The Advantages of an Architecture in Job and Organisational Design

Posted 15 Mar 2021

Even though HR departments, particularly in the UK, like to talk extensively about HR’s transformational impact, the reality is that the majority of departments and services remain heavily influenced by personnel management with little more than a rebrand. It’s little wonder why in some quarters HR is referred to as ‘Human Remains’.

 In order to truly harness the benefits of diverse and innovative talent management, it is useful to zoom in on a strategy first approach. I’d like to introduce you to Talman HR’s HR Architecture Model:

 The Talman HR Architecture

I hope that the model will be self-explanatory to the majority of readers. While I always advocate a blended and fully inclusive approach to HR or indeed any other business function, it is important to recognise that there are certain situations where a targeted approach is most beneficial for both employees/workers and the wider organisation. ‘Knowledge employees’ are likely to be those with considerable understanding of a particular sector or industry who can demonstrate the ability to be adaptable in terms of the way that they operate and the roles that they can carry out successfully. ‘Job-based employees’ are those who purely focus on one area of specialism but are often highly skilled and essential to exemplary service delivery. These first two areas are internally focused as such roles and expertise are critical to the organisation’s day-to-day functions.

 The external elements, as clearly indicated above, are ‘contract workers’ and ‘alliance partners’. It is useful to think of them as highly specialised and only required on an ad hoc basis. Dynamic working relationships are likely to be critical because there will need to be an interlink between core staff and the specialist knowledge that a contractor or consultant is likely to bring. Alliance partners are increasingly prevalent in today’s fluid business environment, notably highlighted by Covid and the changes in working practices that are been brought about because of it. Alliance partners tend to be whole organisations or specific but expansive teams who together can bring a level of creativity and innovation that the organisation cannot possess on its own either financially or in a timely fashion.

 These examples are not exhaustive in any way but they demonstrate the delicate balance that needs to be considered between an inclusive culture and one which is highly targeted, both of which are critical to overall performance. Designing for inclusion is likely to hinge on developing a set of organisation-wide values which everyone can relate to and has sufficient support to be effective. You can read my earlier article for suggestions as to why a pure policy-based approach to diversity which can also be applied to broader HR is likely to be of limited effectiveness at best.

 When determining whether talent or indeed any major change and investment programme is likely to be effective it is useful to think of a simple acronym (VRION):

 V – the value that can be derived from an individual or team or overall idea which is likely to lead to competitive advantage

 R - how rare is the idea or the skill sets which people possess?

 I - imperfect inimitability, in other words, the ability for others to possess those skill sets or for a broader idea to be copied by competitors

 O - the level of organisational support provided in terms of time, finance and other resources to develop people and ideas effectively

 N - how easy is it for people within the organisation, or consumers outside it, to choose or substitute away to a competitor’s product or proposition?

 These are ideas which do not have to be applied solely to HR/effective people management. They are critical questions for wider business strategy, investment and innovation. Consequently, it is worth thinking about how success and innovation can be measured more broadly than purely by financial means in addition to considering how hard HR metrics can be effective in delivering any required change. This boils down to the simple reality that HR is not just the domain of a single department and that effective people management is the responsibility of everybody within and across organisations, just as much as there needs to be a clean and simple strategic narrative across all departments to ensure that messages and outcomes are clear. It’s surely time to re-evaluate the way in which business is done during 2021.



by Chris Wright