- Posted October 19, 2011 by
New York, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Interview - Transformative HR Co-Author Ravin Jesuthasan
Evolution of Evidence-Based Change
Evidence-based change within HR originated from the medical profession where protocols and procedures were based on research and best evidence rather than rituals based on opinions. Rather than cookie-cutting their approach like all cancer patients need immediate chemotherapy, physicians began examining patients by asking the right questions leading to the most effective treatment for a particular patient.
Now evidence-based change has spread its influences towards HR. Years ago insurance managers used to tell their sales teams to hit the phones and make cold calls leading to more sales. After the Federal Trade Commission implemented the National Do Not Call Registry which was targeted to stop sellers and telemarketers from contacting prospective customers at home, cold calling did not seem to be an appropriate marketing approach for insurance agents.
However the top insurance managers provided proper training and education to adapt to this new environment by allowing the sales teams to examine and segment their client base into market niches. Instead of cold calling the sales teams were able to engage their clients directly either through face-to-face interactions or by referrals. This improved overall sales and allowed the sales team diversification over their client base so no one competed for the same client. These strategies improved retention and provided higher sales for the insurance company.
Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantageexamines how organizations make human capital decisions to gain a competitive advantage within the marketplace. The book describes evidence-based change as a significant mental shift for business leaders and the human resources function, which will ultimately lead any organization towards a substantial competitive advantage.
Transformative HR co-author Ravin Jesuthasan briefly answers some of the questions about the inspirations for the book, HR mindset, improving human capital, and the future of HR.
1. Transformative HRtalks about the 5 principles of evidence-based change including logic-driven analytics, segmentation, risk leverage, integration and synergy, and finally optimization. What were your key drivers to bring this information together and complete this book?
This book was the result of multiple years of research and work with companies from around the world in helping them address their various human capital challenges. The book also builds on the previous writings of my co-author John Boudreau, as reflected in Beyond HR and Retooling HR. Through our collaboration and respective work, we had come to see that these 5 principles were consistently at the heart of evidence-based change.
2. Logic-driven analytics is about identifying pivotal issues and addressing them. What characteristics would the HR organization need to have to create the right mind-set to analyze the issues and define success?
Logic driven analytics places a premium on the ability of the HR function to get beyond the "noise" that often exists in most companies to the business issue that underpins a particular talent challenge, while utilizing the language of the business to mobilize action. Accomplishing the aforementioned challenges involves leveraging tools, analytics and capability that sometimes exists outside the function (e.g., portfolio theory or stochastic modeling). It also involves HR denominating its dialogue in terms that are familiar to business leaders.
For example, in a manufacturing company all business leaders are familiar with the concept of the supply chain. HR's success in motivating action on the part of line leaders would be much greater if it could denominate the various talent issues using the metaphor of the supply chain. Managing this dialogue in terms that are familiar to business leaders is essential as the vast majority of human capital decisions are typically made outside the HR function.
3. In the chapter discussing Malaysia’s Khazahah Nasional Berhad, the CEO’s participated within an exchange program to accelerate the development of employee talent. Would it be prudent for more organizations to follow the same example to maximize their talent pool or would it depend on each individual organization’s risk leverage?
The Khazanah example is a truly unique one given that it has an equity stake in these 20 government linked companies and can utilize this network to develop leaders for a variety of situations and circumstances that they may not encounter within any one organization. We see the lessons as being applicable to private sector companies too if business leaders have the courage to leverage their network of partner companies (e.g., suppliers, customers, etc.) to provide their talent with the opportunity to experience a variety of unique circumstances and situations that can only enhance their leadership capability.
4. Many HR practitioners apply quick fixes to solve their HR problems to justify their existence or to be seen as a performer so they will be rapidly promoted, while leaving a trail of destruction for the organization caused by their quick fixes. How do we train these HR practitioners to adopt the evidence-change approach instead of quick fixes so they will be more effective?
We certainly hope that the lessons learned from the 10 organizations profiled in Transformative HR will motivate other companies to approach their human capital challenges in a very different manner. But it is too easy to just blame HR. The function is often under incredible pressure to provide business leaders with quick fixes that may not lead to sustainable change. So solving the issues involves getting business leaders to change their mindset as well. In much the same way business leaders would never expect their manufacturing functions to get them the highest quality product at the lowest cost with zero defects and no inventory; they need to understand the unique realities of managing talent and the tradeoffs and constraints.
5. What would be the next evolution of HR be when global population increases and they are not enough jobs for everyone? How will HR function when the supply of talent is overwhelming?
We actually think that we will have more than enough jobs as the global population increases if we can overcome the current mismatch of skills and businesses and governments can create the right environment for growth. Going forward there are real opportunities for businesses to play a pivotal role in education by collaborating with universities and colleges to ensure an appropriate supply of talent for their future needs.
Ravin Jesuthasan Bio
Ravin Jesuthasan is the Global Practice Leader of Towers Watson’s Talent Management Practice, based in the firm’s Chicago office. He is responsible for coordinating all practices across the firm’s Talent and Reward Segment and is a managing director of the firm. Jesuthasan has extensive experience in the design and implementation of workforce and people systems that align with an organization’s strategic drivers and the creation of shareholder value. He has also led numerous large-scale, global restructuring and transformation engagements for his clients.
Jesuthasan has published numerous articles and led several global research efforts on the topics of labor cost management, performance management, rewards and talent management. He has also been featured and quoted extensively by leading business media including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Newsweek, CNBC, Fortune, Human Capital (China), Les Echos (France), Valor Economico (Brazil), and Business Times (Malaysia) among others. He was recognized as one of the top 25 most influential consultants in the world by Consulting Magazine.
Prior to joining Towers Watson 17 years ago, Jesuthasan was a consultant with the strategy practice of a major management consulting firm. He holds B.B.A. and M.B.A. Finance degrees and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
2011 New York HR Leadership Summit
Both Transformative HR authors John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan will be attending the 2011 New York HR Leadership Summit at the New York Marriott Marquis on November 8, 2011.
The book Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage is available at book retailers everywhere including Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles as well as downloadable from Apple iBooks.