The Power of Three

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Vision. Mission. Values. These three elements form the fundamental pillars for an organization’s strategic plan. When we look at each of these as separate elements, they have inherent power. Vision is the big idea that drives and pulls the organization into its future self. Mission articulates the purpose or the reason for being in the organizational marketplace. Values are the beliefs upon which the organization exists in order to represent itself with its moral, ethical, and social character.

When these three separate elements are joined together, their power becomes solidified. Like a three-legged stool, their strength is reinforced through their reliance on each other. One leg does not function without the other two, and all three provide the basis of support for the organization’s success. Should one of the legs be weakened or break, the entire entity will topple over.

An example of how the strength of these elements work together—to support organizational and human resources success—can be found in a short interview with the CEO and President of Schneider Electric, Annette Clayton.

Click here to read the interview with CEO Clayton.

Click here to find out more about Schneider Electric.

As noted in the CEO’s responses, Schneider Electric has not only built its award-winning success on the “highest levels of business integrity,” it is deeply committed to its “people strategy,” so it can remain competitive within the industry, and future-focused to achieve its vision. As the organizational leader, the CEO can clearly articulate how organizational values shape her decision-making processes. It is also interesting to note how critical the role of Human Resources is, not only as a partner to the CEO, but also as a leadership champion for successful changes in implementing its strategic commitments to its people.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can Human Resources use organizational values in the development of a “people strategy”?
  2. Think about your own work experiences. How did an organization’s vision, mission, and values impact you as an employee? Were these elements evident in the workplace? What advice would you give to your employer to change or improve the visibility and impact of the organization’s vision, mission, and values?

Blinded By The Blue Light


One of the physical agents that is identified as a hazard in our Health and Safety studies is the impact of blue light on worker eyesight. Blue light is emitted from electronic devices, such as computer screens and tablets. It is part of the light spectrum that travels in short waves with high intensity and reaches further into the retina than other types of light-wave frequency.

The ongoing impact of exposure to blue light includes a deterioration of the circadian rhythms, which we need to help us sleep. When these rhythms are interrupted, getting a good night’s sleep is also interrupted. As each of us may have experienced in the past, when we do not sleep at night, we do not function the next day.

The impact of blue light on employee health and safety is not a new phenomenon. The prevention or hazard reduction of this physical agent, however, does not seem to be getting the attention it deserves.

Click here to read about the increasing concerns linked to blue-light exposure in the workplace.

Think about the masses of employees staring all day at computer screens that are emitting high-levels of blue light. Is the sleep of each employee negatively impacted at night? If the workforce as a whole is not able to get a good night’s sleep, how can they be productive in the workplace the next day? As noted in the article, related costs include a reduction in daily productivity and having to deal with a sleep-deprived and cranky workforce.

The article provides recommendations for interventions that include screens for computer monitors, allowing employees to take additional eye breaks, and the installation of light monitoring software. None of these seems to be a high-price to pay when balanced against the costs that come with lost productivity and managing irritable employees.

Blue-light-induced insomnia benefits no-one.

A good night’s sleep benefits everyone.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Of the physical interventions noted in the article, identify the one that you think is both cost-effective and health-effective for the workplace. Explain your rationale.
  2. How do you protect your own eyesight from exposure to blue light?
  3. From a Health and Safety perspective, which interventions would you implement as mandatory for worker safety? Explain your rationale.
  4. Prepare an informal assessment of worker exposure to blue light in your current workplace. Are there interventions in place? If not, how will you approach your current employer?


Going for the Gold


In the spirit of the Olympic games, the media is full of inspiring stories featuring passionate and committed Canadian athletes focused on the achievement of excellence. That achievement comes with multiple rewards, including the high honour of Olympic gold, given for outstanding athletic performance.

Gold-winning strategies are not the domain of Canadian athletes alone, however. Every year, the online publication Canadian Business highlights and gives awards to the Best Managed Companies in Canada. For the fifth year in a row Napoleon Grills, a used-to-be-small manufacturing company located in Barrie, Ontario, has hit the list as a gold winner for outstanding business performance.

Click here to read about gold-winning Napoleon Grills.

The article shows that this is no typical Canadian business success story. When reading this piece in view of our studies, it becomes apparent that Napoleon Grills has implemented numerous elements that could have been pulled directly from our textbook on strategic human resources planning.

