Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The Collaboration Wave

The Collaboration Wave

Ratings: (0)|Views: 497|Likes:
Published by Lewis J. Perelman
The contending forces of social innovation and bureaucratic inertia have long historical roots. The hope that technology can liberate human potential and energize social collaboration has been continually disappointed by the stubborn persistence of authoritarian control.The human-capital-management solutions in today’s market so far seem to be lubricating the machinery of organizational management to an extent that ranges from trivial to productive. What still seem scarce are solutions that effectively change the shape of organizational designs,and that fundamentally alter how people work with other people. The basic question is whether a real structural breakthrough may be, finally, on the horizon.
The contending forces of social innovation and bureaucratic inertia have long historical roots. The hope that technology can liberate human potential and energize social collaboration has been continually disappointed by the stubborn persistence of authoritarian control.The human-capital-management solutions in today’s market so far seem to be lubricating the machinery of organizational management to an extent that ranges from trivial to productive. What still seem scarce are solutions that effectively change the shape of organizational designs,and that fundamentally alter how people work with other people. The basic question is whether a real structural breakthrough may be, finally, on the horizon.

More info:

Published by: Lewis J. Perelman on Mar 28, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

06/13/2011

pdf

 
COLLABORATION WAVE PAGE1 FEB 2002© 2002, 2011, LEWIS J. PERELMAN
The Collaboration Wave
From Human Capital to Relationship Management
Lewis J. Perelman
Introduction
Author and editor Tom Stewart offered the “modest proposal,” in his
Fortune
column inearly 1996, that the time had come for companies to “blow up” their Human Resourcesdepartments. Stewart concluded:
HUMAN RESOURCES
has come to the proverbial fork in the road. One path leadsto a highly automated employee-services operation handling what used to bepaperwork in a ragingly efficient way. This function becomes little more than agateway to outside suppliers, impersonal in one sense but highly amenable tosupporting personalized, cafeteria-style services. The other leads straight to theCEO's office.
Stewart cited studies showing that the majority of HR departments’ time and staff wereoccupied in paper-intensive ‘administrivia’ for such elementary functions as payroll,benefits, and recruiting. And, he argued, such tasks clearly could be handled far moreproductively with software, online services, and outsourcing.At the time, HR staffers were inflamed by Stewart’s broadside. The Society for HumanResource Management prompted its 80,000 members to flood
Fortune
with protest letters.Five years later, passions have cooled. As a recent study from the Knowledge CapitalGroup
1
shows, a substantial market has developed for the sorts of software, online, andoutsource solutions Stewart advocated.
InternetWeek 
has reported that, in some cases,HR departments actually are pushing deployment of such solutions ahead of their suppliers. A variety of ‘e-learning’ and related ‘knowledge management’ solutions similarlyare in growing demand.HR professionals now seem more likely at least publicly to advocate automating,offloading, and downsizing many traditional, routine administrative functions. Some evenmay boast of reducing overhead and shrinking HR staff headcount. Some of the moreenterprising HR leaders argue that their professional status is enhanced by being lesslabor-intensive, less bureaucratic, and more ‘strategic.’ Today, more HR professionalswould rather be known as ‘performance consultants’ than simply personnel administrators.And trainers similarly like more often to be seen as the ‘guide on the side’ rather than the‘sage on the stage.’
1
Britton Manasc, William S. Hopkins, and Lewis J. Perelman,
KCG MarketView: Human Capital Management Solutions.
Austin, TX: Knowledge Capital Group, Inc., 2001.
 
