Dave Ulrich: What's next in HR? The requirements for HR from the outside in

Another session that I attended at the AHRI HRizon conference in Melbourne this week was a session by Dave Ulrich, the renown Harvard professor on HR.

Dave is a university Professor at the Harvard Business School and renown author of HR publications. This presentation is largely based on the research done for his book HR from the outside in.


How can HR think from the outside in? The key concepts are think, behave, have fun:

- Think: what are the challenges for today's business; how can HR add value to employees, customers, investors & communities

- behave: identify things that you can do to further your HR role

- have fun


What is the future of HR: need to create a stress test:

- there are 4 levels in HR: admin function, expertise, strategy, now HR outside-in

- The questions to ask yourself is: how does hr connect with the strategy outside the organization

- how do you get customers involved in HR - recruit staff that customers would want, in delivering the training design, allocate rewards (MA), performance management. Get outside

- your advertising should match your competency levels - start leadership with customers

- Culture is the view of the company in the view of our customers - outside in

- need to visit with your customers to understand what they want

Toolkit for Success

Ulrich gave the audience a toolkit on how to develop the stress test:

- WHY focus on value created - value is defined by the receiver more than the giver


- WHERE focus on tomorrow, STEPED process (PESTLE), put it into the trends & context

  • need to understand our stakeholders, employees today & tomorrow
  • communicating with shareholders, build the intangibles


- WHAT line managers are the primary owners of people in the business. HR is the architect

  • anticipate what the customer needs.
  • Build organization capability to build talent
  • focus on 3 things in HR - talent, leadership, culture; gets people into the conversation at the exec level
  • teamwork is a glue
  • strong link between the PD & getting the right people
  • you need to invest in talented people, capacity, agility, achievement.
  • Formula- competence x commitment x contribution = productivity
  • organizational audits are an important tool to find out OD capabilities
  • Leadership - trend 1 from leader to leadership. Trend 2 inside to outside
  • need to create a brand of leadership


- HOW structure HR as the business is structured; good professionals


Ulrich left the audience with a checklist for the future:

- HR skills for the future - strategic positioner; change champion - capability builder - technology proponent - HR innovator & integrator; credible activist

- HR needs to be a proponent of technology to drive the business, the change champion

- connect HR to the external world...outside in

- profit & performance combined with feeling and meaning in their career

What did I learn?

HR and managers need to look from the outside in. In developing what who we are recruiting, our HR rules and procedures take it from the view of the customer. What is the type of people that our customers would like to interact with? Who are those people that really want to serve the customer and put them at the centre of everything that they do? Then to use these people to drive productivity and to create a better experience for our customers which will lead to be increased revenue.

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