How To Successfully Lead a Culture Transformation

Having led a few Culture Transformation programs in my career, including the one that I am leading in my current role and organisation, in my experience and perspective “U” as the leader of change and culture transformation “R” most critical to its success.

I believe, the following to be rudimentary and essential for a successful cultural transformation.

1) Indepth “As-Is” analysis of the current organisation culture – Understanding clearly what works well and why? and what’s not working well and why? What’s needs to change and why?

2) Clearly articulate a case for change and transformation. Define the “From-To’s” Detail and describe the values and behaviours of leaders and workforce that you want to see as an outcome of your intended culture.

3) Cast and define the culture proof points in terms of; a) voice of customers and other stakeholders about your organisation, b) stories and coffee machine talks within your organisation, c) How the Hero’s of the new culture will look like and what will be their values and behaviours, etc, etc.

4) Design and roll out a structured and innovative culture transformation program (with varied initiatives keeping in mind the organisational complexity in terms of company’s geographical spread, employee levels, etc). Be an executive sponsor and appoint a full time program manager to manage the culture transformation. Manage it like a proper program and not like an initiative or a small project.

5) Develop a robust change, communication and engagement – management plan. Involve and include all stakeholders. Make sure that the stakeholders understand their role in making it happen and own the transformation.

7) Lead from the front – Facilitate and shape an organisation-wide dialogue, listen to employees, challenge them, support them, create and nurture a”Network of Culture and Change Champions” they should be your critical mass… your extended team.

8) Design a measurement framework and process for monitoring progress and success of your transformation program. Change and transformation specific surveys based on Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology are very effective. In addition, conduct dip-stick surveys, coffee corner discussions and keep measuring and feeling the pulse of the people and the organisation.

9) Refine what’s not working and reinforce what’s working. Do not add additional or new initiatives – bear in mind the change fatigue and keep it simple but engaging and exciting.

10) Celebrate success, recognise the new culture Hero’s, emphasis and reward them for the desired behaviours and values that they role model. Share success stories via the Hero’s and inspire others to follow the role models.

Culture building in organisations is a journey, your perseverance and commitment to the program as a leader will define its success. Make sure you manage expectation and not fall in the “overnight result trap”. Continuous improvement is key, as soon as you think your program is successful and the job is done – you will need to ready yourself for the next sumit or phase of the journey.

In my opinion good leaders lead and manage people effectively, but great leaders do that and build a culture.

Culture can become a ‘secret weapon’ that can make extraordinary things happen ~ Jon Katzenbach

What I learnt about learning.

Transforming something that’s already good is indeed a huge challenge and it needs a very different mindset and very competent set of people (as your team) who are highly skilled in making major transformations happen. I have observed that business and functional transformation has fast evolved as a center of expertise in many organizations and in some organizations it is also evolving as a permanent function. The landscape of learning (What, Why, How, When and Where of Learning) has changed significantly over the last one decade and some of the major paradigm shifts have happened due to the following:

1. There have been new research outcomes and suggestions in the area of neuro science and human learning that has helped us understand how people learn and hence it has compelled many to re-think their learning interventions and designs.

2. The advent of technology and disruption caused by the digital and social media has turned the concept of training and classroom learning upside down. Today, the technology of Learning Management Systems (LMS) has beautifully evolved from systems of record to platforms of sharing, networking, knowledge management and hence learning. The LMS functionality and its apps have made them a superior platform for learning on the go. Smooth dovetailing of the LMS with the HR ERP is helping connect the learning function with the overall competency-based HR processes of the company.

3. The unique needs, styles and aspirations of the millennials and younger generational workforce members have compelled many organizations to re-think their learning function and its offerings. The whole shift from traditional classroom-based training to mixed models of learning such as on-the-job, coaching and mentoring, open source learning platforms on the internet is picking up rather fast and every company needs to have a clear strategy, plan and a technology platform that can cater to this.

4. Sustained economic uncertainty has compelled organizations to become more efficient with the learning and capability building investment. Theoretically speaking, learning is still a discretional spending. However, many have learnt that not having the right capabilities, skills, competencies and knowledge makes today’s knowledge workforce inefficient and unproductive and that severely affects the organizations’ performance and perpetuity.

It is important that the learning function takes advantage of the fast evolving digital and social tech platforms. You better be continuously innovating and learning or you will soon become irrelevant to your audience and learners. For instance, 20 years ago not many would have imagined that high-street banking will die and all those beautiful bank buildings on the high street will become cafes, bars or boutique shops. Because of the shift towards online banking, the banks with the best online banking products, solutions and service and security will survive and win. Similarly, not many imagined that you would not have to buy a newspaper or watch television at home to keep pace with the world and its news. Today, I don’t buy a newspaper and watch television for news!! Look at what’s happening to the retail sector. I had never imagined shopping suits or shoes online, but today I do and it works well. Hence, make sure you have team members who are tech savvy and have the necessary skills and competencies for leveraging the best in class technology and social networking/learning platforms.

