DisruptHR London: Interview With Simon Heath

SimonHeathSimon Heath is a consulting artist at Speech Bubble EQ. He helps businesses and individuals see things differently, visualise and examine their challenges and create space for their stories to emerge. If you work with Simon, you’ll get graphic facilitation and artworking solutions backed by years of experience at senior level in the corporate world.

Simon will be one of the speakers at the DisruptHR event in London this month and we got to ask him a few questions about his talk and his views on HR. You may find more information about the event here.

HR Gazette: Why did you decide to be a speaker at DisruptHR London?

Simon: Because I don’t get offered speaking gigs and because they’d have me.

HR Gazette: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR London?

Simon: Creativity – in thought and deed and about the stupidity in going to the time, effort and expense of hiring the best and brightest people then giving them crap to do all day in an environment that doesn’t allow them to be themselves.

HR Gazette: What separates DisruptHR from other HR and Talent events which happen in London? 

Simon: Well, this is the first one so unless us speakers step up it’ll be another snoozefest full of advertorials.

HR Gazette: Why is your topic important to HR and Talent pros?

Simon: Because it might hold a key to unlocking hitherto overlooked voices and ideas and sits at the core of what it means to be human.

HR Gazette: The DisruptHR format means you only get 5 minutes to speak to the audience. What unique challenges and opportunities does such a condensed speaking slot offer?

Simon: It’s a bit like the 140 character limit on Twitter. It concentrates the mind and compels you to distill the essence of your case without the padding you so often get in more conventional formats. Also, if you make an arse of yourself it’s only 5 minutes of the audience’s time wasted.

HR Gazette: How does DisruptHR provide you with a platform to talk about Talent, Tech and HR in new ways?

Simon: For me, this format is essentially micro-blogging out loud but with the added benefit that the audience can’t click off onto some pictures of cute cats.

HR Gazette: You’re a big name in the HR space. Please share 2 or 3 other ‘influencers’ in the space who you follow and tell us why.

Simon: I’m not at all sure I’m a big name. I’m just a relatively noisy one. I’ve appeared on a list. That doesn’t give my views any more validity than anyone else’s. If I had to pick 3 people from our industries to be marooned on a desert island with, I’d pick the following: Julie Drybrough (@fuchsia_blue) – Writes from the heart and carries off the neat trick of being almost ethereal while remaining grounded in reality; David D’Souza (@dds180) – He’s becoming a recognised cross-disciplinary speaker and thinker with a great pop culture schtick and a nice line in self-deprecating humour. As Head of London at CIPD he’s energising the profession; Ali Germain (@AliGermain1) – An OD consultant who truly is a deep thinker about what it means to be human at work. These three, more than any marquee names, provoke and challenge my thinking. I’ve given up reading business or leadership books. I’d rather spend my money buying my kids an ice cream at the park.

HR Gazette: The HR Gazette is a big believer in the shift from traditional thoughts of HR to embracing modern HR as part of ‘people and culture‘. What does ‘people and culture’ mean to you?

Simon: I’ve said in the past that organisational culture is what you get when the organisation isn’t looking too closely. It’s in the gaps between the formal structures. It can’t really be engineered any more than serendipity can. People? Well, they’re messy. Complicated, contradictory, contrary and confusing. Without them, you don’t have a business. Treat them as mere units of production and you’ll get the culture you deserve.

HR Gazette: What do you think will be the major developments in the UK Talent and Recruitment space to watch out for in the next 12 months and why? For example, how does the growing numbers of Millennials in the workplace shape traditional talent acquisition and people management approaches?

Simon: Millenials are a red herring. They want what all of us want. A fair crack of the whip. A job that doesn’t suck. To not have money worries. To spend time with the people they love. The chance to make a difference. I think we are likely to be distracted by macro events such as the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU and the US Presidential election, the reaction of the markets to both and the ongoing issues of low growth and flatlining productivity. Robotics and AI will continue to cast a shadow and we’ll see a number of corporate scandals that will bring us back to talking about values again.

HR Gazette: Finally.. if you could be a superhero, which superhero would you be and why?

Simon: I wouldn’t. We don’t have superheroes to fall back on. The issues we face are of our own making. We need to meet them together. As equals.

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