This particular company been able to put its ‘big picture’ corporate strategy into daily practice. While the end goal is the production of a high quality Canadian product, that goal is achieved with the combination of:

  • effective leadership;
  • sound corporate culture;
  • high levels of employee engagement;
  • future-focused succession planning;
  • a commitment to excellence.

Most importantly, the article highlights the need for a clear and consistent strategic vision that drives every decision, every contact, and every product that Napoleon Grills makes.

A gold winning performance indeed!


Discussion Questions:

  1. From your reading of the article, identify and explain the link between the organization’s vision and its success to date.
  2. If you were the Human Resources director for the Napoleon Group of Companies, how could you ensure that the company continues to be successful through the succession management process?
  3. Identify and apply the seven steps of “Strategic Planning Process” from your text book readings to this article.


Perfection Can Wait

A red button with the word Action on it, representing the need to act to affect change, achieve a goal or take a stand for what you believe in

“Nothing kills progress like brilliant strategy.”

This quote is from the book, Bet on Me, by Canadian business leader Annette Verschure, which explores the effective implementation of leadership strategies.

Canadian Business recently published an excerpt which provides an interesting insight into the link between the need for a plan and the need for action. Verschure argues that the effective organizational leader must commit to action instead of waiting around for the perfection of a fully realized strategic plan.

Click here to read the excerpt.

While Vershcure focuses on the need for decisive action, this does not mean that there is no need for a big picture vision. In fact, it is precisely the big goal, the big idea, which provides the target for setting the leadership and organizational sights for the future. According to Verschure, the risk of waiting for the absolute perfection of every detail of a strategic plan to be in place before taking action can stop the process from launching in the first place.

How many of us get stuck by the need for perfection before we decide to move forward? It is easy to get caught in a cycle of paralysis because the fear of moving forward is greater than the risk of standing still. We need a big push to stop that cycle and just get started.

For organizations, the same principle applies. At some point, the leader must determine that waiting for the perfect plan will stifle the benefits of moving forward. With the big-picture goal in sight, the action plan can start the organization moving in the right direction and prepare for adjustments along the way.

Perfection is not necessary. Good enough should suffice.

If it is good enough, it means that it is time to go.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does having a plan force you to act, or prevent you from acting?
  2. What steps are necessary to ensure that the organization is not stuck in constant planning?
  3. What role does timing play for effective implementation of an action plan?
  4. From your reading of the excerpt, why is the development of effective relationships so critical in ensuring effective implementation of an action plan?

How to Evaluate Your HR Impact 

Thoughtful attractive young businesswoman relaxing with a mug of hot coffee at her desk staring pensively off to the side with a serious expression

Introspective HR

Before HR can align itself with an organizations business strategy it must analyze itself.

HR is always concerned with corporate measurements, such as Key Performance Indicators, benchmarking, and turnover rates. These organizational measurements are good and are required but they not all that is required. In order to impact an organization’s behaviour HR has to first be able to measure its own impact.

Here is a great little article by Tom Haak, a Global HR expert from HR Trends Institute where he highlights his insights into how HR can simply measure its impact.  He outlines ingredients in his recipe for HR impact.  Here are 12 questions every HR department should think about:

  1. To what extent does your HR team speak the language of the business?
  2. How good is your HR team at connecting the various disciplines within the organization?
  3. Which description fits better with your HR team: are you leaders or followers?
  4. Does HR have clear principles?
  5. Is your HR department sufficiently flexible and client focused?
  6. Does your organization laugh with HR or laugh at HR?
  7. Does your HR team dare to experiment?
  8. Is your HR department good at implementing major projects?
  9. Does your HR team dare to innovate?
  10. Does HR have a large and strong network?
  11. Does HR use the opportunities offered by HR analytics?
  12. Does HR come with practical and simple solutions?

Click here to read the complete article by Ton Haak.

Looking inward at your HR department’s ability to influence organizational performance is key to helping the organization meet it business goals and objectives.


  1. 1. Think about an HR department you are familiar with, rate them on the 12 questions above using a 5 point scale, 1 being low and 5 being high. Where are the HR department’s strengths? Where are the areas of improvement?
  2. Your VP of HR wants you to draft an action plan to present to the Board of Directors on how to improve the HR department’s success.