People & Strategy Summer 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 3 - 17
strategy of the business need to be as clear at entry-level as
they are at the C-suite. And those expectations are necessarily fluid as well: as groundbreaking technologies get introduced, the mandate for leadership is to remain intentional
about how their people will interact with these technologies
and leverage them to enhance value.
The Innovation Impact
It is hard to find a company not currently discussing its need
to innovate. Less clear is what that actually means in context
and how it will be achieved. This is where HR can instill Second Playbook discipline.
The cadences that worked well for legacy businesses' development of R&D are not the cadences of disruptive innovation. Innovation doesn't only happen in an R&D facility. It is
about more than just the technology and telling the market
the cool thing the organization has created. Second Playbook
innovation happens at the interface of the business, the
market, and host of supplier or competitor relationships. This
shift creates sharp differences in the cadence of innovation,
how success is measured and even how capital is allocated.
Leaders who have grown up within the legacy way of innovating have to be able to flourish in this new context. Moreover,
organizations that have long-cherished systems for funding,
staffing and measuring progress within the legacy model of
research and development need to create clarity for themselves, managers and employees on how and why this way of
innovating is different from the past, where the past methods
still fit and how the "new" will be measured.
When looking at all of these impacts, senior HR leaders
can help clarify this conversation-or force it if operators are
blowing past it in their haste to get to execution-by asking
several critical questions. We suggest these four as a starting
1. In the places we are pushing our business to be different,
have we stepped back to ask what operating conditions
and specific leadership behaviors will make us successful?
2. What is holding our people back from being an integral
part of executing against the strategy?
3. How can we allocate capital in a continuous cycle, rather
than in annual or multi-year R&D budgets, where hitting
milestones triggers the next level of investment, encouraging, and incenting employees to innovate and execute?
4. If we fail at moving our transformation at the speed we
intend, what internal factors will have stopped us?
Themes in Emerging Second Playbooks
Developing a second playbook is an intentional act. The
force of the legacy playbook is often so powerful that without
a clear, deliberate declaration that this is what is required
to win in the future, the probability of successful change is
hampered. While each company's second playbook will be
different, a number of common themes have arisen across
more than 50 use cases in the past three years:7
* Leaders must make ambiguity concrete.
* Leaders must demonstrate to the organization that the
journey is directional and the journey itself will provide
opportunities to define the future.
Change becomes inevitable when
disruption is everywhere.
* Leadership principles must be articulated in clear business
terms and linked directly to the strategy execution.
* Emphasis must be placed on time management on the
right things and leave legacy distractions behind. And,
starting from the top, leaders must show courage to break
through the barriers that inhibit collaboration.
* Leaders must make being part of and leading highperforming teams and teams of teams a priority.
* Leaders need to recognize the value of the changing workforce and be intentional in how they incorporate this as an
asset to advance the business.
All of this must happen while preserving that which protects your core business. Easy, right?
The Role of HR
This is a win or lose moment for HR. Technologies are
coming-but are still one to three years away-that will start
to map organizational choke points and leverage points for
executives. Once that skill becomes as simple as a download
from the cloud and an IT implementation, HR will have
missed an opportunity to make a major business leadership
contribution at a pivotal point for most organizations. HR
can own this territory. Developing a second playbook operationalizes the very leadership attributes that drive enterprise
VOLUME 40 | ISSUE 3 | SUMMER 2017