HR and Innovation

On January 31, 2012, in Editorial Advisory Board, HRExaminer, by John Sumser

innovation requires getting a little muddy - HR Examiner

"Tincup noted the orthodoxy and smeared some mud on it. It was a great move. Transformation requires conflict and William lit a fuse on a great argument."

HR and Innovation or Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be SPHRs

William Tincup suggests that the HR ‘profession’ is best served by increasing the density of people with certification. According to our newest member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), “HR pros that aren’t certified have no business in HR.” Tincup goes on to note that “We don’t argue at cocktail parties whether lawyers, architects and/or accountants are legit professions. We sure do when it comes to HR”

Somehow, certification is supposed to fix that.

(Actually, at the cocktail parties I go to, people hope I won’t talk about HR very much.)

Tincup goes on to suggest that constructive criticism (or outright distaste for) the profession ought to disqualify vendors from serving customers in the space. He seeks a land of Kumbaya where everyone is happily smoking the same dope out of the same pipe. One wonders if he’s been to many of the dismal events that pass themselves off as conferences (of course he has). He seems to think that drinking more of the kool-aid they give away there is the cure to our ills.

It was a great way for William to join the EAB. In our EAB manifesto, we say:

We are constantly on the lookout for those thinkers whose work illuminates HR Management. You are extremely unlikely to find much in the way of so called ‘best practices’ or implementation guides on HRExaminer. These things lead directly to mediocrity. Mediocrity is extremely easy to find.

Like the kind of thinker we’re looking to celebrate, Tincup noted the orthodoxy and smeared some mud on it. It was a great move. Transformation requires conflict and William lit a fuse on a great argument.

Still, mediocrity, best practices or the sharing the accumulated wisdom of HR is not going to make the profession a better place. A quick scan through this SPHR Study guide will help you understand that certification is the Gateway to jargon and a sense of entitlement that precludes innovation.

Increasing numbers of HR Departments are coming to meaningful approaches to making HR a profit center. That means reimagining the work so that it pays for itself. That requires seeing the core functions and figuring out what good they are elsewhere. To do this, you have to have a clear view of operations and the ability to rearrange those processes. The people who are good at this typically don’t want certified professionals in their organizations.

It’s not that certification is a bad thing. It’s that best practices are the opposite of innovation. The industry’s approach to licensing its professionals has no room for new ideas or the principles on which those ideas might be founded. Like good lawyers and CPAs, professional certification helps identify the sturdy and reliable players who can make the trains run on time.

It’s that having the right answer is the enemy of finding a better answer. Lawyers, CPAs and HR folks are already on the organization’s dog heap. The so called “table” is populated with un-credentialed people in product management, operations, sales, purchasing and marketing.

Further certification of HR will simply increase its irrelevance.

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