About Jon Ingham
Jon Ingham is a well known human resources consultant who works with companies around the globe on organizational and people-centric design. He's also a leadership coach helping leaders globally to thrive and achieve their goals. He has been listed as among one of the most influential HR Leaders, by HR executive and HR magazine. John is also the author of the book ‘The social organization’. We are very happy to have someone of his expertise talk to us about people and people-centric organizations.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Jon Ingham today to our interview series. I’m Aishwarya Jain from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick intro of peopleHum .peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work with AI and automation technologies.
We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Welcome, Jon. We are thrilled to have you.
Thank you very much. Wonderful for having me with the conversation. Thank you.
Our pleasure Jon.
So, Jon, tell us a little about your journey that brought you to this place as a people strategist. What was your inspiration to move forward in this journey?
Well, I suppose I should just play the people strategist term as well, because I know it's not that common at all, so yes, I work as a consultant, trainer, speaker, writer, analyst. And there are other things. But I work across the full employee life cycle. I do a lot of work around organization effectiveness as well.
Everything I do is a concern of how to be more strategic and have a bigger impact on traditions, the businesses that way. And, I think the impetus for that I suppose, so I started my career working outside HR. So I worked in IT. It is part of the reason that I am still so interested in people technologies today and then I got a job from working in change management as an HR director. So, I was working with Ernst and Young in the UK doing a lot of strategic work there.
And then I moved. I took this convent to Moscow as the HR director of the former Soviet Union, and in a very operational base, I was sort of missing the strategic aspect that they had in the UK, and one of my trips back here was to CIPT. They did the HR Institute conference in the UK and saw one of the key professors of HR in the UK, Lynda Gratton. Now, this was quite some time ago and Linda's key book at that point, it's called 'Living Strategy' and it was all about exploring how HR can be strategic through what we do with people having a long term focus on what we achieve.
I was in that well at the time. I got very excited about the opportunity to be more strategic in HR and came back to the UK, was a leader in an HR consulting group here and we did lots of great, strategic HR work, published some of that in the book, that was called 'Strategic Human Capital Management', went independent and have been working independently for the last 15 years.
And really focusing on that issue, 'How do we connect HR to competitive advantage?' Most said, that we are just doing the same HR crisis like everybody else, but doing them better. Really focusing on what's gonna make the difference to the strategic success of the organization, but what we're doing in the people and organizations space. So that's sort of how I see it and why I do what I do.
That's wonderful Jon. It's such a great area you're working with people and there are so many mindsets that you work with. And HR is not a very simple process. It's getting more and more complicated, and there are so many things involved in it, right?
So what are your learnings from creating a social organization and if you could also elaborate on what exactly is the social organization?
Sure, So my first book, the beginning of my independent career focused on strategic human capital management and so managing people in a way that would accumulate human capital as a resource to drive their businesses forward, and in that book, I described what human capital is, I talked about everything social capital as well.
But back then I didn't really understand what Social capital was. So particularly my strategic HR role at EY as I was head of HR for the audit discipline, and we put people out, in audit teams going out to clients doing work together, and one of the things that was very obvious to me coming into HR was that the performance in that department, it came through the way that people work together in teams.
So one of the really stupid questions I asked early on my HR while you still have a capacity to ask stupid questions was, 'If the point of performance focus is the team, why does anything we do in this profession make us focus on individuals?'. And again, that's been another key question behind a lot of my work and thinking in this space and therefore I believe strongly that human capital is important. I have this thought in the background that if the teams are more important than individuals, social capital is more important than human capital.
"If the teams are more important than individuals, social capital is more important than human capital."
But I didn't really understand what social capital was and so, I've been exploring that for the last 20 years. Really.
And I almost wrote the social organization back in around 2005, particularly as social media starts to become much more important. I thought, "Yes, there's clearly a connection there that as we start to work, more and more through these social tools, that's gonna make Social Capital become more important", which it absolutely did. I just didn't quite get around to write in the book.