Moving from Instructional Design (ID) to Learning Experience Design (LED)

Companies and vendors still talk about instructional design (ID) as the core of learning content development. ID was at the core when the dominant medium and channel of learning was the classroom, where the belief was that the instructor or teacher is detrimental to one’s learning. Charles Jennings, my good friend and the father of 70:20:10 learning principle and framework helped me understand and learn how important and fundamental this learning principle and framework is. 70 +20 = 90% of your LED should be on the job with leader led support and just 10% should be formal (Classroom + E-learning). E-learning modules, even if they are available on the mobile, are categorized as formal learning offerings. One of my biggest learning was in the area of designing action learning offerings for people to learn on-the-job. The difficult part in doing this is designing and ensuring a standardized way for the leaders to coach and support their employees whilst they are in action learning mode. I must say that I continue to learn in this area every day. Another important learning for me was that the company has to make some clear strategic choices about what they will do themselves versus what they should buy from vendors especially in the area of learning content development. We built a small but a powerful content development organization in Pune for the Philips University and they are more a COE, where they do develop some of the learning content for Philips University but their primary role is to ensure quality of learning design and content for all learning offerings of our company and develop strategic vendors for the bulk of learning offerings. It works very well and I am blessed to have a fantastic team of highly competent and skilled people who are making a huge difference.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

I had once blogged on this topic and in my opinion it’s important when it comes to learning too. You can create the entire infrastructure and build all the technology platforms, but if you don’t work on creating a learning culture, culture where learning is sought, supported and celebrated – you will fail in achieving the desired impact of learning in any organization. Leader led learning is a very strong trait of any organization’s culture. It’s when leaders of the organization own, support and drive learning versus the Learning COE. Learning COE should be the enabler and the value creator and not the owner of learning. Building a learning culture is by far the most difficult thing when you are transforming learning and one my learnings is that it takes time to build the culture. It’s a journey – but you have to be at it.

1. Don’t confuse learning with leadership development. Learning is a sum of many parts, while leadership development, talent management, culture building, capability building, leveraging technology are some of the important parts. If you don’t embed leadership development under learning and treat and manage it separately – you might end up confusing the organization and there might be duplication of efforts.

2. Run your learning like a business. Most progressive companies invest significantly in learning and as the Chief Learning Officer you are managing significant budgets. Business acumen, the ability to manage P&L and be operationally excellent are pre-requisites for any CLO. Fortunately, I had done line roles in the past and had the experience of managing P&Ls and large budgets, but I learnt how to run learning like a business, which creates value for its stakeholders and measure its impact on the organization and its eco-system. The five practices of excellence—Project Management, Process Management, Change Management, Performance Management and Continuous Improvement—are fundamental in managing a large scale learning transformation program. Make sure you have the best-in-class people owning and leading each of the above-mentioned practice and apply lean and design thinking as you build the ‘Learning Machine’ for your company and run it like a business.

In conclusion, learning is indeed a very specialized subject and it has some very specific technical nuances, which one needs to learn. However, it’s not rocket science if you have a strategic mindset, are operationally savvy and have the will and wherewithal to learn and innovate. It takes time to transform learning and create a learning culture and in my experience it takes about two to three years to manage a project well. The transformation journey has its moments and every moment and experience over the past two to three years has been learning for me. If I was asked to do it all over again, I would say a BIG YES and will be able to do it more smartly because of my learning about learning.

I am re-blogging this article, which was carried by People Matters, a leading HR Magazine and learning resource for Human Resource Professionals. The original article can be accessed at http://goo.gl/VnUIsF 

Get off that dead horse….

I was well aware of the idiom; “Beating or Flogging a dead horse”. Which means wasting time persevering with something that’s foreclosed, concluded, decided or dead.  While ago, I saw a viral email (source unknown), which shared the wisdom and notion of the dead horse theory, which is probably based on the same idiom. The viral email and its contents were as follows:

Dead-Horse-Theory

The tribal wisdom of the Plains Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that:

“When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”

However, many leaders and organizations relent and persevere with the dead horse and more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And, of course…

13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

I found the above satirical viral email (source unknown) rather interesting and thought provoking. Attempting to put the above in context, let me begin my post in which I will present some of my perspectives and opinions on  how the corporate world keeps beating some of the dead horses instead of dismounting them.

In the corporate world the dead horse theory is often seen at play in many areas but some of the prominent areas in my observation are; Strategy, Policy, Processes, Technology and People.

