I recently met with a colleague, Laura Mindek, who attended the National Human Resources Planning Society conference in California. Laura is past president of the New York affiliate and she and I both served on its board for a number of years.
I asked her what was her key take away from the conference and what are the challenges facing Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO). She spoke about two:
1. CHRO’s Need to Focus On The Global Big Picture
The U.S. is competing with everyone from everywhere for everything – specifically, against smart and hungry countries like China and India who are no longer doing just the repetitive administrative work that we outsource.
2. Companies That Survive Will Reinvent Themselves
Companies that reinvent themselves will be the ones that are successful.
Strategy will still be important, but reinvention will come at an operations level, particularly from middle managers collaborating on breakthrough ideas.
So what are CHRO’s to do to help their organizations meet these challenges?
How To Compete Globally
The prediction is that by 2020 China and India along with Russia and Brazil will be the dominant centers of economic influence.
CHRO’s need to help senior management wake up and get their heads out of the sand. They need to educate their leaders and create a sense of urgency so they can start preparing to be competitive before it’s too late.
Today, companies need leaders:
- Who know how to adapt quickly to meet the demands of the global marketplace and have a “speed to market” mindset, and
- More importantly, see the bigger picture.
Just like people, companies tend to be either Introverted (focus inward) or extroverted (focus on the external world). From my perspective, most U.S. companies are way too introverted.
Ron Heifetz, senior lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and author of Leadership Without Easy Answers, captured it well when he said that leaders tend to get “swept up on the dance floor.” On the dance floor you usually only see your partner or those people dancing closest to you. In order to get a broader view – global - one needs to “get on the balcony” where they can see the entire dance floor. Leaders must also be able to move back and forth between the dance floor and the balcony in order to adapt.
So, wake up America and get on the balcony before it’s too late. Are your leaders “on the dance floor or, “on the balcony?”
How to Survive and Reinvent Yourself
Innovation most often comes from those on the front lines who are closest to the work and the customers. Until recently it was difficult for information to make its way around an organization to reach the masses.
The advent of Web 2.0 and social media tools such as blogs, wikis and internal social networks have helped companies capture and share knowledge and create common communities where all employees can access and share information easily.
The best companies are already preparing for the future by using social media and social networking to collaborate and accelerate innovation.
Companies such as P&G, Lego and Boeing allow employees to share information and knowledge for the purposes of R&D, the implementation of more innovative products and services, more effective marketing and working smarter.
McKinsey conducted a global survey of 1700 executives who reported using social media in a variety of ways:
- 41% use social media internally
- 34% use it to connect with customers
- 25% use it to work with external partners and suppliers
For more information about how companies such as Deloitte, Cisco, JetBlue and Nokia are using social media, I highly recommend that you read Jeanne Meister and Kelly Willyerd’s new book, The 2020 Workplace. It’s chuck full if ideas on how you can tap into the collective wisdom and knowledge of your employees to help you innovate.
Is your company taking advantage of all Web 2.0 has to offer?