Everyone has generally heard of the SWOT analysis where you look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is often recommended for new HR directors who are taking over new positions or departments. It is a look at your present situation and therein lays the danger according to one futurist.
Think outside yourself
Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company’s manager of global trends and futuring, in a presentation to association executives, presented a session on what the world may look like in 2030. She gave some tips for putting that thinking cap on in order to prepare for the future. One that stuck out to me because of its relevance to HR was her warning “Beware of the SWOT analysis.” She said:
“This type of thinking is based on your present point of view, but you need to think outside yourself. Focus on the things you can’t control because what you think are your strengths aren’t actually going to be decided by you. They’re going to be decided by the marketplace, and the marketplace is really fickle. … Oftentimes your strength can turn into a weakness literally almost overnight”
There are two lessons in that statement. First is you have realize you don’t decide what your strengths are, your “customers” do. That means you need to be in tune with how people currently perceive HR and how the changing workforce may perceive you in the future. This means you have to be “future thinking” and be aware of changing trends.
The second lesson is you have to be objectively critical of your organization and be prepared to change direction as needed by that marketplace. HR is often too slow on the uptake and operates in yesterday’s way of doing things. View who you are and how you operate through the lens of tomorrow.
Thanks to Katie Bascuas for her article on Ms. Connelly’s presentation.