The modern challenge to HR

CEOs need to press their HR departments for insights on organisational capability and risk

In a world where confidence is seen as a principal output of a CEO role – whether with analysts, investors, regulators, customers, shareholders or employees – the how of strategy is becoming at least as important as the what. Strategy is just a promise that must be delivered by the organisation and, as such, insights into the people and organisational implications of business strategy are as pivotal to competitive advantage as advances in product and service offer.

This is the modern challenge to HR. We need to engage with strategy earlier and use our expertise to deduce the nature and relative scale of the risks to delivery as related to people and organisational capability. We need to propose appropriate strategies to address these issues in the time required. This broadens the discussion about organisational development (OD) to include everything from organisational structure through to a discussion around the board table regarding the pros and cons of what the strategy means in practice.

This entails moving beyond the traditional premise of OD as a change project or efficiency initiative, to a fundamental business essential rooted in the organisational strategy. We need to be able to enter into a dialogue with business leaders as to current and future plans, and understand the ‘organisational system’ that supports growth and effectiveness. What’s more we need to translate from this to the people and organisational processes, structures, systems, skills and behaviours that are necessary to develop a sustainable and integrated whole-system solution.

For those involved with OD, knowing about change management and being able to cite theoretical models of OD is not enough. We must have a deeper knowledge of the context of the organisation – how value is created – and work with ambiguity, pragmatism and flexibility. The ability to be both a systems thinker and to speak in a language that the business understands becomes key. The ability to articulate the benefits of an OD approach to the wider business and demonstrate the link to tangible business outcomes is also crucial.

At Henley, our approach to OD is very contextual. We will help you to discover the most appropriate model of OD for the context of your organisation. And we will provide you with approaches and ways of thinking that will help you position OD at the heart of your business.

Nick Kemsley
Co-director, Henley Centre for HR Excellence

Details of Henley Business School’s Organisational Development Masterclass can be found at /executive-education/course/henley-organisational-development-masterclass/

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If you have any questions, please contact our programme advisors, Hannah, Ruhi & Diana by email at exec@henley.ac.uk or by phone on +44 (0)1491 418767.

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