Creative HR! What was I thinking?
The odds were stacked against me. I’d be lucky to get away with an interesting experience, bruised ego and a new story to tell.
I could have fallen flat on my face, choked down a mouthful of regret and crept back to where I was before.
Daunted. I stumbled many times and tumbled a few more.
Determined. I pressed on because I could not go back to the way things were.
When you choose to explore off the well-trodden path, you never know what’s going to happen or what you will discover.
Expect surprises on the other side when you decide to follow your curiosity down interesting rabbit holes.
I never set out with a particular destination in mind. But I began this journey knowing deep down that we would part ways in the end. My guide was a worm of idea that had buried itself in my brain. The hint of an escape and the promise of more.
This new chapter of my HR story begins with a goodbye.
Goodbye Homogenous HR
“Don’t want to find myself homogenized.
Don’t want my ideas polluted by mediocrity.
Don’t want my sentiments diluted.
This is important to me.”
Lyrics by Weezer. Cue the music. Allow me a moment to vent my spleen. Bear with me…
As I said, I had no expectations when I took my leave of homogenous HR. I just followed my fascinations down rabbit holes, worked on my craft as I saw fit, and chose to stick my nose in other disciplines and indulged in fresh fields study on a whim.
I feasted on fresh ideas, gobbled up their goodness, choosing only the choicest morsels that captured my eye and stirred up visceral emotions.
Encouraged, I experimented with combining what I already knew with concepts from other field. I had been bitten by the bug to search for the new and improved.
Whilst on that journey I spotted a niche in between the cracks of the familiar and the possible.
Could it be a chance to reimagine the look and feel of my HR?
As I explored, I saw the potential to practise HR in my own way – infused with creativity.
Even as I leapt at the chance, I accepted it was not going to be convenient to give up the safe, coziness of conventional thinking and the induced stupor of standard practise.
To be honest, I could have cared less about pleasing the industry insiders and had no grand designs on revolutionising HR or converting the Establishment to Creative HR.
Rule breaking was the furthest thing (crime) from my mind.
Glad to be alive once again, I followed the pull and lure of my curiosity to the cross-roads.
“We are now perched on a strange cusp in history, a time where the world feels like it has been turned upside down, and nothing is quite as we imagined. But uncertainty is always a precursor to sweeping change; transformation is always preceded by upheaval and fear.” Edmund Kirsch, futurist, creator, tech. Lead character in Dan Brown’s book ‘Origin’.
The fact is the rules have already been broken. Standing still is the riskiest decision you can make right now.
There was a startup opportunity up for grabs – a little known vacancy for cross-discipline creativity in HR. And I wanted it!
I cultivated my HR’s new image and crafted its creative content with the diligence of any brand manager worth their salt.
Deep down I knew I always wanted a creative career. But now I realised it was up to me to make it happen.
It dawned on me that, if I were to stick with my beloved HR, this was my best bet to re-energise the raggedy relationship.
Weaving in more creativity is a way to sew in meaning, harmony of purpose and fulfillment in my work and, enhance my outlook on life.
Stirring up staid HR has become an unwitting side effect and Creative HR is my swizzle stick. That means (ad)venturing in creative disciplines, stealing (good theft) and borrowing ideas, combining approaches, mixing in new processes; adapting them and applying them to HR.
The writing is on the wall. The traditional set-up of the HR function is not suited to maximise opportunities to make an impact, contribute meaningful value and create a difference. Fixed mindsets and frozen-in-time systems fail to deliver the fluidity and flow demanded by workers, customers and businesses in our modern world.
Realistically, HR’s ability to save itself from an extinction event (dramatic eh!) is unlikely to be found within the existing discipline. Comfort dulls your willingness to step out from the mind-numbing routine. Unchecked familiarity breeds iterations of sameness.
Let’s differentiate our HR from the garden variety out there, shall we?
How to Spice Up the Narrative of Your HR Story
The next chapters of HR’s story are being written. What will it say?
How will you:
- Put the ‘human’ before the ‘resources?
- Reconnect with what matters to businesses and people?
- Find real puzzles and meaningful problems to solve?
- Rewire your thinking and change your mindset?
- Create meaning and make a difference?
It is up to you and me.
Stop sleepwalking through your chosen specialism or general area of the HR function.
Wake up! When mentally walking through the daily HR business operation, pretend to be a traveller. Be an explorer and try to see the ordinary, the familiar through the eyes of a new comer. Begin to notice the little things and care enough to ask why are we continuing to act and think in this way? Ponder on the purpose of each process and rule. Are they still fit for purpose? Are these mindsets and systems the right vehicle for positive impact and transformation?
Questioners wanted. It’s not our job to know all of the why’s, what’s, and how’s of the future of HR.
No one knows the answers. But we can start by asking the right questions. Start with practising divergent thinking.
“Divergent thinking isn’t the same thing as creativity. I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. Divergent thinking isn’t a synonym but is an essential capacity for creativity. It is the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways to interpret a question, to think laterally, to think not just in linear or convergent ways, to see multiple answers, not one.” Sir Ken Robinson.
Watch the video.
Our ‘job’ is to seek the opportunities. Then set out to step beyond the existing boundaries and do the kind of work that makes a real and positive impact.
Walk a different path. It’s alright to be obsessively curious about the goings on over the fence of your profession. Go beyond the field of your own discipline and the boundaries of your existing beliefs.
Reach out to communities where different ideas and alternative points of view are bountiful. You will discover that there are individuals and groups blazing a trail or gradually figuring things out along the way.
Connect with them. You will feel less alone and who knows what opportunities to advance and improve you may discover. The path to change and making a difference is tough but exciting, and best done in company.
Will you join me?