This month’s column is aimed at those responsible for HR tech in the enterprise.
As we head into the festive season and the end of the year it is customary for software analysts and other pundits to make predictions.
Don’t worry, I won’t be making any here. With the last two years having brought so many unexpected changes, I’ll take Alexander Pope’s 1707 advice and avoid adding to the lists:
And ten low Words oft creep in one dull Line,
While they ring round the same unvary’d Chimes,
With sure Returns of still expected Rhymes.
Where-e’er you find the cooling Western Breeze,
In the next Line, it whispers thro’ the Trees;
If Crystal Streams with pleasing Murmurs creep,
The Reader’s threaten’d (not in vain) with Sleep
Replace chimes with blockchain and rhymes with AI, and you get my point.
I would like you to focus on retrospection, rather than prediction.
In modern software development, the retrospective is of fundamental importance. It helps software companies figure out where they can improve how they build.
When I was a product leader, I found a well-run retrospective to be worth gold. Every retrospective found at least one thing that we improved on in the next cycle.
Often these were small things, but sometimes we discovered something significant that led to massive productivity or quality improvements.
I’d like you to do a retrospective with your HR software vendors and system integrators. Take your top five to ten HR vendors, and do a formal retrospective with them.
I’d suggest you spend at least an hour with each vendor, but you and the vendor will need to do some preparation.
A good retrospective involves:
- Self-reflection on what worked and what didn’t work
- Group discussion and reflection on what worked and what didn’t work
- Encouraging an environment of psychological safety. This is not about blame
- Agreement on and prioritization of actions
- A check-in on the progress of the previous retrospective
- Start, Stop ,Continue
- Glad, Sad, Mad
- Sailboat (wind, sun, reef)
- The 4L’s (liked, lacked, learned, longed for)
There are plenty of tools that you can use to help you do this, especially if you need to do it remotely.
For virtual whiteboarding, Miro is excellent. Miro also provides insight into how to run a good retrospective.
I’d suggest you have someone facilitate the workshop for you, especially if you are new to retrospectives or you need to be a key participant yourself.
If you go through the process with discipline, you will find two or three things you can execute that will improve how you and your vendors work together.
There are also many good books on effective retrospectives, see for instance Norman Kerth’s Project Retrospectives, Jutta Eckstein’s Retrospectives for organizational change, or Marc Loeffler’s Improving Agile Retrospectives: Helping Teams become more Efficient.
Deploying SaaS tech implies that you are embarking on a process of continuous deployment. The software vendors will be delivering new features, often continuously, or at least several times a year.
Building in a retrospective process that aligns with your key feature enhancement deployment makes a lot of sense.
My one prediction is that if you apply retrospection diligently, you will get more value out of your HR technology.