Blocking and Tackling and Strategy

January 18, 2011 by Wally Bock

The headline “New Study Shows HR Success Is Driving Business Success for 2011” caught my eye and I clicked through to the Aberdeen Group’s report: “The HR Executive’s Agenda: Automation, Innovation and Growth.” The report is worth reading because it’s filled with things to kickstart your thinking about HR and what that function should be doing.

But nestled away in the report (page 11, if you’re following along at home) is a discussion of how Aberdeen notes that “perceived strategic value of HR to the organization” has been declining. Here’s Aberdeen’s analysis.

“One reason for this may be the tactical role HR has had to play in the past two years doing the blocking and tackling required by downsizing, reorganizing, and even ramping up for growth.”

Take a minute to read that again. It seems to me to say that HR shouldn’t be asked to provide strategic value when it’s busy with “blocking and tackling.” There are two big problems with that idea.

“Blocking and tackling” is only part of the game. You don’t let a football team off the hook for poor play calling because they were busy blocking and tackling. If you’re a football team, you’re expected to do it all. Same for HR.

Nobody else with a seat at that great, proverbial, table where strategy is made gets a pass. The CFO has to get out the quarterly statements, file the taxes, manage the budget, and make a strategic contribution. We expect the CIO to make strategic contributions whether or not the department is installing a new system. It’s not either “blocking and tackling” or strategic contribution. It’s both.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

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