Driving strategic change 

"It was the start of getting new insights about the importance of HR in changing organisations."

Tom Plug

HR Innovation Lead, KPN
Participant on the HR Strategy in Transforming Organisations Programme

Tom Plug 1440x900 Top

Leading transformation

"I became a storyteller, on the issues around the future of work, on trying to create movement in my organisation and with individuals."

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The future of work context

"We started the week with an introduction by Professor Lynda Gratton and I remember that she emphasised the important role that HR can play in organisational transformation, saying that maybe HR has to take the lead in these transformations. That had a big impact on me as it instantly made me look at my role in a different way.

Professor Gratton was there throughout the week. She set the agenda and created time for some really interesting guest speakers who brought their own specific experiences and examples. Her narrative was that the radical changes taking place in the world were bigger than any company.

That’s the transition to the concept of “sustainable employability”. Rather than an organisation telling its employees that they should be thinking about the future, the focus is more on the individual to take their future into their own hands.

The way the programme was built was a good combination of listening, talking, doing group work and getting time for reflection, so it was perfect. There were lots of chances to learn and connect with HR strategy. 

On the Friday we all had to write down our resolutions about what we would do with the knowledge we’d learned in the week and share our ideas with our group. Hearing yourself say what you planned to do really helped to embed the ideas.

In the first months back in my job I was still thinking how to translate these ideas into my daily practice. I was pioneering this in my organisation. My HR colleagues were aware of how technology and other changes in the world are affecting work, but I think I made the ideas more concrete and translated them into a story. I put together 10 slides and gave a short talk. Then someone in the audience said it would be interesting for their department to hear as well and asked if I could do a keynote in front of 200 people. And from that day on I’ve kept getting invitations from people who ask if I can tell the story to their part of the organisation.

I initially kept track of the number of talks I gave and in 2016/17 I told the “Future of Work” story to about 1,500 people in about 50 sessions of different sizes. I became known as the Future of Work thinker in our organisation.

It became one of our strategic themes and has now become integrated into our organisation. You can find traces of it in our collective labour agreement. And some of my HR colleagues now tell their version of the story as well. So I think it is here to stay now.

I know my 60 minute story won’t change the world, but in that 60 minutes I want something to start, to resonate with people that this is part of something bigger; that the world is changing but you as an individual can have an impact on your own future. We all have a passion, a sense of craftsmanship, a level of vitality and resilience that can help us."

Taking the lead

"When I give my presentation to an HR audience I always say to them that it’s time to claim your role."

Lasting impact

"Four years on I’m still very happy that I was there that week. I still see ways I can apply it in my work almost on a daily basis."


"The programme was the beginning of knowing that this is what I’m good at and it's valuable for other people."

Lighting a spark

"The week in London gave me the kind of in-depth, academic-level discussions, peers and passion that I never got in my formal education."

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New thinking

"What helped me was telling the story anytime I could and always trying to make it as relevant as possible for the business unit or management team I was talking to as it challenged me to get more information. 

I went back to LBS for a Global Leadership Forum and was inspired by Professor Dan Cable talking about positive psychology and his “best self” concept. It’s so simple and so human and has such a great impact on people and organisations, and these are the little pearls I am looking for in the HR world. What are sometimes very easy, logical human things that can help you improve performance but can also sometimes help improve the person themselves.

I have expanded the Future of Work story now by combining it with ideas such as positive psychology to create an even more impactful message for people. I think it is now about being “futureproof” and looking at work and employment relations in a different way.

My focus is shifting towards positive psychology: how happiness plays a crucial role in the long term success of both organisations and individuals and – again in becoming futureproof. I strongly recommend Dan Cable’s latest book, Alive at Work, to anyone who wants to dive into this.

Today it’s no longer about having and keeping a job – it’s about what are my skills, what is my value, and investing in keeping up that value using your skills and competencies"

Human Resource Strategy in Transforming Organisations

Align your business strategy with the context you create for your people – then watch your organisation thrive.