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No, wait - stop laughing. I'm serious.
I was browsing Fortune Magazine over the weekend and saw a brief feature on the fact that IT departments in big companies are setting up walk-in locations in major buildings to take the fear and loathing out of two things - technology for the non-techie as well as the loathing of having to deal with the traditional IT department.
Does that sound like something HR might need as well? Dramatic change of what's expected in happening elsewhere as well. Apple retail leader Ron Johnson is now heading JCPenny and doing everthing thing he can to dramatically change the look and feel of the traditional retailer - to the point it seems he's trying to get fired as quickly as possible.
Why not an Apple-type store for HR? Who says that couldn't happen?
But what would it look like? First, a few ground rules:
1. The Apple HR store wouldn't be for everyone. It would only be for those folks that really, really want something high-end out of HR.
2. In order to meet that expectation, the service, products and services at the store would have to be STELLAR. For real.
3. I'm tempted to say only big companies need apply (big location, you could rotate 3 members of the team in the store), but I'm not sure that's right. I can see a small HR shop of three people at a tech company having a store front and working out of it to redefine how they want to provide service.
Of course, the ability to pull off an Apple store for HR would really depend on having service and products that wow people. A couple of thoughts about that:
1. Generalists would rule the day at the Apple-type store for HR. Think about all the things under the sun that someone could walk into the store for - no way a specialist could handle that range of stuff.
2. Focus on the individual career would have to be front and center. While you could always get transactions completed and questions about existing HR stuff answered, the real service that would have to be on display for the concept to seem like it transcends HR is a mind-numbing focus on each individual's career. Which means HR would have to get a lot better at being an agent for the career of the individual employees they support. Learning and Development would need to be featured prominently.
3. The folks who just want to pick up a paycheck would never stop by the store. They don't want development, they don't want to give discretionary effort. They just want to pick up the paycheck and go home.
The Apple Store for HR wouldn't be where you pick up a manual check. It would be the place where those who were really jazzed about their career and want to get better would drop by for help too figure out how.
No scrubs who be hanging around the Apple Store for HR. And only the top 1/3 of HR is really capable of working at that type of store with a Careers/HR slant.
Which is exactly why someone should do it.