And then over the last five years, I think there's been a lot around the modern organization design, and this idea of moving from hierarchies to networks, which I don't think is the sort of full essence of what's happening really, although it is certainly part of the shift.
And I think this new focus on how we organize our businesses to bring people together as effectively as possible, that again is making social capital more important. And so, finally, about three years ago, I managed to find the space in my calendar to call all of these ideas together and write a book, ‘The social organization’ and what it is, is very much the same sort of approach that I took in strategic Human Capital Management.
But now, we are looking at, if Social Capital is the main driver of strategic success in organizations today, then how do we do HR? How do we do organization design in a way that leads to that capability? How do we manage, measure, develop, reward the performance of teams, and other groups and networks rather than simply doing that for individuals?
And, I think you're absolutely right. I agree, HR is not simple, and particularly when we transfer our focus to collective groups, HR becomes even more complex.
Absolutely, and it's very interesting, you talk about the social aspect of this, social capital more than human capital. Because there is so much, so much jargon out there as human capital. And then there's us. And there's so much confusion around this, right?
What is your opinion about the term Human capital? And we have had different opinions on the same, but is it time to really stop that terminology?
So yes, because the terminology doesn't work for people and although my first book was strategic human capital management, I've sort of given up that battle. Certainly when I'm talking to groups of employees, I don't talk about it. I simply talk about the qualities, the value that we're growing in our people. And I agree with you.
I think HR is complicated and particularly complex. It's not just about doing simple things well. We do need to be smart about how we do things, and particularly when we focus on strategic HR and we have to get to grips with how we're connecting people and the business better. And I think that requires terminology and ideas and concepts and clarity about what we're trying to articulate.
And I think we can be a little bit unclear. So a lot of the things I read these days about employee experience, for example, I think, that is a key area where people talk far too loosely talk about what we need and whereas if we want to be a little deal and create whatever it is, whether it's experience or engagement or diversity or collaboration, if we don't really understand what we're talking about, it's gonna be much more difficult to get there.
Another thing Human Capital is an absolutely key concept and attribute and factor that we need to understand. And we need to get much better at connecting all of the processes, the activities, the organization interventions that we undertake, not just with the business objectives we're trying to support and enable, but doing that through the qualities that we're connecting in our people. So if we connect and if we think about what processes do we need one to take to give us particular outcomes in our people and organization. So things like human and social capital and use those to connect with the business objectives.
It makes our whole approach, our whole attempt at aligning with the business much more effective and solid and focused. It helps make us more strategic, and it opens the door to a much more effective way of operating. So I won't talk about human capital or even social capital if I'm doing a presentation to the workforce or something.
But it's absolutely vital that HR gets a handle on what this key piece of terminology means, because when we are talking about HR, it's not jargon, it's terminology, we need the terminology. And I think we suffer if we can't talk about what we're trying to create.
And I did a consulting project sometime back with a client they wouldn't let people use the word engagement because it felt engagement was too soft and fluffy, which is fine. I always try to respond to the clients I'm working with, but I think it's a point if you can't talk about what you're trying to create, it's certainly not going to make things any easier.
And probably at some point going to constrain your effectiveness. We did improve engagement, but the fact that we can't talk about the word, made it harder to do that and the same thing in strategic HR.
If we can't talk about human and social capital because they sound a bit jargonistic even though they're not, then we're gonna find being strategic that much harder.
"If we can't talk about human and social capital because they sound a bit jargonistic even though they're not, then we're gonna find being strategic that much harder."
And so I would encourage HR practitioners to really understand this key concept, it's important. We need to understand what it is and therefore, how we can create.
Absolutely. I think there is a lack of awareness in HR and HR professionals. They don't understand terminologies, they just try to do something, but they are not getting anywhere And HR, a very important aspect is for them to get the culture of the organization right? To create teams that are winning to encourage positivity.
So what are your learnings from so much of experience that you have? What are your learnings? What is it that HR should really focus on when it comes to, getting people together and maintaining a good culture in organizations ?
