VUCA: volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous environment, term created by the military to say that the future is not what it used to be. And the military had all processes, systems and structures magnificently ready, and created over centuries of warfare science, all geared to deal with non volatile, fairly predictable (the enemy used to have the name of a country and a point in the map), complicated but not complex and not so ambiguous. The military changed gears. Everywhere.
HR hasn’t. HR plays the contemporary music with a nineteen-century orchestra.
HR keeps going on and on about analytical skills. We don’t need more of those. All analytical skill people are already employed. They have invaded Management Earth. What we need is synthesis skills: the ability to see the whole, smell the whole, feel the whole, and deal with the whole, at once, not the little pieces of the whole.
HR keeps looking at employee engagement as an input-output issue. Give this to people, get that. Because in the old world it was hard to understand the organization as anything other than a machine, the input-output model was inevitable. The reality is that for every ‘published study’ that shows that high employee voice, and high management motivation, lead to a high performance organization, there are hundred ones, unpublished, that could show that other companies with high employee voice and high management motivation perform badly. Nobody is interested on those. Similarly the default is ‘engagement leads to success’ but there is plenty of data (unwanted) that shows that success leads to engagement. I can hear the ‘of course’ loudly. But it’s not as simple as ‘it’s both’. ‘It’s both’ is often lazy thinking.
You can’t build the 21st Century organization with building materials of the last Century. First, you’ll run out soon, and, second, you’ll get blocks of flats.
We need a complete re-thinking leading to reinvention. Not a long time ago I was of the school ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’. Today, I have a bit of warning for all of us, with particular emphasis on the HR tribes: the baby, the bath , the water and the bathroom itself are in question