How to be an Innovative HR Professional

Q. Tips for a budding L&D/HR professional

Become an OD (Organization Development) professional instead of a HR/L&D Professional.

Q. Your personal achievement as a HR professional?   

To work with Jesus Vega on Talent Management & HR Intelligence Projects 

  • As the Global HR Head of Zara, he launched Zara in 70 countries
  • He worked with Amancia Ortega in his 5 years stint with Zara
  • In a nutshell, working on Global and Start-up mission critical projects
  • Led 5 big Mergers and Acquisitions while being involved in changing the business model in 11 years

Q. How can a HR/L&D contribute strategically to an organization?

By investigating the root cause of current challenges in an organization, and recommending solutions with proper OD interventions (Diagnosis and thorough Systems Thinking), than giving instant and me too solutions, one can contribute appropriately. These may work in the short term but won’t stay relevant in the long run.                 

It is not wise to blame people for every problem and situation (create efficiency through design and innovation through first principle thinking). Often a HR professional operates on the theory of reductionism and for every problem we either recommend hiring people, training people, placing people on the so called Performance Improvement Plan or firing them. This is a very Palaeolithic mind-set to approach organization challenges.

Fall in love with P&L, Technology & Business and operate like an insider than like a neighbour trying to offer help when needed.

Q. Which is the One HR/L&D practice that has always worked for you as a HR Professional?

It is always the framework that works and never a practice. My first 5+ years were with a Global MNC (Benetton) where I worked across geographies and then at where we had 6-7 mergers and acquisitions in 4 years. The landscapes were different, the challenges were unique, mindsets and what stage the companies were very different. Hence, the solutions (practices) were very unique, authentic and customized.

Framework on how to design these practices was consistent because they are universal and company agnostic. I would strongly recommend HR/L&D folks to even assume of expecting that one practice will always work.

Q. Do you think robots can replace HR/L&D professionals in the coming decade?

Robots can replace people for many tasks that people usually have to handle. AI, Technology & ML are real and they are going to change things. People said the same when cars started replacing horses, that cars would never replace horses. Look at the world now. Question is, how many horse riders remained relevant to learn car driving quickly and be a part of the change. 

Q. How do you create a buy-in for training at workplace?

Understand the Law of diffusion of Innovation. Sell it to those who want to buy-it (2.5% innovators) and deliver world class experience. Early adopters (12.5%) will follow these innovators and if there is an impact and value, the late early majority (34%) will follow. One quick cue is: never make any program mandatory. See how many really want to do it when given an option (those are your innovators that will attract early adopters)

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