Sunday, January 30, 2011
Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to Human Capital Development
In any organization there are a lot of great human capital professionals that are doing their best to enable organizational success. Typically we approach human capital processes and activities in isolation from one another...we pull, push and prod these levers not really understanding the impact they have on each other.
The Department of Defense has learned this through experience...because of these lessons learned it utilizes a concept called Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) to examine complex adaptive systems. This provides the ability to look at complex adaptive systems made up of Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Information (PMESII) systems and start to determine critical nodes, vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses, links, relationships and key nodes. This then allows determination of the appropriate types and level of responses using Diplomatic, Information, Military and Economic (DIME) levers. By taking this integrated approach, you are able to apply the appropriate response at the right place and at the right time to generate the correct response in the complex adaptive system.
Now think to your own organization...in many respects it is like any other complex adaptive system. But in many organizations, we don't take an organizational network analysis approach to human capital development. We have a number of human capital processes and levers available, but no sense of the true overall state of the human capital system (HCS). So we continue to apply what we know and have available hoping for the right response. As Albert Einstein stated...
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
So it is time for change...
Just like PMESII to determine the organization, we have access to similar tools to understand the human capital component of our complex adaptive system. Those things are Leadership, Engagement, Adaptibility, Knowledge, Skills and Strategy (LEAKSS). Having a complete picture of these critical pieces and how they are connected with one another allow for a complete picture of the organization and its strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It also allows Human Capital Management (HCM) to apply appropriate levels. It comes down to asking the right sets of questions...
Leadership - What is the overall leadership capability of the organization? Are we developing the right leaders to spur innovation and growth in the organization?
Engagement - Are employees engaged? Do they understand what it is we do and do they do what they need to do to enable it?
Adaptability - Is the workforce agile and adaptable to change?
Knowledge - What are the knowledge creation and management capabilities of the organization? Are the right people and groups connecting at the right time and place to foster innovation?
Skills - What are the skill capability needs of the organization? What is the workforce capacity to execute on these future capabilities? What is the gap in capability and capacity?
Strategy - What is the business strategy? How does human capital and talent enable the business strategy?
By taking a holistic systems thinking approach to the organization's human capital system, only then can we hope to enable it to meet business strategy.
DNA of Human Capital: http://dna-of-humancapital.blogspot.com/
The opinions or views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the Defense Intelligence Agency.