The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


Innovation Software and HR

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Do I ever get sick of being the only one who talks about innovation and preaching that HR should be involved?  Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent the last 6 months spewing on about collaboration and innovation and how HR should be part of the lead for figuring how that stuff works.  After all, it’s about how the WORKFORCE comes together and interacts to create product.  Yes, that’s all the businesses’ responsibility, but we can’t really ignore it, can we?

Well, turns out that I’m not the only one who’s been thinking this.  Thomas Otter wrote back in April about a beautiful tool that SAP is using to help their employees understand innovation and how the collaboration networks can be utilized.  Some nice commentary is included from users at SAP.

Do I realistically think that HR can participate in this discussion?  And why do I think that?  Yes, and I think that because we have other core data that makes it possible.  If we’re identifying competencies and expertise, our data in HR should be part of the algorithm that eventually calculates if someone is a go to person for particular topics.  It’s not the only part of the equation simply because some of our really smart people just don’t have the capability to collaborate to the level that other people do.  These are growth opportunities, and as we understand who our high potential collaborators are, we can help mold them in the right direction so that they are better go to experts.  (the total system of technology I envision may not actually exist yet today).

Similarly, we are here to develop a more productive workforce.  While it might be someone else’s responsibility to lead the development of product and production, the fact that HR touches every facet of the business can’t be ignored.  This is one of those things where if we have a “seat at the table” we should participate in the conversation.  Otherwise, we should give up our seat to someone who will participate.

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11 responses to “Innovation Software and HR”

  1. Innovation Software and HR Do I ever get sick of being the only one who talks about innovation and preaching that HR should be involved? Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent the last 6 months spewing on about collaboration and innovation and how HR should be part of … [

  2. Do I ever get sick of being the only one who talks about innovation and preaching that HR should be involved? Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent the last 6 months spewing on about collaboration and innovation and how HR should be part of … Read more

  3. Lavinia Weissman Avatar

    Hello Dubs,

    I don’t think you are the only one talking innovation. There are books, blogs, books, blogs and more blogs. I think the question is–where is the audience and who is ready for innovation.

    I just used very selectively to ask my personal network if they wanted to particpate in an alpha test of a new web site I developed that is about innovation as part of the curriculum, I have developed that is part of the innovation that WorkEcology sees is needed along with many many people you and I know in blogsphere.

    I sent out 106 personal invitations where I hand picked who got the invitation. In 10 minutes I got 9 responses. In 1 day I had 13 responses. In 24 hours, I had a completed written assessment. By direct mail standards so to speak this is an excellent response for a project that is offered this way. DM says I should get under 3% response. I got 10% acceptance of my invitation and 1% response day 1 with 5 more days to go for participation and more.

    On the side of speaking and addressing innovation. Innovation takes a high trust network to get a response and gain cooperation. I know I would get more of a response from many who believe in me, if their core groups (and the people who pay them) wanted that time.

    Then I know I always get a response on the heels of people who want to fly and meet my network.

    All this to say, is talking about innovation is one thing. Dubs, you do that well. Finding people to work with re: innovation requires a high trust networks. High trust networks do not emerge out of blogs and web sites unless their is a purpose, budget and core group supporting that learning.

    Have a great week.

  4. Scot Herrick Avatar

    I’d be curious — exactly how would HR take a seat at the table to participate?

    I ask, because in my experience (30-years in workforce) I’ve never seen HR be a real participant in the business. I’ve seen HR be in the room, but never provide real data, real analysis, and real help in solving business problems.

    Now, my situation may be a bit unique; this isn’t a complaint. I really would like to know how you think HR can help at different levels of the business.

    How at the “C” level of the organization. How can they help at the middle management area, and how can they help for those who work in cubes?

    What are the five ways HR can help make the workforce more productive? What are the ten data elements that HR can provide to improve the skill sets of the workforce?

    That kind of stuff.


  5. Lavinia Weissman Avatar

    Scott, I am still on line finishing up some correspondence and saw your remark. Alvin Toeffler addressed your questions in his book, the Adaptive Corporation, which was a report written and authored to AT&T predivestiture.

    The companies in my opinion who listen, have outsourced HRMS and integrate the HR activity into leadership roles at the CLevel. The people who have traditional HR functions are often the companies struggling to show they can measure roi on integration of HRMS/BPO into their systems and this is typically because they rely so heavily on technology for everything neither HR or OD has stepped forward to design deliberate and thoughtful dialogue to inquire into what innovation would mean and set up learning methods that result in learning to know to act.

    Some companies, especially companies that adopted early stage pay for performance before talent management and pay for performance was automated, if they are luck have a P4P OD specialist who operates like a psychiatrist on campus in a private office somewhere on a campus (virtual or geographical) organizing interventions If we aimed toward innovation, we wouldn’t have to innovate and change people, we would design and support learning that was funded and supported by core groups.

    Enuff for today!

    I am glad Dubs started this topic.

  6. Andrew Gebavi Avatar

    I agree with Lavinia – to an extent. But I think HR/OD is just waking up to the idea that technology helps them more than it hurts them. I wrote an article a while back that adresses this very subject. Link below:

  7. systematicHR Avatar

    That’s a great question and one I’m also trying to get my hands around. I believe that at it’s core, the production of innovation is focused around a core group of individuals. HR’s role is to be able to identify high potential employees to contribute to that innovation. I’m not suggesting that we get into the business of mapping the innovation network, but our understanding of the workforce should translate into an ability to help the operations side of the business identify potential innovators. The end state of this process is still the ops business figuring out how to get these people to collaborate and actually produce innovation, but there’s certainly a skill component to it.

    One example would be succession planning. We go to long lengths to identify potential leadership candidates. Is the process to identify people who have the potential to innovate all that different?

  8. […] Otherwise, we should give up our seat to someone who will participate. ???? Real Lesson From Get To Work systematicHR 2007-05-11 18:00 ?? | HR […]

  9. Lavinia Weissman Avatar

    Andrew, I don’t think that HR has really woken up to the possibility of technology, if they are not clear that technology is not about tracking data, it is about keeping knowledge up to date and acting on it to form learning to know and therefore act. (Bob Sutton and Pfeiffer. 101) Technology does not work unless the leadership conversation engages thought and draws on the best of technology to adapt that thought into practice.

    1. At NYU Stern around 2000, their work and studies of Sun Microsystems showed that dialogue and trust were key to the success of virtual teams who brought their practice into virtual workspace.

    2. In an interview of a Sloane Student and faculty that I did in 2001 at MIT, practitioners who did internships from Sloane with Ford Motor virtual teams stated that the thought that went into practice was invisible because the adopters used technology well and there was no need to write a case study and as a result of using technology, the practice translated into roi.

    3. Dubs, just an fyi, not a criticism, the term core group according to Art Kleiner, who wrote the book implies that decision making and budget authority. Innovation typically happens in social networks where the core group sees the practice, participates in it and/or funds it and can show roi to multiple stakehodler groups (not just investors).

    go to http:// for reference on book.

    So back to HR again, I think what is really needed is to ascertain who in the HR group has leadership competence to sit at the table with the decision makers in the core group to influence culture and innovation and then how does this leader influence adoption of technology and other methods to build high trust, review results as continuous learning and integrate an HR thought leadership that is woven into the fabric of the organization/company. HR cannot innovate where high performance of any kind is not something the culture supports, rewards and encourages.

  10. […] hard to overcome.” But overcoming that hurdle should be part of HR’s domain. Since, as Systematic HR puts it, human resources owns “identifying competencies and expertise” in employees, […]