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June 26, 2015

Giddy-Up HR

Ian's Morning Musing imageTelus shutters its Blacks stores and Rogers shuts down Zoocasa. These are just two examples, in one day, of the changing face of business. Business disruptors like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, just to name a few heavyweights, are changing the way business is being done. Our reality is that change in the digital era is not going to ease – in fact, it is going to intensify and the number of innovators is growing. Some of you might remember Jim Balsillie’s article in the Globe & Mail recently in which he tried to awaken Canadians from their slumber. He suggests we are falling further and further behind the rest of the world in fostering innovation. If that’s the truth, it begs numerous questions…. are we simply less smart and less creative than our global counterparts? Could it be we are more risk averse and less willing to tolerate failure? Could it be that we simply do not have the quality of leadership to negotiate rapid change?

WheHRGiddyupn one thinks of great leaders, certainly based on my recollection of history lessons at school, there was probably no greater leader than Winston Churchill. Between 1940 and 1945, Winston Churchill was probably the most popular British prime minister of all time. Today, think of the approval ratings of Harper, Obama, or Cameron. In May 1945, Churchill’s approval rating in the opinion polls, which had never fallen below 78 per cent, stood at 83 per cent.

Dr. Paul Addison wrote, “with few exceptions, politicians and commentators confidently predicted that he would lead the Conservatives to victory at the forthcoming general election. In the event, he led them to one of their greatest ever defeats. It was also one for which he was partly responsible, because the very qualities that had made him a great leader in war were ill-suited to domestic politics in peacetime.”

Even going back to 1945, the message for leadership was about being adaptive – adjusting to the changing times. Fast forward 70 years. Change is accelerating. The VUCA world is upon us. Is it little wonder that our ability to develop leaders is not happening fast enough? It seems to me – and this begs for a great debate – if one’s character is core, then acquiring just-in-time skills and knowledge is now paramount. It is easy to suggest that Telus made a mistake in acquiring Blacks. Hindsight is wonderful, but Bell had acquired the Source. The competitive landscape changed overnight. Yesterday Amazon announced it is “The New Clothing Store.” So from an HR standpoint, are we moving fast enough – smart enough – in developing the talent critical to success in a fast-paced world? If not, how are we thinking about it?

This is a huge topic for views and opinions, and we welcome, and would encourage, your thoughts on LinkedIn.

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Ian Hendry is the president of the Strategic Capability Network. In his Morning Musings, he provides insight on issues facing today’s business leaders and looks at subject matter related to upcoming SCNetwork events. He is also VP HR & Administration at Interac Assocation.


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