Should HR be a positive disruptor?

by Michael Haberman on December 10, 2014 · 0 comments


Being a positive disruptor can be a valuable role to play.

Being a positive disruptor can be a valuable role to play.

I have written a couple of time on “legacy thinking” in HR, here and here. While it is good for organizations to have a legacy and a history in today’s fast moving world legacy thinking can also keep you from progressing.

“We have always done it that way”

When you ask a question and the response is “We have always done it that way” you know you are in the clutches of legacy thinking. If you look at policies and wonder “Why do we have that?” you are in the clutches of legacy thinking. If someone ever says “I just don’t understand Twitter”, you are in the clutches of legacy thinking.

If you find yourself, your department or the company in the clutches of legacy thinking then it is time to become or hire a positive disruptor. This is someone who is going to question the “why” and the “what” of things that are done.

Value of a positive disruptor

Kevin Kennemer, of The People Group, wrote about the 7 Benefits of a Positive Disruptor. His seven benefits can apply to HR as well as it can apply to any area. These benefits are:

  1. Adaptability gives life to an organization. He says “The longer an organization exists the less pliable it becomes.” We know this is true for many HR departments. How often have you heard “HR says we cannot do that” or some other such phrase? It is time to make HR more pliable.
  2. Identifies Closed Minds and Reduces Resistance. Kennemer says “…there are people who resist change like water-logged wood resists fire no matter how much lighter fluid you use.” A positive disruptor can help identify and hopefully change these people in the organization. The last point of resistance on progress does not need to be HR.
  3. Raises the Bar Even Higher. Positive change is focused on making your best even better.” The goal of a positive disruptor is to make the organization better than it is by always tasking people to improve.
  4. Surprises the Competition. In the case of many HR departments their competition is their own company management team. They do not expect innovation out of HR. They do not expect progressive action out of HR. So positive disruption can have the effect of surprising them.
  5. Encourages an Innovative Spirit. “Innovation happens when there are high levels of trust in an organization.” It is important for HR to be trusted. If HR is showing they are there to help managers improve and they offer innovative ways of accomplishing goals they will engender this trust.
  6. Creates Efficiencies. “Positive disruptors are not satisfied with driving the same route to the same destination every day. Not when there is a faster way to get there. In fact, the new route might have better scenery, few stop lights and smoother roads. Processes need to be reviewed, employees involved in the process need to be brought into the discussion. That’s how positive disruptors find faster ways to get from point A to point Z.” We have always done it this way is often not the most efficient way to do things in today’s world. New methods and new technologies often require dumping legacy systems in order to be more efficient. The positive disruptor is the person that says “This has to go, this has to be changed.”
  7. Everyone Wins. “Once your workforce is filled with people who are; 1) adaptable, 2) open-minded, 3) bar raisers, 4) competitive, 5) innovative, and 6) efficient, everyone wins. The organization will transform into a wildly successful enterprise.” Once your HR department has people who are considered innovative they will be approached by others to help with their innovation. They will be sought after for creative problem solving. It will just be a more fun place to work that provides a sense of accomplishment.

Look in your mirror tomorrow morning and ask “I am I prepared to be a positive disruptor?” If the answer is “no” then you need to hire someone. If the answer is “yes” the sally forth and start disrupting.


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