So, first of all, I try not to talk about culture because I actually think that's one of those weaker turns that just takes us on an unhelpful path. And because we don't understand what we mean by culture. Or even if we do, if we have clarity in terms of what we mean by it, because culture as a term is so overused and abused and misused. It's very common that when we're talking to somebody about culture, they have a different narrative of what we mean than the one that we have.
So I purposely tried to get people to be a lot clearer. What is it that we're trying to shift? Is it people's attitudes or their values or their behaviors or the way people are connected and very often actually, if there was one thing, I think people really are talking about its social capital. How did they build the quality, the value of the way people are connecting and relating, and the quality of the conversations that they are having.
And so my own preference is to talk about that and actually in the book, in the social organization, which is really all about culture change. I don't mention the word culture at all over there to explain why I'm not talking about it.
So the first thing is, what are we trying to change again? What are the outcomes that we're trying to create in our people in the organization and if it is sort of something about the social fabric of the organization, is trying to articulate as clearly as we can because once we’ve got that clarity, we're in a much better position then to work out what the shifts need to be.
But then, in terms of the response, some of the examples of the things that I think organizations can do. And I do think organization design is a big one and in fact, so when I started writing the book, 20 years ago, again as I was saying before I had this focus around social technology and increasingly that’s still a big part of it and particularly while the Coronavirus pandemic is on, and we've got so many people now suddenly working remotely using the digital workplace to communicate with the organization. The social technologies that we're using have suddenly become an organizational design.
So technology is a big piece, but it should never be the key focus. We should always try to work out what we're trying to do and then use technology to support that rather than just sort of launch the technology because it sounds sort of wonderful. I know you don't do it, but people do grab hold of the technology.
We do need to invest in technology, but we should always do that in a way to achieve something else.
"We do need to invest in technology, but we should always do that in a way to achieve something else."
And so the first thing is the organization design, and it is partly about moving away from or building on hierarchies with other ways of organizing.
And so teams, communities, networks, ecosystems, platforms, looking for all of those different ways of organizing. And I think that's so key, because if the way we organize formally and disagrees counters the way we actually need to be organized then that causes lots of conflict and frustration within an organization.
So things like organization development interventions, which we can also use to really improve the outcomes we are trying to create in the organization. If the organization design is wrong, is inappropriate, it's very difficult to use organization development interventions effectively because of the tension between people's roles and the way they organize will always get in the way.
So you start with the organization design, and then you build HR processes to make that work. So again, things like performance management and reward, how do we shift their focus to the team rather than simply individuals? So things like individual bonuses, for example, firstly, if you look up, lots of the research around reward probably doesn't work anyway.
You know they can negatively impact people's performance easily as much as they enable it, and particularly when you're looking at the collaborative environment, they ruin collaboration and so we may need to have a look at team level bonuses.
But the simplest thing very often is simply to remove the individuals, to get rid of the things which are inhibiting people to collaborate. And so we focus on the organization. We update processes, to look more at teams as well, and we link in the digital technologies, we think about the design of the physical workspace as well, and whether that's enabling people to collaborate in teams effectively.
And then we use technologies to be able to do all of that and we link the things that we're doing to measure our success to those things as well. And so this is growing to focus on organization network analysis, for example, which I think is great.
But again, we should always be strategically trying to link the measures we use to the plans and objectives we have. If the outcomes we're trying to create in our organization around Social Capital, Organization network analysis next huge sense.
If our outcomes is still about human capital then engagement probably fits the deal more effectively. So it's just about having that train of logic and just real clarity what we're trying to achieve and then you're rethinking everything that we're doing to ensure that it is truly growing the outcomes that we need.
Well, that's a great theory. So what you're saying is that you have to start with the organizational design first and then align your HR processes and have technology in it. And then have a way to measure all of this so that you can create a solid, strategic organization that has everything in place, right?
And that's a wonderful summary. Thank you.
