The New School of Human Resources


Just in time for the holidays! We now have (based on what we believe the future holds for business and the organization) a framework to inform next practices for the Human Resource function. I have compiled, compressed and summarized a bit, but these are the big pieces that jump out at me:

  • HR as the Source of People and Relationship Science: Functions like marketing and design seem to have left HR in the dust regarding understanding why and how people do what they do. This includes understanding of community and culture, which are both increasingly critical for business. HR seems resistant to challenging old assumptions and ideologies about people and performance and relationships. There is a tremendous amount of new research available regarding human behavior, that for some reason is not showing up in the HR domain (or business in general). The HR function should aggressively work to integrate knowledge and research (and people?) from the disciplines of social psychology, social cognition, design, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, communication studies, cultural studies, etc. I would say that the people who designed Twitter know more about human behavior than the vast majority of HR professionals and while that is good for Twitter, it is a glaring deficiency for the HR practice, and this is a big part of what makes HR susceptible to the latest fad and to solutions in search of problems.
  • HR as the Source of People and Relationship Solutions: Human resources needs to fall madly in love with ideas and experiments and the pursuit of new solutions…not just in the implementation of “HR stuff”, but also at the intersection of people and work outside of HR. HR needs to spend more time doing and playing and getting more comfortable with question asking, ideation, experimentation, and prototyping, social media, social networking and social network analysis. Mind mapping, decision acceleration, murder-boarding, open space technology and crowdsourcing all need to become standards in the HR toolbox. If a team or department in your organization has a performance problem a culture or collaboration problem or a poor relationship with customers or vendors can you solve it? Do you have an approach and the right tools to solve problems?
  • HR as the Keeper of the Flame: If HR is to play a significant role in the organization it will be because it knows (better than anyone else) the people and the culture. If it knows the people and the culture then it should be the keeper of the brand, the legacy and the organizational story. This work is either not done or it is being done by others right now, but I think that HR, which potentially sits at the center of everything could be more ideally suited to to play this role…and this is the role that has the potential to change how we do business. This is really about whether we are who we say we are as an organization and that is something that buisness is desperately in need of right now.


The New School approach to Human Resources…knowing people, delivering solutions involving people and sharing the story with people. Not necessarily easy, but simple and powerful. Also, these are all actionable today. We can do better at these things starting today.

A final comment on this topic…maybe this is not “HR”…I do not care what we call it…it can be called / housed / titled any kind of way, but these are things that business needs and they do represent a large opportunity for HR to become a transformational player.

We all have choices to make.

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
-W. Edwards Deming


  1. Great post. All these thins are increasingly required by HR.

    Never mind Marketing – even IT is driving cultual change vs or even against HR in many organisations now (re enterprise 2.0).

    However we shouldn't forget that HR is leading this in some organisations (the ones led by HR bloggers for example) too.

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