The Godfather and the #PunkHR – Gary Hamel deserves something from us in HR.

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Quick musical reference – The Who’s iconic rock-opera album Quadrophenia features a track “The Punk and the Godfather”.  Bearing in mind this was recorded in 1974, it pre-dates the Punk Rock movement by a couple of years so in itself, was ahead of its time. 

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The link to this title is nothing to do with the actual song, it’s more about a snappy (ish) title that fits my #PunkHR thing, and I wanted to reference Professor Gary Hamel as the Godfather of new management – or Management 2.0 as he calls it.

The story behind this blog begins on November 6th 2012, and fireworks had been let off the night before as is the tradition.  The real firecracker came in the shape of the keynote address by Gary Hamel to CIPD 2012 Annual Conference and Exhibition. 

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Professor Hamel (www.garyhamel.com) – voted by Wall Street Journal as the number 1 management thinker, is a  London Business School Professor and creator and driving force behind the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX) http://www.managementexchange.com.

He’s a man of thoughts and energy.  It was the second time – for me – that I’ve seen Gary Hamel live.  2007 was the first time I saw him.  He rocked.  He called for us to challenge the management orthodoxies in his book the Future of Management.  He seemed not only intellectually brilliant, presentationally stimulating and passionately driven, he seemed like a nice guy.  And nice guys are important to the world.

So I’m going to christen him the Godfather.  Like Paul Weller became the Modfather, Gary Hamel is, and should even more so be, iconically associated with leading edge thoughts on management.  He can be challenged and @FlipchartRIck’s great blog did that.  But you know what?  Whether he’s on the money or just another thought leader with some stories to tell, he’s good – and I mean really good – for HR in the UK and for the CIPD.  The Godfather of HACKEDHR.   Yes the practice and profession of Human Resource Management. I think our time has come as a profession; this is when we show and deliver the difference we’ve long said we could and where we owe Gary Hamel some loyalty; belief and deliverance.

I can’t leave it at that though, and this is not a blog which is a replay of Gary’s session which in my mind lit the touchpaper for this firecracker – nay rocket – of HR brilliance I believe is our rite of passage now more than ever before. 

Instead, I’m going to attempt to show how Gary is actually the world’s leading PunkHR practitioner.  I will set out my thoughts on his renegade quotient (Gary’s words on his twitter account) is just what is needed to hack management. A hacked management model will create something new which will result in the betterment of all people within the myriad of workplaces and organisations.

That’s my view on our mission in life in HR; we study the dynamics of people and organisational coagulation that is work; we build the frames that work needs in and around it to get the best possible outcome from their “human resources” and we maintain our curiosity; experimenting with fresh concepts and deliver through that insight and belief to future proof people and work.

So, I have the audacity to label an eminent Professor as the leading PunkHR practitioner and the Godfather of HACKEDHR.  Well for a start it all comes from a place of the utmost respect.  I have an immeasurable admiration for Gary Hamel’s work.  And mostly, I’m trying to create a movement. 

A real movement and a movement in our minds. 

Admittedly this is off the back of someone else’s brilliance, but I want to start getting behind what Gary is now asking us all to think about in the hope others do too and we DO make a difference on something so critical to our world; our communities and ourselves.  This is higher calling stuff in my mind and I won’t apologise for being a believer and sharing my belief.  Do I want to be challenged on this?  If it helps me and all of us learn on this, give it your best shot, so yes please.  I just want to make this happen.  And by this, I will use Gary’s Management 2.0

Why not just participate in the MiX forum you may ask?  I might well do that but I feel more comfortable with a gentle step into this through my own blog space.  This is about building and is much about my being on my own learning journey here as being brave, wildly optimistic or just trendy.

So here goes – and I’ll use Gary’s “hack” reference so maybe it will port across into the MiX website.

Hack 1 – get our HR programmers writing the right lines of code for ourselves.  We, in HR, I believe have to be a little indulgent with ourselves first.  To take a long, cold, hard look at ourselves as a professional function and how we think; act; feel.  How are WE structured?  How do we set out our HR function within organisations?  How do we liberate, empower support our HR professionals.  How do we grow their abilities, confidence and impact?  We’ve had stabs at this in the past.  CIPD’s own Next Gen provided a burst of inspiration for me.  Even Dave Urlich’s work back in the day gave a new hope.  But we defaulted to old lines of code and our programmes became difficult to manage.  Our behaviours  upgrade failed to deliver so we uninstalled some thinking.  We ignored the need to back up just in case, but clear down our old files so we became cluttered.  We failed to defragment our hard drives and we became frustratingly slow at times and bad segments weren’t eradicated.  HR Business Partners?  Personnel Advisers with a new file name.  A Diversity firewall installed?  We failed to eradicate some Trojan horse viruses to this thinking. A multi-tasking operating system?  We had to reboot our desktops too often and became slow to load and start.

So we need to take on what Gary Hamel is setting out with a difference hierarchical model for the way HR sets itself up.  Utilising specialists – sure.  But don’t put ourselves in the boxes structure and then expect the business to go all “Morning Star” (and by this you might have to check on the HBR article – First Lets Fire All The Managers) on us voluntarily.  So by going all “Morning Star” it’s having a managerless environment with hyper-accountability by staff in agreement-based interactivity with each other and suppliers and lots of self-regulated performance and reward – in a pistachio shell of course.

Anyway, “the business” is unlikely to go all “Morning Star” on us, and we don’t give any signals that we would want them to.  We in HR don’t have a reputational footprint for being radicals in this area so if we don’t why would the business even think it could, should or would?

 I hope we are all in agreement as to why we need to change and capitalise on this now.  So we start with ourselves – but where do we start and how do make it happen?

OK as I’m writing this, it feels like I should be setting out a blueprint or at least a roadmap.  Which, if you read on, this might end up becoming or that’s for another time.

I don’t even think HR needs to go all “Morning Star” either.  It can though, and should provide for a more collegiate; experimentational; flexible; expertise-leveraging; decisive; cost-saving; learning-driven; insightful function which builds on its existing core of professional standards coupled with a more future-focused; inventive and energised approach about the thing we call HR.

So – to recap – HACK 1 – UPGRADE OURSELVES TO A NEW OPERATING SYSTEM; ARCHITECTURE AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

I’ll get my drafting clogs on and come up with future hacks to make this a theme of future blogs but clearly, whilst a bit of a Gary Hamel love-in, I seriously think he was talking to us and not the rest of the business world on the day in November.  4 months on, his words are still ringing loud and clear in my mind when perhaps the rest of the HR world has gotten over their brief moment of rebellious thinking and conformed to the usual business as usual.  Let’s Hack HR before we can get into Hacking Management and then we can be responsible for rebooting a new, prosperous, humane way forward for work.  I’m off to find out if anyone has defined the competencies that would describe hacking as I’m sure some people will want to know what the role profile looks like before they can join the movement…FFS..!

POST SCRIPT: this was a half-blog I have sat on waiting for the right time so with this announcement here how could I not let this blog go…future hack comments?  I won’t blog them or maybe I will – but I am going to be probably the most keen participant in what Peter Cheese and Gary Hamel have set out.  A new dawn for HR?  Only if we seize this opportunity.

HACKEDHR IS NOT FOR THE FEINT HEARTED!

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