Saturday, May 15, 2010

Taking the Long View...Why "Strategic" Can't Mean One Year...

So I am a huge believer in Strategic Human Capital Management (HCM). Taking a strategic approach allows for you and your team to play a more proactive and impactful role in positioning the organization for success. Yet I am the first to admit that in today's world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA)...the ability to look strategically and plan for the Human Capital Capabilities (HCC) to execute the strategy is extremely challenging.

Because of VUCA pressures, the need for agility and adaptability are forcing time compressed strategy development and execution. During the recession, it appears strategy took a backseat to managing the organization's resources on a day-to-day basis. The external environmental factors were changing so quickly that survival was critical success factor...nit strategy.

A March 2010 Harvard Business Review blog titled "Strategy on the Morph" by Walter Keichel (Author of "The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World") really provides insight in to what was happening in respect to strategy. In the blog, this quote really points to the perspective that strategy is wounded.

You may have read one such proclamation in the Jan. 25 Wall Street Journal. "Strategy, as we knew it, is dead," argued Walt Shill, who leads Accenture's North American consulting practice. An article titled "Strategic Plans Lose Favor" goes on to quote him saying, "Corporate clients decided that increased flexibility and accelerated decision making are much more important than simply predicting the future."

So if HCM leaders buy in to this view...we should just sit and react. We can sit and wait for our customers to come and tell us what they want and how they want it and we can deliver on it. So if you believe may be in the wrong profession.

Research by the Stanford Center on Longevity released in February that taking a strategic and "long-view" in HCM will be critical. The report titles "Population Age Shifts Will Reshape Global Workforce" indicates taking the long-view will be important based upon future workforce demographics. If we don't take a proactive stance to drive customers to think strategically about HCM and impact to future capabilities required to execute the strategy...then we are really not doing our job to support the organization's continued growth and mission accomplishment.

My virtual friend, Daniel John Roddy (HCM Leader for the Institute for Business Value (IBV) at IBM Global Business Services) stated it simply in a discussion on the One HCM Global Community on LinkedIn...

"But would you really want to recommend a major investment in building out your workforce in any country without understanding the social and economic implications of its urban development and demographic trends? I don’t think so.

And what if, in taking the long view, the emerging market workforce strategy itself could become a source of sustained competitive advantage? An input to strategy formulation, rather than only a work stream of the business execution plan?

In my view, firms hoping to differentiate on their emerging market workforce strategy will need to add three additional competencies to their current workforce analytics toolbox: population demographics, cross-cultural attributes analysis, and an understanding of, and vision for, what the United Nations has termed ‘Human Development’.

So actually, I don't think the quantification attempts in relation to human capital are the problem, more at issue is the typical reactive and short-term perspective we are bringing to the task.

Maybe I have been in China too long, but I have become a big believer in the importance in taking the long view of desired outcomes, in business and in life."

Taking the long-view is a critical competency for HCM that we will need to continue to develop in order to lead our organizations in to the future.

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