Monday, 30 July 2007

Ulrich Model of HR

L&D Professional working within HR departments will be very familiar with the 'Ulrich' model of HR - a three-legged stool separating out:

* Business Partners (also known as generalists or client consultants)
* Service Centres (focused on the 'back-office' transactions)
* Centre of Excellence (the specialist functions such as Recruitment, Compensation & L&D)

I know several colleagues have observed that Ulrich's model lead to a focus of 'who does what' - pulling apart these area of the HR profession. While all three areas are essential, the focus on splitting foundational vs. strategic roles can devalue the former. Similarly, while 'Business Partners' and 'Centres of Excellence' have strategic roles, clarity of how they blend together to support the strategy of the business 'client' is a source of potential confusion.

I'd suggest that the HR profession may be better served from starting with the frame of reference of a different three-legged stool:

* focus on enhancing current business performance achieved by colleagues/managers & leaders
* focus on enhancing planned business growth (building the talent required to accelerate the pace of planned sustainable development of the business)
* focus on building organisational adaptability (to help survive/thrive when unpredictable changes take place in the business environment)

This may result in more variety in how HR structures itself - but, I'd suggest, this would help build collaboration & common purpose across the different disciplines that the include L&D professional.

Discussing L&D interventions in terms of which of the three bullets (perform, grow, adapt) is being targeted could also help maintain a clarity of strategic focus