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Is The Business Ready For When The HR You Know Is Gone?


While the world keeps talking about moving “digital”, there is a stereotype that gets blanketed – HR hardly adds value to an organisation as they are not prepared to lead the company into a digital work environment and that maybe it is time their seat at the table is revoked.

I see it slightly differently. Within the next 5 years, the role of HR will drastically shift. This is no longer a hunch, this is now fact the likes of Josh Bersin have proven. HR will become part bots, part deep level expertise coaches for the business (internal consultant with deep expertise). So with that, I have a slightly different question.


The ownership of managing people is not on HR- it never has been, and never should be. It’s on the very bosses that claim the credit for the good work their people do but when the very same people fail to deliver, it is suddenly HR’s issue.

Time and time again sitting with Business-line leaders, I hear them say something along the tune of “We don’t have time for this, we have a business to run”. But what is your business if not a collection of individuals? People are not easy to deal with, I get that, but we can’t solve the people problem like we solve a process issue. We cannot legislate for human nature but we can learn to build brilliant experiences that lead to brilliant results.

Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United football manager, once said, “They (the players) win, We draw, I lose”. That level of accountability and understanding of how to get the best out of people seem to be common-sense but that is not really so common if anything it is becoming more scarce.


I have always opined that HR must learn to stop being a cost centre and become a profit centre. It was nice to know that a recent McKinsey article also started saying the same – but this surely sounds easier said than done.

The role of HR can no longer evolve. IT MUST REVOLUTIONISE. Start by drastically changing the composition of the HR personnel within each department.

I believe the 1/3 rules apply here. 1/3rd of your HR department should be Mathematicians and Statisticians and people exposed deeply in the field of Behavioural Psychology. Another 1/3 should be business/functional (internal) consultants and only 1/3 should know anything about HR. Don’t trust me? Ask Laszlo Bock, former Senior VP of People Operations at Google, who also seems to think so.

The reason for this is really simple. The HR teams of the future are going to be the kind that generate data based on experiments, gather data from sources all around the world and build a story on how the company can leverage these sets of data to craft a story to drive ultimate performance.

The HR of the future is one that can sit with CEOs and Boards and have the same conversation that the Heads of Strategy and CIOs are having- What levers can we pull to make sure we are able to achieve our goals?

I crave for the day a head of HR can sit with the CEO and Board to draw a line of things that needs to happen with its people directly to “Target Share Price”.

This day, I truly believe, is not far away.

In Memory of the Great Jack Welch, allow me to end this with one of my favourite quotes from him to CEOs – one that seems so simple but so nuanced and insightful;

“If your CFO is more important than your CHRO; you’re nuts”

Jack Welch

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Decoding Digital Disruption

The unstoppable rise of digital disruption.

By 2020, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other advanced technologies will drastically transform the way we live, work and interact with one another. Today, digital disruption already spans across all industries and verticals, causing an awakening tremor that shakes the foundation of many businesses.

What is changing?

Business models, operations and processes, products and services, as well as customer experience are experiencing unprecedented shifts. The growth in connectivity, innovation, and an explosion of data drive new ways of conducting business. Many organisations are already ramping up technological investments to sustain their competitive edge.

Preparing for the digital future – Be a game-changer.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, it unearths many previously unimagined possibilities. Some jobs will disappear, others will expand, and new ones that don’t exist today will become the new norm.

The war for digital talent is also getting underway of intensifying. Talents today are no longer the same as talents ten years ago, and the talents of tomorrow are still relatively unknown.

We have seen the appointment of the world’s first AI director, and also AI making debut as a news anchor. Let’s be honest. Humans are more worried than ever of being replaced. The good news is, humans will still remain central to the future of work.

However, what is the recipe?

“By 2022 everyone will need an extra 101 days of learning” – World Economic Forum

1. Be agile, not fragile

Adaptability and agility will be the key to survival. While you might find yourself surrounded by ambiguities, be open to what lies ahead and rapidly mutate to keep up with the changing demands. Develop an appetite for change and risks, and be comfortable navigating through the unknown with tenacity.

2. Think with speed and beyond what you can imagine

In the world where data is the new currency, the ability to think on your feet and harness meaningful insights quickly is imperative for success. AI and machine learning may speed up the process, but human creativity is still irreplaceable. Be bold to embrace new ways of thinking, and think divergently to connect possibilities.

3. Keep the human touch alive

Humans are now increasingly connected than before. Though human-machine collaboration is an uptrend, the human element still lies at the core of trusting relationships. In fact, emotional intelligence is gaining prominence for effective communication, collaboration and leadership.

4. Learning to learn

Know what to learn and how to learn, relearn and unlearn. The world of digital opens up many uncharted areas. Be a sponge and constantly reinvent yourself. The Future of Jobs Report 2018 suggests that everyone will need an extra 101 days of learning and upskilling by 2022.

It’s now or never.

Digital revolution is inevitable and it calls for a new mindset. Businesses and people need to be nimble and proactive to avoid being daunted by disruptions. Digital is a moving end-state – embrace, evolve, and enjoy!