Victory Through Organization: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: April 30th, 2017 by bobmorris


Victory Through Organization
: Why the War for Talent is Failing Your Company and What You Can Do About It

Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Mike Ulrich, and Wayne Brockbank
McGraw-Hill Pearson (April 2017)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb

Many tears ago, Dave Ulrich and his associates began what has since become wide and deep research on HR competency. More specifically: Why it matters; why and how an organization’s HR high-priority business practices – information management, integrated HR practices, employee performance, and HR analysis — should be central to an organization’s operations; and how and why specific individuals (“credible activists”) can help accelerate the achievement of organizational objectives.

According to Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Mike Ulrich, and Wayne Brockbank, “In 1987 when we started pour HR competency research, we envisioned a single cross-sectional study of what makes HR professionals effective. Seven rounds and 30 years later we realize that our aspirations to help HR add value is not an event, but a long-term process.

“This seventh round of data collection is by far the most complex to date. In Victory Through Organization, we have touched on about 30 to 40 percent of what this current research shows. We have much more refined data on how HR organizations are effective based on organization capabilities, business strategy, organization culture, and skills of HR professionals. In the ensuing months, we hope to ferret out this granular data to further inform on how HR delivers value.”

Long ago I realized that all HR issues, marketing issues, financial issues,  cultural issues, IT issues, talent acquisition issues, etc. are in fact business issues One of the most important is, “How to add value to given business?” This is a challenge that leaders in all organizations face, whatever the size and nature of their organization may be.

The co-authors observe in the Preface, “The following six assumptions form much of the basis and context for this book:

1. HR matters.
2. HR research is imperative.
3. HR professionals are changing.
4. HR departments and practices are becoming more important.
5. HR professionals are incredibly gifted.
6. HR is a dynamic and innovative discipline.

As they explain, the primary mission in this book “is to further establish HR as a prominent strategic partner of business and embrace HR’s role in creating an organization that is greater – and performs greater – than the sum of its ‘employee’ parts.”

These are among the subjects of greatest interest to me:

o HR’s unique and compelling importance to the achievement of an organization’s strategic objectives

o HR practices of highest priority in areas such as information management and employee performance

o The defining characteristics of what the co-authors identify as a “credible activist” (Pages 131-149), a “strategic positioner” (151-176) and a “paradox navigator” (177-198)

o HR competencies that deliver strategic value

The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) or equivalent in any organization needs to read this book, to be sure, but I think it is also must reading for all other C-level executives because, as suggested earlier, all issues must be understood, viewed, and then addressed as business issues.

I commend Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Mike Ulrich, and Wayne Brockbank on the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that they provide in their latest volume of research data analysis. It remains for those who read and (hopefully) re-read the book to work together to establish and then continuously strengthen a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive.

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