Meet Atlanta's HR.Hackathon Host: Karan Ferrell-Rhodes

WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR “DAY JOB”?

In both by personal and professional lives, I am a maestro of problem-solving and collaborative action! My life’s motto is “carpe diem”, whose Latin meaning is “seize the day”. I try to embody this philosophy as the Founder and CEO of Shockingly Different Leadership (SDL), a global human capital professional services consultancy that provides organizations access to the best consulting expertise in the areas of Talent Development, Organizational Development, and Human Resources – on an on-demand, project or contract basis. At SDL, we are changing the way HR-functions scale up their teams during peak periods of work.

I absolutely love working with organizations on their top people-related initiatives. Allowing my team of 60+ to be an on-call extension of their teams is a pure honor that I don’t take lightly. It is magical to see what companies with expanded capacity and capability can do. That is why I come to work every day with a big smile!

WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE SUPERPOWER? TELL US MORE…

Strategic Ideation. Picture me with a floppy wizard hat, cape and my magic wand, for I am a “wizard of the world of possibilities”! I’m that leader who makes 1+1 equal 5, by peeking around corners to spot new areas of opportunity that others miss. My gifts include being able to help teams weed through the river of potential alternatives in order to strategically select the best course of action. I then help them design a sound implementation plan which will make their vision come to life. I use my superpower to help individuals and teams achieve more than they ever thought possible.

WHEN AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR DESIGN THINKING?

I’ve always had a passion for the art of design thinking, even before I knew there was a formal name for it. I was introduced to design thinking while being employed at Microsoft and loved it so much that I began soaking up knowledge from other design thinking experts and companies, like IDEO. I quickly realized how design thinking could be such an important tool in helping organizations with leadership development, organizational effectiveness and business transformation initiatives.

WHY ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT DESIGN THINKING’S POWER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN RESOURCES?

HR is the glue which connects and helps optimize all functions within an organization. In the current and future worlds of work, it will be critical for HR to demonstrate their true value to their company’s bottom-line. This includes not just having a seat at the executive table, but also leading the type of innovative thinking which will keep their employer relevant in the hyper-competitive industries in which they play. Design Thinking is an invaluable tool which will help them do just this. I am super-excited to be an advocate and change agent to help my fellow HR colleagues strengthen their professional success stories.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN THINKING RESOURCE OR HACK?

As far as resources, I’ll be honest. I’m always on the prowl for new tools and/or insights on design thinking. So, Google is my best friend for this space. I love to learn how practitioners in different industries approach design thinking, so I search for curated content like this post from The Enterprisers Project.

In regards to hacks, one technique I use is Stimulated Mind-mapping. SMM uses images and/or power phrases to enhance ideation during the mind-mapping process.

WHY DID YOU RAISE YOUR HAND AND BECOME AN HR.HACKATHON EVENT HOST FOR ATLANTA?

I am a Georgia Peach, born and bred. I love my city, which has experienced tremendous growth over the last 20 years. Most industry leaders either have their main or regional headquarters here. Being very networked in the Atlanta HR community, I hear from my colleagues daily that there is a never-ending list of requests from their company executives related to their employee talent. I want to empower the Atlanta HR community in their quest to being more influential leaders at the table, by pushing them out of their comfort zone (in a very empathetic way) and providing a community of support with like-minded colleagues, as they wade through unchartered waters. This is a dream role for me, which is why I jumped at the chance to work with hr.hackathon!

WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR HR.HACKATHON IN ATLANTA?

My vision for hr.hackathon Atlanta is…. to empower the Atlanta HR community’s quest to:

ESTABLISH RELEVANCE - open the eyes of key company decision makers to prioritize the most impactful talent-related ideas which will impact the bottom-line

POSITION POSSIBILITIES - use design-thinking and storytelling to gain buy-in on top talent initiatives

IMPLEMENT DISRUPTION – execute on the prototype of the plan of action to implement positive disruption within the organization

CONFIRM WHAT’S NEXT – continue to build upon and evolve successes/learnings to identify new opportunities prime for the next round of design-thinking