Book Review: HR From the Outside In

by Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank and Mike Ulrich

When you list the departments of a business and rank them according to their perceived (not actual)contributions to the bottom line, human resources is sadly given short shrift. What is surprising is the fact that many HR professionals are among those who don’t recognize their critical role in delivering value to a company. In HR From the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources, authors Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank and Mike Ulrich take the results of their massive research undertaking and chart a new course for HR in the 21st century. The book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Executives from every department should pay careful attention to the suggestions the authors make. While most applicable to HR professionals, the truth is that businesses are changing at breakneck pace and no leader can afford to be introspective. In the same manner that the IT department stays at the forefront of technological advances, the authors suggest that HR’s responsibility is to act as a GPS for a company’s human capital needs.

Many business books use the tired analogy of an executive acting as an athletic coach in one of two capacities: on-field motivator or pre-/in-/post-game strategist. HR From the Outside In takes the notion a step farther. HR professionals are a hybrid of general manager, talent scout and statistician. The book’s six domains of HR competency provide a half-dozen hats that at various times occupy a professional’s head: Credible Activist, Strategic Positioner, Capability Builder, Change Champion, Human Resource Integrator and Innovator, and Technology Proponent.

Taken together, this six-pack of super-abilities can power your company to greatness. Reinforced by memorable case studies, HR From the Outside In provides all of the tools to help HR assume its place among every company’s most admired departments.