In case you may have missed it, Google’s stock price recently broke $800 per share, making them the third most valuable company in the world. Outside of multi-national petroleum companies, the other leading firms on this list of value include Apple, Microsoft, IBM, GE, J&J, and Pfizer. Companies that are all driven by innovation and their ability to effectively commercialize the creative collaboration of their most valuable resource…people.
An interesting article was recently published detailing Google’s approach to what is being called people analytics. The fact is, human beings are the the raw material for value creation in the new economy. This is something we’ve been speaking about for five years, but is just now starting to gain traction in the mainstream business community. This doesn’t just apply to information technology companies, but all companies, because innovative thinking at every touch point in the organization is the key driver of competitive advantage. To refer back to a term once bandied about in corporate circles; HR can no longer be viewed as a cost center, it is truly a Center of Excellence in today’s hyper-competitive world.
Google is reinventing the HR practice to reflect the strategic imperative of fully engaging passionate people to collaborate and innovate on an unprecedented level. The article quoted two points that reveal their strategic perspective towards reinventing the HR practice:
1. “All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics.”
2. Their focus is to “bring the same level of rigor to people-decisions that we do to engineering decisions.”
The article goes through ten, distinct steps that differentiate Google’s approach to the Human Resource function. I’ll refrain from rehashing them here, but I will touch on the highlights of their approach.
~ Google is focused on identifying the top, currently relevant leadership competencies that fit their culture and business objectives. Coaching and frequent employee feedback are at the core.
~ Google is employing a retention algorithm, an effective hiring algorithm, calculating the business value of top performers, and using predictive analytics to drive the value-creating, HR flywheel.
~ Google is applying experimental pilot initiatives to determine ‘best practices’ in people leadership that fit their business and strategy.
~ Google is focused on improving diversity, creating innovative and collaborative workplace design, and migrating from traditional ‘training’ to discovery, novelty and learning opportunities for their employees.
~ Google is using the resulting, forward-looking data these initiatives are generating to influence and convince internal managers of the wisdom and business value of these people-centric practices.
You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, well of course Google is using analytics and sophisticated algorithms. These skills are core competencies that built their dominance in the search engine business. But we don’t have those competencies…how do we adopt these new competitive practices?”
This is part of the beauty of the new economy we live in. You don’t need to own competencies in order to take full advantage of their being out there in the landscape. Our firm is a great example. We’ve adopted an open-network structure (i.e. innovative and collaborative workplace design) that taps into the competencies we need, when we and our clients need them. We’ve invested in partnerships that deliver platforms that deliver hiring and retention algorithms, machine learning systems for people practices, predictive analytics, and content collaboration platforms that accelerate value creation at a surprisingly reasonable cost. Firms no longer need to buy these advanced competencies by hiring the brightest mathematicians hailing from MIT or Stanford. They can lease the tools they need, when they need them. Our firm integrates and adds value by providing the leadership development (experiential learning programs that create a shift in perspective; i.e. rewriting the human software running in our heads), aligned pilot program initiatives (i.e. Google’s experiments), and the metrics (i.e. forward looking data) to fully leverage these evidence-based approaches that will revolutionize Human Resource practices to fully drive competitive advantage.
The fact is, any firm can begin to lead and innovate like Google, Apple, IDEO and other thought-leading companies that understand the value of their human talent. There’s a certain irony here, too. The same dynamics that are driving such unprecedented, accelerating change are the same dynamics that are affordably delivering the practices and tools that any firm that wishes to lead the disruptive wave of the new strategic imperative of innovation, collaboration and value creation!
© 2013, Terry Murray.