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Bob - this post and it's sibling (and the vid) on HuffPost point to a real challenge/opportunity for strategic advantage. Not sure I've cracked the code on how to make it happen - will likely take more ruminations :). And, ahem, stumbling from tactical expedient to tactical expedient seems to be working pretty well for you even if you're not strategic.

But....the reactions to "No Asshole" indicate you've touched a real nerve. One of the things the book, discussions, etc. did for me was to cause me to seriously consider HR as truly strategic - mindshift of monumental proportions. But it lies at the strategic corp of the chord you're finding - HR is not just about pay, grade levels, benefits & review processes. Those are the admin to which it's both allowed itself to be relegated and pushed by lack of executive support. Strategic HR is about developing the human capital of the organization and getting the best performance out of it.

The vid and the projects managers - the whole exchange on authenticity - is about executives being honest with the troops and themselves, not operating for their own advantage but leading for the overall benefit of the organization and having the moral courage and leadership to adapt to new requirements (rather than continue to play self-aggrandizing politics).

Human development is as important, therefore, to organizational sucess as the capital or development efforts and shares many of their characteristics.

No Assholes touches that emotional point in many where they'd like to do a good job and be treated with respect and dignity for doing it AND is also a major strategic indictment of any organization that tolerates that sort of behavior.

The questioin then becomes what executive attitudes and skills are required, what HR practices and what institutional design are Respectful (btw respect for the individual should include a willingness to tell them when they've screwed up or when they're not qualified for a position) and Authentic.

Let me leave the ranting there but you're on something important here that further development of is potentially extremely powerful and valuable. And in case anyone doubts the importance of authentic leadership today's WSJ has a superb article on the gap between jr. leaders and the sr. and the impact it's having in Iraq. Highly recommended.

Wally Bock

The discussion of "management philosophies" reminds me of the distinction Chris Argyris makes between the "Theory Espoused" and the "Theory in Use." Whether you call them philosophies or theories or values there is often a big disconnect between saying and doing.


I watched in horror as a local engineering company, Humongous Steel Stuff, Inc. (Those who know, know.), laid off top project management people.

Senior management had taken as their mantra, "Perception is reality." That mostly had to do with perceptions of their worth. Things were going well, it must be because of their superior management. Those project managers were expensive overhead.

It was only a few months before the company was hit with the first of multiple lawsuits over projects that were not being finished. Go figure.

Several project managers returned as consultants to finish projects. None were ever rehired as that would violate the iron perception that they were not needed.

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