I love a good remix. I love seeing a really talented artist take a song, pull it apart, save all the great pieces, and then put them back together in a new way. With the exception of the “let’s fill out a fifth disc in this greatest hits box set, even though we haven’t recorded new music in ten years” variety, I find a quality remix to be as artistically rewarding as the original in some cases.
No one is better at the art of the remix than the UK band Alabama 3. You may know them as A3 in the states, since the old country group Alabama took exception to their name. A3 is produces some fine tunes, but they stand out in my mind for two things. The first is covering a tune everyone knows and changing it enough to really make it theirs. Their versions of “Hotel California”, “Amos Moses” and “Hurt” are amazing, and are my preferred versions.
They are also masters of the remix. The tune for which they are most known in the states is “Woke Up This Morning” of The Sopranos. One their album “Exile on Coldharbor Lane” they include not only their original version of the song, they also offer four remixes. Each one is special in its own way, and each one is very good. Some people may cry foul over having five of the nineteen tracks coming from, essentially, one song. But to me, there’s more of a challenge in turning one song into five different songs than just writing four more songs to fill up an album. Or having fewer songs.
It strikes me, then, that a remix of HR is exactly what we need. There are some absolutely critical pieces of HR that we must protect, but I think we can all agree that there is noise in between the high notes. Finding the right person to fill a critical role? We can listen to that story all day long. The levels of approval needed on both the job requisition AND the offer? Plus the paperwork? Pass. Seeing the organization grow through a strong succession plan, building from within and keeping momentum long term? Sweet, sweet music. Browbeating managers into doing performance evaluations and funding critical development plans? Flat notes.
But just like in the music business, remixing is tougher than it looks. It sounds so simple to say, “Hey, let’s get rid of performance reviews! We’ll get managers to talk to their team all the time, so we don’t need to do it once a year!” But getting that tune to carry is a tricky skill. Especially when you are trying to mix it with notes of employee development, business plans, human behavior and all the other “legacy” HR jobs. That’s why remixing is hard. That’s why groups like Alabama 3 stand out. They take the hard job of pulling out the good stuff and making it sing, without letting it fall apart into something you don’t recognize. If you are going to remix HR, it has to look like HR when you are done. Build around solid processes, eliminate the waste and the noise, and deliver a tune that makes you business partners want to dance.
It’s not easy, but pulling it off can make you a star.