Culture, engagement and leadership : there’s no app for that !

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Visiting the startup zone at LEASH Conference & Expo is always a good barometer of HR innovation and what matters to CHROs. As a matter of fact these young businesses address actual concerns, before major vendors do and the fact they specialize on a single business cases can help them to address it better than a general vendor and keep their client once the latter have integrated similar functionalities in their own product.

The UNLEASH startup zone : a barometer of HR Innovation

At the latest edition of UNLEASH in London, I had the confirmation of a trend I identified at the previous editions : apps aiming at sharing/reinforcing the corporate culture, engagement and develop leadership have the wind in their sails. Businesses like it and it addresses real issues.

The often-kept promise of these app is clear An easy, simple, efficient and experiential way to address human issues, with speed and at scale. Appealing.

Yes, but.

As Jason Averbook said during his closing keynote, vendors are too often blamed when they don’t get the expected results. Oracle, SAP and likes make software but if you use old and irrelevant processes with a new software you will get nothing good. And sometimes even a disaster.

No app owns your culture. You do.

If digital brings speed and scale, digitizing irrelevant processes will deliver mess faster and at scale. No tool owns your process, you do.

Here it’s not about processes but it’s the same matter. Technology alone won’t solve problems that are mainly human and the problem many organizations have is that they endlessly postpone the day when they’ll tackle sensitive issues, hoping for technology to solve everything. What never happens. Even blamed, technological solutionnism and the “to solve anything click here” myth are dying hard. We know the promise is wrong but the illusion of easiness is appealing.

Let’s be clear : no app will reinforce your culture,increase engagement or develop leadership. And no vendor will make such a promise even if people link to think they’ve heard it. An app facilitates, supports, adds speed and scale, creates an posiitve experiential context. But it’s useless is there’s nothing to facilitate or support.

An apps supports a program and does not deliver anything on its own

An app is useless if it does not support a program, something that has a concrete existence outside the app, an approach with an online and offline component.

I’ll even go further. Starting such a program and putting the app in the hands of employee can and even must be the occasion to question values, culture and leadership style. As most businesses realize they must reboot a lot of thing, it could be the right time to wonder if it’s relevant to put old values in a new approach or if it’s time to update everything. I’ll even add that the modern image conveyed by the app would deliver a troubled message if used to convey something outdated.

Today we have simple, efficient and engaging tools to drive change. But it won’t work until we realize they’re only tools and don’t excuse Humans from doing their part of the job and even challenge themselves.