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Can HR Deliver Disruptive Innovation?

Disruptive technology and disruptive innovation are terms used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by being lower priced or designed for a different set of consumers.  The original concept was introduced in an article by Josephe Bower and Clayton Christen (1995) that introduced the concept.

Henry Ford’s Model T, the PC, and the Iphone, are all examples of disruptive technologies that consumers never expected or planned for, but changed the dynamics in the market place. The introduction of such innovative products drives new demand and opportunities for the “me too” product and complementary products and services.

It’s very easy to think in terms of products and technology, but is there opportunity for Disruptive Innovation in Human Resources? Traditionally, HR is often considered to be a reactionary function, responding or slightly anticipating the needs of the organization.  So does HR have the ability to lead by such innovation that the rest of the organization benefits?  This can include both the corporate HR function and the HR outsourcing industries.  Can HR create a new model of work that redefines how people power contributes to an organization?

What opportunities exist?  How about:

  • Just in Time (JIT) Personnel: Workforce Planning at the hourly level using deployable people who move throughout the organization.  Employees are task, project, or outcome designed where traditional time tracking is used only for the purpose of pay?
  • HR as the solutions provider in the Healthcare Debate?
  • How about HR connecting the dots between Healthcare, Wellness & Productivity?
  • The complete networking of knowledge throughout an enterprise by way of pay for knowledge?
  • The purely Outcome-Oriented Exempt Workforce?
  • The internal/external HR Department? One HR department/multiple companies?
  • True 24/7 Employee& Leader Access to HR?
  • The Re-emergence of the “Employee Guild”, organizations designed and maintained for mutual benefit of all members that does not have the constraints of traditional employee unions.
  • An HR service that is paid for purely with ROI and cost reduction dollars?

Certainly, for such change to occur HR’s definition must considerably change apart from the traditional corporate and outsourcing roles and instead merge with other professions in order to move towards such innovation.  Think for a moment of the opportunities that exist.  -Rick Baron

Rick is a Florida-based Human Resources and Career Strategist.  You can find more advice and insights at http://www.rmbaron.com or contact him at rick@rmbaron.net.

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