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Why is the Technology Tail Wagging the HR Dog?
About The HRIS World HR Dog Series™ #HRdog

An in depth look at why, metaphorically speaking, the technology tail is STILL wagging the HR dog for more than 30 years.

Today, there are a lot of changes occurring simultaneously and not just in technology and Human Resources -- and unless you know where to go to fully unplug for the rest of your life, the changes are affecting everything we do, everywhere we go, and at all levels

On top of all the changes, the rate of change in technology is the highest of all rates of changes -- if you don’t like seeing taillights, then you need to

    Learn how to think instead of what to think -- and learn this rather very quickly...
    Learn how to discover what are the right questions, not just good questions as well as discover who they should be asking, even if not connected with him or her yet...
    Learn how to discern influential and effective differences that will provide the most effective results as oppose to just discerning differences...
    Constantly learn what principles create the most effective changes as well as provide the best directions (principles which are not, by the way, taught in the world of academia)...
    Constantly discover where to find the most influential and wise counsel they can get, again even if they are not connected yet...
    Learn how to find, research and discover the context of a problem, situation, and/or content and not just know the content -- a dying art of which many are not aware is even dying...
    Learn what an entity must do to protect itself from misuse of technology at any level

Notice all this has nothing to do with the knowledge anyone needs to apply their trade(s) and/or skill(s)...

There is also a massive confusion over means and ends -- especially within leadership. Though their focus needs to be on the well-being and sustainability of their business, the rate of changes happening in nearly all arenas is forcing even their hands away from the thoughts and practices of the past to something new. Yet most do not know what that new something is, only that they need to change -- resulting in unwise actions that are more than costly.

We highly encourage your participation in this series as it is all about the Future of Work as well as the future of education, technology, leadership, even our personal lives.

Start a conversation in the comments and/or if you have some thoughts to share in the form of a post then just reach out to us by clicking the contact us button on the lower right of any page.

For this series, we use the hashtag #HRdog on twitter, LinkedIn, facebook and Google plus -- just search for this hashtag to see the latest updates we have sent there. Or better yet, register with our blog to receive our daily newsletters straight to your inbox -- as we do not purchase nor sell any lists, your information stays with us confidentially.

Are We Focused Upon the Means? or Ends?

Earlier this month, I presented a high level view of how our not understanding how to use Big Data is a symptom, not a problem on the HR Tech World blog, closing with the following statements…

“Well, the first step towards any success is the always rooted in the willingness to listen – but to whom? Those that impart knowledge are also capable of imparting error, yes?

“Qualifying who we listen to is important. What we hear repeatedly we eventually believe – and there has been a lot of concepts, ideas and thoughts repeatedly shared nearly everywhere. So what does one do when there are so many beliefs, thoughts, suggestions as to what will work?”

This view evolved from what we have been reading and experiencing at The HRIS World, which is this…

There are plenty of conversations concerning
big data and people analytics with HR manning the helm,
mostly from the technology point of view,
and there are very few taking a realistic view
of the human factor,
especially from the capability and
sustainability point of view.

Many have already presented some very compelling cases with technology as the ends… and to a large degree they are correct in their thinking.

But it’s not the thinking that is bothering us, rather it is the questions.

And from what we have been seeing, the questions are focused on the ends not the means…
We love how David D’Souza categorizes this as a Jurrasic Park problem in his blog, which we highly recommend you taking a read as well.

What is a Jurrasic Park type of problem?

Basically it comes down to one question:

Just because we can,
Does that mean we should?

The reference for our case would be pushing all the big data and hr analytics into the laps of HR.

In other words, just because we can move all this to HR does that mean we should?

After all, they own most of the information, they have provided most of the information, so why not, right?

We all have a kitchen with an inventory of all sizes of pots and pans, we all can buy and provide the food for cooking — does all that make any of us a Master Chef? A gourmet cook? or even a good cook? How about hot dogs and chips? No? Yes?

We Need To Catch Not Teach

The question “just because we can, does that mean we should?” has a trait to it.

This trait…

  • doesn’t discriminate by age as we know 7 year olds that have such traits and 70 year olds that lack such
  • could not care less of your gender, your salary scale, your position of power, your race for starters
  • is independent of knowledge as there are many who are extremely knowledgeable and extremely brilliant, yet wonder how they became so without this trait
  • is not something that can be taught
  • is something that can be caught

The less you use this trait, the faster you will lose it as it needs the breeding and cultivation of other traits that build to keep it alive.

Some will pursue this trait, others will ignore it, while yet most will recognize it almost instinctively once they witness it and/or experience it…

This trait we all know as discernment…

Celebrate Our Differences Not Minimize Them

Discernment can internally identify differences in people, in situations, in events, in processes — and I’m not talking differences recognized by knowledge, that is differentiation.

Everyone has discernment to one level or another.

Many will allow beliefs to sway away them from their discernment (aptly named by a cartoon series most know as the Simpsons as a D’OH moment) or towards them, and yet our beliefs are subject to change over a period of time.

