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Winter 2018

Humaneering Prepares Management and Energises Workforce for Fourth Industrial Revolution (PDF)

Did you attend the 1999 World Productivity Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland? This would have put you in the building when the first case was made for developing a humaneering technology.

Like many technologies, humaneering’s usefulness and potential for creating economic value are determined, not by claims, but by the outcomes from its application. To capture these outcome measures, we naturally turn to the management of the diverse organizations requesting early access to conduct their own pilot and proof-of-concept tests.

In cases where management will allow us to share such experiences and measures with you, we are required to keep more identifying information confidential. These cases are no different.

What is particularly notable about these cases are the somewhat unintended circumstances, revealing humaneering’s potential to prepare management and energize workforces for the accelerating Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Autumn 2018

What’s Love Got to Do with Management (PDF)

Have you ever been able to say, “I love this job.”

If so, you can more easily relate to this special, almost magical experience and how it affects our attitude, behavior and capability for work. And, when supported by management, these effects translate into increased work performance and job satisfaction, plus the creation of exceptional economic value.

It’s not the specific work performed that matters, as much as it is how well the work provides each worker with an experience that satisfies enough of their own idiosyncratic biopsychosocial needs, wants and desires. Loving our work is both cause and effect of higher productivity, and capable of sustaining a virtuous cycle of development.

This article draws on real-world evidence to outline for you step-by-step instructions for an enlightening one-hour performance development activity for your own organization. It can provide you with actionable knowledge for assessing and increasing the “love” your organization members have for their work and/or job.

Summer 2018

A Better Way to Manage People (PDF)

Today’s otherwise sophisticated businesses sacrifice vast amounts of human potential for creating additional economic value (i.e., return on human capital) at all levels and in all roles within their organizations. This is due primarily to deficiencies in organization management methods and human work designs (i.e., structural capital) needed for employees to perform knowledge work that maximizes their creation of economic value.

This article describes the true story of one senior operations executive as he finds himself with 29 direct reports and a commitment to turnaround his organization’s performance.

He learns that the management methods and work designs still considered “best practice” were conceived around 1900 for a vastly different kind of work, worker and workplace than what exists today.

Like many businesses, his has been sacrificing vast amounts of human potential that remains largely unharvested, or even undiscovered. This gold mine of human potential is “knowledge work” — the growing component of all human work that involves increasing levels of human discretion and expression.

Spring 2018

HR ‘Special Forces’ (PDF)

Learn how creative and determined leadership by corporate human resources (HR) in a major multinational company seized common, yet previously unrelenting, challenges to demonstrate how HR could substantially increase the productivity of knowledge workers across many kinds of business operations.

According to the corporate CFO who championed this program, “What began as a small bet to assess humaneering’s potential to improve the typical workforce issues — recruiting, engagement, performance, productivity and turnover — resulted in substantial improvements to all of these metrics”.

“Furthermore, it’s shown us how to maximize the value contribution of knowledge workers and, probably more surprising for many of us, it has revealed a perfect strategic role for HR in the more challenging VUCA years ahead.”

The article discusses in considerable detail how to create a Work Design Innovation Lab to attract and support operations managers with fresh thinking and new technology for improving performance. The surprise for everyone was the widespread need for this kind of support.

Winter 2017

Here Come The Humaneers (PDF)

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.

Autumn 2017

Rethinking Managerial Economics (PDF)

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.

Spring 2017

Business Process Humaneering (PDF)

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.

Winter 2016

New Frontier for Increasing Workforce Productivity (PDF)

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.

Spring 2015

Work Reconsidered (part 3) (PDF)

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?

Winter 2014

Work Reconsidered (part 2) (PDF)

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.”

Autumn 2014

Work Reconsidered (part 1) (PDF)

“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.

November 2011

Hiring For “Fit” Requires More Than Resumes, Job Descriptions, and Interviews (PDF)

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.

September 2011

New Methods Are Needed to Improve Corporate Recruiting Effectiveness (PDF)

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.

May 2002

A Case for Humaneering (PDF)

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.


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