How often have you seen a dead and an irrelevant strategy being defended and persevered, dead strategies which aren’t delivering results or are making the desired impact. I have seen it a few times and I have confronted and challenged it as much as I can. Must say that, if not always, I have often succeeded in convincing people to stop beating the dead horse (persevering with the dead strategy) and instead mount a new one. About a decade ago when I used to work for a top company in the Asia Pacific region as their HR Business partner, I remember challenging my talent acqusition team on the old and irrelevant strategies of attracting talent from Engineering and MBA Schools. The old strategy included focussing on pre-recruitment season talks at the campuses, recruiting a few interns and some graduates. The war for talent had intensfied and if we had persevered with our old strategies then we would have lost the plot. The new strategy was not about just recruiting talent, it was all about building a employer brand which was valued internally and externally by the talent, it was about engaging with the talent in campuses throughout their academic period and not just before the recruiting season. Mounting a new horse did pay off as we were successful and managed to attract and retain very good talent. I often find many companies complaining about the war for talent and how the talent shortage is affecting their business. I say, look at your strategies and if they are a dead horse then  dismount and ride a new horse. Complaining and persevering with your old strategies is like beating a dead horse and it won’t help.

POLICIES and PROCESSES is another area, where we keep beating the dead horses. We often criticize our governments for its lack of sensitivity towards the needs of its people and how slow and beuracratic they are when it comes to changing policies and processes that are irrelevant. Now think about your organisation, do you see policies and processes that are dead and how long do we take before we revise or change them and make them relevant? Google as a company is a case in point where they have become a Top Employer in such a short time and it’s coz of their culture, ethos, people related polices and processes – they are very relevant to the needs of today’s top talent and hence they are able to attract and retain top talent. It’s more than just the free gourmet food that they serve to their employees, be it their paternity leave policy or their process of making work more meaningful, it’s a whole range of things. They fortunately don’t have a plethora of legacy polices and processes and hence what they have and ride are new horses in the area of their people related practices. It will be interesting to see how they stay ahead and don’t get caught up with their own legacy as they grow, mature and age. But this is one company which is a true benchmark. Read this blog on what makes Google a top employer as assessed and declared by Glassdoor in their annual list of “50 Best Places to Work,” http://goo.gl/04e3pE

TECHNOLOGY is another classic area where we live with and flog irrelevant and dead technologies and coz of various reasons we don’t upgrade the technology or the skills required to upgrade it. This causes serious efficiency and productivity issues as compared to competition and sets many companies back. Enterprise-wide, integrated, efficient, secured and standard technology platforms across the company is every corporations goal. But the pace at which the technology is changing and evolving, it’s rather hard to decide when you dismount the dying tech platform horse and mount a new one. And the horse of technology comes at a cost, which is difficult to capatilisze coz of its shorter life cycle even when compared to fashion. In my observation as compared to the cost of technology the bigger issue is the know how and competence of the leaders about the changes, evolution and real benefits of newer technologies. Hence most are often beating a dead horse of a technology platform, thinking it’s alive.

When it comes to PEOPLE – how and when to consider them a dead horse. The corporate world’s leaders and their beliefs, thinking, philosophy and ethos is basically divided in three categories. 1) There are leaders and organizations with a harder view and approach and as per them when people reach their level of incompetence (Peter Principle http://goo.gl/yGPUYe) then those people (“Dead Wood”) should to be separated and exited from the organisation – either on grounds of non-performance or in a wave of restructuring and downsizing. 2) Then there are those who have a more softer and socialistic view and approach and they believe that people can never be termed as “Dead Wood” or Dead Horse – until they retire or literally die. 3) Then there are those who have a blended view and approach of the earlier two explained, they are neither too hard nor too soft and socialistic.

In my perspective PEOPLE whom we term as HUMAN RESOURCES are the most valuable resources of any organisation and it’s the responsibility of any good organisation and its leaders to invest in developing and growing their people and keep them employable. However, the responsibility of the PEOPLE towards themselves and their organisation is to ensure that they take a lead and co-ownership of their development (Knowledge, skills, values and attitude) and ensure their own employability.

In my opinion a person can be termed as a dead horse in an organisation when they are consistent non-performers and makes no effort or shows no willingness to improve their performance and skills. People who are dis-engaged and are uncapable of engaging others and creating value for their organisation are like horses that are about to die. Last but not the least, people with lack of integrity and or unacceptable standards of ethics are serious dead horses. Organizations and leaders should definitely dismount these type of dead horses and find and mount good ones.

Would love to hear your views, opinions and perspectives on this.

 

Can Culture Eat Strategy for Breakfast?

I came across this statement which said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. It resonated with me and I thought of writing a blog post based on my experience and learning’s on how organization’s go about identifying, building, measuring and communicating their culture.

We have learnt a lot about strategy and there is a lot of experience, academic research and content around it. However, in relative comparison to strategy, culture as a subject needs to be understood a lot better. From my experience and learning, I would suggest that “Culture is an Organizational Capability” There are four big buckets of organizational capabilities and most organizations have traditionally focused on the three big buckets; “People”, “Processes” and “Technology” the fourth bucket “Culture” is probably yet not focused upon much. Most progressive organizations and their capability building models that I have seen (whilst working for some top companies and of other benchmark companies practices) have figured out well how to identify, build and measure capabilities in the first three buckets and not so much yet in the “Culture” bucket.

