The 8 New Rules of Human Capital Development

Tom Peters, co-author of In Search of Excellence, recently put forward a manifesto on human development at the enterprise and national government level. I read his article in the Financial Times and found his views so thought-provoking that I wanted to share them with you today.

Here’s what Tom Peters had to say…

Rule #1: Development of “human capital” should always be the top priority. This is imperative in an age in which imaginative brain-work is de facto the only plausible survival strategy for individual enterprises of consequence and higher-wage nations in their entirety. Generic “brain-work”, the traditional and dominant white-collar activities that now employ the bulk of us, is increasingly undertaken by exponentially enhanced artificial intelligence applied at ever increasing speed.

Rule #2: Maximising “gross domestic development” of the workforce, driven at the level of the individual enterprise, is the primary source of growth, productivity, wealth creation and social stability.

Rule #3: Generals and admirals obsess about continuous training. Why is it an almost dead certainty that in a random 30-minute interview with a CEO you are unlikely to hear a word on this? I would hazard a guess that most CEOs see an IT investment as a “strategic necessity”, but training expenses as “a necessary evil”. This must be set on its ear, with training in its broadest sense placed atop the enterprise agenda.

Rule #4: Proposition:  The chief “training” officer becomes the top staff job in a business, with a charge equivalent in gravity to that of the chief financial officer or chief information officer.

Rule #5: It is imperative, and long overdue, that we maximise the rate of development of women leaders at every level. Among other reasons, evidence suggests they are more likely than men to champion the imperative of maximising human asset development.

Rule #6: The educational infrastructure must be upended to underpin support for the creative jobs that will be more or less the sole basis for employment, economic growth and wealth creation. Central to this would be a dramatically enhanced, appreciated, compensated and accountable role for teachers; teaching should be a career of choice for a nation’s best and brightest. Instilling insatiable curiosity, the foremost attribute of a creative person, is no easy task; but it cannot be avoided if one looks at future definitions of employability.

Rule #7: Growth objectives based on human capital development must extend even to single-person enterprises. Collective productivity improvement through human capital development among small businesses has an unimaginably large, and undervalued pay-off. Many small businesses appreciate this, but they are typically unprepared to take the steps necessary to engage their employees in seeking improvements in productivity and creative work.

Rule #8: Associated with the above is a radical reorientation of leadership education and development throughout the enterprise/education/ continuing-education establishment. The MBA and executive education will require open-heart surgery – aimed at shifting focus from finance and marketing to human resources. To deal with the most probable future employment scenarios, leaders will need to be masters of the liberal arts – a clear-cut determinant of responding to the universal need to pursue creative work.

Do you agree with Tom Peters? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Wilhelm Crous, MD of Knowledge Resources


2 thoughts on “The 8 New Rules of Human Capital Development

  1. This is a very insightful and informative steer to businesses as well as to HR professionals. A must read for those serious about business survival and sustainable business success

  2. Business is about making money, not growing people, however important people are in this equation. Show business leaders how people’s value add to the bottom line to create a better watertight case for human capital development.

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