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BadConsultant has been sojourning on a small island off the coast of somewhere warm, enjoying mojitaritas

[® BadConsultant, 9th August, 2010]

and reading many upon many books.

And we’ll start this post by being very clear, you are currently taking a first look at a concept that will become a book within the next year

[which you will scan and turn your nose up at when walking through airports – but that, 3 years’ later, you’ll be claiming you’d been an early reader of – and that’s fine, BC will get the royalties eventually]

The book’s working title is “Destruction HR” – though that will likely change long, long before it’s published.

First, some reference points which you need to read to have some sense of where BC is standing:

  1. “The Future of Management” (Hamel w/ Breen)
  2. “Beyond HR” (Boudreau, Ramstad)
  3. “Ishmael” (Quinn)
  4. “The Black Swan” (Taleb)
  5. “The Drunkard’s Walk” (Mlodinow)

[NOTE: in all the above, I’ve edited out the post-title sentence all these books carry for brevity’s sake]

From all of the above, and BadConsultant‘s inordinate opinion and experience, we contend:

Human beings have, for centuries, been diving deeper into the delusion that it’s a) possible to live in a rational universe; and b) that human beings can create rationality through the power of their brains alone.

Note that word, per Merriam-Webster online:

Delusion (noun)

Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin delusion-, delusio, from deludere

Date: 15th century

1 : the act of deluding : the state of being deluded

2 a : something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated b : a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary; also : the abnormal state marked by such beliefs

[Bold courtesy of BadConsultant]

Fast forward to now, a century into the mythology of the modern organization. Most people who enter the workplace every day are trapped in the delusion – organizations perpetuate the myth that they are somehow rational; that things occur in line with immutable and forecastable laws.

They are not. And things don’t.

HBR case studies, best practices, business books – they all sell on the basis that the delusion can be maintained. That it’s possible to live in rational times.

[The first line of the book will be “This book does not contain a single best practice” – in fact, if BC has his way, it’s the only time those two words will appear together in the whole text”]

It isn’t. We are human. We are programmed to exist and survive through

[and therefore create]


As BadConsultant has written many times, the illusion of hunky-doryness, is largely driven by the need to perpetuate delusional rationality.

And the corporate functions are the keepers of the hunky-dory, and therefore the keepers of the delusion.

So, why a new mandate for HR/OD?

Because the organization that succeeds in becoming completely irrational, completely human, will succeed beyond the wildest dreams of competitors. The Human in Human Resources is increasingly being proven to be the pivot point; the R of HR is increasingly demanding to be thought of as Results – i.e. what comes out of the sausage factory, not what goes in

[pig lips! I need pig lips!]

A new remit for HR: Human Results.

But what about the OD? While BadConsultant would love it if the concept of organization – pre-ordained structures, departments, roles, responsibilities – quietly slipped off this mortal coil and went to meet its maker, that’s not about to happen in the next few

[billing cycles]

decades. So, the O remains Organization… simple enough.

But it’s the D that needs radical change. It’s the D that will demand a new mandate.

Because over the years HR/OD have become addicted to a) keeping leaders happy and self-contained in the illusion of hunky-doryness; and b) adding things to the organization. Removing things is one of the great holy grails of HR/OD.

  • We’ll be more strategic when we lose the transactional stuff (that never goes away)
  • We need to focus only on work driven by the strategic plan (but if a leader asks me to do what I did yesterday as a favour, I’ll salivate)
  • We need standard processes, but my client group needs it done their way (so we’ll help them create a shadow system)

Nothing ever comes off the conveyor belt.

It could. It really could. But the current D in OD – Development – means additive development.

As a profession, we are now introducing fixes for the fixes that were supposed to fix the fixes that were designed to fix the…

Don’t believe ye olde BC?

Take a long, hard look at your performance management process. If it isn’t a lash-up of 5 or 6 legacy processes that bears no relation to business performance, we’ll be very surprised. If it is pristine, clean and simple, understood by every manager and deployed without deflection from business performance, then a) congratulations, you’ve achieved the impossible; or b) sorry that you are so far into the delusion of rationality that you believe that.

So, BadConsultant argues the the D must change. Radically.

The new D is for Destruction.

Destruction as in tearing down global career families and losing job titles. Destruction as in giving managers complete control of their budgets, including compensation and demanding on-budget, results-based management. And once that’s in place, Destruction meaning no salary bands, no calibration, no norm distribution, no across the board merit increases – just Managers paying their team what they believe they’re worth based on the measured results they’re achieving.

[How many managers? Many fewer than currently – of course]

Destruction as in removing every policy that protects against the worst behaviors of a small minority by legislating the behavior of all. Destruction as in firing people who consistently under-perform, not moving them sideways to spread cancer elsewhere in the organization.

Getting the BC drift yet?

The shape and scope of that word – Destruction – will be the shape and scope of the book.

And there could be no better function than HR/OD to lead the future – but it won’t be the HR/OD of today.

It’ll be “Destruction HR”.

With a new remit and mandate:

Human Results through Organization Destruction

We rather think we’re starting a movement, so drop BC a line if you want to be part of it.

’til we meet again, may the mojitaritas(®) flow freely,