1st Edition

The HR (R)Evolution Change the Workplace, Change the World

By Alan Watkins, Nick Dalton Copyright 2020
    208 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Many observers have suggested that capitalism is fast destroying our planet, concentrating power in a few big companies. Excessive short-termism, leveraged debt, digitisation, and disruption are the new normal. We stand at a critical juncture where the two paths ahead could lead to very different futures. One route could take us back to the harshest days of the early Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression. The other could lead to a world of abundance, equality, inclusivity, and prosperity for all. Which future awaits us will largely be determined by business, and HR (Human Resources) in particular.

    Books on HR tend to focus on HR practices and potential interventions, but they rarely look at the profession, how it evolved, and how and why those people practices were created. The HR (R)Evolution: Change the Workplace, Change the World describes the "Seven Great Waves" of change and explains how each wave impacted business. It explains how some companies are stuck in the past and how HR can break the deadlock if it understands what the future holds. This book is meant for senior business leaders or anyone currently working in HR who are grappling with the paradoxes of business today. It’s for leaders who recognise that people issues are the central challenge of our time. Whether we embrace the waves yet to come will determine whether we survive or regress, whether we flourish or flounder. The future is in our hands.


    Introduction: The Case for Revolution

    Weapons of Mass Disruption

    Industry Consolidation and the Disappearing Profit Margin

    Near Zero Marginal Cost

    Planetary Limits

    The Time for Change is Now

    Chapter 1: HR 1.0 – The Paternalism Wave (Pre-1920)

    The First Glimmer’s of Paternalism

    Paternalistic-Based Leadership

    Teams at HR 1.0: Talented Individual Family Members

    Emerging HR and People Practises

    HR 1.0 Paternalism Today

    Evolution from HR 1.0 – HR 2.0

    Chapter 2: HR 2.0 – The Power Wave (1890 – 1945)

    The First Glimmers of Power

    Power-Based Leadership

    Teams at HR 2.0: Battling Experts

    Emerging HR and People Practises

    HR 2.0 Power Today

    Evolution from HR 2.0 – HR 3.0

    Chapter 3: HR 3.0 – The Process Wave (1935 – 1985)

    The First Glimmers of Process

    Process-Based Leadership

    Teams at HR 3.0: Dependent Experts

    Emerging HR and People Practices

    HR 3.0 Process Today

    Evolution from HR 3.0 – HR 4.0

    Chapter 4: HR 4.0 – The Profit Wave (1980 – 2010)

    The First Glimmers of Profit

    Profit-Based Leadership

    Teams at HR 4.0: Independent and Interdependent Achievers

    Emerging HR and People Practices

    HR 4.0 Profit Today


    Pay Determination

    Appraisal and Performance Management

    Organisational Theory

    Leadership Development

    Evolution from HR 4.0 – HR 5.0

    Chapter 5: HR 5.0 – The People Wave (2005 – 2025)

    The First Glimmers of HR 5.0

    The Emergence of the Digital Age

    People-Based Leadership

    Teams at HR 5.0: Diverse Pluralists

    Emerging HR and People Practises

    HR 5.0 People Today

    Diversity and Inclusion

    Performance Management


    Leadership and Human Development

    Evolution from HR 5.0 to HR 6.0

    Chapter 6: HR 6.0 – The Paradox Wave (2020 – 2040)

    The First Glimmers of Paradox

    Paradox-Based Leadership

    HR 6.0 and the Emergence of 4D Leadership

    Teams at HR 6.0: Integrated Pluralists

    Recalibration of ‘Mental Health’

    Emerging HR and People Practices

    The Disappearing ‘HR Function’

    Organisational Design and Development- The Networked Org Mark I

    New Forms of Employment

    Re-inventing the Employment Model

    Employee Relations

    Re-inventing the Company

    Evolution from HR 6.0 to HR 7.0

    Chapter 7: HR 7.0 – The Planet Wave (2030+)

    The First Glimmers of Planet

    Planet-Based Leadership

    Teams at HR 7.0: Fellowships

    Emerging HR and People Practices

    HR 7.0 Planet Today

    The Networked Org Mark II


    The Future?

    What Next

    Chapter 8: Surfing the P-waves of Progress

    First Work on Maturity

    Approaching Transition

    Courage to Confront

    Plus One’ Principle (POP)

    Evolve to the Point of the Leader

    Communicate in the Right Language

    Embrace and Implement the HR practices

    Who Should Lead the Transition?

    HR Call to Arms


    Alan Watkins is the CEO and Founder of Complete, a consultancy specialising in developing enlightened leaders, teams, and organisations. He has written several books including: Coherence: The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership, 4D Leadership, Wicked and Wise: How to Solve the World’s Toughest Problems, co-authored with Ken Wilber, and Crowdocracy: The End of Politics, co-authored with Iman Stratenus.

    Nick Dalton is the Executive Vice President HR for Unilever. He has been in HR for over 30 years, working globally, regionally, and locally. He has also worked in all areas of HR, from leading international negotiations with trade unions to managing senior leadership development and enabling organisational change.

    "This work not only captures the history of HR but offers a unique and powerful way HR may shape our planet for decades to come. A must read, learn, and do for all of us."

    David Ulrich, HR Academic, Professor of Business, University of Michigan  

    "Thought provoking and challenging – a call to action for the HR profession."

