Never mind trying to make meaningful predictions, which are very hard to do safely when you’re under a zillion NDAs. Instead, I’m focusing my energies on what I want to happen. What would I make happen if my magic wand, bought years ago at FAO Schwarz, could be recharged? What would I ask him to do if The Wallace, my handsome prince of a frog, really could perform magic? How would I change the practice of HRM and HR technology, and the KSAOCs of the relevant professionals, if I were a (hopefully benign) dictator?
This could have become a very long list of changes I’d like to make in “life, the universe and everything,” but I’ve tried to control myself and focus solely at the intersection of HRM and IT. Thus, I’ve left out whole swaths of desireable changes in technology (like wishing that Palm would make a brilliant comeback), business (like wishing that the financial executive thieves who stole our financial security in the great recession would go to jail), society (like wishing for freedom and democracy to spread as quickly as do certain diseases simply through intimate contact), and in my personal life (like wishing I were tall/thin/blond/likely to live 100 years), and so many more types of wishes. But I digress.
For the record, here is my short list of wishes for my professional world:
- From now on, no one would call themselves an HRM business analyst or product manager unless they came pretty close to my view of the needed KSAOC profile for that role. If you think this is a worthy goal, here’s my “starter kit.”
- From now on, no one would call themselves an HR systems professional unless they had gotten their hands dirty developing custom or packaged software, configuring business rules in custom or packaged software, modeling the objects and then bringing them to life via definitional development, managing effective-dated meta-data, or similar. It’s really not enough to have mastered some report-writer and know the names and UX color schemes of all the vendors.
- From now on, no HRM software vendor would deliver so flawed an underlying data design or object model that even I can identify three significant flaws in the first ten minutes of their demo. And that means getting job and position right, incorporating contingent workers and community members (as in collaboration communities) everywhere they belong (and no where that they don’t belong), and providing for the inherently recursive nature of work unit, work location, KSAOCs and more.
- From now on, no analytics would be presented to innocent managers, employees, executives or others not previously bludgeoned into understanding crap data unless the underlying data on which it’s based is clean. Furthermore, all analytics would be explained in terms of how they’re derived, what the results mean/could mean, and what to do to address those results, with these layers of explanation pushed or pulled appropriately based on what the customer is trying to do.
- From now on, all HR leaders would be the very model of a modern HR leader who understands how to select and deploy technology to support HRM’s responsibility for driving business outcomes. If you think this is a worthy goal, here’s my “starter kit.”
- From now on, vendors who dissemble about their business strategy, product capabilities and roadmaps, or in other aspect of their answers to prospect/customer questions would experience the full impact of liar, liar, pants on fire. And that includes throwing FUD at the competition, persuading prospects/customers to a course of action that serves the vendor better than it does that buyer organization, and pretending (in the face of all evidence to the contrary) that their first priority is serving their prospects/customers/market when they’re really serving Mammon.
- And last but by no means least, prospects/customers who are ill-prepared, ill-informed, ill-mannered etc. in their interactions with vendors would experience the buyer equivalent of liar, liar, pants on fire via an Emperor has no clothes video gone viral on YouTube. Buyers who haven’t a clue about their real business needs, who insist on zillion line item RFPs, who abdicate all responsibility to so-called consultants (unless they pass my tests 1 & 2 above with flying colors), and so much more, and especially those who don’t know the difference between great software/vendors and merely mediocre ones, deserve exactly what they get — and that’s exactly what they would get via my wish list.
Writing this wish list has been totally cathartic. Having made every conceivable mistake in my career, not to mention having been ignorant on so many occasions, I know how hard it will be to achieve even a good start on accomplishing my wish list. But just because something is really hard to achieve doesn’t mean we should give up, because this is important. With $$$ pouring into HR technology and executives finally realizing that effective HRM really does matter, these next few years will be our best opportunity to realize my wish list. So, just like in losing weight (but that’s another set of wishes on which my track record is VERY spotty), the journey begins with that first step. And I hope to see all of you along the road to HRM and HR technology nirvana.