A chain of thought

It seems a a week can’t pass without someone warning of the risk to business of the ageing workforce and a resultant skills gap.

I also repeatedly hear arguments to fragment the function by separating out Resourcing, Learning and Development, Talent (repeat and replace with whichever specialism the complaining person works in) from the evil HR.

And I sigh and try not to resort to my wearied protestations of idiocy.

I don’t know of any other area of business where we would fragment the management of the supply chain and believe that it would result in a better performance.

Internal capability, succession, resourcing, talent, skills, development and education need to be seamless and integrated, not fragmented and disparate. We need to unite, not divide.

Instead of assuaging our fragile egos, let’s think about the challenges that face us and how we might raise our game to meet them.

Complex problems, require complex solutions. Not simplistic thinking and vacuous soundbites.


  1. Ian Perry · June 16, 2014

    Neil, your point of complex problems require complex solutions is the crux for me for whatever the issue. I see too often, not just in work but in life outside people just jumping to the first solution, which of course however well meaning has often not been thought through well. My role has a school governor, has led me to believe that our recent school curriculum appears to be hoping to give our gets much better reasoning, thinking and collaboration skills. Despite the hysteria around education I think this continues, although I am not a Gove fan boy!

    So a couple of thoughts on the issues you raise. Not sure I am qualified to comment on HR fragmentation but I don’t get the reasoning behind breaking up a function. Surely the challenge and sharing of ideas across a professional discipline has to be good. Operating as part of a matrix structure maybe.
    To give an example, in my engineering days, engineering was always seen as the problem in a production world. The solution, break it up. Give it to production managers to manage the engineers and maintenance fitters to do their bidding. The result, no focus on the right work, no professional development and two years later I managed to crawl it all back, and actually added a layer on professional management.
    This was a symptom of not addressing the real issue in this example which was the relationship and behaviour of engineers toward their internal customers. Address that, problem sorted!!

    On the ageing workforce, I think we need to change how we see old age. Im firmly in the camp that 65 is no longer old, and we still have a post war model when work was different, health was different, and peoples expectations were different.
    Taking away the negative stuff around pensions etc, why not give people a choice, why not encourage them to keep working. Maybe job shares, 2 or 3 days a week. It needs to be a grown up contract such that both parties can stop if its not working, and I recognise that brings its own problems, but its supposed to be complex.

    Thats just one solution, there will be others!!

    • Neil · June 29, 2014

      That’s a better comment than the original blog! Thank you.

  2. Pingback: Education is too important for politicians | change-effect

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