Alright, good, I got that right. But yeah, the way you say it, it has to be very strategic and it has to have measures around it so that you understand what is good for the organization and what's not and create a social organization that's not just surviving, but it's thriving.
It's being productive because that's really the end goal here, right? So I understand that it's a process but one of the main challenges that usually organizations fail at or they just do not take into consideration while creating a social organization.
Well, one that I sort of referred to obliquely earlier, is again is that it's about that sort of value chain based thinking and its being focused on their own organization. So one of the things we do far too often is rely on best practices is copy whatever organizations are doing. And that takes us away from a more strategic approach. So the most common thing, I think, is that it's a little bit like I was explaining with organization network analysis.
That's becoming a more common thing that people in the analytic space are talking about more on therefore HR People are coming across it and thinking,' Well, you know that everyone saying ONA is the next big thing we get to implement that'. And that may be useful but we should just be trying it more and more to work through. These are the outcomes, these the activities, this is the way we measure them. These are technologies. And thinking about what makes the best fit for our own organization.
So things like benchmarks can be useful because they highlight potential issues or potential opportunities in the organization. But we should only ever see them as that, the key focus of our thinking should always be what do we need to do in our organization based upon the unique business that we are.
So in fact, the first thing I tried to do with any organization is to be really clear about what objectives that we're trying to create. So there are three objectives that I always try to single out. So the first is the outcomes that we're trying to create, linked to the business objectives that the business is focused on.
So that's the mix of human and social organization capital. Also the qualities that we're trying to create in our people but will they support and enable the business to be successful? The second thing is a set of principles about how we see our organization working, embedding our beliefs about people management. How do we think people management works, what are our views and perspectives and ideology about being a people leader?
And how do people end up being motivated and those are the questions and try to express that through the way that we want an organization to work? So that the outcomes are what we want our organization to achieve on the principles, how do we see it working in achieving those outcomes? We need both for those two things.
If we don't have that clarity, then we're bound to end up following a best practice approach because we don't have anything to create best fit around and then the third thing, which I think is a newer aspect of that is, what are the needs and expectations of our workforce and this to me, is how we really start to put a motive behind the employees experience, and I know there are lots of different ways of generating that and I think approaches like developing personas and journey mapping and all sort of things are quite useful.
But they're also a little bit reactive. And because I think the trap we fall into sometimes is that we take some sort of old, traditional clunky ways of doing HR and we do some journey mapping. We try to make those clunky processes look a little bit less hard. Yeah, but still fundamentally pretty unsound. Whereas what we really need to do is get back to the original design of the organization of the processes and everything else that is part of the organization and redesign them for the business and also for employees.
"What we really need to do is get back to the original design of the organization of the processes and everything else that is part of the organization and redesign them for the business and also for employees. "
So if we have those three initial objectives the what and how the outcomes and principles in terms of what we want the organization to achieve, but also the employees' expectations. And we design our organization to achieve that not just to work for the business, but to work for employees at the same time. And I think we developed a much more effective organization. And so that's the other way that I suggest we get around that really common failing and organizations of just sort of latching on to the next big thing.
And we really need to know if we want to be strategic if we simply want to be operational, none of this matters that much, let's just do the best practices and improve the best practices, but if we want a strategic focus in organizations, we've really, really got to get to grips with the opportunities to align with what we do with HR with those objectives are gonna make the most powerful big differences to our business.
Absolutely. I think that you cannot take shortcuts in creating, you know, social organization. You have to be strategic and you have to lay down the design of it. And also, what I do also understand is that this would be very dynamic, right? I mean, now, suddenly we've got the pandemic and a lot of businesses are going to rethink their strategy. They will have to go through a radical shift.
So they would have to change the organizational design now. And how can they think forward from here?
