The recent approval in Italy under Prime Minister Mario Draghi of the ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ will determine, in the next few years, an extraordinary boost for Italy and the broader European economy. The most innovative industry sectors will be in pole position to benefit, directly and indirectly, of a Plan focusing on digitization, innovation, green revolution, ecological transition and infrastructures for sustainable mobility.

These strategic initiatives are consistent with market trends that private and public companies have been called upon to deal with in defining their future evolution:

1. Industry 4.0 and the potential of artificial intelligence, cloud manufacturing and the use of big data;

2. The diffusion of fluid job descriptions and the resulting need to close the competency gaps between demand and supply of technological and social skills;

3. The need to embrace adaptive business strategies to cope with complex, interconnected and unpredictable scenarios, and, consequently, the experimentation in the field of agile, anti-fragile and innovative organizational models that can overcome the obsession with efficiency and central control;

4. The growing demand for employee value propositions that can authentically leverage the advantages of flexible and remote work and the request for shared meaning and values in a stakeholder- and environment-oriented capitalism.

What role will the HR community be called upon to play in the next ten years within this scenario?

It is likely that HR models focused on administration and passive reaction to business requests are to remain relevant only in those (few) sectors that will not be significantly affected by these trends. Similarly, HR approaches that are excessively focused on talent evaluation and performance measurement without a clear connection to social impact and organic employee development risk losing much of their appeal for new generations and the growing community of digital nomads.

In recent years our organization has worked with HR departments and business leaders from various industrial contexts and cultural backgrounds. This experience has convinced us that the time is ripe to imagine HR not only as a business partner but as an integral part of the business in developing strategies, business models and organizational cultures that, leveraging on diffused leadership and decentralized governance, free the systems intelligence and ability to organically innovate through ongoing exchanges with customers and stakeholder communities.

If this looks like science fiction today, we should seriously ask ourselves what the alternative would be. Can Italy – like other major European countries – seize the opportunities and challenges of the coming years without learning to do differently, rather than just pushing itself to do more? Can we do this without learning to think unconventionally by leveraging the wisdom and agility of collective systems?

We believe that by bringing these questions the HR community can today play a key leadership role in orienting businesses towards the new horizons that are unfolding in front of our eyes.

If our community will be able to fully interpret this role, it will depend on our courage in listening to the tensions and needs of the present and in our capacity to co-create images of a future capable of responding to them in radical ways.

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Original article By Andrea Cardillo Managing partner TPCL Italy and Christian Scholtes Managing partner TPCL Romania (@TPCL 2021)