NEW YORK, September 19, 2011  When it comes to managing people, many organizations have made important HR decisions without any real rigor, often relying on instincts or copying competitors’ practices. Now, a handful of leading-edge global companies are breaking new ground and using evidence-based change to make critical talent management decisions, help their organizations achieve greater success and create a more engaging work environment for their people.
In their new book, Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage (Jossey-Bass, September 26, 2011), talent management experts Ravin Jesuthasan of global professional services company Towers Watson and John Boudreau of the University of Southern California reveal how prominent global organizations are redefining HR leadership by using this new approach to optimize efficiency and strategic impact. By adopting what they identify as the five key principles of evidence-based change, the authors believe organizations across the globe can make better people decisions that ultimately lead to a sustainable competitive advantage.
“Our thinking behind evidence-based change was inspired partly by the evidence-based medicine movement, which encourages doctors to determine which treatment, based on the evidence, is most effective,” said coauthor Jesuthasan. “It hardly seems like a radical notion, but human nature is such that people, even doctors, do not always behave with scientific rationality, choosing instead to rely on instinct and what might have worked once before. By using evidence-based change, HR is better equipped to make decisions that are based on well-grounded evidence, rather than gut feel.”
Transformative HR is based on collaboration of research from Boudreau and Jesuthasan, who define the five principles of evidence-based change as:
• Logic-Driven Analytics
• Risk Leverage
• Integration and Synergy
Transformative HR provides detail on each of the five guiding principles, and includes practical suggestions and proven approaches that executives can put in place to help deliver sustainable change and business results. It also provides insight based on the real-life experiences of nearly a dozen leading global organizations and features in-depth case studies of six international companies, including Royal Bank of Canada, Coca-Cola, Ameriprise Financial and Royal Bank of Scotland.
“As HR has matured and gained stature within organizations, HR leaders have grown increasingly accustomed to rigorous human capital decision making based on metrics and analytics,” said Boudreau. “However, next-generation HR means going further, to truly embed analytical discipline and sophisticated systems thinking to create the kind of understanding that drives better strategies and better workplace outcomes. We strongly believe that evidence-based change will take HR leaders to that level.”
“This new approach, which we see emerging in our work with leading organizations, reflects the five principles and puts HR where companies need it to be  creating strategic organizational success through synergistic human capital decisions and investments that span the employment life cycle and organizational design decisions. These five principles characterize organizations that engage HR leaders and those outside of HR in the vital analytical questions, answers and debates. The experiences of these leading organizations suggest how other companies can have a more robust, integrated system that will allow them to multiply the effects and benefits of their HR strategies,” concludes Jesuthasan.
The book, Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage, is available from publisher Jossey-Bass for a suggested retail price of $35.00. The book is available in both hardcover and e-reader formats online and at major bookstores.
More information about the book is available at towerswatson.com/research/4957.
About the Authors
Ravin Jesuthasan is Managing Director and Global Practice Leader for Towers Watson’s Talent Management practice. His extensive experience includes the design and implementation of workforce and people systems that align with an organization’s strategic drivers and the creation of shareholder value. Ravin has published numerous articles and led several global research efforts on the topics of labor cost management, performance management, rewards and talent management. He is a recognized thought leader and was named as one of the top 25 most influential consultants in the world by Consulting magazine. Ravin is a frequent speaker at conferences around the world and has been quoted extensively by CNN, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, CNBC and Fortune.
John Boudreau is Professor, Management & Organization, Marshall School of Business, and Research Director, Center for Effective Organizations, at USC. He is recognized worldwide for his breakthrough research, which addresses the future of the global HR profession, HR measurement and analytics, decision-based HR, executive mobility, HR information systems, and organizational staffing and development. John is a strategic advisor to a range of organizations, including early-stage companies, global corporations, government and military agencies, and nonprofit organizations. As the author of 60 books, including Beyond HR: the New Science of Human Capital, with Peter M. Ramstad, he is regularly featured in Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune and BusinessWeek. He has served as a board member of HRPS, WorldatWork, NAHR, SIOP and AOM, and is a Fellow of SIOP.
About Towers Watson
Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of employee benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at towerswatson.com.