement of talent around the whole organisation.

It will require strong leadership, co-operation and commitment to a new model and a new way of thinking about work. New skills including an ability to deal with and overcome complexity will be required. It may need a new financial model for the organisation.

Example - the figures used in the notes below are illustrative only.

Individuals employed by the organisation will have an employment contract of 40 hours and a set of core job role activities that make up 50% of those hours.

Every 12 months individuals choose from a different set of organisation-wide options to make up the other 50% of their hours. Individuals can choose up to 4 options from across different categories. For example:

  • Additional core (capped at 75% of the total hours)

  • Assignments

  • Learning

  • Projects

  • Experimentation

  • Secondment

  • Community

  • Time out

Barriers To Adaptability Being Overcome - hierarchy, habit, inflexible business practices, rigid structures, skills deficit and insufficient experimentation.

Related HR Processes - talent deployment.

Related adaptability principles - experimentation & learning, autonomy & trust and creativity.


HR process being hacked:Talent Deployment

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keith-gulliver's picture

Many thanks to everyone who's signed-up to this hacking team!
I'm looking forward to working with you :-D
And many thanks to those who have commented, really appreciated.

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.
My view of systems thinking works on people redefining job roles quite fundamentally - people design the work around the customer's needs, their roles adapt and the manager's role is to remove the obstacles.

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!

kubatova-jaroslava-kukelkova-adela's picture

Hello Keith,
We see a possibility of getting insight of the “pure adaptability” in your job-design model based approach. Organisation and its people can react on the needs of the market and employees preferences in a really flexible way. Let’s people do what they like, it is more productive. Anyway, it would need to be implicated in an organisation with a trustful, open-minded culture and plate organisational structure with carefully selected employees who would appreciate it. Still, the implication will be challenging. Once succeed employees becomes motivated and more productive and we agree with you, that this would be an opportunity for wide organisational knowledge sharing. But do you think all the organisational needs (and roles) will be fulfilled by right persons? It makes perfectly sense that special tasks should be done by somebody who has an interest on them, but what if there are some tasks which nobody is willing to do (e.g. administration)? We should also find a key how to make employees to choose their job roles (who will choose first and based on which criterions?). We propose a model based on the 360 degree feedback made once a review period (e.g. twice a year) and make groups of employees with similar results. Every group will have its time for group-discussion with the HR and adjustment of their flexible part of job role.

keith-gulliver's picture

Thank-you for signing up Claire! :-D

perry-timms_1's picture

Job Crafting and the likes of build your own role totally wins for me where people have built up a decent enough understanding of what their key role is AND THEN where they can add most value on top of that.

What you describe was my role for a while, almost entirely crafting my own responsibilities. So good was that, it had a sense of self-actualisation about it.

What caused me to move on was my own inability to self-regulate and impossible conditions added to the role but I still believe in the hack you suggest.

Would love to see this one more prominently positioned and people are skilled in "how to craft your own role"...



Postscript - My good friend over at Roehampton University Dr Christina Evans has coauthored this - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Re-Tayloring-Management-Christina-Evans/dp/14094...

Might be of interest to you Keith.