    Leena Nair, CHRO Unilever

    "Who dares to read must act. This book will provoke you to start leading into a better future like nothing else you have ever read."

    Kate Brown, Group People Director, Specsavers

    "Hugely empowering research and thinking on the evolution of the HR function, and its role in society to help change the way we work for the better.  We need to be Transformers rather than Robots in this evolving world!"

    Catherine Lynch, Former CHRO Virgin Media

    "Join the disruption and be part of reshaping the future of HR this compelling book outlines the path and provides hard evidence of what’s to come and how to prepare for it. A must read."

    Beth Clutterbuck, CPO Cloudreach

    "A rare look at the complete evolution of HR, demonstrating how HR professionals have always reactively adapted to the world at the time. A thought-provoking insight into the future of HR and a comprehensive offering on how HR leaders can be instrumental in leading the transitions."

    Natasha Adams, CPO Tesco

    "Watkins and Dalton offer a compelling alternative future pathway. A tsunami of thought-provoking narrative where positive organisational and societal transformation are inextricably linked and where all people truly are at the heart of this seismic and (r)evolutionary change."

    Nathan Clements, HRD Boots UK

    "Thought provoking read on HR evolution to shape the future for us – HR leaders, for our people, for companies, for communities and for the PLANET.  What we will do with this understanding is entirely up to us? Let’s shape the future now!"

    Karel Foltyn, Head of HR Amazon Europe

    "The book is a must read for business leaders. A compelling case is made for a leap forward and for HR to step up. The golden triangle CEO, CFO and CHRO will drive together the change of the workplace to change the world!"

    Martin Booisma, CHRO AkzoNobel

    "A thought provoking read that encourages HR professionals to reflect on whether our role should be to purely react to the social and political environment or to take a lead in the response that businesses take as they evolve through the ‘Waves’ of change."

    Vicky Wallis, CHRO, Santander UK

    "This book is an essential read for leaders, and those developing tomorrow’s leaders, faced with the challenges of both defining and delivering sustainable value in not just a digital economy but a world within which social equality and environmental concerns are paramount."

    Keith Jones, COO Halfords

    "A compelling and exciting view on the lessons of the past and how that shapes the future for individuals, business and the world around us.  It’s the call to action that both HR professionals and business leaders need.  Change is not coming – it’s here.  It is now up to us to show that we cannot only learn from it, but develop and lead the next wave."

    Elaine Thomas, Global Head of People Solutions Refinitiv

    "A call to arms for all HR professionals to start thinking ahead and influencing their business to change – it’s no longer about evolution but revolution. An interesting perspective on the future of work, the authors help us to understand the past, in order to work out what we must do differently to survive the future."

    Jenn Barnett, Head of D&I , Wellbeing Grant Thornton

    "This book should be read by all students of HR as well as CEOs and their CHROs."

    Jo Ferris, CPO, Alter Domus

    "An indispensable guide which equips HR to lead through disruption to create sustainable workplaces of the future. The authors steer the reader through the 'Seven Waves of Change' to develop organisations which deliver benefits to both business and society. A great read."

    Andrea Eccles, HRD City HR

    "A thought-provoking call to action for any business leader / People professional. Historical fact and logic inspire to disrupt the present to create the future – workplace and world. Recommended!"

    Hayley Tatum, SVP People Asda

    "This book illuminates why we in HR do what we do. It calls for leaders and the HR profession to think again and prepare themselves for an unfamiliar future. It offers concrete advice on how leaders and the HR profession should evolve if they wish to change the world for the better."

    Jo Dunne, HRD, Church of England

    "As well as giving a considered and compelling perspective on the forces that have changed the workplace and the role of HR in the past, the authors of this book also challenge us all – HR professionals, business leaders, employment lawyers, policy makers – to revolutionize our thinking to ensure that through the next HR wave, we enable a philosophy and approach which is not only sustainable but delivers benefits for all.  A must read for every one of us who is up for that challenge!"

    Janette Lucas, Partner, Labour & Employment, Squire Patton Boggs

    "We are in times of great change and the opportunity and need for HR to step up and lead to impact positive organisational as well as societal outcomes has never been clearer. This book signposts the direction, building on historical context and inspiring HR practitioners to challenge and lead for a better future for all."

    Peter Cheese, CEO CIPD

    "This is for leaders that are committed to putting people strategy ahead of all else.  The authors not only provide a concise and in depth analysis of the evolution of HR but more importantly this book offers a thought provoking glimpse of what most probably will be. I love the P-Wave and its limitless possibilities."

    Txabi Aboitiz, CHRO, Aboitiz Equity Ventures

    "Watkins and Dalton provide context for where HR functions find themselves today and bring insight to the challenges now faced which ultimately impacts the way people think and wish to engage with work.  Well worth reading for those looking to the future."

    Fiona Claybrook, HR Director, The Ardonagh Group

    "A fascinating read, this book tells the story of the evolution of HR and has inspired me to have real confidence and excitement that in this VUCA world, we can create a future workplace where people can flourish and be happy and healthy. In fact, for businesses to succeed this will be the only way!"

    Louise Rich, Global Head HR, Mayborn


    "A book that should be read by all business leaders not just CHRO’s.  It offers a history of HR but also invites CHRO’s to look at the role they can proactively take in the future of leadership ensuring they are proactively meeting business challenges and staying ahead of the game."

    Jacky Simmons, CPO, VEON