The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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I usually write about cycling here, but I generally make it no secret that I’m a wannabe foodie.  ((My other blog is a food blog))  Great food is sometimes about simplicity, and other times it’s about depth and flavor combinations.  I was recently at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles (( Osteria Mozza is a partnership with celebrity chef Mario Batali)) where I had a squid ink pasta with Dungeness crab, sea urchin, jalapenos, all bathed in great olive oil and sea salt.  This is not something I would have put together at home, but it was absolutely splendid.

Sometimes you get something so wholly unexpected that there is really no way it should be good, but it turns out wonderful.  At Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, you have Sam’s Sunday, a chocolate ice cream with bergamot olive oil, maldon sea salt and whipped cream.  Not sure who thought of the idea of putting olive oil on chocolate ice cream, but it’s about the best thing I’ve had in San Francisco (the sea salt over chocolate might be obvious though).

Here’s the point.  Sometimes one dimensional, single flavor, simple items are delightful.  But sometimes you just have to put things together that nobody really wants and expects to create delightful experiences.  HR is a silo, and within HR, we have silos.  Payroll hates HR (rightfully so), the comp guys think they are so much more analytical than the rest of us (they are), the talent guys are naturally cross functional but somehow still don’t collaborate well.

At the end of the day, we don’t get good product if we don’t collaborate cross functionally.  We are no longer in a world of functional HR.  We are in a world of end user, employee and manager delivery.  They don’t see us as functional, they see us as HR.  They don’t care if we talk to each other or not, because they don’t even know we have silo’d separations.  All they care about is that things work seamlessly.  Process flows from one to the next.  Portals represent all the information they need to know.  And call centers and HR business partners are a one stop shop.

It does not matter that we have our own little internal conflicts, but that’s not usually the barrier.  The barrier is just that we’re not used to working with each other.  We don’t get in the same room often enough, and when we do it’s the directors, not the practitioners (Directors seem to feel the need to be gatekeepers – this is counter-productive).   Enough with the projects that I can’t reach broadly because of political expectations, or can’t talk to someone because they don’t like someone else.  You’re leading yourselves to failure, even as you tell me you want to be collaborative and cross functional.

(This post was written in 2009 with nobody in particular in mind.)

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