HR and ecosystems

The survival of mankind will depend to a large extent on the ability of people who think differently to act together.

One of my favourite expressions of a man who made an impact in the lives of many, Geert Hofstede. He passed away about two weeks ago at the age of 91 years.

In my daily work, the focus is to help people understand that we are not the same. And that we need to acknowledge this if we are to give people equal opportunities. Another thing of crucial importance is to not judge a book by its cover.

Hofstede would on a typical labour market never been given the chance to make the impact he created. And that’ s because his cv is all over the place. Yet, he is one of Europe’ s most quoted social scientists, he has been quoted by the Economist as the man “who put culture on the map” and is considered one of the most influential management thinkers of all times (non anglo-saxon).

In a world which is more interconnected than ever, where functional knowledge is outdating faster than ever, there is one thing which has not really changed, and that is the way we are programmed to think. Think as a species.

In several meetings I had this week and events I attended, there was an expression of despair – how can we enable HR to enable top management to change its ways of looking at HR.

I’ll give you two tips to broaden your horizon and let you reflect for a while.

1. Read Hofstede’ s book “Culture and Organisation, software of the mind, 3rd edition”. It will help you to start understanding why, in order for HR to become more relevant, you need to look beyond the role of HR. For HR to become the strategic business partner it wants to be you need to look at an organisation as an ecosystem, enabling people who think differently (e.g. lawyers, HR, engineers, men/women, young/old, Fin/Foreigner) to act together.

2. Ask yourself, when was the last time you attended professional non HR events, attended an English (HR) event in Finland or studied something business related which was not HR?

Egbert Schram

Egbert Schram is a Dutchman, residing in Finland. He acts as the Group CEO of Hofstede Insights, a global cultural advisory, advising individuals, organisations and governments on the impact of culture on work life. Currently having operations in 60+ countries, and a global practice of about 150 people (of which 93% outside of Finland).