People — Rather than Things — at the Centre of Work

The Harvard Business Review continues to support Gary Hamel’s ideas on management innovation, most recently with a summary inviting readers to contribute their thoughts on the subject. I’m eager to see the response. I think Hamel has a strong argument, yet the topic doesn’t have a handle that’s easy to grasp. “Alright, it’s clear we need to make management more innovative. Now what do we do?” My guess is management innovation will be the outcome of the causes Gary cites, tangible things like collaboration via wikis or recruiting talent on social networks.

Theodore ZeldinI do like the quote from Theodore Zeldin, a British historian of work, who says “the world of work must be revolutionized to put people–rather than things–at the centre of all endeavors.” This isn’t a new message, humanists have been talking about it since the 1920’s or 30’s, but perhaps now information technology will overcome the thing-centered work of the industrial age.