COLLABORATION WAVE PAGE1 FEB 2002© 2002, 2011, LEWIS J. PERELMAN
The Collaboration Wave
From Human Capital to Relationship Management
Lewis J. Perelman
Author and editor Tom Stewart offered the “modest proposal,” in his
column inearly 1996, that the time had come for companies to “blow up” their Human Resourcesdepartments. Stewart concluded:
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
with protest letters.Five years later, passions have cooled. As a recent study from the Knowledge CapitalGroup
shows, a substantial market has developed for the sorts of software, online, andoutsource solutions Stewart advocated.
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.’
Britton Manasc, William S. Hopkins, and Lewis J. Perelman,
KCG MarketView: Human Capital Management Solutions.
Austin, TX: Knowledge Capital Group, Inc., 2001.