The Future of HR and Effective Organizations

John Boudreau (CEO) and Ian Ziskin (CEO and Exec Excel)
June 2011

We believe HR’s reason for being is to make people and organizations more effective. We also believe that this will not change in the future. However, it’s clear that HR needs to find ways to do its work faster, with less bureaucracy, and more business relevance. HR’s aspirations do not yet fully align with its ability to deliver. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the bar keeps getting raised – HR is indeed improving and developing its capabilities, but the expectations about what HR can and should deliver are also getting bigger, in possibly unrealistic ways; in addition, the consequences of not delivering are also getting tougher and less forgiving.

This article describes the results of an ongoing initiative by CEO to understand the future of HR, and in particular its relationships within effective organizations in dynamic environments. We began with the premise that over the next 5-10 years the future of HR work (specifically) and effective organizations (more broadly) will in many ways be quite different. We brought together dozens of HR leaders over the past few months to get their counsel on the issues and trends they note in their everyday work, and we took a careful look at current writing about the future of HR, as well as several current initiatives that seek to define or influence that future. Our investigations are ongoing, but this article will explore six major emerging themes from our work.

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