Blowing Up the Box of HR

by Michael Haberman on August 4, 2010 · 12 comments


I was reading a blog post by Kevin Elkenberry entitled Six Ways to Think Outside the Box. It was a good post. What I liked about it was the fact that he said he really dislikes the phrase “think outside the box.” He said that even that, much over used phrase, constricts your thinking. He thought that perhaps “explode the box” or “find a new box” would be better phrases. Well that got me to thinking (an increasingly rare event these days) about the “box of HR.” Many “thought leaders” and fellow bloggers are trying to think outside the box of HR. People are trying to find creative ways to do things, new methods of organizing, and new things to try to break out of the old mold of HR. (Another overused phrase.) There have been some successes, but to many not enough.

So I thought “why not BLOW UP THE BOX OF HR?” (Creative huh?) I think some people out there may even be trying to do that. Trish McFarlane of The HRRingleader cofounded HRevolution in an attempt to revaluate the world of HR as it exists today. I have not had the good fortune to attend so I don’t know what level the thought processes are on. Laurie Ruettimann of PunkRockHR fame lights a fuse every once in awhile to blow up the box (and she is a real firecracker! Ok bad pun.) But she is moving on from PunkRockHR and starting her own company, so we will have to see what happens there.

I am doing some more reading about Futurism so I am not ready at this moment to suggest how I might blow up the box of HR. In fact I was wondering whether it can even be blown up. We have all this “stuff” that the government requires that has to be sheltered in a bomb-proof safe. So if that cannot go away then will we always be constrained by the existing box and be unable to blow up the box. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to change the shape of the box.

What do you think?

  • We can and should blow up the box.
  • We may be able to reshape the box.
  • We can only change the wrapping on the box.
  • Hey, I like the box the way it is.
  • What the hell are you talking about Haberman?

Vote for one and send me an answer.

Be Sociable, Share!

Sign up for free HR Solutions updates via email

Omega HR Solutions, Inc. uses creative human resource solutions to provide answers to time, money and service issues with employers and their employees. Visit our Products and Services page for more information or contact us to learn how we can help your organization.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie August 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

LOL, yes, I am a firecracker.

Not a fire starter. That would be pyromania.

Reply

Barbara A Hughes August 4, 2010 at 9:56 am

Forgive me, Mike, but there may be one other selection:
"The box has become irrelevant". HR as a function that comprises compliance, compensation, benefits, etc. isn't going away but the box may have a new address in an outsourced environment or with some clever web self-service type of arrangement.
Every other function in a company has had to re-invent itself; why would HR be any different? Be relevant — and I leave you, Mike, to define that.

Reply

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR August 4, 2010 at 10:01 am

Oh Laurie, I think you can be accused of starting a few fires under people or setting them off anyway.

Barbara, that is sort of what I was getting at with blowing up the box, I am just not as articulate as are you. I think blowing up the box and making it go away is making it irrelevant. And you would have to find totally different ways of doing the "traditional" HR. Thanks for the input.

Reply

John Jorgensen August 4, 2010 at 10:52 am

Mike, great post. I think that way too many practioners are too comfortable in their jobs (not just an HR problem BTW) to think outside the box much less blow it up. If I hear the line, "but that's the way we've allways done it", it may explode like Laurie's firecracker.

Reply

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR August 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

Hey John. Thanks for the response. I agree that line of "we have always done it that way" drives me nuts.

Reply

Gayle Wells August 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

Hi Mike,
I not for blowing up the HR box nor am I for leaving the HR box the way it is. There is so much revelancy in the "body of knowledge" in the box as well as a constant morphing taking place. My suggestion is to take the lid off the box. Add to it often and as needed; dump the "old school" or obsolete; as well as pull out and exam closely the "we have always done it this way" stuff. If it is still useful, put it back in if not toss it.

Gayle Wells, SPHR

Reply

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR August 4, 2010 at 11:51 am

Thanks for the feedback Gayle. I too think that there is good relevant material but perhaps it can be delivered, dealt with, handled different than it is done today. Thanks.. always looking for ideas.

Reply

Cathy Missildine-Martin, SPHR August 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

How about no box, no table, and certainly no status quo. HR needs a new branding campaign, we need to be thought of as business people first and "HR Stuff" experts second. I think we need a new name for ourselves…so we can leave the box and the table behind us along with the employee picnics.

How about Business Analysts, Chief Performance Officer, Performance Consultants,

Reply

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR August 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Thanks Cathy.. now that is a challenge to everyone.. what can we rebrand ourselves as?

Reply

HR Questionnaires August 5, 2010 at 6:08 am

Thanks for sharing. I feel articles like this will help many HR. keep up the good work

Reply

Barbara A Hughes August 5, 2010 at 8:35 am

To Cathy's comment, Mike, love the change of perspective to Performance not HR. That is a box worth preserving.
Great idea, Cathy!

Reply

Trish McFarlane August 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Thanks for the mention Mike and we'd love to have you at the next HRevolution. It's all built around the idea that HR needs to evolve in order to be relevant as business models change. There are many different twists and turns we face, but with an open mind and a respect for the past, we'll get there. We can't repeat the past though or we'll never grow as a profession.

Boxes= Fear havens
Tables= Execs thinking about and approaching business in the same tired way.

Future of HR? will be all about being fluid and adaptation. Just my prediction.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: