I haven’t been writing. I’ve wanted to, but I’ve been deep in a trough of not knowing. It feels pretty awful, but I’ve been here before and I know the drill. I have to keep going and eventually I’ll come out the other side.
Writing on the internet, even if it’s just a blog, or a tweet, seems to favour the certain. Or at least it can feel that way. When I’m in the trough of not knowing, I can vaguely remember being certain, the same way I remember summer when it’s mid-February. It’s a warm pleasant memory and I can’t wait for it to return. Until then, I have to fight the convincing belief that everyone already knows everything, except for me.
I’ve been wanting to write about evidence-based HR for a while, in part because back in 2013 I wrote a blog post critiquing the idea (brattily titled: “Evidence-Based HR: Are We Kidding Ourselves?”) and have since completely changed my opinion. This time, I’ve left it to the experts and invited the wonderful Natasha Ouslis to set me straight on what evidence-based practice in HR is and isn’t, and why we should care.
The word ‘journey’ should probably only be used if you’re talking about how someone got to the Olympics, or to Mordor. And yet I’m using it here because I’ve been thinking about the rhetoric and reality of change and transformation.
I am currently re-reading ‘Thinking in Systems: A Primer’ by Donella Meadows, a book that had a big impact on me the first time I read it. This time around, it reminded me of the Doom Loop.
A Doom Loop, aside from being an exceptionally good name for your next band, is the label attached to a reinforcing feedback loop in a system. A loop in which the selected solutions simply worsen the underlying problem. A vicious cycle, in other words.
This week I finally made it to Social HR Camp (after scheduling conflicts in past years) and got to hear about all kinds of cutting-edge HR/People tech making its way onto the market. It was an exciting and interesting event. Also this week, I had dinner with a friend who shared that her 600 person organization still does payroll manually. She had the carbon paper pay slip to prove it. Reader, I nearly choked on my focaccia bread.
Last Monday I was part of a panel at an event titled “Keeping HR Human in a Digital World”. It was a great panel with diverse viewpoints and experience, and a lively audience that stuck around to ask questions and chat.
A question that wasn’t asked, but maybe should have been is:
“What do we even mean by ‘digital’?”
Certainly we all know the literal meaning of ‘digital’, and based on the discussion at this event, we definitely get that a digital world means one with lots of technology…but how is that different than last year, or 5 years ago, or even 10?
This week I attended two events held by networks I’m part of (Strategic Capability Network and Toronto Organization Development Network) that looked at innovation from the organization and individual level.
Innovation risks being yet another superficial buzzword in the HR space, in part because our culture and history as a profession is strongly linked to compliance, risk mitigation, and standardization, which is at odds with an innovative mindset. And yet, it’s clear that to attract the best talent, maintain position in the market, and respond to stakeholder demands, we must embrace it.
This week I noticed an eye-catching stat making the rounds again. You’ve likely seen it as well:
“65% of today’s elementary school students will do jobs that do not yet exist”
Although it sounds believable, the claim is actually quite suspect. You can read a thoughtful tale of its history and context in this excellent essay from Benjamin Doxtdator: ‘A Field Guide to ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’’.
The underlying message this stat conveys is that education is failing to prepare our next generation for the economy of tomorrow. And hey, don’t we already have a digital skills gap?
The perils and promise we imagine the future to hold are like a mirage on the horizon, reflecting a time that never really arrives. It is the perfect canvas for us to project our hopes and fears onto, always ahead, ominous or inviting.
The result is that we fail to attend to the present and our recent past, and the clues they might offer to validate or diminish our fears and hopes.
On Thursday evening, I had a great time (after pushing through a moderate amount of terror) speaking at DisruptHR Toronto