hkp/// group is inviting guests to a new kind of event: The Innovation Lab is aimed specifically at decision makers who are either looking for answers to the current challenges presented by digitalization and agilization in personnel management, or who would like to present and discuss solutions. The initiators of the new event format, Dr Harriet Sebald and Johannes Brinkkötter, were talking to hkp.com.

Dr Sebald, Mr Brinkkötter, what exactly is hkp/// group’s Innovation Lab?

Harriet Sebald: hkp/// group’s Innovation Lab is aimed at HR managers in leading corporations who want to use different ways of having conversations between equals on the current issues in HR management. Presentations by practitioners from the corporate world and our consultancy firm will be the basis for an intensive discussion on the impact of digitalization and agile working methods on HR.

Johannes Brinkkötter: Content obviously takes center stage. But we are deliberately making room for networking and one-on-one exchange of knowledge and experience. We, i.e. the hkp/// group, regard ourselves simply as a platform provider and contextual catalyst within an agile conversation about necessary innovations in HR.

Why do you think now is the time for business to engage with the issues you have outlined?

Harriet Sebald: Digitalization keeps moving on. And it is by no means the only development that is going to change both societies and companies – just think of artificial intelligence, robotics and, of course, data security and sustainability. –. They are profoundly changing business models, processes and structures at a fast pace. Corporations need to put their agility to the test in every respect, and optimize it if they want to survive in the face of competition.

Johannes Brinkkötter: An approach initially developed in IT, which includes customer needs and feedback as early as possible whilst managing cooperation within teams of developers on the basis of flexible, virtually hierarchy-free work structures at the same time, is now being used widely as an agile methodology, including development of new products, solutions, or services. Many companies are now also reporting substantial successes in HR management.

What is happening in HR management in relation to this?

Harriet Sebald: Digitalization offers HR opportunities to foster these changes and harness the transformative power within organizations. Take talent management for example: The traditional HR techniques are top-down processes. A talent is appraised “from the top” and then waits for feedback and to be developed by either HR and/or their manager... Digitalization opens up a plethora of opportunities to give young talents more responsibility for their own development – and thus change and enable the organization from the bottom up. Last but not least, current trends offer great opportunities to align HR techniques faster and more consistently with the needs of businesses as well as employees, and to simplify them radically. This aspect is sometimes neglected...

What exactly is required of HR management?

Johannes Brinkkötter: If agile is the answer to the disruptive challenges that will get business fit for the digital transformation, it will also put the HR function to the test by looking at fundamental issues such as: How can a meaningful appraisal of any position be made when staff turnover keeps accelerating and job descriptions are changing faster and faster? How do digitalization and agility alter the methods used for spotting potential and aptitude testing. Which techniques are helpful for releasing the transformative power within organizations? What does agile mean for remuneration and performance management? And lastly, how should the HR organization position itself in order to support the business in the best possible way?

A vast field indeed...

Harriet Sebald: HR not only has to support digitalization with the right techniques and processes, but also needs to employ - agile - methodologies in the development of these techniques and processes that will put the customer experience right at the center. This means HR plays a change management role not just for its clients but also itself.

Johannes Brinkkötter: The speakers we selected for the first Innovation Labs to be held in Frankfurt and Munich in March of this year also reflect the sheer vastness of this field. They range from Steffen Welsch and Anna Kaiser of tandemploy presenting an impulse on new ways of working in the digital age – “beyond the buzzword bingo”, Ursula Schwarzenbart of Daimler AG speaking on digital approaches in HR development, and Lena Kaltenmeier of Lufthansa AirPlus presenting her view of digital transformation and a new role it adds to HR: responsibility and opportunity This will set the scene for an agile competition for the best idea how HR can reinvent itself.

Thank you very much for the interview and good luck with the event!