Art, adaptation as a principles means of survival and growth (in the
best sense) means that learning is a prime condition - at least for
beings with language. I apply that distinction to corporations and
human institutions as well as individual human beings.
"Is it learning-ful?" is not identical - but has a high overlap with -
"Is it adaptive?" Another way of seeing this that increases the
overlap is that it may not be "learning-ful" for the individual (or
the department, etc) while it may be very "learning-ful" and
certainly adaptive for the organisation.
If HR has been a hindrance to learning or has been part of causing
or contributing to the learning of pathological stuff, then its death
will be contribute to the learning capacity - and maybe even content
- of the whole.
Why has HR developed this way? Mainly, I think, because of the
combination of organisational dysfunction (hierarchy of authority,
etc) with a view of human beings based in mechanistic psychology
mixed with a mechanistic design (the production machine).
But there is also a particular situation that makes the result almost
inevitable. The origination of HR is a design to do for management
what it was not willing to do for itself. HR can have a powerful
role in an organisation where management - or the source of future
success of the organisation - is seen to be the continual development
of people. (At worst, education; at best becoming.)
Where the job of management is development, then HR is likely to
become a powerful professional activity. Where the job of management
is production and someone else is to handle development, then HR is
likely doomed to being an enemy of the system which will be isolated,
segregated and destroyed.
Nothing worse than safety, quality, customer service or almost any
other possibility that has been tacked on to be a conscience rather
than an integral part.
For those of you who think I have it in for HR, I don't. I see
development of people and of the organisation as two distinct domains
and both as central to the future of a corporation. By getting rid
of HR an enterprise is not likely to thereby increase its development
of people nor to become masters at it. That area of mastery appears
to me to have limitless potential and the job of management is to
apply it - not be the prime source of it. There is a need for this
profession. However, it must be responsible for its past and free
itself from its past. It must puruse mastery in development and
be responsible for that pursuit in the company. (Being responsible
includes taking the hit if you fail rather than blaming it on your
organisation, culture, management, etc.)
I've found HR to be generally bad prospects to work with and bad
clients to have because, if they are interested in transformation at
all, its in transforming others rather than themselves - as
individuals but particularly as departments. They already know it,
they are "advanced" and the "problem" is elsewhere. That is to say,
HR is part of the pathology of the system which it is trying to fix
and doesn't realise it.
I find it useful to continually discover myself as part of the
pathology when I am attempting to work with an organisation on
transforming its pathologies.
-- Michael McMaster Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk