Here at HR tech World in Paris yesterday I heard Yves Morieux from Boston Consulting Group make the case that in a post industrial world an organisation's people, and their willingness to collaborate, are their greatest assets. He also suggested that given that organisations play such a large part in modern civilised society, and that HR are responsible for the people in our organisations, that therefore the future of society was in HR's hands. When I reported this view online it was met with considerable scepticism!
But how many times have we heard this before – that people are the most important things in organisations - and how little have we done to show that we actually mean it!? If it's not HR who are going to take responsibility who is it? Finance?? IT??
Later in the day I watched Sir Richard Branson sit on stage in jeans and an open neck shirt berate the besuited audience for indulging in power dressing while expecting to bring out the best of the people that work for them. He also described how throwing a massive party for 70,000 former British Rail staff when Virgin took over the west coast main line converted them from "government workers" to enthusiastic customer service staff.
With unprecedented numbers of people expressing severe disengagement from work, and a general sense that something is wrong pervading the workplace, it is going to take more than changing our dress code and throwing parties to sort this. It is also no good waiting for the heads of our various silos to sort it for us. They are part of the problem.
If, as I believe it is, the future is about autonomous, thoughtful, proactive individuals operating and coordinating through trusted networks, supported by online conversations, then that is how we have to start acting. Now. We can't wait for someone else to give us permission. We can't wait for them to show us how to do it. We have to start taking responsibility for behaving differently, for saying no to more of the bullshit, for reaching out to others beginning to act in the same ways.
What are we waiting for? Seriously - what?