HR Transformation: Building Human Resources From the Outside In (Business Skills and Development) Hardcover – 16 Aug 2009
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About the Author
Dave Ulrich is an author, speaker, management coach, and consultant.
Wayne Brockbank is a Clinical Professor of Business of the Strategic Human Resource Planning Program at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
Jon Younger career has been a mix of consulting, executive management and HR leadership.
Justin Allen is the Managing Director of The RBL Institute and a consultant with the firm.
Mark Nyman is a Principal with The RBL Group.
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Top customer reviews
Here is a brief excerpt from the Introduction: "Simply stated, we propose that the biggest challenge for HR professionals today is to help their respective organizations succeed." Obviously, to accomplish this worthy objective, the authors correctly assert that there are certain factors that must be present. Here are three:
1. It is imperative that the HR professionals themselves recognize the authenticity of this challenge and not only accept but embrace it as a unique opportunity for their own development but also for what the transformation will enable their organization to accomplish.
2. It is even more important that senior managers recognize the need for the transformation and commit to its completion whatever resources that may require. They must also be patient. Change initiatives worthy of the name are messy, complicated, unpredictable, and sometimes stalled temporarily. The change agents need and deserve senior management's full support.
3. There must be a game plan for the transformation process and I think the one that the authors provide in this book is eminently worthy of careful consideration because it is cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective. What I like about it is that it combines some of the best features of Six Sigma and Lean methodologies without limiting the options of those who select it. In fact, the authors provide invaluable advice with regard to how to modify the four-phase model to ensure that it fully accommodates the needs, interest, and objectives of the given organization.
Readers will especially appreciate the authors' skillful use of various reader-friendly devices that include "Tools," "Tables," "Figures," and dozens of checklists that facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points. In the Appendix (all by itself worth far more than the cost of the book), the authors provide (Pages 217-222) an inventory of all the tools that have been inserted throughout their narrative.
After they carefully identify all of the components of HR transformation, credit Ulrich and his collaborators with focusing almost entirely on how to complete one successful. They are clearly diehard, world-class pragmatists. For example, they explain
1. Why to initiate an HR transformation
2. What its probable outcomes will be if successfully completed
3. How to redesign the HR department
4. How to upgrade HR professionals
5. How to share accountability for the transformation
6. How to make it happen
In Part II, "Tales from the Trenches: Transformation Case Studies," they provide case study overviews of four companies (Flextronics, Pfizer, Intel, and Takeda) and suggest what lessons can be learned from each company's HR transformation initiatives. Presumably the authors agree with me that it would be a fool's errand to attempt to adopt all of the material in their book. It remains for each reader to determine (preferably in consultation with associates) which strategies and tactics as well as which people, timetable, and metrics would be most appropriate to their organization's needs, interests, objectives and resources.
In an uncommonly informative Introduction, the authors assert, "Our point is that HR professionals often focus entirely in the function of HR rather than externally on what customers and investors need HR to deliver. If HR professionals are to truly serve as business partners, then their goals must be the goals of the business. Transforming HR professionals into business partners isn't an end in and of itself; it's the means to a strategic, business-oriented end." Those decision-makers who have that specific objective would be well-advised to absorb and digest the material in this book. I commend Dave Ulrich, Justin Allen, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, and Mark Nyman on a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
This book builds on the many books written or coauthored by Dave Ulrich and associates, eg The HR Value proposition. It is not a repitition of previous work, but takes his work on gaining substantial competitive advantage through the transformation of Human Resource manaagement to a new level.
The essence of the book is set out by the authors on page five of the excellent introduction to the book:
"Simply stated, we propose that the biggest challenge for HR professionals today is to help their respective organizations succeed.
In businesses, promoting success may mean reducing costs. Growing in global markets, or innovating new products or services. In government agencies or non profit organizations, it may mean delivering services, achieving externally imposed goals, meeting constituent needs, or operating with reduced budgets. Our point is that HR professionals often focus internally on the function of HR rather than externally on what customers and investors need HR to deliver. If HR professionals are to truly serve as business partners, then their goals must be the goals of the business. Transforming professionals into business partners isn't an end in and of itself; it's the MEANS to a strategic, business orietated end."
They do overstate the position to make a point.
A key part of the book, is the strong emphasis placed by the very experienced team of authors on the role of HR, in building organizational capabilities. This draws on the article - "Capitalising on capabilities," from the Harvard Business Review. [June 2004 p119-217]
The capabilities are listed below and they are explained and developed in pages 37-50.
* Shared mindset.
* Customer connection.
* Strategic unity.
* Social responsibility.
Capabilities represent what the organization is known for, what it is good at doing, and how it patterns activities to deliver value. The authors say that there is no magic list of desired or ideal capabilities. However the list they provide seem to be inherent in well managed firms. They see these capabilities as the deliverables of HR practices, and the key to implementing business strategy.
Among the many strengths of the book the most useful to the reader is the extensive resources provided in the appendix: the HR tranformation toolkit. A further plus point is the use of four well chosen case studies to illustrate the application of the concepts/approaches set out in the book. Finally worth a mention is the HR Strategy assessment tool. This gives you a quick and helpful insight into where to put your emphasis/resources in terms of transforming the HR function.
This book is a blue print of how to transform the HR function in your organization. It is useful not only to HR professionals but to a much wider audience eg the Chief Executive. Who is thinking through and questioning/wondering, where and how HR can add more value at the right speed and impact.
Stan Felstead - Interchange Resources - UK.
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