Jon Ingham on HRExaminer

For every 250 bloggers talking to an empty virtual room about nothing, there is one voice delivering value and perspective. The democratization of publishing has made it possible for all sorts of voices to be heard. That so little is being said is only troubling if you don’t agree with Einstein, who said, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” In other words, the ability to deliver social media is no guarantee of content quality.

Several factors come in to play when the information quality question involves a profession and its practice. The maturity of the profession itself; the maturity of the author (professionally and personally), the level of understanding of the problem under discussion and the relationship of the author to the audience are each aspects of the way that authors and audiences interact.

As is painfluuly clear in politics (regardless of your persuasion), the level of enthusiasm for an idea has painfully little to do with its legitimacy or utility. The factors that seem to drive influence on a national scale involve a race to the lowest common denominator. Intelligence and maturity are not inherent gateways to influence in the industry. There is infinite room in the infinite universe for the infinitely inane. Influence is not different from that.

And, this is an introduction to a guy who I think is really smart.

Jon Ingham is a British HR consultant and author who rose to global visibility throu his blog. Ingham focuses on enterprise issues and the evolution of Strategic HR. He’s definitely one of the smart social media practioners who are being paid attention. At least some of his strength comes from having deep operational experiences outside of HR.

If our profession has a single major weakness, it’s the inherent lack of grounding in the real work of the businesss. HR’s greatest mentors always preach the importannce of delivering the sort of value the organization needs as a part of its mission. Without hands on experience in sales, marketing, engineering, production and/or customer service, the organization’s work remains theoretical.

Jon says, “I help organisations gain competitive advantage through the creation of human and social capital supported by effective leadership, HR and management practices, OD interventions, and the use of web 2.0 / social media tools etc.”

He began his career as a C++ specialist (that’s software) doing user acceptance at Andersen (now Accenture). The key question became, “How do you make internal change happen in an organization?” Simply delivering technical insight was not enough. Ingham knew there was more.

He moved into HR to learn about change management. Since then, he’s worked internationally (Moscow and Egypt among others) and often in key change management roles. He spent a sifnificant chunk of time doing fundamental HR service delivery.

Jon defines HR as ‘managing people to accumulate Human Capital.” His book, Strategic Human Capital Management: Creating Value Through People, Ingham details the processes and procedures requored by a contemporay organization (Google Books has a 50 page preview). His clear eyed view of smart HR was significantly ahead of the rest of the industry making Jon both articulator and visionary.

His influence stems from his audience, a rekentless travel schedule and the depth and clarity of his thought. Ingham travels the entire HCM waterfront and is willing to take us along on the ride with him. For example,

Collective intelligence isn’t about information flows and processes. It’s about people and their connections. Speed and flexibility isn’t about formal planning processes – supported by social tools, it’s about giving people autonomy to make quicker and smarter decisions – supported by social relationships.

We talked about the trends taht are shaping the industry:

  • HR continues to get closer to the business. In doing so, we risk losing the very things that make HR valuable. This tension will shape HR organizations for the next several years.
  • Measurement is taking root in the culture of Human CApital Management. This is a good thing. But, you can not forecast the future by measuring the past. Measurement should be balanced with creativity and trust. When measurement becomes about performance surveillance, the culture suffers.
  • Ironically, HR should be trying to become more relationship focused. Social Media is at its most useful when it is social.
  • HRTech offers extraordinary ways for the discipline to add value. The US understands this far more deeply than the rest of the world.

Ingham is still early in his career. It’s not outrageous to imagine him as the next Ullrich. We’re going to keep following him.