The Essential Role of HR in Unleashing Radical Global Innovation – by Enrique Rubio

There is an old adage that says if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. The modern version should say if you want to go (anywhere) AT ALL, you must go together.

The myriad of challenges we are dealing with today are too complex, overwhelming and far-reaching to be resolved by any single individual, institution, city, country or region. In addition, their nature is global and therefore they need a global approach for solutions. Those solutions need to have depth and breadth, be far-reaching and implemented fast. And if we want to go deep, wide, far and fast, but we need to do so together. It isn’t possible anymore to go anywhere, nor fast or slow, alone.

Take for example the impact of automation in the global workforce. According to a 2017 report1 by McKinsey by 2030 up to 800 million jobs could be replaced by technology. That is around 25 to 30% of the global workforce. While many new jobs will also be created thanks to the impact of technology, we already know that it is highly unlikely that the majority of the hardest impacted countries will be able to catch up. The rate of old jobs replacement and the need for reskilling or upskilling for new jobs has already by far surpassed the capacity of most countries, both in emerging and developed markets, to get ready. The ghost of massive global unemployment is already hunting humanity. We will see dramatic waves of what I call technological refugees moving from one city to another, and one country to another.

The consequences of the acceleration in the technological revolution require deep and wide solutions that go far and are implemented fast. That can’t be done in isolation. It requires global togetherness.

Another example of the magnitude, complexity and far-reaching impact of existing global challenges is climate change. It is expected that by 2050 between 150 and 200 million people will be displaced by climate change. That’s more than the least 150 populated countries combined. Each of those 150-200 million people will add to the millions already displaced by vulnerable political systems in many failed countries. The increased global diaspora isn’t something that a handful of countries, especially in Europe and North America, let alone a single city, region or institution, will be able to resolve. This is a dramatic global challenge. It doesn’t have simple solutions that can temporarily patch up the consequences for us to gain time while we ignore its dramatic effects. It is real. It is global.

Just like technology, climate change requires the kind of solutions that only global togetherness can bring about.

The acceleration in the impact of technology and the dramatic effects of climate change are just but two significant examples of the kind of global challenges that humanity will be dealing with in the many years to come. Because the global and far-reaching nature of those challenges and their consequences, they need global and far-reaching global collaboration.

“If we want to go at all, we must go together”. If we want to survive and thrive as humanity we are going to have to come together as global community, put our differences aside, and tap into the massive power of our collective intelligence, creativity, imagination, resourcefulness and grit to find solutions to these global challenges while we endure the short-term consequences of not having come together sooner. That’s the only way to think and implement deep, wide, far-reaching and quickly implemented solutions.

Coming together, building bridges across countries, cultures, communities, and tearing down the mental walls that separate us, isn’t just wishful thinking promoted by hippies, it is becoming a human survival imperative if we want to preserve our existence in the years to come.

I believe that it is fundamental to promote and deploy radical global innovation through fast-paced, experimental, agile and unconditional global collaboration. Unleashing the full capacities of our global talent and doing so across boundaries are essential elements to find the kind of deep, wide, far-reaching and fast-implemented solutions that climate change or the consequences of the exponential acceleration in technology design and implementation demand.

In my view of the world, besides political and business leaders, and the famous and wealthy, Human Resources leaders and practitioners have the most amount of impact for the most people. Every single HR person touches anywhere between 100 and 300 people. If we could only do better in HR it is possible that we may indirectly and positively impact the lives of each of those people, while unleashing their talents to become part of the global talent pool ready to tackle the opportunity to deploy radical innovation through collaboration across boundaries.

That’s why I chose to focus on impacting the work of HR and that’s exactly what we are doing with Hacking HR.

When I envisioned Hacking HR my initial assumption was that we needed to connect the people’s practice with technology to ensure the proper, effective and smooth combination of the work of tech and humans in this new world of work. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t enough. Technology is just an enabler that allows humans to augment their capacities. But neither technology nor traditional thinking characterized by a fixed-mindset are enough to resolve complex global challenges. I know we needed more.

As Hacking HR evolved I realized that the missing element was community. We needed to continue talking about future of work and technology and the implications for organizations and people. However, we needed to do so from a community perspective. Deep, wide, far-reaching solutions that must be quickly implemented required more global togetherness and less isolationism.

We needed to bring people together, across boundaries, to collaborate and learn from each other, to challenge, support and encourage each other, to somehow find the ways to deploy radical innovation through global, cross-boundary collaboration. HR could be one of the most successful cases of this kind of global collaboration. We are connected in more ways that we can even see. I know that because I have had hundreds of conversations with people from all continents. Every time I hear one story from our HR community I think about the dozens of similar stories I’ve heard from someone else in HR in another corner of the world.

My vision has rapidly evolved from just bringing people together to learn about technology and HR, to bringing people together to learn from each other, while building a global platform for collaboration among HR people. I believe that the more bridges we build across HR leaders and practitioners around the world the easier it will be for information, knowledge and wisdom to flow freely; improving the way we work. And the easier it is for information, knowledge and wisdom to flow, the more opportunities we will create to collaborate and deploy radical innovation. That’s what I am after.

I am hoping for Hacking HR to become the largest community of collaboration and connection among HR leaders and practitioners. This year we are aiming to have a total of 200 Hacking HR communities (or chapters) across the world.

What’s ultimately important for me is that as we build bridges and bring people together we create more opportunities to collaborate across boundaries, deploying radical innovation to find deep, wide, far-reaching and quickly implemented solutions to the complex problems that affect us all.

We will need much more of each other as our world becomes a much more chaotic, volatile and uncertain place. To combat the negative effects of the many global challenges we are dealing with right now we need more togetherness and more human relationships. Together we are strong, isolated we are weak. And we are either globally strong, or individually weak. The first will get us far and fast, the second will become the end of humanity. Let’s get together. Let’s deploy radical innovation. Hacking HR is a great place for HR people to belong and build relationships.



1: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/jobs-lost-jobs-gained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages


About the Author

Enrique is an HR, Tech and Future of Work expert and keynote speaker and founder of Hacking HR, a global learning community at the intersection of future of work, technology, business and organizations, with thousands of members of all over the world. He came to the United States from Venezuela as a Fulbright Scholar. Prior to coming to the US, Enrique was the CEO at Management Consultants, a firmed specialized in Human Resources in Venezuela. Before Management Consultants, Enrique worked in the telecommunications sector as a Senior Project Engineer for Telefonica. He is also the cofounder of Cotopaxi, a recruitment platform focused on Latin America and the Caribbean. Enrique is a guest author in several blogs about innovation, management and human resources. Most recently Enrique worked as an advisor to the Chief Human Resources Officer at the Inter-American Development Bank. Enrique has over twenty years of experience and is an Electronic Engineer with an Executive Master’s in Public Administration from Maxwell School.


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