Transactions to transformations

One amusing moment for many at yesterday’s event was the assertion that the HR and IT roles in organisations are increasingly becoming one.

This seems obvious to me, but only if one understands the transformational aspects of those disciplines, and not confuse them with the transactional. And one also acknowledges that the HR world has as strong an image problem as the IT world does.

Five years ago I took part in a team coaching exercise with the board of a government agency. We had the five members of the board together in a hotel for a couple of days, and started the event with a warm up exercise. Each member of the team was asked to write down a type of car, and that car should be, in their eyes, representative of how they saw themselves in their role.
These cars were then drawn anonymously from a hat, and one by one the team were asked to guess who had chosen which. Out of a hat came a VW Beetle. The four male, middle-aged, middle class men all thought that this was the choice of the female, slightly younger HR Director. It wasn’t until the Ferrari came out of the hat that we actually discovered the car that the personnel head had actually chosen.

Back to yesterday’s assertion – if it’s the routine, somewhat plodding transactional side of HR services (disciplinary procedures, administering performance management processes, recruitment processes, policy creation and enforcement etc) merged with the technology aspect of IT (running boxes, setting up user accounts, etc) then a process hydra of epic proportions would be born (and go on to scare small children no doubt).

However, bringing the organisational development, leadership, team building and other transformational aspects together would be an entirely different beast. I’ve been bandying around the concept of the “Chief Collaboration Officer” recently – the logical extension from CTO through CIO… and that, potentially, is what was being envisaged at the Altitude event yesterday.

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