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Have you seen the HR Monolith?

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick released his epic science fiction film  2001: A Space Odyssey .  According to reviewers and movie watchers over the last 40-plus years,  the film attempts to deal with the elements of human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life.  Ok sounds good – but no amount of midnight movie viewings is going to explain the ending to me . . .  But maybe that was Kubrick’s point – to be so purposefully vague to leave us wondering about our existence and our future.

As I think back – and as I relate this to HR (yes – there is a tie into to HR here! ), there was a scene that always stuck with me . . .  that of the poor ape-like early humans foraging for food in the African desert.  Another tribe of man-apes has driven them from their water hole.  Defeated, they sleep overnight  and awake to find a black monolith has appeared in front of them.  They approach it shrieking and jumping, and eventually touch it cautiously.  Attendant with the discovery of the “monolith” (and conveyed through its power), they discover how to use a bone as both a tool and a weapon  . . . which they later use to reclaim control of the water hole by killing the other tribe’s leader.   Triumphantly, the ape-man chief throws the bone – insert tool –  into the air, switching (via Kubrick’s magic) from a bone to an orbital satellite millions of years in the future.


That’s one surreal, disturbing and vivid evolutionary advancement!

Now – allow me to juxtapose  –  I recently read an article by Kyle Lagunas entitled  Strategic Human Resources Management 101:  A Primer for Success.  Kyle paints a picture (albeit far less surreal than Kubrick’s 2001) of the evolution of human resource (not human beings) and technology.   The gist of his article is this:  Once an HR organization (of basically any sized employer) has streamlined processes and moved towards cost effective technology solutions – they can then begin to take the “big leap” and evolve into a consultative HR organization that “address talent and strategic change-oriented issues.”

Kyle’s makes a convincing argument referencing data from the Hackett Group and from practitioners, surmising that  for HR to move past being viewed as a staff function (overseeing issues such as employee data and company policies)  it must design and enable processes that take activities such as hiring, compensation and talent management, out of the HR silo and make these process easier to share across the organization – advising on and adding value to key business decisions.

“The adoption of web-based HR software has been a key driver in the development of strategic HR.   Best-of-breed HR software solutions keep both managers and employees actively involved in managing, tracking, and sharing information.  By automating core HR processes, organizations can focus more of their time improving the organization from a strategic perspective—such as hiring better people, setting performance goals and improving talent effectiveness. “


So, what will mark your evolution to strategic HR?  Is it Process and Technology?

Have you taken a hard look at the processes you manage – are they holding you back?  Would technology help?

How do you share data and information across your organization to better enable managerial decision making?

Of note:  no Oscar for Best Makeup existed until 1981. Nonetheless, it is considered ironic that in the same year that 2001 was released, a special honorary Oscar for ape makeup was given to Planet of the Apes, but the more realistic ape-makeup in 2001 was ignored. Arthur C. Clarke quipped that the committee may have not realized the apes in 2001 were actors (actually professional street-mimes.)

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