[I posted my first such wish list 1/29/2013, and just writing it lifted my spirits. So, I thought to myself, why not do it again?]
If any of us really knew what was going to happen in 2014, wouldn’t we keep it to ourselves and invest accordingly? Furthermore, anyone worth their salt in the industry thought leader/observer/influencer game is living under zillions of non-disclosures and embargoes, making any attempt at predictions fraught with potential legal peril as stuff you’re not allowed to know seeps into the part of your brain that’s doing the predicting. And just predicting something that’s an obvious extrapolation from what any fool can see doesn’t seem worthy of the Great Carnac turban.
So, although I love reading everyone else’s predictions, especially those which paint cogent pictures of technology and/or competitive landscapes while providing a ton of useful context for making their predictions, I’m continuing to focus 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 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? What would the all knowing, all seeing Carnac the Magnificent do if she were in charge?
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 Microsoft would develop a sensible object model for the contacts functionality in Outlook, e.g. so that folks could have seasonal addresses and households could be grouped together with email and mobile info by person), in business (like wishing that the financial executive thieves who stole our financial security in the great recession would go to jail and that politicians who lie would branded with a giant L on their foreheads), in 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 will 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 profile (now a little dated but still a good place to start).
- No one will 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 to know the names and UX color schemes of all the vendors.
- No HRM software vendor will 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. I really am going to out the very next vendor of new software (and here I’m trying to be sensitive to the fact that much legacy software doesn’t — although it should — pass muster when it comes to how well the underlying object model supports 21st century HRM), no matter for what intended target market, which is a throwback to the flawed data designs of yesteryear. I REALLY AM!
- No analytics will 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, with just a click/touch/point/smile, will 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.
- All HR leaders will be the very model of a modern HR leader who understands how to select and deploy technology to support HRM’s responsibilities for driving business outcomes. If you think this is a worthy goal, here’s my “starter kit.”
- Vendors who dissemble about or obfuscate their business strategy, product capabilities and roadmaps, or in other aspect of their answers to prospect/customer questions will 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.
- All prospects/customers who are ill-prepared, ill-informed, ill-mannered etc. in their interactions with vendors will 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 will get via my wish list.
- No one will call themselves analyst/influencer/thought leader/etc. unless they actually conduct objective research from which they draw and publish analysis (for analyst), actually have some demonstrated influence on the behavior of HR professionals and/or HRM vendors (and influence isn’t measured by Twitter followers or blog post readers but by actual changed in behavior attributable to your work), actually product meaningful insights or other forms of thought leadership that are respected widely. In my wishful thinking neighborhood at the intersection of HRM and IT, we’ll have very high standards for what we expect in the work of those who want us to think of them as analysts, influencers and/or thought leaders.
- No one will “paint the roses red,” e.g. by calling whatever they’re selling SaaS, integrated, or effective-dated. Vocabulary does shape our thinking, and in my wishful thinking world, words will have meanings that are more concrete than jello.
- The impact on work and workers of advances in automation and robotics will be anticipated by industry and governmental leaders such that we will be able to balance the needs of organizations to take full advantage of the cost savings and performance enhancements from the best of technology and the needs of society to minimize the negative impacts from these same advances in technology.
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.