To begin with it helps tremendously if you first agree within your organization that next to People, Processes and Technology the fourth bucket of Capabilities is “Culture” Once you agree then your capability building framework will require you to look at “Culture Building” in a holistic manner. Some may argue and say that “Culture” is a sub-bucket of “People”, as people are the ones who construct, live, represent and communicate an organization’s culture. It’s not an invalid argument, but from my perspective culture goes beyond just people (Behaviors and Style), for example it involves the ways of working, physical environment and design of the workplace, social mechanisms and rituals of an organization, stories that are discussed etc. Hence it may be immensely helpful to look at “Culture” as something beyond just people capabilities (knowledge, skills, competencies, behaviors and attitudes).

Culture is a modern history concept based on a term first used in classical antiquity by the Roman orator Cicero “cultura animi” (cultivation of the soul).

However, one of the many definitions of organizational culture is the behavior of humans who are part of an organization and the meanings that the people attach to their actions. Culture includes the organization values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs and habits. It is also the pattern of such collective behaviors and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving, and even thinking and feeling. Organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders. And now you can see the rationale why some argue that Culture is all about just people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_culture

Anyway my perspective is a bit different, but it strongly builds on this traditional definition.

How to go about building a strong organization culture, which, despite the sustained uncertainty of the economic and social environment and the ever changing strategy – can become a major pillar of strength. My 10 recommended practical steps for leaders and organisations are as follows: 

1)    The first step should be to assess and identify what your current organizational culture is. It takes finding out what your culture is and how you culture is perceived by internal (employees) external people (customers, talent, investors etc). There are various tools and methodologies that are there to identify your culture. One of the most powerful techniques is facilitated focus group discussions, which are similar to identifying the brand identity of the company. Also you need to asses if your culture is something that’s kept in mind by people when designing strategies, processes, systems, workplaces, policies etc

2)    Ensure that there is a clear articulation and shared understanding of the organizations vision, mission and values. Then compare the “Current Culture” and clearly articulate the “Required Culture” for achieving your vision and living the values. Do a proper gap analysis and planning of “FROM” – “TO” This is most effectively done via the process of LSIP – Large Scale Interaction Process. If this is done in isolation and only at the top of the organisation or just by the HR function it well could be a false start.

3)    Avoid evolving complicated culture building frameworks, keep things simple, build on and align to existing capability building framework of the company, with clear alignment to the vision, mission and values of the company. Having a clear plan of initiatives and activities to build culture is more important than having just frameworks and models. Ensure the the main components of the culture you are building are well integrated into each and every strategy, process, system, practice, policy design of your company.

4)    Integrate culture building strongly with the company’s existing learning practice and function, design and detail initiatives and activities (learning offerings, coaching, mentoring etc) and make them leader led. Avoid too much of classroom and e-learning offerings around culture building – leverage the 70-20-10 learning principle. Don’t make culture building a separate and an isolated activity.

5)    Whilst designing and activating culture building interventions, don’t focus only on soft part – people and their behaviors and styles. Focus also on designing and changing the hard part – workplace design, policies, social mechanism’s (meetings and its structure, rewards and recognition platforms, etc), hierarchy (Org structure and its levels), rituals (how is success celebrated, how is news communicated, etc).

6)    Make Leaders lead the culture building, but make everyone responsible and accountable for it and celebrate reward and recognize success stories and role models. Don’t make the mistake of making just HR responsible for Culture building, its every leader’s responsibility. HR should facilitate the process.

7)    Have a clear measurement methodology, process, tools and techniques for knowing and understanding how progress is being made and what needs to be further improved. Custom designed surveys and NPS (Net Promoter Score) are two powerful methodologies.

8)    If your organization culture is your strength and a differentiator, then make sure you have a good communication plan (internal and external) to further strengthen and build on your employer branding.

9)    Use your culture building plan to profile, attract and develop talent which will help you strengthen and build the riht culture. Dovetailing your culture building plan with the talent assessment, development and acquisition strategy of the company is very important.

10) Last but not the least, culture building needs investing of some money and lots of leadership commitment and their personal time. Without this investment you will achieve little.

In my opinion and perspective, if you get the above 10 steps right, you will be able to create a culture in your organization, which will eat your competitors strategy for breakfast!!

