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It is better
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John Sumser

is more
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John Gall


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(April 13, 2004) - With a nod towards last week's automobile industry references, the subject of "Quality" is rearing its head throughout the industry. There are several intersecting trends.

  • Unicru's success in the retail markets, integrating hiring and measurable systemic performance improvement prove what Industrial Psychologists have long professed.
  • What is now years of bottom line management have focused organizations on the possibility that "quality of hire" matters.
  • Seasoned team builders who actually believe all of that stuff about human beings being our most important asset....understand today's employment environment as a temporary downturn in an otherwise hot market; talent is a bargain if you can find it.
  • Years of monotonous droning about Talent Management Systems (most of which are fancy automated rolodexes) have caused an interesting reaction: people are starting to believe that talent matters.

We can easily predict a land-rush of taglines proclaiming Quality as the next battlefield. Most of the crap will be engineered by industry veterans who have never heard of nor digested Deming, Juran, Crosby, Baldridge or 6Sigma. Unfortunately for them, there is real science behind the Quality ideal. The difference between marketing veneer and a real move forward will be more apparent in the emerging "Quality" environment. It might even be the issue that causes the HR function to really grow into its logical role at the strategic table.

Quality is hard. It is not a matter of quickly catching and correcting defects. Rather, Quality emerges from self-policing functions that operate according to well defined plans and specifications. Quality requires organizational introspection, investment in training, adaptability in process and clarity in mission, objectives and initiatives.

Quality requires well refined and trained judgment. At the same time, personnel quality is a tricky ethical environment. Balancing regulatory requirements with realistic mechanical prediction is territory that should scare anyone with a whit of civil libertarian in her genetic material. While it may be reasonable to determine that the elderly in a certain zip code make better clerks, the exploitation of geographic concentrations of classes of people are the underlying architecture of a lot of nightmarish scenarios.

As far as we can tell, there isn't even an interesting definition of Human Capital Quality. Beliefs vary wildly across the nature to nurture spectrum. It's hard to account for good fortune (or bad) in our assessments of organizational culture. While self-contained cultural definitions are the hallmark of the Industrial Psychologist, they can not even offer a coherent view of organizational health let alone the value contribution of a single individual.

We'd love to be involved in intelligent conversation on the subject. Are there Recruiting shops that use Total Quality principles? Does anyone know of a Recruiting operation that has applied for the Baldridge award? Has anyone seen a compelling definition of Human Capital Quality? If you have ideas , experiences or documents, please let us know.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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