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06 2012

Now If We Could Just Get HR In There…

Syndicated from: balance-AND-results

Thankfully I get to write the headlines to my posts and editors rarely tinker. Not so for Melissa Quinn in a recent Fast Company Design piece that was highlighted in a recent newsletter with the headline: “Need to solve a tough business problem? Don’t hire an MBA.” Within a week the site was swimming in comments, including from a few who obviously read no further than the headline as often seems to happen. The article is a fast read about Rotman’s third annual Design Challenge competition once again being won not by Rotman’s team nor even by an MBA team from any other school, but the top three spots were all from masters programs in design, that represented only 7 of the 23 schools entered. She calls is a ‘slaughter,’ which I suppose gives the headline writer the idea for that headline. The gist of the headline, which most commenters picked up was that neither pure business nor pure design solutions really work well in solving business problems today. In fact you could note that this was Steve Jobs’ true success. He was primarily oriented to business and making money, but with a laser-like focus that the product had to appeal in design, both looks and operation, to the end user. What a radical idea – trying to achieve two ends at once, with the appeal to the customer taking precedence if one wants to actually induce them to fork over their hard earned dollars. Some thoughtful commenters came had participated in the competition and pointed out that a number of the design students were MBAs taking design because they’d recognized its importance (thanks Steve). Others noted the competition was designed by an MBA school so its students would take seriously and learn more about the need for design not just number crunching (ditto Steve). No one pointed out that the master of this combination did not himself even finish university, let alone post-graduate work, perhaps one reason his thinking wasn’t confined to siloed boxes. To their credit most of the commenters recognized this as the problem. And everyone recognized this is about solving key BUSINESS problems, not just a design or MBA problem. Of course you know where I’m going with this. Maybe Rotman or some other business school should set up an annual HR Challenge. Why stop at Design and Business, why not add positive, business-supporting HR methods to the mix and ensure a long term creative base is developed and retained in the organization. Is there any better indication that business still operates in silos than competitions where it is a startling discovery that ‘both business and design count?’ How about all the pieces – business, design and human resources. and, oh yes, a few others as well. It is the HR part that sets people up to handle complexity and creative innovation, though, which makes its omission particularly glaring. Would we then see post-graduate HR program registrants beating MBAs and design grads on business challenges, too? Would they be won by teams of MBAs who recognized they needed HR training and were taking it? I think we still have a ways to go, but we can see no one has yet so visibly proved the value of HR to business in quite the way Steve Jobs proved the value of design even as Dan Pink was beginning to write about the primacy of design in our future. To date we’ve had Jack Welch and any number of major professors write this way about HR, not to mention a number of other CEOs, some of whom will be highlighted in future posts. but it may not take root until a ‘Steve Jobs of HR’ comes along and wows the numbers people. Jack Welch’s results apparently not quite riveting enough?. What more will it take? Bookmark and share this post More »

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