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Here Come The Humaneers
The first “open” beta release of humaneering-based DesignedWork in January 2018 means many more organizations will require introductory presentations, applications experiments, adoption planning, practice development, plus leadership and implementation support.
Estimates project the need to develop at least 2,000 professionals to support this 2018-2020 open release. Insight into this new work is provided by a discussion of four practitioners that supported earlier “private” beta tests and then incorporated humaneering’s principles and methods into their own professional work.
These practitioners include one Brit, two Canadians, and one American. Three are independent, and one is an employee. The employee works within corporate HR within a health services organization. One of the independents supports several companies in the UK with operations improvement services. A second works exclusively for private equity firms on due diligence for intangible assets and on post-acquisition operations improvement. And a third provides work design support to Silicon Valley start-ups for founders and venture capital firms.
Rethinking Managerial Economics
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, currently underway, is changing work in ways organization leaders can benefit.
With “knowledge work” now accounting for more than 90% of all market value, the source of economic value has shifted from task and process design to the individual knowledge worker. To benefit, leaders will need to evolve their management practices and redesign human work and workplaces to better align with human nature.
The persistence of stagnating productivity and people problems organizations experience arise largely from outdated management models and methods, as if still managing machine operators on a production line. In contrast, knowledge workers capitalize on an opportunity by responding in unique ways to enable product and service differentiation.
Here’s how leaders can capitalize on this new potential for growth and profitability.
Business Process Humaneering
Is it possible for organizations to adopt the coming new cognitive technologies without losing valued organization members or triggering a loss of organizational productivity?
It’s helpful to begin early to engage organization members as partners in the preparation. When humaneering is utilized for this advance work, the organization immediately experiences increased performance and productivity, while laying a cultural foundation that welcomes cognitive technologies.
The opportunity to maximize the return on any investment in cognitive technology is with “knowledge work”, whereas most applications of technology thus far have been to automate or augment production and logistic functions previously requiring physical work.
Humaneering improves knowledge work by applying design thinking and the most relevant science pertaining to human work. It transforms human capabilities into peak sustainable levels of human performance and organizational productivity, while increasing worker engagement and job satisfaction.
New Frontier for Increasing Workforce Productivity
The foundations for today’s management practices have gone unchallenged for many years, yet now are being reassessed as no longer acceptable. Combined with fresh thinking, new science and a frontier spirit, this is driving replacement of many longstanding management principles.
The new measure of acceptability is real world evidence (i.e., show me). Yesterday’s criteria – academic research studies, clever theories, and entertaining authors, on which so many wasteful management fads were based – is no longer acceptable.
Among the enhancement possibilities, humaneering is emerging from its field trials as an effective and sustainable approach to raise the productivity of knowledge workers. Humaneering’s principles capitalize on human nature in ways that result in workers maximizing their current and future potential to create economic value.
This article shares the perspective of a major company CFO on humaneering’s potential after several applications.
Work Reconsidered (part 3)
The inspiration for this article comes from a reader’s feedback, following up on the author’s presentation of humaneering at the 1999 World Productivity Congress in Edinburgh. It discusses several pivotal events leading up to the founding of Humaneering Technology Initiative and design of its development processes.
Joseph Tiffin, the Purdue University I/O Psychologist Professor who conceived of humaneering, realized 75 years before, humaneering’s development would require harvesting human-science knowledge from all theory and practice disciplines with insights to offer – now more than 100, each specializing in a virtual silo of discovery. These findings would then be translated and synthesized into a professional level of guidance for organization management, and then tested rigorously within actiual business operations.
The results of this process revealed that management should be asking . . . How much more effective could our organization be if we shifted to up-to-date work design and management methods based on today’s business reality and enlightened by today’s relevant science?
Work Reconsidered (part 2)
A company’s intellectual capital includes both human capital, the inherent potential of its employees to create economic value; and structural capital, the non-physical infrastructure that enables human capital to function.
Human capital needs to be harvested, which is why structural capital is so important. As suggested by the aphorism, “a rising tide lifts all boats”, the company that enables its human capital with highly supportive structural capital will realize higher levels of employee productivity, thereby better maximizing the yield on its human capital.
Work design is among the best investments in structural capital. Beginning in the Industrial Era, work design has been applied exclusively to physical task work. This remains the case today, despite the fact that 90% of all economic value is created with knowledge and service work.
As Peter Drucker wrote in Post-Capitalist Society (1993), “The new challenge facing the post-capitalist society is the productivity of knowledge workers and service workers.”
Work Reconsidered (part 1)
“The 19th century was marked by great achievements in engineering. Advances in psychology, sociology, and physiology should lead us to (just) as striking advances in ‘humaneering’ during the twentieth century.” (Joseph Tiffin, 1939)
An I/O Psychology professor at Purdue, Dr. Tiffin recognized not only the potential, but also society’s need for an applied human science. He explained that the understanding most people have of human nature is “naive”, which may be fine for casual pursuits, but not for economic policy, organization management, democratic government, public healthcare, and other important pursuits.
Tiffin concluded that having more accurate knowledge of human nature would routinely result in decisions that maximize economic performance. This thinking is born out in the narrative of a plant manager, following his operation’s participation in a field trial of humaneering.
He witnesses how to make his people more productive, resolve persistent people issues and, with the time and money saved, his managers can once again focus on innovation.
Hiring For “Fit” Requires More Than Resumes, Job Descriptions, and Interviews
The assertion by a person that they can be a top performer regardless of the job is easily disproven with their placement in a job that is a poor fit.
In physical nature, fit is an exact match of an object with its specification. Casual measures of physical fit for job placement go back centuries, yet not until the 1940s did organizations identify biopsychosocial traits of people as criteria for job success.
Advances in systems theory and social psychology in the 1960s redefined fit as a more holistic assessment of a person’s potential within a situation. Individuals were now known to be adaptive, and jobs were substantially affected by their environment.
“Person-job fit” became the matching of a unique whole person (i.e., not just specific traits) with a unique work situation, or when a person’s natural ability, motivation, and temperament interacted with a situation so as to naturally result in the desired human behavior and performance outcome.
New Methods Are Needed to Improve Corporate Recruiting Effectiveness
Recruiting is a powerful form of competition, and increasingly a source of competitive advantage. The creation of economic value is more dependent on people than ever before, such that businesses succeed or fail based on getting the right people into the organization and into the right roles.
Managers are challenged to conceive of a recruiting process without resumes, job descriptions and interviews, yet this is a scenario tested by the nonprofit Humaneering Technology Initiative, developers of the new applied science of humaneering. And the science won, decisively.
All three of these tools are so ineffective and, worse yet, misleading, that recruiters and hiring managers are better off without them. Resumes, job descriptions and interviews are designed for promotion and persuasion, and routinely convey misinformation about both the candidate and the job. Worse, these tools omit the information vital for recruiting people for today’s work.
A Case for Humaneering
Engineering’s methods of standardization, mechanization and automation can improve “production work” (making things) and “logistics work” (moving things), which is typically segmented, repetitive and controllable, to achieve greater levels of work precision, consistency and efficiency.
For “knowledge work” (creating knowledge) and “service work” (applying knowledge), the goal of performance improvement is to get workers to use their discretion to provide customers with the greatest satisfaction possible. The desired maximum economic value is achieved when workers do their natural best with every opportunity, using whatever knowledge and expertise they have or can access.
What’s needed is a new applied “human” science that leverages knowledge work and service work in situations where differentiation (i.e., variation, personalization, customization) creates economic value.