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The New Human Capital Strategy

The New Human Capital Strategy

by Frank Roche on January 10, 2008

in Books

The New Human Capital Management coverI have an involuntary reaction to the phrase “human capital strategy.” I cringe.

So, when I got Bradley Hall’s The New Human Capital Strategy, I was prepared for more of the “people are your greatest asset” pablum. Not so. Not even close. This book rocks. It’s tight. It’s researched. And it’s chock full of important information about managing people.

Here’s a passage about the difference between programs and systems that every HR professional should commit to memory. (Repeat after me: Systems, not programs.)

Systems, Not Programs
The HR profession is very adept at program development. Success is most often defined as creating and/or adopting best-practice programs, and HR is organized and managed accordingly. HR consulting firms align their practices with the way their clients are organized: They deliver products and programs for HR subprofessions (such as training, staffing, and compensation). But the data is indisputable: Decades of new and better programs have not delivered great results. The reason is that “world-class programs” cannot deliver performance results. Only systems deliver results.

An automobile engine is a system that requires great parts. All parts must be fully integrated and aligned to the purpose of the engine, whether that be high performance or a fuel economy. A well-built engine uses just the right parts and no more. Likewise, succession planning, training, and appraisal can be viewed as parts. Just as throwing pistons and spark plugs into an engine compartment will not deliver a satisfactory engine, neither will “world-class” HR programs deliver acceptable customer results. More and better HR programs will deliver no better performance in the future than they have in the past. Performance results require a system.

I’m rereading The New Human Capital Strategy. I don’t normally do that (too many books to read each week). This one’s worth the time. This is an important book for those of you who want to understand the research behind HCM. And if you like to call consultants on their crap when they use the word “causation” when trying to sell you an HCM “program,” this one’s for you. (At 28 bucks, it’s a lot cheaper than the million-dollar price tag usually associated with HCM consulting.)

Author: Bradley W. Hall
Pub Date: 2007
Your Price: $27.95
ISBN: 081440927X

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