Okay, so firstly, can I just pick up the shortcuts point? Because I think that's true. We always need to know what we're doing or any shorter, specific operational action couldn't be suboptimal. Having said that, not everything needs to be a grand strategic program. There are always things that we can do now to take us forward and in fact, what I quite often considered to be a really effective way of doing strategic HR, is trying to combine and actually a lot of this comes from and indeed, Gratton's book, 'The Living Strategy' that I mentioned right in the beginning, when she talked about, two levels of strategy.
A strategic long return focus and a short term focus as well and I do think we need both of these too, and so I think we need that long term vision of what we are trying to create and a lot of those outcomes, as I've been referring to, do take a period of time to create, the most important capabilities in our people are going to change in a week or a month. They can take one year, two years, five years, ten years, again, I don't like the word culture, but if you want to change the culture of the organization, you've got to be in it for the longer term.
But increasingly, the world is more agile and focused on, what can we do now, And I think we do need that short term focus as well. So what I think works really well in the HR space, in particular, is having the long term vision, but then sort of thinking about the current stage and what is the best thing we can do now to work towards that. So if you don't have a long term vision, then I think shortcuts can be quite difficult. If you have the long term vision, it doesn't all need to be about that five-year plan to get there. It can simply be what's going on in the organization?
What are the issues at the current point? And, what's the best thing that we can do now to move forward to make a big difference to where we are today, but will also gonna take us in the direction that we need to get. So things like responding to Coronavirus, there's a lot of actions that we need to be taking now, simply responding to that crisis and changing the way that people work and showing that people keeping spent cents and helping them have a sort of some clarity about what they need to do with, the feeling is engaged, as is possible given the worrying tones that we’re working with all the face or if it's but if we bought back clarity about where we're heading as well, there will always be opportunities to do that short term transactional activities in a way that is building long term capability as well.
One of my key thoughts about where we are with it may be just from the conversations that I have been having with HR People is, as I was saying, for the digital workplace has now become the organization for many people.
"The digital workplace has now become the organization for many people."
And suddenly I was talking to a client a couple of days ago, who has been trying to get people using Microsoft Office 365, teams and so on for a couple of years and without very much success and their adoption of that particular teams has gone up sort of 400% over the past two weeks, and they knew that instant.
They're in a fortunate position in a way that everybody, at least, has access to the technology. But now they're trying to bring in the culture and so the managerial changes behind that as well. And so it's been a massive change in the way the people work, but what we're noticing is, the people are still using those tools to communicate in a fairly centralized way.
So most of the electronic digital communication is still taken place through the functional reporting lines, even while the technologies themselves, should give people capacity now to work in a much more distributed way and so what I'm encouraging that and other clients do is to use this new opportunity to move toward some of those different ways of organizing people that I was talking about previously.
So how do we now bring in more of a focus, particularly in communities and networks? Because actually, we can do that more effectively, using the technologies that perhaps we've been able to do before so we can do some of the short term things to help people use the technology effectively and we can do that with a view towards long term benefits as well. I think that's one of the key benefits and that is a more strategic approach that it also provides.
All right, so it's really about, you can have a long term vision and then take short steps towards it and have technology as an enabler especially here in these times and create and take leverage of communities and networks. Really kind of help organizations moves ahead at this point in time.
Perfect. Thank you.
Right. So, when you're creating a people-centric design for organizations, Right. There are a lot of things that you need to take care of, like, let's say that's the gig workforce now. And you need to include contract workers in terms of people, the different kinds of people, how you categorize them. Right?
So, there are different kinds of productivity levels, and there would be different kinds of alignments towards their goals, and you could have OKRs and KPIs for all of that. But do you think that they are really effective? And what is the kind of the central measure to understand the impact of your design, of your organizational design?
What KPIs will be effective, if they're linked to what you're trying to change. So it's a little bit like I was talking about the use of organizational network analysis earlier. And I think one of the mistakes we make is that we keep our strategic objectives, the plans, the measures, benchmarks, analytics, all in separate pots, separate categories.
And whereas really, that should be more of a funnel through those different things. So what we should be trying to do is to again identify the objectives in the way that I've been describing? I didn't find measures against those objectives on whether that's OKR’s or smart objectives.
