Jan 8, 2008

Systems and the Individual Human

Some of us in HR always run into a dilemma that Prasad describes as the Paradox of HR Systems.

the question is that "how can standardized processes/systems be effective in managing unique individuals?" But we can't jump to the conclusion that HR systems/ processes are not required. Absolute chaos can result if there are no HR systems/processes - especially in the case of large organizations. Moreover, how can we forget what we have learned about 'procedural justice' ! However, it has also been established that human beings are managed most effectively in small units. This again brings us back to the importance of customised approaches to managing people - at individual and group levels. Thus we have a paradox in the true meaning of the term - multiple perspectives/opinions (doxa) that exist alongside (para)- each of which is true - but they appear to contradict/to be in conflict with one another.

Yes, as Prasad says, there are no neat solutions to paradoxes. However much, HR and business folks yearn for it. Dealing with people is complex enough without running into paradoxes.

What causes the desire for the simple, elegant solution for being the "42" answer :) ? Well, it's primarily driven by the desire to save time and money, and hoping that for once these paradoxes can be solved.

In fact I have a personal theory that goes that in the world of management, there are no solutions that are perfect.

Each solution gives rise to a different set of issues. To solve those issues we design solutions that give rise to other issues :) The most famous article related to this was Larry Greiner's HBR article on "Evolution and Revolutions in Organizational Growth"