Beyond Human Resource Management Boundaries: The Whole World of Business Management

We've changed the name of this newsletter from Stern's HR Management Review to Stern's Management Review. Why did we drop the "HR"?

From our consulting experience and ongoing research, we are keenly aware that companies are moving away from smokestack hierarchies, organized around traditional functions. Increasingly organization designs are shaped around business systems that break the barriers segmenting specializations and disciplines.

Human Resource Management is one of those disciplines. Composed of a multitude of subspecializations (e.g., compensation, benefits, training, employment) and sub subspecializations (e.g., international compensation, health care insurance, computer assisted learning, psychological testing), HR has built a 'functional' fortress, ripe for the reengineering wrecking ball.

Just ask Thomas A. Stewart. In his article, "Taking on the Last Bureaucracy," in the January 15, 1996 issue of Fortune, Stewart writes: "Why not blow the sucker up? I don't mean improve HR. Improvement's for wimps. I mean abolish it. Deep-six it. Rub it out; eliminate, toss, obliterate, nuke it; ...force it to walk the plank, turn it into road kill."

Stewart argues that most of HR's function is 'administrivia' that can be outsourced to vendors (who provide state-of-the art technology and knowledge, economies of scale, and reduction of exposure to liability or regulatory claims) or delegated to line managers.

To be sure, Stewart has overstated his case. But there is some truth in what he says that should not be denied. It is a wake-up call to be heeded: a time for HR professionals to take stock of their role and how it is viewed in many organizations, and, where gaps exist between what is and what should be, to begin a process of transformation.

Now is the time to walk the talk of organizational renewal. Doing this takes creativity, flexibility and a holistic understanding of the connections between human resource management and all of the activities and processes of a business enterprise.

Renewal also requires HR practitioners to fully understand their company's markets, customers, products, services, business strategy, goals, and planning process. They must also appreciate the linkages between human resource management and customer service, quality and productivity. They should recognize the ways that HR contributes to profitability and is tied to the interests of every stake holder - internal and external. And they must be sufficiently informed to place it all within a global economic, political and social context.

So, to meet your need for breadth, as well as depth, we are broadening the scope of Stern's SourceFinder® and this newsletter to encompass the full array of managerial, organizational and business realities of the new millennium.