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Here is some content that, I have aggregated from my favorite HBR Blogs on Culture, I have learnt a lot from reading them and critiquing them in my own mind. Hope you enjoy reading them too:

Michael Watkins on “What Is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care?” suggests that, If you want to provoke a vigorous debate, start a conversation on organizational culture. While there is universal agreement that (1) it exists, and (2) that it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior in organizations, there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is, never mind how it influences behavior and whether it is something leaders can change…. read on http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/05/what-is-organizational-culture/

John Coleman on “Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture” suggests that, what makes a culture? Each culture is unique and myriad factors go into creating one, but I’ve observed at least six common components of great cultures. Isolating those elements can be the first step to building a differentiated culture and a lasting organization….  read on http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/05/six-components-of-culture/

Carolyn Dewar and Scott Keller on “Three Steps to a High-Performance Culture” suggest that, senior executives tend to think about corporate culture as a topic that’s hard to measure and hard to change. As a result, many choose not to invest in it despite all the evidence that, when skillfully managed, culture can be a powerful and enduring source of competitive advantage…. read on http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/01/three-steps-to-a-high-performa/

Deidre H. Campbell on “What Great Companies Know About Culture” suggests that, even in this unprecedented business environment, great leaders know they should invest in their people. Those companies who are committed to a strong workplace culture tend to perform well, and now they are featured prominently in a new ranking recently released by Great Place to Work Institute. Among the top performers on the 2011 World’s Best Multinational Companies list are culturally-strong technology companies such as Microsoft, NetApp, SAS, and Google….read on http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/12/what-great-companies-know-abou/

Amy C. Edmondson on The Three Pillars of a Teaming Culture” suggests that, today’s leaders must build a culture where teaming is expected and begins to feel natural, and this starts with helping everyone to become curious, passionate, and empathic. She says, building the right culture in an era of fast-paced teaming, when people work on a shifting mix of projects with a shifting mix of partners, might sound challenging – if not impossible. But, in my experience, in the most innovative companies, teaming is the culture….read on http://t.co/5wkbbaou2G

Jason Sylva on “The Culture Cycle” James L. Heskett‘s book The Culture Cycle describes how an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business. Heskett discusses how to calculate the economic value of culture through the “Four Rs” of referrals, retention, returns to labor, and relationships with customers… read on http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/06/culture-cycle-the-unseen-force/

Leading in times of turbulent change: @debjani_ghosh_ MD – SMG, Intel SA on #PhilipsHRtalks

Video

http://t.co/giLQTjrJ77

#PhilipsHRtalks is a unique and innovative open source learning platform created by Philips India HR Team. Renowned and accomplished thought leaders are invited on this platform to share their ideas and knowledge and video recordings on their talk is posted on YouTube on the Philips India Channel.

Debjani Ghosh @debjani_ghosh_ was invited to speak on this platform and her pearls of wisdom are encapsulated in this video. Thank you Debjani!!

How to Leverage Social Media in HR & Employer Brand Building

This is a Guest Blog By: Zenobia Madon, GM Talent Acquisition, Philips India (@zenobiamadon), Hussain, Mohammed Mansoor, GM Talent Acquisition, Philips India (_mansoor1) and Gautam Ghosh, GM HR and Social Media, Philips India (@gautamghosh). Am honored to publish it as an contribution from my colleauges, who make me proud and are leading the way on the topic of this blog at Philips India 🙂

Our experience with Social Media & Employer Branding (Brand building) has been very interesting and fruitful. During our 2012 annual HR strategy workshop – Yashwant Mahadik (@indianyash) shared his learning’s, forecast and vision about Social Media & HR and encouraged the team to come out with ideas and strategy to leverage Social Media in HR. Over the recent years, Philips India HR team has significantly transformed HR in the company and we have developed and built some top-class HR practices and programs to create value in business and the time was just ripe to leverage Social Media to share and learn. In response to Yash’s challenge and vision – Philips India, HR team’s journey in the space of Social Media started about a year ago – we realized that Social Media platforms are a great way to share what is happening at Philips India with our target audience. Objective was to share some of our exciting and cutting edge, practices, initiatives and events at Philips India with an aim of communicating our value proposition and continue to build a strong employer brand. Social Media is an exciting new white space, some of us also looked at it as an unknown animal with green horns.

Very quickly a core team sprung up to champion this initiative. We began our journey this time last year, with the launch of our We are Philips India Facebook page, (which was launched by (@AbhijitBhaduri) and we to refreshed our presence on LinkedIn and leveraged our company’s global relationship with LinkedIn – to not just recruit from it, but also learn and share from this platform. Then we planned on leveraging other platforms like Twitter & WordPress.

The more we indulged in leveraging social media the more we learnt that, “it’s not an easy task” – you need certain capabilities to do it effectively (and not many of us had those capabilities – what we had in plenty was enthusiasm and drive). Then we explored partnerships and support from Digital and Social Media agencies, most of them were rather inexperienced in context of leveraging Social Media for HR and especially in the area of Employer Brand building. We also realized that there were not many benchmark organizations which had leveraged social media in the space of HR and employer brand building. We therefore decided to chalk out our own path. Decision made was that we will build the capability in-house and learn as we go!!

We initially experimented with different initiatives on Social Media both for the internal (our employees) and external audiences and got some great learning’s (things that work and things that don’t). We also realized that while we had a lot of information to share about the exciting times at Philips, we needed to be cautious about what value add it would do to our external audience and how engaging it would be for them. One thing we were clear, we wanted to build our presence organically and via content creation.