Yeah, I'm not too fast, but we need clear measures linked to those objectives. Then we can analyze those strategic measures. And if we follow that flow, then it means the analytics we do, will be much more powerful because they're linked to things that we've already defined as being important. And so, in terms of sort of the changes in the workforce and which I completely agree are important.
And the contractor contingent aspect of the workforce is having a bigger, bigger remain in different organizations. We just need to be clear, how we're trying to use people differently and again, going back to that point about the employees' expectations.
How do those expectations change across those different groups, and the more clarity we can have around that the easier it starts to be to measure something. So again, measurement should never be difficult.
And whenever we find that we're struggling to measure something, that's a signal that we're not clear enough about what we're trying to achieve.
"And whenever we find that we're struggling to measure something, that's a signal that we're not clear enough about what we're trying to achieve."
If we have clarity about what we're trying to do, there should always be an evidence measure to capture how well we're doing. How are we doing? But the key is the objective first. So again, I quite often find organizations haven't, we're doing an engagement survey.
So as the plan changes and we have a new objective, I think HR very often gets in a position where we're asking ourselves, how could we measure that thing? Or we can add a question to the engagements survey, and that might be sort of the right answer.
But very often, actually, this is the key thing that we need. If we really focus on diversity or collaboration or whatever it is, rather than retrofitting engagement surveys, let's have a survey about diversity or collaboration.
Let’s design the measurement, the mechanism, the tool to give us the data to monitor the particular objective, whether that's about contingent working, or whatever it is. And it starts with clarity. And then measurement becomes a lot simpler.
And this clarity that you talk about who, is it that's supposed to give clarity to the organization? Is it just the HR or is it the leaders? Or is it people having a hierarchical organization and then people talking to the team's about this clarity? What is it?
Yes, it's all of those leaders who have a key role in all organizations, but increasingly so do employees. That's why the employees' experiences are coming to the fore and again I think the Coronavirus pandemic and with people working remotely and virtually in a way that we can't control them, as managers have often attempted to do in the past. And that's raising employee empowerment to yet another level that we seem past. And so managers and leaders need to be involved.
Employees need to be involved at the appropriate levels to be working through what they need to do. And what the appropriate outcomes are and the appropriate levels will be. But I do think that HR can take a special role within this.
And in fact, one of the things I was suggesting earlier is that focusing on the outcomes of human social capital that we're trying to create has a number of significant advantages to help us be more strategic and one of those is that one of the opportunities I think that HR has to develop a more strategic role is to take accountability at the organizational level for the outcomes that are achieving.
So whatever those outcomes are, whether they are engagement or diversity, the propensity to collaborate the workforce or whatever it may be, if I was still an HR director, I would first want to articulate what these outcomes are but the center of my strategy and the activities and processes I'm undertaking to create them. And then I would say and across the whole organization.
I am gonna take accountability for those things being achieved, now again, their long term objectives and therefore long term accountabilities and is a strange form of accountability because it's accountability without responsibility. You know where we can't be responsible for people. It's the managers and the individuals themselves that need to have the responsibility.
But we can take accountability. We can say we will be accountable for growing engagement by 10% over the next two years and in a sense will put our job on the line to do that. Now that increases the risk in our own role. But it should also increase the reward. If the difference between you know somebody who's just sort of going through undertaking the best practices and somebody who's got that focus on creating the right outcomes and is taking accountability for those, it's fast.
It's a really powerful way of developing HR’s credibility and contribution within the organization, and so HR has a special role and we need to be developing leaders to really understand that their role is about leading people and that is their day job.
Any sort of technical aspects of their role is what they do after that, they've engaged and coached those people rather than simply the thing that they focus on and more and more, we are going to be moving towards an environment of self-management and self-organization.
"We are going to be moving towards an environment of self-management and self-organization".
