Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What Matters

It is always a good idea to get out of the office every now and again if for no other reason than to make sure that you don’t lose touch with the real world. I had the chance last week to do that in Chicago while attending the national human capital summit put on by one of our alliance partners, The Human Capital Institute.

It was a two-day affair, and I had the chance to not only listen and learn, but also ExecuNet had been asked to chair a panel the title of which was: The Executive Crisis: Grooming the Next Generation of Leaders.

As I reflected on my trip back to Connecticut, I was thinking that HCI might have just as easily used a conference tag line of the old standby: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” While it is almost an embarrassment to admit that it has been nearly two decades since my work days were spent in corporate America, the issues under discussion by such luminaries as Wharton’s Peter Cappelli, or author Richard Florida (Flight of the Creative Class) or other well-known gurus such as Rich Karlgaard, author of Life 2.0 and publisher/columnist for Forbes, or leadership development icon Noel Tichy, gave me a Rod Serling sort of feeling.

The descriptors have changed. Now we call it “human capital” versus “human resources” or “personnel” or “employee relations”, but underneath it all, we were still trying to get our arms around the triad of employer needs, employee needs and life’s impact on both. Twenty years ago this was all more localized. We were just starting to wake up to the notion that there was a global economy. Now it is the case of dealing with all of it via cell phones, Blackberries, and wireless web access.

So what did I net out of the 2 days I spent trying to listen, learn, and where I could contribute to the discourse?

It’s always about leaders and our never-ending struggle to find them or develop them. In addition, it was also clear that the degree to which trust plays the key role in any relationship has a huge impact. Organizations who not only understand this but whose actions demonstrate their understanding daily are the ones who definitely have more than just a leg up in the race to Life 3.0 -- which is just over the horizon.

1 comment:

Karen Armon said...


As one of the panelists for your excellently led breakout session titled The Executive Crisis: Grooming the Next Generation of Leaders, I had the same "Twilight Zone" experience!

It is interesting when one sees ideas cycle back to where they began. In the early 90s, I felt that drive to abandon "human capital" applications (we called it Training & Development back then) was a big mistake. I'm just glad that at least the arms within corporations are stretched out again -- even if it has turned on its side.

The business of people is as old as people walking upright and whether it is Cappelli, Florida, Karlgaard, or you who are picking the banner up again makes no difference to me.

I'm just grateful that we are talking about people and their importance to the organization's success again.