At this point in time @indianyash hired and attracted our co-author of this blog post – @gautamghosh to Philips India and he started off by building awareness and capability of Social Media in the HR team and the senior business leaders. @indianyash was very clear in his steer that, we will build the capability by learning and doing it ourselves. Oh boy!! we did it or are doing it and its so much fun!! We, won’t elaborate on this part much, as a blog from @indianyash himself on this topic seems to be in the oven 

We then moved on to Twitter and the excitement and the learning journey was accelerated. We created a Philips India HR Twitter account and got the entire HR team (70+) on to Twitter. The team getting on to Twitter was awesome fun and the turning point. We had all of kinds – we had some early adopters who took to twitter like ducklings take to water and there were some cautious ones who observed and watched and gradually got on to it. The twitter world welcomed us with open arms. Very quickly, we all got hyper connected with the rest of the HR and Social Media stalwarts on Twitter.
We attended our first twitter #tag chat on invitation from @indianyash who was chairing it for the month of April 2013 (#IndiaHRchat hosted by our friend @tanvi_gautam) which was a fantastic experience. The pace of the chat, exciting discussions and multiple re-tweets which some of us received was invigorating. The #tag chat which was scheduled for an hour seemed to pass in a jiffy. We were dumbfounded by the millions of impressions we made and now we look impatiently forward to the next one every month. This encouraged the team to further explore twitter and we learnt a lot about Twitter.

Within a few months we were very familiar with the various platforms and started leveraging Social media for our HR initiatives. We designed & introduced a one of its kind initiative, #PhilipsHRtalks on 22nd April which was a huge success and created a lot of buzz. The session trended on Twitter, we got about 935,000 impressions and the video of the session which was shared on Youtube has got over 2000 views.
It is encouraging to hear from Industry leaders and HR thought leaders how impressed they are to see the @HRPhilips – HR team at Philips lead the way in leveraging Social media in HR. We also found it extremely easy to get visibility amongst our Global team, on some of our initiatives via both Twitter and ConnectUs (our internal social networking platform). The momentum and transformation was such that we all started to utilize our internal company social networking platform eagerly and effectively.

Another recent initiative which we conceptualized and launched recently is #CampusJournos, which is currently in progress. CampusJournos is an exciting initiative launched by Philips India to engage with MBA school students across India via Social media. The initiative is completely managed by us in-house, it is hosted on WordPress and is promoted via Facebook and Twitter. We have received an overwhelming response to Campus Journos from the MBA students across many business schools in India, since launch. We have received over 67000 views and 305 entries in its first week of Launch, which is very heartening for us. All this at no extra cost or budget.

In addition to above, we have vibrant and engaged alumni networks, who contribute actively to social media conversations about Phillips. We have encouraged active networking and peer-to-peer discussion around topics relevant to personal or professional development. In fact at Philips, Philips Alumni Group is an example of leveraging social media for re-attracting regretfully lost employees and this has been one of our robust channels of recruitment. In addition, our active involvement on select Philips LinkedIn Groups (e.g. Innovations in Marketing, Innovations in Healthcare) has helped us engage & learn from likeminded passionate functional experts. We do realize that we can further leverage LinkedIn and we are at it.

At Philips, we believe that every employee is a brand ambassador. And the best way to build or strengthen our brand is via employees – who can contribute to building the brand – inside out. To that effect, we encourage @HRPhilips to be active on social media sites such as Twitter and share their perspectives on a wide range of subjects. This exercise has been one of rich learning and fun – and has also provided the world-at large a glimpse into the knowledgeable and informed Philips employee and its rich culture.

We make no mistake in accepting that, we are still learning and it’s a journey. But the excitement and fun we have had in the past one year and the success we have tasted enhances our belief how powerful Social Media for HR can be!! This is written on behalf of @HRPhilips full team 

How Can HR Create Value

Value Creation by HR is a hot topic these days. Voices in the board room are loud and clear, and if you are a fly on the wall in a management board meeting you will often hear them say, “gone are the days when HR as function used to predominantly add value (due to its larger focus on administrative and transactional activities). Expectation is that, like marketing, sales or research and development, etc – HR has to start creating value in business and if it cannot create value than its best suited to sit outside the organisation with an outsourced service provider of transactional activities”.

When @tanvi_gautam (Dr. Tanvi Gautam) the founder and host of #IndiaHRChat invited me to lead one of her monthly chats in April this year, I readily agreed and suggested this topic to her. She very kindly agreed and we created an opportunity and a platform to discuss “HR and Value Creation” on the popular and fast growing #IndiaHRChat platform, on Twitter, on 27th of April, 2013. This blog post is a summary of the discussions and learning from that twitter chat.