And so it's about balancing all that. And HR has a particular role at the organization of understanding what we should be doing to create the right outcomes and that will lead to the business impact. But our managers and our leaders need to do that and the employees themselves.
One of the big shifts in the way that we organize people now needs to be that we're getting clutter, we’re getting bureaucracy out of the way so that employees can see for themselves what are the things that they should be doing and how they should be investing in themselves to create their own outcomes that can help them be strategically successful at the local level as well.
And so things like I mentioned in terms of the organization using more use of communities, simply managing people hierarchically, bringing people together into communities to enable them to focus on things that they are passionate about. That's one way we can give more empowerment to people or at the individual level, we could let them set their own objectives.
And we can bring in approaches like job crafting, or job sculpting, where the individual has a role in shaping their own jobs, what they're doing on a daily basis and all of those approaches enable people to play a more strategic role in our organizations as well and as HR practitioners. Firstly, we should have that strategic theory for the organization. But we do also need to be enabling people to do more of this.
Absolutely. It's a collective effort. And then, if you can give power to one individual and help them grow and find out what is it that they're passionate about and get communities together on a level on the same level, I think, yeah, that would really kind of help the organizations flourish and grow.
Well, thank you so much for that explanation. That helps a lot.
And lastly, would you give any important advice to leaders or any important sound bites that you would like to leave our audiences with?
Well, I'm not wonderful with sound bites. And I think you go to the territory. No strategic HR is, as you've been saying, it's about some complex ideas and therefore there's more, discursive and sort of review of a particular item is, we latch onto sandbox too quickly. I put that in the same category as his best practices. I tried to avoid them.
I won't understand things, not just have a quick summary that will be re-tweeted on Twitter but my summary, or perhaps the one thing that we have not talked about. And the strategic approach that I've been talking about is centered on the people working inside an organization. And there's a lot of conversations. Lots of focus on HR.
A lot of appropriate focus on understanding the business, getting close to the business and talking the language of business, all of those sorts of things and it's so important, and it's one of the reasons why I'm really pleased that I did start my career outside of HR in Engineering and in IT because it's given the broader understanding of businesses. And when I was HR director when I was head of HR for audit in the UK, the first thing I did was go out on audit teams to understand what people were doing in practice.
And it's absolutely vital, but the strategic difference the thing that HR provides, the ability to make those accountabilities take place doesn't come from HR’s understanding of the business. It comes from a HR’s understanding of people on the way that we work together. So the thing that I think it receives enough attention in HR always and is understanding people, and you said yourself, HR is really complicated and we need one sound business. We need to understand Technology. Analytics is having a bigger role in all of these things that we need to understand.
But the key role is to understand people.
"But the key role is to understand people. "
And so if you want to help human capital, we need to be experts in psychology. We need to understand what it is that we can do that create environments that will lend people to be more engaged to be more motivated. If we're focused on social capital, we really need to get to grips with key ideas from sociology from anthropology to help us understand how people work together more effectively.
We need to be really interested in all of the new insights from cognitive neuroscience, from behavioral economics, all of the people sciences, so that we can have confidence in the insights and the interventions that we want to put in place. If we do these activities, it's really going to create those outcomes that we have in mind, and so that would probably be the sort of final thing that I want to add.
Absolutely. That's wonderful, it's really about the people. And if you can really understand the person's mentality and how they work and if you can create accountability, which is a very important point, that you pointed out, accountability and having a sense of ownership in an individual. I think that would really create a lot of impact and give a lot of impetus to the organization as well. So, thank you for that.
That was wonderful. And I had a pleasure talking to Jon, and I really appreciate your time and sharing your views with us. It's really been a learning experience. I learned a lot of new things. So thank you so much for that
My pleasure. Thank you for some really good questions and some wonderful summaries as well. And yeah, I enjoyed the conversation and I hope the listeners and viewers will appreciate it and will help them act more strategically.
Definitely. And I think we should do more of these and have all conversations in these. It would be really enriching for our audience as well.
I would love to, thank you.