Feb 8, 2005

People as resources

Chris Anderson has kept on writing about his Mumbai experience and obviously the fact of the number of human beings who are able to work has struck him deeply. (think a nation of more than 1 billion people, where a majority are below the age of 30 !)

Chris raises the question: Is India's key competitive advantage the ability to think of people not as individuals but as available resources, deployable in the millions? It may look that way from a Silicon Valley being depopulated by outsourcing, but I think the answer is actually no.
I imagine that somewhere in one of the planning ministries of New Deli there is a technocrat who is nevetheless thinking that way. But then I think of the call center workers I've met and, more importantly, their parents, who hold the managers of the operation accountable for the moral and professional integrity of their daughters.

Unfortunately I agree with Chris, we do tend to look at people as resources...how else do you justify the term "HR" (which Peter Block was quoted by HR.com as saying should be renamed to "HB" for "Human Beings" !), except one that devalues most of our emotions and objectifies us as "Resources"..in fact, we haven't moved forward too much from the times when people were referred to as "hands" , except now in the knowledge age we call them "talent" !

All this even while knowing that the ability to deploy that talent/skill is dependent on our more "human" faculties, like emotions which allow us to feel energized, motivated and alive !

Yes Chris, we are not transistors on whom Carver Mead' s theory will hold true.