A nicely moderated and well attended #tag chat on twitter to me is like experiencing Samudra Manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam (Churning of the Ocean is a famous period in the ancient Indian mythology. The story appears in  Mahabharata) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samudra_manthan

The #IndiaHRChat that evening commenced, with a lot of anticipation and excitement. The moment of euphoria soon transformed into an intense and rich discussion that was essentially spread out answering and discussing several structured questions, which were circulated to all invitees to read and prepare. The outcome of our rich discussions and diverse viewpoints are summarized as follows:

First question focused on; what does value creation by HR look like? I initiated the chat by sharing the popular definition of value creation –”performance of actions that significantly increase the worth of products, services, solutions, brands”. The definition was supported by a fair number of examples, which people could connect to and many viewpoints and responses started pouring in. @Anand__Pillai – Anand Pillai, CLO Reliance Industries proposed a broader perspective to link value creation to the society by the organization. This discussion was taken to another level by Dr. Tanvi Gautam where she mentioned about various levels at which the value creation happens. Many other rich viewpoints were shared over the how part of inspiring performance, creating vision and moving people to action as value creation.  More or less all of us agreed to the fact that value creation is about going beyond the obvious and creating value to the organization with a human touch. Then came another pearl of wisdom from @rajeevchopra – Rajeev Chopra, CEO Philips India who said, – “grow people, grow business = creating value”. The discussions over the first question concluded when @_mansoor1 – Mansoor, who heads TA at Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore mentioned the 3D’s of value creation – Customers, Business & Employees. By now many HR and Business leaders had joined the chat and like any other top-notch Twitter chat ideas and viewpoints were flowing freely and interaction had reached a high level; it was perfect time to move to the next question.

“HR, like a magnifying glass, needs to bring focus to an organization’s efforts. It’s a thread that makes a necklace out of the pearls” – Shamik Vora (@shamikv)

The event moved a step further with second question inviting discussions on the difference between value creation and value addition.  “Value addition is an incremental and one of the many steps towards creation of value. “Value creation is more holistic as compared to value addition” was a common theme that emerged and there were many examples shared of what value addition is and what value creation is. Everyone seemed to agree on a simple fact that value creation is what definitively impacts the customers positively and keeps the organisation perpetual. Then a good question was raised; which of the two, value creation or value addition is more important? Many viewpoints were shared and most agreed that both are important and though organisations and HR professionals are rather good at value addition they need to get better at value creation. @sundertrg – Sunder Ramachandran, Head of Learning at JLT drew a beautiful analogy about M&A – Value creation is like a big acquisition successful from HR point of view, whilst value addition is more bolts on the activity of M&A which makes it successful. Another example shared was hiring people by talent acquisition is value addition but when they work towards and build a strong employer brand – that brand building is value creation.  @RajeevChopra made a final remark “The important thing is- everyone can and must strive to add value in their own way but aligned to the larger goal”.

“When you create, you also add but it’s not always the case vice versa” – Zenobia Madon (@ZenobiaMadon)

The “Samundra Manthan” (The Twitter chat) was at its peak by now. The question we began discussing now was; how can HR create that value? I emphasized the importance and need of remaining strategically focused and partnering with business to understand the needs of the business and then create value in business – as compared to being transactionally focused.  @Anand__PIllai stressed on bringing ‘Human’ back to HR. We couldn’t have agreed more to his thoughts. Value creation is possible only if we are ‘human or people centric’ coz it’s all about people and its people who create value. Whilst we were focusing on the details and other examples of value creation,  @armaan_seth – Armaan Seth, HR Head of Consumer Lifestyle Philips India brought our attention to a very interesting and broader insight of creating a culture where value creation is possible by one and all. HR can create value for the Organization and its Employees by creating an environment of Transparency, Recognition, Empowerment, and Learning. As rightly mentioned by @Anand__Pillai, “Create value by having a Roman holiday experience in a Line Function & see and experience things more broadly”. Then @Sairee – Ms Sairee Chahal – Leading expert in Diversity and Inclusion and leader at Flexi Moms – made a very good point saying that, HR can add value by making change easier than expected for everyone – by building culture and competency for managing complex change HR can definitely create value.  @rajeevchopra added that, HR should “help build the organization for today, and tomorrow. This will be a good area to create value”. I concluded by stating the importance of understanding the levers for driving a profitable business growth and the cost and profit architecture of the company. It was my opinion that, it’s very important for any HR professional to understand business, its profit architecture and the three important levers of a commercial business – Pricing, Costs and Customer’s value perception of your product, service, solution or brand. I have had the privilege of taking a roman holiday and working for a few years in line roles – in manufacturing and operations & sales and marketing and I found that experience very useful in becoming an effective HR business partner.

