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Top 100 v1.70 Jay Whitehead

Top 100 v1.70 Jay Whitehead

Jay Whitehead creates stories that people live in. A long time resident of the media world, Whitehead is a plot maker who generates big narratives. He sees places where people might spend time and sets about creating the reality. His stories become institutions

Eight and a half years ago, Whitehead launched HRO Today Magazine. After noticing that HR Service companies were exploding and that there was no center to that universe, he started publishing. Ultimately, he built out a professional association and a calendar of events. Today, he continues to play a role in the HRO world.

He’s done the same thing for Corporate Responsibility Officers, Silicon Valley VCs, and PCs. Variously, he was involved with Upside, CMP, PC Magazine, the launch of Apple’s Lisa, HRO Today, and Corporate Responsibility Magazine. He’s the author of The Post-Carbon Economy. His projects always seem to include things like the Top 100 Best Corporate Citizens list (which is the the third most valuable such list after the Forbe’s Best Places to Work and Most Admired Companies lists).

When I say that Jay creates stories that people live in, I mean that his creations take on a life of their own. Where there weren’t gathering places, there are now networks, meetings. publications and so on. Whitehead usually puts his stake in the ground and then other things navigate around it. He seems to generate seed crystal that becomes significant chunks of commercial reality.

For the past decade, he’s been doing it in and around the HR landscape. The mainstream HR leadership simply couldn’t embrace the outsourcing movement. As HR Services and Recruitment Processes became more effectively executed outside the organization, the burgeoning movements needed homes, identities, trade associations, customer forums and so on. Whitehead spotted, energized, organized and executed. His creations create industry frameworks.

Jay says that the threads that tie his life together are

  • a fascination with media
  • the ability to tell a good story
  • a genetic proclivity towards helping others work more effectively.

He’s a testament to the notion that communication skills really matter. Coming from a family of union workers and educators, Whitehead is wired to focus on the development of new centers.

We talked at some length about the trends that drive HR. The Corporate Responsibility movement is merging with HR to create an emerging role that accelerates the overall shift to transparency, according to Jay. While not all companies are suited for a transparent management approach, the ones who aren’t are luddites or laggards. Whitehead sees responsibility, sustainability and clear reporting as the foundation of 21st Century business practice.

As HR full acknowledges the fact that as few as 40% of the people who work for a company are employees, the operating definition of Human Capital will open up. Transparency matters in what are now the majority of employment relationships. Payment timing, contract terms and the firm’s ability to deliver on its promises, long beyond the reach of HR, are coming into focus.

Finally, HR is being used as the lever for virtualization. The people who work for a company, regardless of their relationship type, are increasingly operating at a physical distance from the plant. HR’s role is to figure out the optimal places for virtualization strategy and implementation.

We talked briefly about the people who influence HR. Jay pointed quickly to the CEOs of software companies and senior execs in the large consultancies. The vendors have better visibility into smart approaches and have more control of the look and feel of implementation than any of the folks inside an HR function. Whitehead’s view is that the levers that drive most HR performance are /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,day/date,2011-01-13/”>cialis sales online well outside the walls of the company.

As I’ve moved through the process of interviewing people in the Top /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,day/date,2011-01-13/”>cialis sales online 100 Influencers project, I’ve noticed this same thing. The people who work in HR are not as influential as those who work on it. Whitehead’s perspective is illuminating. The people who work outside the company’s HR Department all tell stories that people live in.

Whitehead is in the midst of a long term project to run 50 marathons. He’s that kind of endurance player. Up to this point in the Top 100 Influencers in HR project, he’s the player who is farthest outside of the box. He’s also the player with the largest sphere of influence over new and emerging ideas and organizations.

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