Presumably there is an optimal point, both individually and collectively, where we benefit to the greatest extent both from the experience we have had and our ability to impart it to others whilst it is still relevant, we are motivated to do so and frankly, before we forget some of it?

The European project that I am currently managing in Belgrade has caused me to reflect on this issue. In establishing the full strategic human resources cycle linking 45,000 employees to the Serbian Government’s objectives, I have had the benefit of a relatively green field site upon which to build the full range of practices and processes that we have perhaps become accustomed to associating with an effective and efficient organisation in the UK.

However whilst much of the work that we do in the UK is based upon incremental improvement built on top of existing systems, it is quite thought provoking when given the opportunity to start again, from a blank sheet of paper. The advantage of being based abroad for a couple of years is that it breaks the continual link with essentially similar looking organisations with similar processes. There is the additional advantage of repeatedly watching experienced UK consultants come out to design and deliver a specific piece of work, only to realise that their favourite toolkit for organisational development not only isn’t necessarily the best solution here, since it was designed to fit with another series of similar pieces of organisational architecture, but it might even not work at all.

So before designing a very elegant performance appraisal model linking promotion, career development and recruitment and selection, it can be instructive to stop and ponder, does it have to be? If the organisational culture will not support linking appraisal directly to promotion or pay, does it have to look and function the way it traditionally has done, or has often done poorly, in the UK?

So how much else of what we assume ‘good looks like’ in terms of UK organisations, is there because a model has been associated with perceived success in one structure and used in copy/paste mode elsewhere? Whether driven by austerity, experience or even common sense, will leaders of organisations be prepared to stand up to challenges from governance structures, inspection or audit and advocate that the most simple way of linking the principle drivers with the principle responses, might be the best way, even if this means pairing down some of the architectural flourishes organisations are accustomed to having?

Navigating these alternative pathways requires a combination of experience, access to good information, including a network of advisory support to draw upon and thereafter the ability to use these to reduce complex constructs to simple practices at strategic, tactical and operational levels. Although at Droman Limited we pride ourselves in bringing together an extremely wide-ranging group of consultants, irrespective of the CV or track record, we firmly believe that if the concept can’t be talked through in a few sentences or reduced to a side of A4, it hasn’t been thought through enough. Simple huh?