COLLABORATION WAVE PAGE2 FEB 2002© 2002, 2011, LEWIS J. PERELMAN
Nevertheless, these trends so far add up to less than a revolution, or even atransformation of business-as-usual. Across the business landscape, the practices androles of HCM are yet highly uneven. Tom Stewart says that today, while the HRcommunity is more likely to invite him to lecture than to attack him as a bogeyman, “thereare still a lot of bureaucratic HR departments and staff out there.”David Owens, chief knowledge officer at The Saint Paul Companies, feels that the HRgroup in his company has been ahead of the pack in becoming both more efficient andmore strategic. Every year, SPC does a detailed performance evaluation of some 2,000 of its managers worldwide. Two years ago, Owens notes, that was still a time-consuming,often exhausting manual process; now “it is all done online.”Moreover, Owens reports that the HR leadership at The Saint Paul Companies worksclosely with the CEO, collaborates effectively with the information technology group, andleads a ‘knowledge management’ effort that emphasizes collaborative learning. In allthese regards, however, Owens admits that SPC is still “unusual.”Offloading 'administrivia' and downsizing HR staff may provide the
potential
for remaining HR pros to take on a more strategic role. However, Sarah Bridges, aMinneapolis psychologist with broad experience in recruiting and HR management for Fortune 500 companies, cautions that not all HR staffers necessarily are prepared or eveninclined to perform a more strategic function. Also, Bridges warns that rapid payback of HR automation is not guaranteed:Depending on the particular company, andthe vendors, there may be substantialcosts in the transition to a new system of HR administration.The contending forces of social innovationand bureaucratic inertia behind theseshort-range observations have long historical roots. The hope that technology can liberatehuman potential and energize social collaboration has been continually disappointed bythe stubborn persistence of authoritarian control.The HCM solutions in today’s market so far seem to be lubricating the machinery of organizational management to an extent that ranges from trivial to productive. What stillseem scarce are solutions that effectively change the shape of organizational designs,and that fundamentally alter how people work with other people.The basic question, as we ponder the future of this field, is whether a real structuralbreakthrough may be, finally, on the horizon. To answer that, some historical perspectivemay help.
Yesterday and today: the Inventory Paradigm and its discontents
In 1953, John Diebold, a new MBA graduate of the Harvard Business School, publishedthe results of his studies of the recent transformation of American industry in a bookentitled
Automation
—the first introduction of that term into popular use. Today, the term‘automation’ is so shopworn that it is hard to recall that when Diebold coined it a full half-century ago, it was ‘the next big thing.’
What still seem scarce are solutions thateffectively change the shape of organizationaldesigns, and that fundamentally alter howpeople work with other people.
 
COLLABORATION WAVE PAGE3 FEB 2002© 2002, 2011, LEWIS J. PERELMAN
Nevertheless, a current reader of Diebold’s book may find much of its central messagesurprisingly—and perhaps sadly—familiar. Diebold warned that industrial leaders and thepublic generally were overly entranced with the startling powers of computer-based controldevices and systems. “Paradoxically,” Diebold wrote, “the current obsession with thenovelty and spectacular performance of automatic control diverts attention from theproblems of their application to industry.”Introducing computers to factories and offices might be necessary, Diebold cautioned, butwas not sufficient to automate a business effectively: “The full promise of the newtechnology cannot be realized so long as we think solely in terms of control.”While he understood the popular bedazzlement with advanced information technology,Diebold argued that it was a costly mistake to think that ‘automation’ was simply aboutdoing the same old business more efficiently. Both in office and factory, he said, it wascritical “to avoid the mistake of decorating obsolete processes with new gadgets.”Particularly relevant to our study of current HCM solutions, he added this: “To use thenew technology as a speedier means of preparing the same reports that are nowprepared and to treat their contents in the same way they are now treated would be agreat mistake.”In sum, Diebold stressed that ‘automation’ was not simply a matter of doing business thesame way with more efficient technology. Rather, he urged that capturing the potentialbenefits of automation really required what he called “rethinking” of whole systems:creating new kinds of products and processes, new kinds of management andorganization, new kinds of work for a new kind of workforce, and ultimately reshapingindustries, economies, and human societies.
Bureaucracy and the machine
Humanity’s often vexing dilemmas of technology and bureaucracy are ancient. As soon ashuman technology became sufficiently productive to permit civilization to take root, therecame both the opportunity and the need for people to occupy diverse roles other thansimply feeding and procreating. Specialization, organization, and some kind of management became essential.It’s a safe bet that as soon as communities became too big for anyone to remember everyone, someone decided to ‘take attendance.’ Ancient civilizations from Babylon toEgypt to China did census surveys to get information about their human inventory for onereason or another: taxes, military conscription, or of course, labor. Throughout most of thehistory of human civilization, aristocracy was the common form of socioeconomicorganization, and various forms of slavery and serfdom gave ‘human capital management’a literal reality.In the late 19
th
century, the sociologist Max Weber lauded
bureaucracy 
as a more liberaland productive alternative to aristocracy. Aristocracy gave a few persons power tomanage and control other people on the basis generally of social status and inheritance.As Weber saw it, bureaucracy’s advantage is that it allocates authority to whoever demonstrates the necessary competence on the basis of superior 
knowledge
.While Westerners tend to identify bureaucratic organization with the industrial age,bureaucracy’s roots go back some 2,000 years earlier to the Han Dynasty of China. The

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->