Creativity, Humanity and Social Purpose in Learning (Interview)
Creativity, Humanity and Social Purpose in Learning (Interview)

Perry Timms is an international TEDx speaker, adviser, and award-winning writer on the future of work, HR, and learning. His progressive thinking on HR and the workplace of the future was recognised by his inclusion on HR Magazine’s HR’s Most  Influential Thinkers List for 2017, and as the fifth most influential in 2018. He is Founder and Chief Energy Officer at People & Transformational HR Ltd.

Here is what Perry shared in an exclusive interview for MERIT before his participation in the annual MERIT Summit 2019.

What is your main professional focus at the moment?

Working with teams and leaders to engage employees in shaping their future using autonomous and agile ways of working. It’s something clearly needed - in Professor Gary Hamel’s words - “to de-bureaucratise work”. We have too many repetitive, non-productive tasks in our work. This new way liberates people from that but still enables them to achieve their goals and key objectives. It also allows for innovation, inclusion and cross-rank (i.e. position in the organisation) participation. It aims to bring leaders nearer to the shop floor and their employees, and bring people closer to the decisions and key steps that will make their work more meaningful and impactful.

What are you passionate about professionally?

The opportunities stemming from our realisation that work can, and should be, more human. And by this, I mean less machine-like and veering away from the “production line” theory of efficiency. We want to go towards adaptive, responsive and variable practices that enhance impact. We have tried to create a steady way to process our work while consigning mass consumption, mass conformity and mass replication to the past. We are becoming more aware of our individual “uniqueness” and we expect to see that in our work, in services we need, and in our lives. It’s the audience of one. How do we create fair, consistent and applicable ways for people that are unique enough to meet a specific need? Tailored, customisable options appear to be the emerging need for us all.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges or issues for businesses today?

Socio-political and economic issues regarding the model for business and work; leaders’ attitudes to alternative methods of working that are more human and sustainable. We now see the obsession with stock value and austerity as harmful pursuits if removed from the other challenges of 21st century life. We need to take stock of our impact on the planet, societies/communities and each other. So business as a force for good is a mantra I’d like to see more of, and we are now seeing some pioneering organisations (Patagonia, Fairphone, Wegmans) operating profitably but humanly.

What are you looking forward to at the event?

Hearing about companies who are doing the above. Putting their people first. Finding new heroes in new ways of working. I’m glad we have access to more “benevolent” organisations that look beyond shareholder value. I want to see and hear about more companies that practise more holistic methods. This involves the supply chain as well as corporate social responsibility, promoting wellbeing and care for people at work, and introducing open and inclusive methods for unleashing and developing talent.

What is your interpretation of the main conference theme “Co-creating Learning Organisations”?

That we need collective heads, hearts and guts to bring about changes that will make our working lives more fulfilled. We need a crowd but without mob rule. We need more participation from all international sectors - governments, business and activist groups. That’s co-creative learning of the highest magnitude.

What is your opinion about the in-house training evolution over the years?

It's better than it's ever been because having competent and confident people is paramount and this supersedes models and theories. Much is still to be done in terms of listening to learners, adapting to using data and insight, and utilising new technologies so that learning becomes more meaningful and not just a question of convenience.

What are the changes needed in education/L&D/training?

More creativity, humanity and social purpose are required in learning. This will be good for business, society and the planet. We need to become more attuned to diverse needs and more in line with business and personal performance and fulfilment.