Fridays are for Fighting


I think we are having a hard time agreeing on what we are disagreeing on regarding talent, so I think that it is time to move on.  I know we have some gigs coming up where we are going to be speaking about social capital so it might be time to turn our attention there.

But before we do that, I have a little venting to do.

I recently came across yet another list of all the ways in which Human Resources is failing the business world and I have really had my fill of that tired and shallow narrative.  HR is not what is wrong with the world, and it is not what is wrong with business.  Does HR have some work to do? Absolutely, and our writing and speaking is about contributing to that work.

But HR as the problem? Please.

The dishonest or misinformed thing about most of the conversations currently taking place around HR, business models, innovation, organizational culture, talent, engagement, social media, leadership, branding is that there is a very real conflict underneath of it.

There is a way of doing business that worked very well for close to a century. Command and Control…Rank = Truth…Rigid Hierarchy…What gets Measured Matters…Process…Uniformity…Efficiency…People as a Commodity.

But along the way, the kind of work that we were doing changed greatly.  Rather than evolving…rather than adopting a new way of doing business we held on to the old way.  So, today we use 20th century archetypes, language, models and philosophies to drive 21st century business that is very, very, very different and getting more different all the time.

Kind of like pulling your car around town with a horse, because you know how to ride a horse.

Stifled evolution is usually the genesis of revolution and that is why we have the underlying conflict that we have today.

For every company that gets love for being truly innovative, or truly inclusive, or actually being serious about the importance of human resources, or really embracing social media, there are a thousand other organizations that cannot make sense of those things because they cannot find a way to plug them into their spreadsheets.  They cling tightly to the old way.

Those of us that have heard the question “but what is the ROI on that?” have been very close to the front lines of this fight.  There are any number of things in an organization that can be seriously discussed, considered and even implemented without any utterance of “ROI”.  Not always, but often that question is a warning shot masking more serious concerns about control.

HR is by no means perfect, but HR is part of the solution.  We have to be part of the solution, we work with the most powerful stuff.

Human beings. The interactions between human beings.  The relationship between human beings and their work.  Human potential.  These are the primary materials of our work and it is serious stuff.  Magical stuff. Transformational stuff.  World changing stuff.

“Tangible assets have finite applications; intangible assets have infinite applications.”

-Hubert Saint-Onge

HR will be the ones to liberate the infinite potential of the human being from one dimensional process management and scientific management.  HR will be the ones to put the human being and the human spirit back at the center of the organization.

Time for HR to take is place in the middle.

Have a good weekend.


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