While the greatest organisational failures may lie in public management, Kanter's work shows that very many organisations fail to set aside time for the vital, non-hierarchical, "parallel organisations activity" which is required for innovation, and Hogan's work shows that some 50% of American managers drive their organisations into the ground in their quest for personal advancement.
"Human Resource Management" is largely restricted to personnel selection despite the following:
- The job descriptions used to guide selection are typically grossly deficient in that they ignore the kinds of activity which, as the work of Kanter and others has shown, are the most important from the point of view of organisational survival;
- People typically move on to different kinds of job shortly after having been hired;
- One of the most important abilities distinguishing more from less effective managers is their ability to build up their own understanding of, and subsequently intervene in, economic, political and social systems outside their organisations to benefit their organisations;
- Another is the tendency to think about, place, and develop the idiosyncratic talents of subordinates. This activity extends to redeploying part of the time of personnel hired for one purpose in the other activities involved in "parallel organisation activity" in such a way as to utilise all of everyone's talents for at least some of the time.
The main reasons for the neglect of these activities are:
- there are no concepts to help think about the talents required to understand, intervene in, and monitor the effectiveness of interventions in, hidden societal systems processes and political and economic systems:
- there are no concepts and tools to think about and assess high-level talents like the ability to notice problems, make them explicit, harness the activities of others to the task of doing something about them, conceptualising the activity, generating publicity for it, and so on. As a result, it is very difficult to recognise such latent talents and take steps to ensure that they will be nurtured and deployed
- there are few concepts and tools to deploy to design individualised developmental programmes - i.e. to (i) surface latent motives and incipient talents of individuals (ii) think about the nature of, help plan, and monitor the effectiveness of, the individualised developmental programmes which are required to nurture those talents. (Such programmes involve placement with others who share the individual's motives so that, by working with someone who shares his or her enthusiasms, the subordinates will learn how to do such things as take initiative and develop more effective strategies for selecting and achieving goals. They also include opportunities to work at tasks which are inherently engaging and thus offer their own reward for determination and persistence.)
- there are no staff appraisal procedures which enable one to find out about what people are really doing (they are not usually doing what other people think they are doing, still less what others think they have hired them to do) and give credit for such contributions to organisational effectiveness as an inventing way of intervening in political systems, monitoring results and changing behaviour accordingly.
To overcome these problems there is a need for tools to:
- assist in guidance, placement, and development relating to high-level competencies - i.e. tools to help identify the incipient motives and talents of individuals and monitor their development. Also to focus attention on the key features to be included in Individualised Developmental Programmes;
- draw attention to the key features to be provided in developmental environments, assess the effectiveness of attempts to move forward, and identify what needs to be done next;
- draw attention to features of the arrangements required for innovation and learning, assess the quality of what is currently being provided, and identify what to do next;
- give people credit for exercising high level competencies - i.e. for making contributions which usually elude observation and fail to get recorded.
Further research is needed in all these areas.