“Being a practitioner is hard. A lot of
environments don’t have a big support
net work. Practitioners are on an island,”
Schmidt says. “Having a global commu-
nity with real answers to questions you
are dealing with is hugely valuable—and,
frankly, hard to find.”
Conferences are helpful, but most of
the lessons presented at those gatherings
are offered by consultants, not actual HR
professionals, says Brenda Rigney, vice
president of Pink Ops, a department that
works to eliminate inefficiencies at the
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-
based home health aid company Nurse
Next Door. Open-source case studies, on
the other hand, come straight from prac-
titioners on the front lines.
Sharing can also bolster companies’ and HR professionals’ reputations
through positive feedback. Appleby says
Oracle’s leaders were pleased to see the
company’s work recognized. The two
staffers who worked on the projects and
wrote the reports were even happier.
“They were able to see the community
embrace them,” Appleby says.
Fisher says his case study on how to
get back to all job applicants with a per-
sonal e-mail within 24 hours garnered
worldwide attention for CA Technolo-
gies. “We’re seen as leaders, rather than
followers,” he notes. And writing the
case study, he says, was a useful exercise
because it forced him to think about what
the company was doing right and what it
was getting wrong.
Open source doesn’t come without nettles, including sticky issues regarding privacy, competition and relevance.
HR traditionally has closely guarded
private, sensitive information for legal
and ethical reasons. HR professionals
obviously can’t use open source to share
confidential information or anything
the company can get audited for. Putting
employee information in the hands of a
third party that could be hacked is also
And sharing information with competitors may leave some HR professionals, especially talent acquisition specialists, feeling uncomfortable.
“This level of openness and sharing
isn’t for everyone,” Schmidt concedes.
“There are people who have a siloed ‘war
for talent’ mentality. [Open source] is for
people who say, ‘We can compete and
collaborate and still come out ahead.’ ”
Many HR practitioners are willing
to take their chances. “It’s very risky for
HR. I get that,” Appleby says. But she
believes thinking in a different way “will
make us more nimble. It will make HR
It’s also important to remember that
open source doesn’t mean sharing every-
thing. Participants pick and choose what
they want to publicize.
The practice of sharing case studies
is more suited to industry leaders who
worry less about competitors than it is
to those who work for companies still
trying to find their way, Alonso says,
adding that many people place a higher
value on information from top companies anyway.
The open-source solutions that are
out there, though, may not be relevant to
every organization, so having access to
case studies isn’t a silver bullet. Material
on employee engagement by a tech firm
that focuses on social media, for instance,
might not be applicable to a multinational agriculture company.
HR Open Source ( hros.co) offers
case studies, document templates,
discussion boards and more.
Templates cover topics such as
a talent acquisition scorecard
and a new-employee onboarding
checklist. Case study offerings
include Dell’s employer branding
strategy and IT consulting company
Appirio’s changes to its candidate
Google’s re:Work (rework
. withgoogle.com) shares data-driven HR practices from various
companies. Case studies cover
issues like people analytics, hiring and teams, with input from
large companies like JetBlue and
The Society for Human
Resource Management (SHRM)
( community.shrm.org/home) and
other groups offer discussion
boards where practitioners can
share their experiences, as well
as networking and learning opportunities at conferences and local
chapter meetings where sharing
happens in person.