There are conversations of equalizing everything and everyone through the use of technology — yet in the same breath they talk about celebrating the difference someone in many lives.

How can anyone mix fresh water and salt water and expect to get anything but brackish water?


Our Focus Is Always On Means or Ends

Where we focus will determine how much discernment we catch.

Where we focus is where we end up — our attitude, our frame of reference, our questions, everything will depend upon our focus.

How many times have we kept focusing on
knowledge is power
only and to find ourselves lacking the discernment
on how to best use that knowledge?

a d v e r t i s e m e n t s
Whether PC or Mobile, you need to protect your data and your machine...
a d v e r t i s e m e n t s

Truthfully, knowledge is power, but married with discernment it becomes even more powerful, effective, efficient, useful… As well as capable and sustainable…

When we examine what launched any technology successfully, both from the end-user as well as the beneficiary, where was our focus?

Was not the technology the means, not the ends?

Our focus as an industry is too scattered and too focused on the ends and not enough on the means.

Much of the conversation today – but not all – that focuses on the human factor tends to fall short by conversing about the human factor as it applies to their ends.

They remain focused on ends but not the means that will provide sustainability and have relied on technology to provide most if not all the capability.

To those that are, you need to know or be reminded we have already been there —

“The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced” ~ Aldous Huxley

Discernment IS Our Difference

Even if we make the software intelligent enough to decipher what questions to ask, that software has to rely upon knowledge and knowledge that was hopefully gained by the right questions.

How does any software discern anything?

Discernment is what separates us from computers, from technology.

Even super computers cannot emulate discernment successfully — and that is also the danger of AI as it only learns from knowedge and hasn’t a clue how to discernment.

Looking at big data from a historical point, how many of smaller databases today are clean enough and have enough data integrity to warrant an tolerance rate of less than 1 percent?

Or even 2 percent?

If these smaller databases are in a chaotic state, then how are we to expect an orderly state of databases that are 1,000 even 1,000,000 times larger (big data technically starts at petrabytes 1,000,000 GB)?

Has order suddenly aries from chaos without a strong and usually lengthy intervention???…

Most interventions will involve additional labor, maintenance as well as overhead to maintain the data integrity as well as the databases.

Yet, all while everyone is making a business case for HR analytics being good for all as it would involve less labor, less maintenance and less overhead (as it is in the cloud)?

Our Decisions Are How We Got Here

Decisions, good and bad, are what got us here in the first place, yes?

As there is not a universal nor a popular decision as to what to do save for dumping all this into HR’s lap just because they collect it all, HR is standing around with a deer-in-the-headlights look.

That’s not their fault as we have schooled and trained HR not to make decisions but to follow policies, have we not?

Are not most of the parameter of those policies decided outside of their control?

Now suddenly we want HR to be analyists, enforcers as well as understand data relationships on top of human relationships?

If so, we have a dilemma on our hands…

When you stop and think of previous situations where a task has been forced upon an unwilling and/or unqualified party, have we not set ourselves up for failure resulting from less-than-capable resources being placed into a situation that only threatens the sustainability of the ends wanted?

In reality, where is the win in this situation?

In the means?

Or in the ends?

As our decisions have created this dilemma
we are finding ourselves in,
why are we trying to solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them?

More in a couple of weeks…

Use the hashtag #HRdog to keep tabs on this series of posts via twitter, LinkedIn, facebook and Google +.

Why is the Technology Tail Wagging the HR Dog?

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Garrett O'Brien

CEO, Chairman, Publisher, Editor at The HRIS World Research Group

Garrett is the Publisher and Editor for
The HRIS World Research Group, which includes The HRIS World, The HRIS Career World, THW Research Network, The HRIS World Jobs, The HRIS World News, and The HRIS World Videos

With 20+ years in roles as a client executive sponsor, project manager as well as functional / technical lead, Garrett is sought for his expertise globally.

He has been involved in large-scale and complex implementations since 1991 and has recently moved his operations to be with his wife in Brazil.

Garrett has had the pleasure of working with some of the greatest talents in the industry, and constantly shares his experiences and knowledge through content and webinars.

He has managed somehow to be fluent in Portuguese, German, French and English along the way.

When not working, you will have to be adventurous to stay up with him as Garrett loves motorcycling, gunnery, boating, sailing, flying, and sports fishing.

Garrett’s current roles…

  • Publisher, editor, writer, and owner of 6 leading HRIS system and career blogs which are read by 50,000+ monthly visitors monthly in 160+ countries, 40%+ the audience being decision-makers in their organization (and about half of that being C-levels!).
  • CEO for CGServices USA Inc, focusing on multi-provider, multi-line implementations consultation for HRIS systems
  • Council and Education Member of Gerson Lehrman Group Council, helping institutions of the world leaders meet, engage and manage experts across a wide range of sectors and disciplines.

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