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Bring ‘Open Source’ to HR: An Interview With Lars Schmidt

/ 3.24.16

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Lars Schmidt at an HR conference where we were both speaking. At the time, Lars was leading the Talent Acquisition and Innovation efforts for NPR where he was doing some really amazing work.


In our first meeting, it was clear both how brilliant and passionate Lars was about his work. Since then, he’s started a company, Amplify Talent, where he has helped organizations like SpaceX and Hootsuite to revolutionize how they recruit and attract talent.


In 2015, Lars launched an effort called HR Open Source with Ambrosia Vertesi. In software, open source means that the creator of a software product essentially shares the source code of the software openly so others can use, change, and build upon it. In return for this sharing, it is expected that those who improve upon the original source code share those improvements with the community so others may build upon those improvements. This model has been tremendously successful (see the story of Linux as an example). So Lars and Ambrosia decided to bring this open, sharing model to the HR community. I interviewed Lars about his work and posted his responses below. But first, what's your take on sharing and collaboration in HR? They'd love to hear your opinion. Complete this brief survey to help bring greater insight to the concept of open source HR.




An Interview with Lars Schmidt

What is HR Open Source or HROS?

HR Open Source (#HROS) is an initiative designed to bring open source approaches to HR and recruiting. The intent of #HROS is to make it easier for HR and recruiting practitioners to access the resources, tips, and tools they need to succeed in today’s world of work. #HROS is committed to showcasing detailed case studies, case uses and success stories dedicated to informing, educating and inspiring the work of real HR and recruiting professionals.


The long term goal of #HROS is to create a knowledge bank of case studies and proven practices across a wide range of representative industries and company sizes, curating content and fostering collaboration while driving innovation throughout the HR and talent acquisition functions.


How does it work?

HR Open Source consists of two major components: The first involves building a global community of HR practitioners sharing resources across social platforms and talent communities via the #HROS hashtag.


The other primary component of #HROS involves curating and developing detailed practitioner case studies designed to showcase proven practices, cutting edge innovation, and emerging practices. These case studies will feature organizations who have successfully designed, launched, and measured meaningful HR and recruitment initiatives – and what other practitioners need to know.


Where did the idea come from?

The seed for HR Open Source (HROS) was planted when I was introduced to HROS Co-Founder, Ambrosia Vertesi, in 2012. We were each in HR leadership roles, and found ourselves opening our playbooks and sharing our strategies and challenges to help each other solve different challenges we encountered in our respective roles. We connected again at the South by Southwest conference in 2015, and were inspired to try to replicate the experience on a global industry-wide scale.


Why should an HR practitioner or leader care about open source HR?

If we’re successful, the end result is going to be a much more informed, inspired and connected community at large in HR. There will be new vehicles and platforms for people to interact with each other on, to find inspiration, and to find actual case studies they can take back to their own organizations to implement change.


Ambrosia and I are both fortunate to go to a lot of conferences and we have access to a lot of people considered to be HR influencers, so that has accelerated our own learning curves dramatically. But the vast majority of HR professionals don’t have that access. They may have the ability to have membership in organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and maybe attend a conference or two, but the majority don’t have the budget to pay for resources that can help inform and inspire their work.

HROS is an emerging global platform that will allow global HR practitioners to come together, share ideas and practices, and ultimately raise our collective capabilities.


What are your goals for HROS as one of its creators?

The goal is to bring the HR community together in a way that is open and drives more communication and collaboration, and the sharing and exchanging of ideas. The general concept is that if we all work more closely and share a little bit more, the entire field benefits.


How does one get involved in the HROS movement?

Go to and register so you can be informed about updates. Join the Facebook and Twitter communities. Individual practitioners and companies can both register. We know not every practitioner will get the green light to contribute a case study so we felt there should be lots of ways for practitioners to contribute and be a part of the conversation. You can also share articles and resources you find educational and inspirational using the #HROS hashtag.


Have you taken that brief survey I mentioned above? We’d love to gather your views towards collaboration in HR. If you can spare five minutes, click here take the survey.


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