Leveraging the new human capital

Leveraging the new human capital

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Leveraging the new human capital


by Sandra Burud and Marie Tumolo

Davies-Black © 2004, 398 pages, $36.95 (ISBN 0-89106-205-X).


Adaptive Strategies and Stories of Transformation

The Industrial Age concept of the singularly focused individual achiever is outdated, according to management consultants Sandra Burud and Marie Tumolo. Instead, today’s ideal worker is a technically skilled person who is devoted to driving results by collaborating with peers and navigating the competing demands of work and personal life. To help organizations succeed, Burud and Tumolo have written Leveraging the New Human Capital, which is designed to help business managers understand the most recent structural changes that have taken place in the workplace and turn them to their advantage. In it, the authors present a new framework for managing, and test it against research data and the real experiences of four types of companies. Short descriptive essays from renowned thought leaders, including Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Peter Senge, begin each of the book’s four parts. These sections tackle:

• the new work force reality

• the power of adaptive strategies

• evidence of results achieved

• stories on becoming adaptive.

Whole People

The first part of Leveraging the New Human Capital begins with an essay by Peter Senge called “Whole People,” in which he describes a 34-year-old systems engineer at Xerox who derived greater meaning from her projects at work by relating their long-term effects to her role as an employee and a mother. With this story, Senge explains how organizations must have a purpose that is worthy of their people’s commitment.

He also reminds companies that profit is not the kind of purpose that will get commitment from people. In his essay, Senge sites a study of engineers in product development teams in which the researchers eventually “came to realize that a work environment that allows people to talk openly regarding concerns about their home-related problems encourages people to express their concerns about work-related problems as well.” During the study, people began trusting each other and, as a result, helping each other to solve their engineering, as well as work-life balance, problems.

In their discussion on the importance of people as the engine of success, the authors write that human capital is defined as the application of intellectual capital — which is made up of knowledge, skills and talent — plus relational capital — which is made up of connections and relationships with customers, peers, vendors and other stakeholders — in the pursuit of an organization’s goals. When it comes to finding competitive advantage, the authors explain that people are the only way to do that, through their creativity and knowledge, their relationships with customers and co-workers, and their professional networks. Companies such as eBay, Apple and Amazon.com are great examples of how people and their ideas are the biggest drivers of wealth creation in today’s global economy.

Adaptive Strategies

In the second part of Leveraging the New Human Capital, the authors offer a modern theory for managing the context of this new reality, and provide several practical methods for adapting. The five adaptive strategies they offer are:

1. Choosing to invest in people.


2. Adopting a new set of beliefs.


3. Redefining the organizational culture.


4. Transforming management practices.


5. Ensuring fit: beliefs, culture and practice.

The authors point out that, although these adaptive strategies are new ways of thinking and behaving, a radical departure is precisely what is needed today, given the dimensions of the changes that are now happening in the business environment, in society and in individuals.

The third part of Leveraging the New Human Capital offers real-world evidence of how these adaptive strategies affect business results, how employee performance can be measurably affected, and how effective employees translate into better customer experiences.

The last part of Leveraging the New Human Capital provides case studies from DuPont, Baxter International, SAS and First Tennessee National Corp. — four dramatically different companies that have had great results using different approaches to those adaptive strategies. ~

Why We Like This Book

Leveraging the New Human Capital goes further than simply telling companies how they can get better results from people-positive human resources strategies. It stands out because it backs up its ideas with wisdom from today’s best business thinkers and the experiences of successful organizations that have used its ideas to compete and grow to new heights. ~

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