I recently attended the Bersin by Deloitte Impact conference in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. We’ve been following Bersin for quite few years and have used Bersin research with client engagements in the past. I chose to attend this particular conference because of its concentration on HR and data analytics in predictive ways. There were four tracks: Manage Develop, Attract and Retain, and Predict and Plan. I spent almost all of my time looking through the Predict and Plan lens since that is where the use of analytics are most prevalent. My comments here will reflect that perspective.

While there was not clarity around how the acquisition of Bersin by Deloitte will affect the service offering, one benefit that was evident at the Bersin IMPACT conference was that Deloitte will contribute its best people and thought around talent management. Cathy Benko is Vice Chairman and a Managing Principle at Deloitte, and wrote The Corporate Lattice. Cathy delivered a keynote on “The Shifting Ethos and What It Means for Talent Leadership”. We all must face the truth that talent leadership is changing, and we need to have the data and analytics to help steer the ship. But we also need to adapt to a continuously changing workforce that values corporate citizenship. How we change, plan and react is critical to the “engagement” that we all claim to seek.  According to Cathy in order to succeed we need to address three key principles:

  1. Dismantle the corporate ladder
  2. Connect the dots
  3. Forge a co-operative

The principles tie back to her model of the corporate lattice. Linearity gives way to flexibility and work is encompassed in interconnected ways. She highlighted 3 applications of the lattice in this diagram.

To embrace the lattice model, and fundamentally change the way we lead work and function in HR, we will need to be more agile. Gloria Stinson from Adobe presented a session on the topic of agility. Gloria laid out how her team adapted the principles of agile software development when addressing human-based work issues and flows. Deloitte threw in their agile manifesto for good measure. Looking at their service delivery model through an agile view point, Adobe learned that while they had a great team, the physical and organizational structure was holding that team back. Adobe learned 5 key lessons along the way:

  1. Transformation is a journey
  2. Leadership is needed
  3. Equipping is essential
  4. Communicate & leverage
  5. Always be cognizant global/legal considerations

When data, systems, tools, agility, and attitude all align at the top of the organization, new ways of work become possible. Imagine a company where PTO doesn’t exist and people take time off when they need it. In fact, the 8 hour workday is even a thing of the past. Ryan is a global tax services firm that, under the direction of EVP Delta Emerson, blew away all traditional interpretations of work life balance. They created accountability for work while allowing the flexibility for life. Enabled by a system of dashboards on both the employee and management levels, productivity is measured not in terms of hours but by goals related to revenue or support tasks that agreed to in regular collaborations. Low performers are quickly identified, and predictive modeling is enabled through projected productivity.

While much of the talk about predictive analytics at the conference was directly related to projecting and reducing attrition, Lowe’s, the home improvement giant, presented a case study on leveraging analytics to improve end to end process with their store development teams. The result was that Lowe’s was able to cut almost in half the time it took to open a store, improved the accuracy of the projected cost, and even produced workforce planning models for stores that hadn’t even opened yet. One issue I have with Lowe’s model was their characterization of HRBPs as generalists. I agree that HRBPs need to be consulted and worked closely with. But HRBPs need to be so much more than generalists. HRBPs should be your organization’s internal consultants that have tangible expertise that they can bring to bear strategically.

The conference wrapped up with Dr. Paula Caligiuri on “Cultural Agility“. She spoke on the importance of agility, and how to build, attract, and retain talent that can help you operate in the new global talent model. She referenced a 2010 IBM CHRO study which can be found here. She had some great tips on where to look for globally agile talent, and how to recognize the skills and abilities that are common among these people. She has a book on the subject, which can be found here.

We are now in a time where HR transformation is no longer optional but a business-based requirement. We no longer have the luxury of waiting for seat at the table. We need to embed ourselves in the core business of our companies and provide real value through strategic and predictive data-backed initiatives. In short, we will provide value by transcending our delivery models and cost-cutting efficiencies, and begin to directly engage our lines of business for meaningful and sustainable improvement.

Read my recap of day 1.