It has been quite a while since I have written a blog post. I will not bore you with "Life, the Universe, and Everything" that has been going on except to say that that quote is a foreshadow for the rest of this post. Most people know Douglas Adams as the author of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy (which was really five books, but that gives you a sense of the quirkiness of the man if you are not a fan). What fewer people know (perhaps outside of the UK since it was recently a BBC 4 special) is that he also wrote another series of books about erstwhile private detective, Dirk Gently. The first book, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" is my favorite book, period. If I was stuck on desert island with only one book to read, this is the one I would pick. It is genius and I highly recommend it. It also has an IT angle to it. One of the characters, Richard MacDuff works at a software company, WayForward Technologies II, founded by Gordon Way. MacDuff describes the breakthrough product for the company as an old idea "back to front". Basically, instead of feeding the software all of the relevant facts and helping the user order it in a way to make a decision, Gordon's breakthrough was to specify the decision to be made first and then order the facts in a way to support that decision. Now, I won't go through the consequences of this (in the story, the Pentagon bought up all of the copies of the program to structure its arguments for funding), however, I do think it is useful to look at old ideas "back to front".
We do not do this enough when thinking about business applications, and HR applications in particular. We focus on things like the Performance Appraisal process and how we can improve it. That is good thing, but a better thing would be to focus on the outcomes we would like to achieve with performance appraisals and work our way to processes and applications that support achieving those outcomes. We might find it does not include doing performance appraisals at all because it does not support the desired outcomes.
Have you looked at your HCM practices, processes, and applications from a "back to front" perspective? If so, what have your found?