How could HR retain vital balance between the “soft” and the “hard” benefits?

Development of this case was made possible by a grant from the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Academy of Human Resources. Information presented was current as of the time the case was

written. Any errors are solely the author’s.

What this meant was that HR would need to approach itself as an end-to-end

globally integrated solution. What engineering and solution principles might help HR become more efficient and effective in how it moved talent around the world?

How could existing HR resources be used more effectively? How might the different

HR roles (business partner, center of expertise, operations, global center, etc.) be arrayed most effectively to support this?

The answer came in many forms, some reflected in the broad organization design and mission of HR, and others reflected in subtle changes in HR roles. This was

apparent in the new organization structure for HR that emerged as the implications of an end-to-end solution perspective on HR became clearer. The new organization structure is shown in the exhibit on page 48.

This success brought its share of new questions.

How would the new structure and roles for the HR function change the necessary qualifications for future IBM HR leaders? For example, would the blending of the roles of business support and centralized functional support create a greater need for HR leaders adept at both business and traditional HR capabilities?

How would the new structure and roles change the necessary qualifications for the role of leaders outside the HR profession, as talent strategists and decision makers?

As more key decisions about talent demand, supply and development were made by business leaders working directly with employees, what skills should all business leaders be expected to have regarding fundamental principles of learning, engagement, motivation and employee relations?

Should IBM’s business leaders   be as informed about principles of talent markets and decisions as they were about principles of decisions and markets for money, customers, supply chains and technology?

How would IBM leverage its success with the WMI directly into products, revenue and customer service How could HR retain the vital balance between the “soft” and the “hard” benefits?

The WMI enhanced HR’s role as a data-driven and analytically powerful discipline,

capable of solving talent issues with the kind of mathematics and logic previously reserved only for more tangible resources. Was there a danger that the intangible and unquantifiable aspects of IBM’s employment relationship might be lost in a sea of numbers, equations and optimization rules?

Should  the job of retaining IBM’s intangible values and employment brand be

explicitly assigned, or should it be a specific accountability for every business and HR leader?