HR has seen many major shifts over the past 10-20 years with many transactional HR operations going through the process of being made more efficient through a combination of process streamlining, technology and outsourcing. HR is more closely aligned with corporate strategy and discovering new ways to create business value. This leaves HR directors that are extremely familiar with grappling cultural, functional and operational changes (our oft referred to “HR transformations”).

Ask an HRD what the aim for their department is and how many will say ‘I don’t want to be viewed as a cost centre, but as a strategic contributor to solving the company’s most pressing challenges.’

But we all know this, right?

In our hearts we also know that HR Transformation is becoming a well trodden road where we find ourselves needing to be more imaginative in the ways in which we set ourselves apart from the pack. In Samantha Carr’s blog she told us ‘change was inevitable’ and this got me thinking; what about the ideas that don’t make it? Ask yourself, how entrepreneurial is your HR department and how many great ideas don’t go any further than the staff canteen?

You’ve been struck with inspiration, it can’t fail! Wide eyed you suggest it to your colleagues..

  • They feign some interest – but then do nothing to follow up on the idea.

  • Your ideas are greeted with a chorus of “oh, we tried that!” – even if you haven’t.

  • People do their level best to find its flaws; if you poke at something long enough it’ll probably fall apart.

  • Even easier than that people just ignore it. Silence intimidates all but the most enthusiastic.

  • Rather than embrace the idea everyone pours cold water on it saying… ‘it’s too expensive… we don’t have the resource.. XYZ tried it last year and look where they are!’

  • People overcomplicate: but hey, they’re just modifying it? Adding to the idea, improving some might say. By the time you know what’s what – it becomes so mutated that the original idea is dead. 

  • Over hype it. Once you’ve eulogised on the proposition for 20 whole minutes everyone else in the room is sure to hate it.

Sound familiar?

In an ever changing environment where the need to build on the already great progress we’ve made; the challenge isn’t coming up with the great idea, it’s having the conviction to follow it through on it. And who amongst us wants their future to be controlled by the things we’re scared of?

Entrepreneurs think of setbacks as learning experiences. Entrepreneurs take chances, make mistakes and ultimately risk failure to discover new models, new ideas and ultimately new opportunities. To learn from them we must redefine our (and our organisations) perception of failure and success.

If failure is not achieving perfection then our exercise in creativity is doomed. Alternatively, if failure is greeted as an opportunity to learn and success the acquisition of new information, then the battles half won. By fostering an entrepreneurial culture we may be able to find those ‘golden idea’s that will truly transform HR’s contribution to business objectives.