Project Horizon


Consider these horizon questions:

  • What’s on your horizon over the next 3-5 years? 
  • What professional issues/problems/challenges/opportunities do you see coming in the near future that will significantly impact people’s well-being and productivity, and team and organizational effectiveness?
  • Which ones keep you awake at night?

I-O Psychology is a prime generator of evidence-based practices for many facets of human resource management. However, there is consensus that there are opportunities to improve the alignment between research conducted by SIOP members and important real-world organizational problems.

The purpose of the Horizon Project is to identify research domains and key topics where the field of I-O psychology is uniquely positioned to be a thought leader in areas relevant to strengthening individual, unit, and organizational outcomes. The goal is to devise strategies to seed and grow R&D while strengthening research linkages to practice in ways that are more timely, relevant, and actionable.


Mirian Graddick-Weir (President, Weir Group, LLC and SIOP Foundation Board Trustee) and Milt Hakel (SIOP Foundation President) conducted interviews with 11 CHROs to answer the horizon questions by: (1) identifying significant trends impacting their industries; and (2) selecting 4-5 areas where they believe the profession can benefit from having more evidence-based research to guide critical business decisions, actions and outcomes.

Next, a small group of CHROs and academics met for a day. They reviewed the interview themes and identified 3 top priority areas where we can benefit from more evidence-based research. In addition to the interview themes, the group emphasized the importance of shortening the cycle time between gathering knowledge/evidence and delivering actionable results. This will be essential to ensuring CHROs and other HR practitioners are willing to partner with the academic community to enable the timely collection and analysis of important data. There is also a desire to find better approaches for translating research findings into real-world implications.

We thank all the participants in the Horizon project (especially the CHROs) for sharing their thoughtful insights and experiences. We are very excited about moving forward with the next steps and maintaining this positive momentum.


Horizon Priorities

Overarching Need: Linking Science and Practice – An Emphasis on the “How”

  • There is a unanimous and strongly held view that we have not done an adequate job translating and linking research and practice – particularly in ways that are timely, relevant and actionable. Figuring this out will differentiate SIOP HORIZON projects from similar efforts.
  • How do we improve our ability to take existing and future research and make it readier for application? For example, there is a lot of work in the area of neuroscience, but not enough translation into day-to-day implications.
  • What formats and venues best enable broad access to timely evidence?  For example, meta-analysis enables better understanding of what works, but policy and practice implications need to be considered within organizational contexts.
  • How do we take a research question and shorten the cycle time between gathering knowledge/evidence and turning it into actionable results?
    1. Rapid prototyping
    2. Agile inventions
    3. Action incubators
    4. Fail-fast innovation practices



Topic #1: Leadership – Development and Selection of Future Leaders who can succeed in a highly volatile, rapidly changing and uncertain environment

  1. How do we select and develop high-performing senior teams and team leaders?
  2. How do we better understand the social context (culture, climate, team and group processes, and interpersonal dynamics) through which leadership is created and implemented?
  3. How do we bring a more science-based approach to help us select the right leaders and put them in the right roles to develop their effectiveness and potential for success?
  4. From a selection perspective, how do we identify individuals who have the agility and curiosity to learn new skills, people who are adaptable to change?

    What is the pathway to create CEOs and executive leaders of the future? Should the ocus be on “career ladder jobs” or  experiences or both? How do we accelerate their development and performance?

    What updating is needed for widely shared frameworks for developing senior leaders?

    a. derailers

    b. relating one’s experience to future job requirements

    c. measuring the impact of one’s team on one’s leadership success

    d. curiosity and connecting non-linear ideas

    e. executive education for entire teams vs. individuals?

    How do we effectively groom global leaders for future challenges?

  5. How do we balance ensuring we have leaders with sufficient technical/functional depth and the ability to effectively lead large global teams with strong people manager capabilities?
  6. How can leader accountability for the short and long-term impact of their decisions on the workforce be increased (beyond just creating shareholder value)?
  7. How do leaders help rebuild trust among their employees – particularly after a strategic or operational stumble?

Topic #2: Inclusion and Diversity

  1. How do we effectively advance more women and people of color into critical and more senior operating roles? a. What strategies have yielded positive and sustainable results?
  2. What does inclusion mean in a global context and what are the key factors that contribute to people feeling included?
  3. How do we get people to focus on the value employees bring to the organization vs. their gender, race, or other demographics characteristics?
  4. What have we learned about unconscious bias and ways to mitigate its negative effects on strengthening diversity and inclusion?
  5. In what ways will the changing employer/employee relationship (e.g., free agent vs. job for life) impact D&I?

Topic #3: New Ways of Working (including the impact of technology on work and the workforce as seen in AI, robotics, telework and global connectivity, etc.)

  1. How do we create more agile organizations with new ways of working?
    • Breaking down hierarchies
    • Building and strengthening collaborative networks
    • Speeding up decision-making
  2. How will technology change the nature of work and how do companies best prepare the workforce (i.e., most effective ways to reskill and retrain the workforce)?
  3. How do we get people to take more ownership and accountability for ensuring they have the future-oriented skills and capabilities?
  4. How do we think about the right mix of technology and talent and how they interact to perform the work?
  5. How do we ensure that AI is bias free (especially when those creating the software and algorithms are generally males)?
  6. How can we guard against inappropriate reliance on technology in talent decision-making (e.g., use of AI in recruitment)?
  7. How do we leverage technology to improve behaviors and overall performance?
  8. How do we forecast and predict which technological developments are most likely to become reality and change the practice of IO psychology?

The SIOP Foundation Horizon Forum meeting was held at the Renaissance Charlotte Suite Hotel in February 2019.


Marcia Avedon (CHRO – Ingersoll Rand)
Rick Jacobs (Penn State University)
Mirian Graddick-Weir (President, Weir Group, LLC and SIOP Foundation Board Trustee)
Milt Hakel (SIOP Foundation)
Gary Latham (University of Toronto)
Jeanne Mason (CHRO – Baxter)
Rob Ployhart (University of South Carolina)
David Rodriguez (CHRO – Marriott)
Ann Marie Ryan (Michigan State University)