It’s About the Crowd, Stupid – part 3


So, I think we are doing quite a lot of agreeing and maybe a bit of disagreeing on this topic. We clearly both believe that there are some ways in which HR needs to evolve and we both believe that crowdsourcing could potentially be a powerful part of that. But of course, I will try to examine the disagreement…

You mentioned the importance of process, software and compliance as being critical to HR. I think that, paradoxically, these tools are what is killing HR right now. A process is a tool, not a body of work and I think that HR has lost sight of that. A hammer can be used to build a home or it can be used to inflict great physical violence on another human being. It is of little real value to spend a great deal of time, energy and attention making sure that you have the absolute best hammer if you have not gotten clear on what you are using it for and what your role is. This to me is one of the disconnects facing HR and it is one of the things standing in the way of truly utilizing an approach like crowdsourcing.

The employee referral programs you mention is a perfect example. I think that nearly every one of the 19,284 companies I have been employed by in my lifetime have had an employee referral program. I cannot think of a single one that was actually very serious about it. Despite the fact that hires generated by employee referrals have a greater ROI than those that come from other sources, most companies do not appear to make a serious commitment to referral programs. To me this is just one example of a profession that prioritizes process over people. I think that many HR professionals and leaders in their heart of hearts believe that they can find better applicants through their tools, than “the crowd” can. I think that HR has come to worship their own processes, policies, language, paradigms and especially their software to the extent that it is not easy for them to have a lot of real faith in “the crowd.”

Too much of the conversation is about using HR tools to keep “the crowd” in line and content. You cannot ever make a real effort to employ crowdsourcing if you do not believe in the raw ability of the crowd to deliver answers and create value. I think that many in HR have come to believe that the crowd is the source of problems, not the source of solutions.

Process is important. Software is important. Tools are important. But they are only valuable to the overall business if they are being applied within the appropriate philosophical context. I would say that context is part of what needs to change and I would say that changing that is a much bigger job than implementing some new process or changing software.


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