Monday, 13 October 2014

The future is social. But only for a one-legged ladybird.

You never have to travel very far in the Twitterverse or Blogosphere these days to encounter those preaching the Gospel of Social.

The Evangelists of E-Connectedness urge us to link in, keep tweeting, and altogether network, network, network as if our lives depended on it. Collaboration, it would appear is something that is best done online, and preferably on a constant and continual basis.

Cloudsharing, tweet-ups and hackathons are (according to this particular Gospel) the way that knowledge is acquired, shared and implemented. We are always at our best when we are together, and solitary working is anathema to progress and innovation.

Well, if you're a disciple of this particular denomination, here's bit of good news: Dave Ulrich (the much-maligned and cool-to-criticise Grand Fromage of HR practice) agrees with you!

In his recent book "HR From The Outside In" (and, Dear Reader, you have read this, haven't you?) Ulrich is passionate about using technology to remove low value added or bureaucratic processes, and connecting everyone in the business through technology (and using this to provide alternative solutions to the "we all need to be based in the office" paradigm. He's as evangelistic as it's possible to be about leveraging social medial for business purposes:

"Social media is also emerging as a way to connect employees with customers. Beyond simply addressing customer problems, these platforms are becoming a knowledge hub for collaboration among employees and customers to solve problems and generate new ideas to improve products and services. Businesses cannot afford to ignore this new reality."

So, let's get connected and the world will be ours ...

Or not.

What is clear from reading Ulrich (and, I'd say, from an application of balanced common sense) is that the focus on becoming what he calls a Technology Proponent is but one of a number of competencies (six to be precise) that those of us in HR need to develop if we wish to be effective and influential. To be part of the Next Generation of HR, we also need to become much better at understanding the strategic context within which our businesses operate, increase our overall credibility and track record of delivery; concentrate on building the organisational capabilities of the businesses we work in; become adept at managing and championing change; and role model innovation and integration in everything we do.

You may choose to criticise Ulrich's particular selection of competencies, but there's not doubt that if all of us became better at all of these six areas, we'd be more effective in our jobs and improve the reputation and standing of the profession.

So it has to be said that although the future is social, it's only one leg of The Ulrich Ladybird!. And ladybirds may not be the most inspiring of creatures, but they do seem to function best when then have six legs, not just the one.