The Future of HR – Building Collaborative Insight

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Lynda - Hot Spots Movement - Portrait by LK - web size 72dpiAdvances in technology have revolutionised the way we collaborate in our personal lives. We have daily updates even from distant friends through Facebook news feeds, we rent hotel services through peer-to-peer platforms like AirBnB, and we seek help and advice from user forums rather than company manuals. Where we have made far less progress however, is in awakening this new era of collaboration in the workplace. Indeed, while collaborative technology is at our fingertips, we still gravitate towards conventional and outdated approaches to information sharing, decision-making and personal development. But why is this?

My many years of research have taught me time and again that a company’s culture is often at the heart of the issue. Even organisations that invest time and money in collaborative platforms like Yammer and Chatter, fail to see the impact they hoped for because they neglected to assess whether or not their company’s culture encouraged collaboration. Indeed, if performance management processes, remuneration systems, and job deigns are all individually oriented, then companies are unlikely to see employees dash to engage with collaborative technologies. To make collaboration work then, we must view an organisation as a system and develop processes and practices that give clear signals in favour of collaborative behaviour. But who in the organisation is able to transform culture in this way?

Of all the functions in a company, HR is the guardian of the future and the most influential in transforming culture. In the coming years it will fall to HR teams to foster collaborative cultures through rewards and recognition for knowledge sharing, complementary skill development within teams, and a renewed focus on network building. This challenge is the current focus for my research team at the Future of Work Research Consortium. Over the next few months we will be working with our members – some of the world’s leading organisations – to craft the future of HR and define the capabilities needed for this function to be the driving force behind collaborative organisations.

4 thoughts on “The Future of HR – Building Collaborative Insight

    Matthew Kalman Mezey (@MatthewMezey) said:
    January 13, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Hi Lynda,

    I hope you’ve spotted the 12 case studies of ‘Next stage’ organisations in Frederic Laloux’s inspiring 2014 book ‘Reinventing Organisations’ – loads about HR in there, plenty of detail.

    You can read the book for free here: (and pay what you like later).

    Morning Star – which you have talked/written about – is one of his case studies.

    He’s giving a lecture in London in a couple of weeks, at the RSA – where I really enjoyed hearing you some months back:

    Tickets are long gone, but everyone can watch the live-feed – and even put questions to him via Twitter, to be asked during the Q+A (something I got going while I was at the RSA).

    As far as I can tell, though, the only ‘Next stage’ organisation that has made its method transferable and trainable is Holacracy, another of Laloux’s case studies. There are still 5 tickets left for a Holacracy introductory workshop in London next month from the only UK Holacracy training org, if you want to find out what all the fuss is about:

    With the notable $1bn US online retailer Zappos now implementing Holacracy (‘replacing Managers’) – as CEO Tony Hsieh believes it can truly free up staff innovation and autonomy – it’s become a hot management trend. It will be fascinating to see how it plays out…

    The organisations in Laloux’s book aren’t just tiny nimble start-ups – one of them is the global energy supplier AES, with 40,000 staff.

    Others organisations that have seen his book are now keen to shift towards a more human, self-managed approach too – one of them I know is far larger than AES.

    I hope you’ve connected with Frederic, or will do when he’s over – as there might be powerful ways you could boost the transformation/Future of Work agenda together….?

    Matthew Mezey

    laila said:
    March 18, 2015 at 12:43 am

    I like your column very much its very interesting,its widen my knowledge! I learned a lot,more power keep up the good work.thank you.

    […] op keer geleerd dat de cultuur van een bedrijf de kern van een zaak is”, schrijft Gratton op haar blog. “Zelfs organisaties die tijd en geld hebben geïnvesteerd in nieuwe tools als Yammer en Chatter, […]

    Girish Menezes said:
    May 12, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Information sharing publicly does not come naturally to employees. The business needs to identify whether its culture and industry is enhanced by information sharing and then incentivise if appropriate.Certain pockets of the organisation, such as R&D, project management and consultancy services may be better suited than others. Sharing will always be limited to a small core of individuals with the rest lurking and cherry picking best practice and IP. Technology can only be the enabler once the ground work has been completed.

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