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Book Review : Human Resource Champions Related Resources

Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering Results
by Dave Ulrich
Review courtesy of

"How can human resources (HR) create value and deliver results?" Turning traditional thinking about HR management upside down, Dave Ulrich challenges HR professionals to define the value they create for customers and employees. Delivering results means focusing on the outcomes and results of human resources work.

Organizational Capabilities. Ulrich notes that the pace of change required by technology, globalization, profitable growth, and customer demands places workforce competence and organizational capabilities at center stage. Organizational capabilities are things an organization does better than its competition, a source of competitive advantage (such as streamlining order-to-remittance process, learning more quickly than competitors, organizing around customer requirements). He challenges readers to redefine organizational capabilities to sustain and integrate individual competencies. He insists that HR professionals need to frame what they do in terms of the organizational capabilities they must create.

Multiple Role Model. Most books on human resources are organized around human resources practices. This book is organized differently; it is organized around the deliverables or outcomes of human resources work and the activities required to accomplish these outcomes. Ulrich presents a framework that clearly shows four key roles that human resources professionals must fulfill in order to add the greatest value to the organization. The two axes represent focus and activities. HR professionals must focus on both the strategic and the operational, both long-term and short-term. Activities range from managing processes to managing people. These two axes delineate four principal roles.

Future/Strategic Focus
Strategic Partner Change Agent
Administrative Expert Employee Champion
Day-to-day/Operational Focus

Strategic partners translate business strategy into action. They systematically assess and align HR practices with business strategy. Organizations have numerous systems. The ability to design, integrate, and operate these systems is the essence of effective organizations. Building new organizational capabilities call for performance management programs aligned with the desired outcomes. Deliverable/outcome: executing strategy.

Administrative experts improve processes, apply the principles of reengineering business processes to human resources processes, rethink value creation, rethink how work is performed, and measure human resources results in terms of efficiency (cost) and effectiveness (quality). Deliverable/outcome: building an efficient infrastructure.

Employee champions listen and respond to employees and find the right balance between demands on employees and resources available to employees. They promote employee contributions. Deliverable/outcome: increasing employee commitment and capability.

Change agents understand the theory and apply the tools of change. They lead transformation by doing it first within the human resources function. They serve as catalysts for change, facilitators of change, and designers of systems for change. Deliverable/outcome: creating a renewed organization.

Ulrich devotes an entire chapter to each role. He provides numerous surveys and assessment tools. Actual business applications and outcomes permeate the book. His bottom line is that human resources champions master, align, and leverage these practices so that employees, customers, and investors receive value.

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