“If you can understand business, you can never participate in value creation” – Kavi (@_kavi)

“HR should act like Radar. It should be able to sense and act quickly”- Amit Sharma(@amitssays)

It is always good to know both sides of the coin. So, after an intense discussion filled with rapid fire, rich and valuable tweets on how HR can create value, we moved to the next question, how does HR end up destroying value? We received a number of responses illustrating the ways HR professionals end up destroying values in an organization. Everyone agreed to the fact that one of the biggest value destruction activities has been the inability of HR to partner with business and co-create the business strategy and mostly being too focused internally. Another point which came up repeatedly in the chat was that of HR being a police post and having a command and control mind-set. This kind of attitude definitely erodes the value creation capability of HR.  If we wish to bring new perspectives, we need to conform to new templates and allow employees to propagate them in the organization. Give people precedence over processes and stop throwing the rulebook at people is the best way possible! I made a point saying that, HR people not starting to and continuing to learn also affects their ability to become professionals who can create value. So HR has to start and keep learning in the most effective manner.

“When HR plans and budgets don’t get funding approval, when HR is not able to get any investment in headcount in HR or for their own development. Indicates you are not credible enough!!”- @indianyash

“HR can destroy value if it does not constantly learn and unlearn. And “I know it all’ attitude can be dangerous” – @ZenobiaMadon

Since we are well equipped with what it takes to create/destroy value in the organization, it becomes imperative to measure value created by HR in terms of both tangible and intangible benefits. Supporting opinions were voiced in the chat by many – When HR is entrusted with strategic initiatives and an equal importance is given to HR head in business meetings, when HR is applauded proactively by business and when goals are shared by HR and business leaders makes it very evident that HR has created value in the organization. To add to it, @GautamGhosh – Gautam Ghosh – General Manager HR and Head of Social Media in HR Philips India  and @Abhinav_Kamra – Abhinav Kamra, HR Intern at Philips India suggested terrific customer centric solutions, @GautamGhosh mentioned the Philips way of measuring effectiveness by the NPS method.  Employee Satisfaction can be a very effective way of measuring impact. The energy and engagement of the HR folks themselves is a big indicator of whether they are creating value.  At times failure can be a measure of success added @Tanvi_Gautam.

Finally, I concluded by emphasizing that the ultimate measure of Value creation by HR is Business leaders crediting HR for the superior performance of business; Value can be intrinsic as well as extrinsic and an effective way of measurement has to carter to both.

“The true measure of value creation comes at 3 levels – intellectual, emotional and yes maybe even spiritual” – @Tanvi_Gautam

Time was flying and so were very rich and meaningful tweets. Next up was the penultimate question of this discussion, what competencies will the future HR professional need to be able to create value? The responses and suggestions were simply amazing and really insightful. Some competencies highlighted during the discussion were Business Understanding,  Domain knowledge, Customer Insights, Customer centricity, Brand Building, Design Thinking, Creating Learning Organizations, Culture Building, Leadership Development, Strategic thinking, Analytical Skills (analyze and predict), Change champion, Coaching skills, Critiquing skills, Technology proponent and so on. Folks agreed that HR needs to become more agile and proactive to deal with ambiguities and anticipate business needs better and faster. The need for capability building in the area of value creation was well expressed and discussed.

“HR taking the lead in cementing the link between growing people and growing business”- @RajeevChopra

“Staying current, scanning the horizon & contextually bringing it back to the organization is hugely valued & sought!   Stand up for people. Talk business. Hear the unspoken. Smell the change! That makes a difference!” – @_Kavi

And then came the time for the last discussion question. It was hard to believe but yes, we were in the last 10 mins of this amazing discussion. The gears shifted to understanding what must change on the business side for HR to be able to create value. Amazed to see that most of them were speaking the same language. Business and line leaders should demand value creation from HR and also coach and develop HR to deliver on their expectations and demands. @RajeevChopra as a CEO appreciated the value of HR and warned those who fail to recognize the value HR. @Anand__Pillai further added and said, “Business shouldn’t treat HR as a scapegoat. Ultimately, it’s a handshake; business is as much HR, as HR is business”!

This twitter chat was indeed delightful and enlightening. It was a superb learning experience for all of us. This one hour resulted in no less than a brilliant knowledge repository. @GautamGhosh then shared the statistics of the chat, there were more than 1000 tweets, which had made circa 1 million impressions and he later tweeted the storify of the same.

“Business is hungry and waiting for long for HR to create value. They should get more impatient and demanding” – @IndianYash

“What must change in the Business Side? For starters, we must be all on one side!” – @_Kavi

I also want to thank my colleague and friend @KaleleSuchita – Ms Suchita Kalele who helped me capture the key points of the chat and drafted this blog post. So for all practical purposes she is my co-author for this post. Thank you Suchita.

More about #IndiaHRChat:

#IndiaHR chat is a monthly HR chat series chaired by prominent HR leaders in the Industry. The idea is to facilitate learning by engaging the HR executives from diverse industries, in a live discussion forum.  Watch out for the next #IndiaHRChat on 26th of June, 2013 at 7.00 pm IST – Topic : Leadership Culture from within.

Finally I take my hat off and a bow to @Tanvi_Gautam the founder and host of #IndiaHRChat for creating such a powerful learning and sharing platform known as #IndiaHRChat.

 Einstein Quote's

Einstein quote. Credit to imnotjustagirl.com