I had the opportunity to host an exclusive webinar that was limited to HR Certification Institute 's credential holders who work for the Most Innovative companies . The topic was HR Strategy and Innovation.
The purpose was to engage HR professionals in a discussion about the intersection of innovation and strategic HR. We had a rich discussion about HR at today's most innovative companies and how it can play a vital role with senior strategy to identify the people who will help achieve competitive excellence.
Participants included HRCI certificate holders from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, GE, IBM, and others. The conversation among participants focused on four areas:
1. Economic pressures of today's marketplace
These squeeze organizational leadership to make decisions that are good for the short term, but not necessarily the long term. For example, trimming head count even when it disrupts strategic growth or undercuts long term value generation.
2. Leadership accountability
We heard from one company where leadership takes accountability for employee development, talent management, succession planning, and strategic partnership. One of our participants outlined how the business model in her organization forces full participation with the HR leadership team, and there is comprehensive integration between HR and the other business functions.
In the above organization the VP of HR is fully engaged with senior strategy. Our webinar participant noted, "We feel the difference when our HR VP is in the C-suite. We get real time information from the CEO, and have the opportunity to vet our initiatives with the CEO. The senior leaders of each of our businesses participate in the roundtable, so we can make decisions with real-time data and real-time input from all the functional areas."
3. Updating HR skills
There is a need to update skills among HR professionals so they have the capacity to make strategic contributions.
One VP who worked actively in the C-suite of her company made the comment, "I find that my greatest wins come when I understand the financial components of the organization. Until HR can position itself to fully understand the financial component, we will be remiss in being able to attach the proper programs and systems that allow the function of HR to go forward in a process of improving the business and enhancing its growth."
4. Talent development as a differentiator
In today's interconnected, globally competitive world top organizations realize that strategic talent recruitment and development are the new differentiators. HR's role on the senior strategy team includes effectively identifying the people who are the central resource for their organization, systematically achieving calculated, mission-driven development as the center of competitive excellence.
One thing became clear throughout the webinar, HR professionals who take their organization seriously build their capacity to contribute directly to the business plan of action, whether through taking advantage of internal learning opportunities or seeking skill development on the outside. They make themselves into contributors, and they demonstrate their ability to generate real value.
Seth Kahan (Seth@VisionaryLeadership.com ) is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association, Project Management Institute, and NASA. He is the founder of Seth Kahan's CEO Leaders Forum, a year-long learning experience for CEOs in Washington, DC. His book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, is a Washington Post bestseller. Visit GettingChangeRight.com  for more info and a free excerpt. Follow Seth on Twitter . Learn more about Seth's work at VisionaryLeadership.com .