StartUp or ShutDown? Pit Lane Risks For Digital HR
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StartUp or ShutDown? Pit Lane Risks For Digital HR

Updated: Feb 20, 2019

After a few laps, the 2019 F1 testing has got the potential to get quite fruity very quickly. All the teams along the paddock are manically searching for hundredths of a second improvement between each track in what is set to be an extremely competitive and thus enthralling championship.

Whether motorsport is your thing or not, the truth is that it is a hotbed of innovation, technology, analytics, and advanced engineering coupled with that magic ingredient to create something amazing - humans.

What we are seeing applied to a car in a quest to get around a racetrack faster than anyone else are all the ingredients inherent in the Future of Work.

In fact, so linked are the world's of elite motorsport and work improvement that alliances between race teams and business transformation specialists are becoming ever more sophisticated. Just look at the joint venture between Deloitte and McLaren as proof.

But for those of us in HR we have historically been arms-length from the real cutting edge of the actual technology, settling instead for a focus on the humans and our Cloud core HR system of record. 

Not anymore.

Our expertise in understanding and improvement of areas such as engagement, inclusion, motivation, leadership and behaviour is being blended with cognitive analytics, artificial intelligence, sensors, and automation. 

The reason for this is that HR finds itself in the driving seat of designing and building not just the next generation of the function but also the entire organisation. Whether it be networks of teams, augmenting virtual agents with people or leveraging the open talent economy we are at the forefront of innovating work, workforce and workplaces in a race to ensure our businesses survive the disruption upon us.

This fusion of technology, people and business transformation represents a massive opportunity for HR to change historic perceptions of the profession and provide the career pathway to personal growth for our dedicated practitioners.

To be successful though we ourselves must become digital. We must clearly define and then deliver on our responsibility to:

  • Enable the enterprise to adapt to a digital world

  • Disrupt HR through application of digital capability

  • Embed a sustainable digital culture   

No small feat then. Oh and I forgot to mention that we need to do all this now. Putting it off means disappearing from the grid.

Given then that mastery of the latest gizmos, gadgets and game-changers hasn't exactly been our strongest skill set to date, how does HR transform into an agile and high-performance race team?

Well, there to help us work that out is a massive, and literally unbelievably huge, army of digital parts suppliers in the form of start ups.

Billions of pounds annually are being pumped into tiny HR and workforce related digital entrepreneurs. Private equity groups, VC's, family foundations and angel networks are throwing cash at anything with an idea in the hope to cash in from the 'next big thing'.

Sounds exciting. And it is. Especially given all these investment dollars are being ploughed into what is effectively innovation for HR.

But all that focus on us comes at a price. The deal is that we are now the target segment of choice for these often half-baked, immature, wildly disruptive, cashflow impaired and sometimes architecturally non-compliant technologies. What's more, the digital sales army are mobilising in their droves to come and sell all this to you. A quite literal bombardment of digital pledges and promises are heading to a pitch near you.

So the choices are: 

  • Close the garage door and stick with the technologies and vendors you trust today while taking the risk that they smell the digital coffee beans and accelerate the levels of genuine innovation in their future releases.

  • Open the garage door and have a good look at what's out there so you're exposed to the potential, and of course have a chance to compare with your current capability, while acknowledging the risk you buy something you either didn't need, doesn't work or won't survive to release 3.0

  • Sneak out of the paddock into the market with a pre-determined shopping list of start up hopefuls that will fit most effectively with your digital aspiration and future of work requirements knowing that you'll be able to increase adoption rates, and thus impact, of anything you decide to buy.

The pit lane is unfortunately littered with failed parts, products and exciting start up providers who passionately believed they could find another hundredth second or two from your car. Without their belief and pursuit of performance, however, the sport will not move forward year-after-year. They are the lifeblood of racing innovation.  So despite the demise of some, everyone in the ecosystem is committed to the greater good of the sport.

And the same is true of the HR digital start ups of today. They genuinely care and are engerised to see the positive impact of their inventions applied to your business.

So don't close the garage door and pretend that what you've got will keep you competitive next year as it won't.

Similarly don't head out with the biggest R&D wallet throwing your cash at every shiny widget that catches your eye.

Recognise that the championship winners are the teams that most effectively combine innovation, commercial management and ways of working to achieve three performance outcomes and one overarching requirement:

  • Speed

  • Reliability

  • Flexibility

  • Safety

It's a difficult balancing act and it requires the creation of a total performance culture starting with leadership, but it is possible. That's why you will need a good chief digital HR disruptor who knows the daily changing market landscape, as well as what needs to be built, to help you get the most from the ecosystem.

With HR now designing the next generation organisational hybrid to be raced around our societies and economies. It's quite important you're informed, before you start assembly, that your start up delivers the performance you need, won't shutdown mid race and doesn't put you or your people at risk. Put it to the test first.

If you're wondering where you'll find a chief digital HR disruptor, not to mention a garage to play in, then let us know and we'll lend you ours. Happy Racing!