Steven Forth is a Co-Founder of TeamFit. See his Skill Profile.
Top image: Cactus Blossoms, the Valley of Fire, Nevada


In early April, a new HR conference is kicking off in Las Vegas. This is HR Transform 2018 – Building the Company of the Future. I can see the thought bubble. “Great, another conference. Do we really need another conference? The weather is just turning nice. Do I have to go to Las Vegas?”

I think yes, and TeamFit will be attending. We have even managed to get a discount for people in our network and the LinkedIn Design Thinking Community.

Get a discount for HR Transform

Why attend? It was the conference’s name that first attracted my attention. HR leaders are positioned to help their organizations transform to meet new challenges and opportunities.

  • Continuous innovation is now the norm in many industries, this requires new skill sets and operating models
  • Services and solutions are at the centre of business, not products and fixed offers, and more and more people are in contact with customers
  • Teams not hierarchies are how work is being organized, and combining people into high-performance teams is now the critical challenge for HR
  • Flexible careers are the norm, so HR needs to support people across multiple careers, even when they are working at other companies

Conventional conferences struggle to address these issues at any deep level. This is in part because they have been captured by vendors who drive the economics and agenda of most conferences. The standard HRIS applications, including talent management, performance management and learning management, fail in the new world of work. They are built on assumptions that are failing all around us.

  1. The individual is the atomic unit. HR systems are about individuals and manage data about (not for) the individual. The data gets aggregated along the hierarchy, which seldom reflects how work gets done or how people interact.
  2. The company owns the data. This seems natural to old school HR and IT people but it does not work when people have multiple jobs and even careers.
  3. There are career pathways. Linear career development is a thing of the past. People work multiple careers today, often in parallel.
  4. Talent acquisition is the key. The solution to talent and skill gaps will often lie inside the organization and its networks.
  5. Competencies can be defined top down. Large, rigid competency models, developed outside the organization and imposed top down do not capture the dynamic nature of today’s work.

We need to build on a different set of assumptions.

  1. Work is done in teams. Most work today is done in collaborative, overlapping teams that come together and disperse in response to changing needs. HR needs to be much more about team management and coaching and less about individual performance.
  2. Data is shared. As people move between companies and cross-organization, teams become more important individuals will need to share in the ownership and management of their own data. By combining different data sources, they will get new insights about themselves and the people they work with.
  3. Careers evolve. Rather than linear career pathways, today’s careers diverge and recombine into new patterns. The most compelling people often combine skills from two different careers to create a third.
  4. Talent cultivation comes before acquisition. Most people have many potential skills they are not applying. Organizations should focus on developing people’s potential skills and putting them to work before seeking outside talent.
  5. Skill models are dynamic and bottom up. The people who use the skills and the teams on which they are used provide the best insights into skills and how they connect.

Looking at the agenda for the HR Transform conference, the first two sessions are an Interactive Design Studio on Unlocking Employee Purpose and a LifeLabs workshop. I will have to flip a coin to decide which to attend. The next day I will also struggle to choose between



Given my belief that most organizations fail to leverage internal potential, I will likely go to the Retraining and Retooling session, but both look compelling.

If you are planning to attend HR Transform, drop me a line and let’s find time for a coffee and talk about how we can work together to understand our skills and potential and find the best ways to develop that potential and put it to work. Contact me at