Are You Ready – Finally! – for HR 3.0?

From the HR blog at TLNT. Illustration by
IFrom the HR blog at TLNT. llustration by

A funny thing happened on the way to a tweet.

Last week I tweeted an article appropriately titled “Making the Case for Corporate Social Human Resources: Are You Prepared for HR 3.0?” The article reviewed a recently published book “CSR for HR: A Necessary Partnership for Advancing Responsible Business Practices,” and it makes the argument for connecting CSR (corporate social responsibility) with a company’s human resource function. I was intrigued with the 3.0 statement.

As with tweets, I always follow whether someone else votes for the article by re-tweeting it. Well on this one, I did receive a direct message from @TLColson. Her message was to the point: “most are still mastering 1.0, who are we kidding?” I had to smile, and chuckled as I read that.

This kind of stayed in my mind as I thought over the 1.0 to 3.0 analogy. What is HR 3.0 and how does it look?

HR 1.0: The personnel and administrative era

Looking back, I think that the personnel function was more of an administrative activity coordinating a range of worker related processes. This, I would think, would be aptly described as the HR 1.0 era. As this function evolved in a lot of companies, it became human resources.

That comment on my tweet surely reflected this sentiment. The administrative function, as one of my former bosses told me, is the basic competency of HR and that is what we do. No more, no less.

There was another recent article that focused on social media and the ways that it will transform HR to 3.0. Social media and CSR now have been proclaimed as the transfer agents of the profession, both proclaiming that they will usher us into the promise land of a 3.0 version of our profession.

From my perspective, it will take these two as well as a host of other initiatives before we can give the nod to HR 3.0.

Post recession and the resulting overflow of issues that will be left in its wake, will drive organizations to make this transformation more than any other.

Deloitte does as excellent series for chief human resources officers, and the latest is titled “Strategist & Steward: The Evolving Role of the Chief Human Resources Officer.” It talks about the evolution of new role of the CHRO and the department that he or she will build.

The role of the HR 3.0 leader

The changes that we are witnessing will require a diagnostician’s mentality of the CHRO, with the organization as the patient. The mind of the individual that heads up this role will always be at work.

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This role will also require the expertise of an engineer — an engineer who applies scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge to design and build initiatives that allows the organization to achieve its corporate goals.

The HR 3.0 leader will also need to have the competence of a watchmaker who has designed a watch of a thousand parts, with all working together flawlessly.  It will also require someone with the dexterity of a strategist that interprets, analyzes, and monitors trends, initiatives, and the strategic plans within the organization.

Overall, this CHRO role will refine the organization’s mission and develop both short- and long-term strategic business/human capital goals. Plus, they will need to partner with the rest of the C-Suite to break down corporate goals from the boardroom to the mailroom.

The tide is turning for HR

This 3.0 version of HR will be a welcome vision for a lot of us in HR. We have heard, read, and discussed our impending demise, our importance, and our overall relevance. We have witnessed the catcalls about our profession. We have chomped at the bit to move forward. We have stood on the sidelines and seen the game being played before our very eyes.

But I have some good news for you: the tide is turning. We will be receiving the engraved invitation sometimes soon. The importance of what we do in HR WILL be recognized. The rigor with which we approach our work will recognized. This point in time will allow us to look back and marvel from whence we came.

HR 3.0 is on its way; our mission is to be ready for it! We have asked, begged, and inquired, and now its here.

The Temptations, my favorite group, had a hit song back in the day called Get Ready.” We might as well cue it up on our iPods.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.


1 Comment on “Are You Ready – Finally! – for HR 3.0?

  1. Thanks for referring to my blog Ron. Great perspective. I do hope everyone who reads the piece feels encouraged to add their two cents in. And yes, like I wrote recently on my blog ( ), the tide is indeed changing. It will only serve HR professionals well if you not only stay up to date with these changes, but go further, participate and leverage these trends to lead/shape your companies’ long term growth. You’ve earned that seat on the table, now leverage it.


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