Are Human Resources Commodities?

by Dan Robles on 06/27/2009

fiddler on the roof fiddler1 300x249 Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a MatchThe $40 Billion Dollar Dowry

Every organization wants to attract the most qualified employees and match them to jobs for which they are best suited. The human resources department is responsible for matching a knowledge surplus to a knowledge deficit through the hiring process. Fortunately for them, there is no knowledge inventory in society and managers don’t necessarily know what they want.

Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists held about 868,000 jobs in 2006. The following tabulation shows the distribution of jobs by occupational specialty:

Training and development specialists    210,000
Employment, recruitment, and placement specialists    197,000
Human resources managers    136,000
Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists    110,000
Human resources, training, and labor relations specialists, all other    214,000

An HR Generalist pulls an average income of about $50,000 per year; A Director earns up to $140,000 per year. The total HR national payroll is estimated at $40 Billion annually.

Commodity Management:

Human Resources creates the impression that people are merely commodities to be treated as expenses rather than assets; or at best, like office machines or vehicles, despite assurances to the contrary.  The HR profession is built on the assumption that people cannot manage themselves, that human behavior is random and intangible, the independent variables for success are always known by management, and that the key words on a resume is the best predictor of a good match.

Innovation Economics; the science of incentives:

Social Media is providing systems for people to organize and manage their own career.  True knowledge inventories are forming as social groups coalesce around standard taxonomies of professional practice outside the corporate construct.  Knowledge assets are being vetted in communities of peers and the resume is being replaced by a Social Network Profile and “Search Engine Footprint” which more accurately predicts the quality and quantity of knowledge assets.   In the near future, a predictive search engine will be able to predict the probability that various collections of knowledge assets can execute a specific business objective at a known cost.  Scenarios can be tested and compensation will reflect true supply and demand.

Superior Value Comes in Many Different Packages:

So what happens when top management meets the new Human Resources Training and Content Development Manager who was sent by the Social Networks Search Engine to build the new corporate Blog and Social media strategy – sporting facial tattoos, a nose ring, and a black kilt, and dreadlocks?  If the fact that a top manager is not comfortable with a person of a particular culture or lifestyle can be perceived as detrimental to the innovation capacity of the organization, that organization is threatening its own survival.

Don’t Shoot The Fiddler

The story of Fiddler on the roof centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. He must cope with both the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters—each one’s choice of husband moves farther away from the customs of her faith.  The story resolves with a slow acceptance of the new world and creeping redefinition of what love is and what love can be.

In an Innovation Economy, the perfect match is no longer determined by those inside the construct of tradition, rather, it is determined by those entrepreneurs on the outside redefining tradition – and  earning 40 billion dollars.

The Ingenesist Project

{ 14 comments }

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