Lean. Strategic Planning. Design Thinking. Agile. | Deloitte US has been saved
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"To win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace"
–Doug Conant, former president and CEO Campbell Soup Company
It is an exciting time to be part of HR. Right before our eyes, HR is transforming into ways of working never seen before. The 1990s are well behind us and it’s fair to say that at most enterprises HR now has a strategic role in leading the business. This is a blessing, a challenge, and the biggest opportunity to create value that HR has ever experienced. As HR has moved into the boardroom and solidified its role in the C-suite, visibility to business imperatives is much clearer for HR and the opportunity to shape those imperatives from a workforce angle is greater than ever. In return, leaders are expecting that workforce programs evolve more rapidly and drive greater, measurable value.
These new expectations drive HR leaders to look outside organizational walls, learn from other functions, and import leading practices that will enable HR to travel at the speed of business, make data-driven decisions, and deploy workforce programs that enable the business to win over the workforce and customers.
The seemingly never-ending quest continues: How do HR organizations, which are aspiring to enable their businesses and people to excel, operate? And, how do the latest insights about becoming exponential HR connect with, complement, or replace the array of practices that have come before in the forms of Lean, design thinking, strategic planning, and agile? These new expectations drive HR leaders to look outside organizational walls, learn from other functions, and import leading practices that will enable HR to travel at the speed of business, make data-driven decisions, and deploy workforce programs that enable the business to win over the workforce and customers.
Irrespective of methodologies, HR must accelerate its pace to effectively deliver on the workforce priorities at the speed of business today. This demands laser-sharp attention to delivering work outcomes that impact business imperatives. HR should architect solutions that elevate the human experience and apply advanced, digital technologies to generate insights and partner machines with humans to help generate value.1
HR leaders are drawing from the methods of lean, design thinking, strategic planning, and agile to break away from traditional operating models and achieve work outcomes in an integrated way that enable HR teams to unlock previously unrealized value when applying each method independently.
We observe HR organizations integrating methods as they work toward evolution—perhaps even revolution—of how HR operates. Although integrating methods may not be the result of an intentional effort and, instead, the blending of practices learned and borrowed over the years, the result may be to fuel an HR organization that consistently focuses on outcomes to achieve sustained results. Four key, interdependent components are coming together, as shown in the visual below:
Design thinking. The principles and practices of design thinking enable anchoring to the real needs of HR customers by continually sensing internal and external workforce trends. HR organizations moving toward exponential use on-going and dynamic feedback loops to constantly sense HR customer sentiments, going into the “field” for firsthand observation of their customers doing their jobs. They define HR customer personas to tailor programs and communications and create journey maps to highlight and help achieve success on the moments that matter. They iterate solutions, using pilots, and release management targets to continuously improve their impact.
Strategic choices. Once HR customers’ needs are deeply understood, HR organizations can use the proven framework of strategic choices to determine ways to “win” with the workforce.2 Michael Porter and John Kotter, from their years of research, summarize strategy as, “…being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”3 Applying this view of strategy to HR and using the strategic choice cascade, HR can decide how to best meet the needs of their customer segments and achieve meaningful outcomes. The strategic choice cascade consists of five interrelated and iterative questions that drive HR to make decisions about its ways of working and the value it provides. The questions form an HR-specific strategic choice cascade that might look something like the below where each question informs the next and may cause reconsideration of questions that preceded in the cascade, thus driving iterative strategy development:
Agile. The strategic choices inform HR’s direction, aligning with business and customer imperatives. The choices and the HR customer sensing collectively provide on-going input into the type of programs, solutions, and services HR designs and deploys. HR organizations on the path to becoming exponential are increasingly differentiating themselves from typical HR organizations by powering their designs by agile practices. This means HR leverages applied practices that enable speed, flexibility, experimentation, and learning. To help unlock the potential of exponential HR through becoming agile, many HR organizations are:
Aligning governance and decision rights to enable speed, including:
Leveraging product management approaches to manage HR like customer-facing products by:
Building the ability to sense and adapt to the needs of workers and the business by:
Lean. Finally, coming full circle, HR organizations moving toward exponential are obsessed with meeting business outcomes and their HR customer needs because they recognize this as an imperative to being competitively successful—competing for talent and for business in their markets. When HR employs a lean mind-set and related practices, the processes designed and managed to deliver the HR programs and solutions are constantly under the microscope. HR examines its ways of working in the lean context with the goal on continuously streamlining to deliver the highest possible quality at the lowest possible administrative overhead, improving the experience working with HR and reducing the administrative drag in getting work done that counts for the enterprise and its end customers.
Lean for HR continuously focuses the core questions of lean, applied to the policies, practices, solutions, processes, technology, and operating model HR uses to deliver, including:
While many HR organizations continue to apply elements of these four well-known methods, maximizing HR’s potential toward becoming exponential for the benefit of the workforce and enterprise may rest on creating a complementary combination of all four methods. Getting this balance right likely requires a thoughtful extraction of key elements from each method, applied in concert in a way that might look as follows:
Arthur H. Mazor is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and the Global HR Transformation Practice leader. Art collaborates with complex, global clients to drive business value through transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services.
Gary Johnsen is a specialist leader with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the deputy leader of the HR Strategy & Employee Experience practice. He helps complex organizations design and deploy innovative HR strategies, operating models, and HR customer experiences along with enabling processes, tools, and capabilities that build the bridge between business and HR.
Justin Clark is a manager with Deloitte Consulting LLP in the HR Strategy & Employee Experience practice, focusing on Business HR and how it can drive real value for the business.
Art, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, is the Global HR Transformation leader, and a part of the Global Human Capital Executive. Art is accountable for guiding the firm’s continued innovation and capability growth to drive unique and powerful client business outcomes that have enabled Deloitte’s position as the world’s #1 HR transformation consultancy. Art collaborates with complex, global clients to drive business value through transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services. He is the firm’s thought leader in setting people and HR strategies to pivot toward the Future of HR in the context of dynamic business, workforce, and digital disruption. Art has previously served as Deloitte’s Human Capital practice digital leader and the global practice leader for HR Strategy & Employee Experience. As a hands-on leader, Art is actively engaged in driving major human capital and HR transformation initiatives with some of the world’s best known brands. Art’s professional journey for more than 20 years has been exclusively focused on human capital management. He has held senior HR leadership, outsourcing executive, and human capital transformation consulting roles that form the multi-faceted foundation from which Art delivers value to his clients. Art earned his degree in Organization & Management at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.
A specialist leader in the HR Transformation practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, Gary has more than 20 years of experience leading and delivering HR strategy and transformation projects to help clients improve the intersection between business and people strategy. Gary combines his experience in HR management and consulting with a strong track record in learning, HR operating models, organizational and process design, change and talent management, service centers, and HR technologies.