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Joe,

Welcome back from vacation. It seems that you took a physical vacation which coincided with a mental vacation on my end. My day job has been all consuming lately, so thank you for promting me back into the discussion.

I think we both agree that HR should be a place of innovation where ideas like crowdsourcing are explored and cultivated. However, I’m not sure that the problem is a process versus solution orientation. I would say that HR needs a results orientation. From my experience, a big reason that HR doesn’t innovate is that they wouldn’t be taken seriously if they did. At the foundatin of this lack of credibility for HR is the inability to consistently produce results on their most basic expectations (pay people, provide affordable benefits, recruit talent, etc.). Crowdsourcing and similar innovation are approaches to take your game to a new level. If you are stuggling with the basics, it’s generally not even a possiblitiy to get to the really creative solutions.

So, how to do this? There are a number of approaches, but the most fundamental thing we must do in Human Resources is change our mindset. We need to start by getting out into the business and talking with the business leaders about what they need to be successful. This should become the result that HR then works to accomplish. All too often, HR forgets that they exist to drive people results that propel the business forward. If we don’t know what the business needs to move forward, we can’t be successful.

To HR’s defense, this isn’t just an HR problem or challenge. Even the most innovative HR departments sometimes work within conservative organizations where an approach like crowdsourcing may be political suicide. However, once HR understands the results the organization wants to achieve, their obligation is to bring creative approaches to achieving those results. This requires hiring courageous, creative people and allowing them the freedom to take risks.

As for RAGBRAI, I am going to be riding the first day (Sunday). As you know, I bought a nice Trek bike a few years ago thinking that the act of purchasing a bike would make me a bike rider. However, until this year, I think I’d ridden it three times. But this year, I decided to commit to riding a day of RAGBRAI (53 miles and LOTS of BIG hills) so I’d be compelled to ride my bike to get in shape. So, I have been riding my bike trying desperately to get into shape. Along the way, a funny thing happened. I’ve been on a slow descent into bike dork-dom. I used to make fun of the guys in the biking shorts and bright jerseys . . . sadly now I have become one of them. Help me . . .

Question is: are you going to join me for this RAGBRAI quest?

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