HR, Science Fiction and the Future

As a self-admitted recovering nerd, it should be no surprise I’ve been a sci-fi fan my whole life.  Whether it’s pouring over the Patton Oswalt Star Wars filibuster, reading all the Iron Man 3 spoilers I can find, or wondering which direction The Walking Dead will take next, I’ve always been  fascinated  with the genre.  And I’ve often wondered if there are any really great ideas that sci-fi hasn’t already given us.  Remember the old saying, “science fiction plus time equals science fact”?  It’s all true.


So I do wonder at times if there is anything new we can expect out of HR.  Have we already hit on all the good ideas?  Are we just trying to make them reality?  If we look at the writings of Asimov, Gibson, or Phillip K. Dick, we are shown worlds where HR doesn’t exist.  Where our systems run our lives, where our every move is known before we make it, and were corporations run rampant in a eerily possible future society.  Everything is known, everything is checked, and everything is recorded.  Is that really what our future holds?


The good news, I think, is that it isn’t likely.  As anyone in HR will tell you, employees are nothing if not unpredictable and original in the ways they cause mischief.  I think that’s why HR gathers often turn into a game of “I can top that!”  We have more stories that you might imagine, and sharing those experiences help us deal with the next round of interesting issues.


So,  predicting  behavior?  Putting the Batman Gambit into play in the real world?  Not terribly likely.  But we can reach the future state of great records and instant data accessibility.  We can strive to put all the answers in the hands of our employees in under thirty seconds.  We can work towards a future for HR that is less about administration and more about a better working environment.  That’s why we all got into HR to begin with.


The rise of case management as a software market gives us hope that we may, someday, put together an HR function that would make a Neuromancer proud.  And that’s a pretty good goal, if you ask me.



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