Sep 10, 2007

The Taj Mahal of HR

Arjun Shekhar at the HR and OD collective blog is driven by zeal to build one:

Now to get back to the point - the bird in hand - We need to architect an exclusively HR Taj Mahal. That mecca of concepts to which a business leader will approach, stare in wonder and then get down on her knees and pray. Come, see and concur. No gyan. No opinions. Just agree to the Taj Mahal of HR. End of common sense.
As i said earlier, i have been doing some study on the topic and its not going to be easy. This business of building Taj Mahals. The problem is really acute because we don't have a solid foundation. Let me explain. Six Sigma is based on statistical tools and sciences. Rigour and precision is the basic building material. But all we have is shifting sands and non methods. Take Individual Behavior theory for instance. Do we really know what motivates somebody? Yes, we have a menu of guesses and 9 million by the no.of items on the menu times the combinations in which the variables could play out.

In my view, that's precisely this shifting sand nature of human behavior that makes HR interesting for me. Our search for certainty is misplaced. Heck, even finance or marketing can't say anything for certain anymore, no matter how many numbers they crunch or statistical models they build, one black swan is enough to upset their calculations ! When we deal with people black swans are not so rare :-)

As Prof. Madhukar Shukla writes in the comment to Arjun's post:

As a matter of fact, there are ample valid theories - in psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.) about human "beings". However, the moment we convert them from human "beings" to human "resources" - i.e., factor of production - these theories have no utility.... (let production/ supply-chain management/ or whoever take on the HR mantle)

If the constituency of HR professionals is people (human "beings"), then let's ask a simple: how many corporations will really value that their "human resources" achieve/live at SE/SA stage of Maslow's hierarchy, even though that may not be favourable to the "bottom line"? that "developing employees to their full potential" - their vyaktitva - is a more desirable goal for business than "returns to investors/promoters"?... the bottom-line for the HR professional would be:

are we talking about "beings" or "resources"?