Several months ago at Elephant we started work on putting together a conference that would be the starting point to transform HR and change our industry forever. I never anticipated the amazing response that we would have not only from HR people in New Zealand, but also Australia, Finland, the US and the UK.
This week saw the HR Game Changer conference happen concurrently in New Zealand and the UK, with a twitter stream that was so jam packed full that it trended second on Twitter for both days. Perry Timms and Simon Heath have both already summarised the UK conference – which was clearly an amazing event.
For more about that click here. or to read the follow up click here.
And watch the video of the mural that Simon put together on the day click here.
But what happened here in New Zealand?
For the first time in a long time, I was truly proud to be in HR and inspired to make change happen. The speakers were visionary, inspirational and brilliant and everyone attending were finally the like-minded HR people that I hadn’t met at an HR event for a very long time.
So first up to summarise what key points were discussed:
- I talked about the trends I think are completely changing business. These were why we work – businesses and individuals reviewing their purpose (e.g. conscious capitalism), how we work (on line collaboration, people clouds, workspaces, social media) and how our businesses are even structured (holocracy came up!). If PWC’s prediction of the blue, orange and green world is right, how are we preparing for that?
- Natasha Hubbard from Xero shared how they have really lived their values to keep their culture from start up to going global. We need more rock star CEO’s like Rod Drury who not just see HR as critical but demonstrate the type of leadership that actually values people first.
- Carol Hirschfeld talked about transformations. Sometimes this means learning new stuff which can be difficult. It can be about taking up a cause and representing those who aren’t being represented (Campbell Live and the Christchurch Earthquake) but even when you change the game (like 3 National News did), you can still do it with your own style.
- Our panel debate raised some thought provoking, hilarious and sobering takes on why HR will or won’t transform. Have we got the right people? Are we diverse enough? How are the accountants being more transformative than HR??? Also being at the top table is really boring and not where key decisions are made. For me the biggest a-ha moment was that line managers are our operational delivery arm, not our clients. Think how that changes how you run your HR programmes. I also loved that Kirsten Pattison, CEO of NZICA said that being a CEO still meant you were an HR person.
- From our mini conferences on day 1 the game changers were that there are many ways to build capability and attract talent to you, HR needs to own business projects and be the core of changing culture and we have to deliver on what we promise candidates. Our think tank and ideas jam did a deep dive to discuss and explore these.
- Our international panel debate with David D’Souza, Christopher De Mers and Richard Breden on day 2 discussed some really meaty and complex challenges HR face in the UK, US and Australia. Teddy bears and alcohol also came into the discussion!
- Melissa Clark-Reynolds then turned the whole notion of managing risk on its head. She shared how she’s build businesses (and also sees herself as being in HR even as a CEO) and some of the ways you need to think differently to make sure we’re not a DVD store – thinking we’re safe, when actually we’re becoming irrelevant.
- Our day 2 mini-conferences covered how sales & marketing need to be part of what HR does, how to create a business that does good for the world and learnings from entrepreneurs. The not for profit group also had an amazing session showing that sometimes not having big budgets can make you more creative in how you change the world.
- We ended with Nigel Latta talking about how to create a movement. After he was mobbed and had photos taken with most of the room, he finally got to take the stage and share what we’re going to have to do to get this transformation off the ground. Making people lives better was the philosophy that stood out for many.
But with all of this, it’s hard to transform when there is still confusion over what HR does, there are no standards that people practising HR need to live by and no way to know the excellence in HR happening out there. On that note, a special announcement was made of the forming of a new entity to provide Chartering for HR. This will be built by HR people, for HR people. It will not just provide chartering, but will be looking to build the future of HR. This caused much excitement, with many who have been waiting for something like this to happen! (March 2015: this entity will now be called the Association of People Professionals).
This summary doesn’t in any way do justice to the most mind-blowing, inspiring and truly amazing HR experience of my life. I will now be writing a book to try and capture the detail of the discussions and the map that we set for how we’re going to change the game.
It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. And we hope that as we transform, more of you will want to be part of it. Because this is an opportunity of a lifetime for us to take HR to a place it hasn’t yet been and change our world for the better. It is as important as that.