Hacking HR to Build an Adaptability Advantage

Kill HR! From Human Resources to Resourceful Humans

By Heiko Fischer on June 24, 2022


Have you ever wondered what Captain Kirk earns? No?
That's probably because his Job and his Mission are so far beyond that concept. 
Have you ever heard: 'Commander Spock to HR please!' Not either?
Well, ever wondered why the Crew of the Enterprise did not need HR? 
Because this crew had mastery, autonomy and purpose and their mission was too unpredictable to be controlled centrally. In Star Trek HR is no longer a Function, instead HR became competencies of Resourceful Humans.The crew of the Enterprise worked just like the people who designed the Way of the Resourceful Humans - creatives operating at the bleeding edge of Innovation inside the videogames industry and radical educator in the volatile industrial sector of Brazil. Based on their lessons the RH-Way proposes to run your organisation on Resourceful Humans alone. It asks to dare more democracy in the pursuit of self-organizing, high-impact Teams. Resourceful Humans demand to be enabled, not administrated or strategically partnered with by a Human Resources Function! This worked 30 years ago when Clovis Bojikian did it at SEMCO and it still works today at companies like AES and umantis.
Mixing proven entrepreneurial focus on purpose and contribution based value creation with an agile mindset and a lean startup methodoly, gives HR a powerful method to escape the perpetual hamsterwheel.
With the Way of Resourceful Humans, the HR Function becomes the driver and pioneer for an updated, democratic model of Capitalism: Democratic Entrepreneurship.
The ideal self-organising enterprise becomes the product HR is striving for. Giving itself a 5-10 year timebox, it graduallly eliminates all HR topics through driving three simple questions working along bi-weekly sprints:
1. Do our customers love and own the way they work?
2. Do they have everything they need to do their best?
3. Are they fairly rewarded for their contribution.
The framework behind these questions consisted of three core drivers:
1. Organisational Democracy of the Willing and Able
2. Free Flow of Information
3. Fair Gain Sharing
Via a three stage HR2RH framework, all HR adminstration is outsourced and all value-adding compentencies like leadership development and recruitment migrated into small, self-organisizing business units.
Article by Clovis  Bojikian, former Head of HR SEMCO
TED talk by Heiko Fischer, former Head of RH Crytek, founder and CEO Resourceful Humans
Who likes HR anyhow?
A conversation overheard the other day between an HR Business Partner and a Teamleader... 
"If HR 3.0 is your answer to my problems...I want my problems back!"
Way too often the Human Resources function is in charge of administrating problems that come with organisational growth or are intrinsic to command & control management structures.  Size. Hierarchies. Apathy. Ignorance. So, What should we do? We should stop treating the symptoms and focus on the causes.
Let's rewind to the lesson of successful startups. No entrepreneuer ever wanted shared services. An entrepreneuer wants a healthy culture of innovation. An evolutionary one that sustains the successful products and services and a revolutionary one, that engages in inventing the future. A culture that can constantly reinvent itself, while staying alive through that rejuvenation process.
It's therefore time HR approached its own existence in the way the organisation shoud be run holistically. HR's business is not return on investment. HR is about people and it should live up to its responsibility to shape, design and enable cultures of innovation, in a new balanced spirit of enterprise between people and profit.
How would we talk, walk, act and organize if we approached organisation as a group of people who should be enabled to run their own business with all the necessary skills directly in the value-creation chain, closest to the customer. Not with cental HR. Not even with decentralized HR, but with a complete distribution of HR skills into small, self-organizing teams.

Adding value comes by looking outside the company as much as inside. The RH-Way is all about understanding that the network of talent, which is your organisation, in itself is a social medium. This group constitutes the organisation, these people create structures, lead and innovate. There is no such thing as 'the organisation' - Talent and therefore Resourceful Humans are everything. By removing all barrierers and folding the customer community into your internal community, Resourceful Humans create a talent-centric setup. Either you create or you sell, nothing should stand between people and their customers.

Creating this environment is the Job of the RH enabling Change Force!

RH is about HR being a lighthouse for self-organisation and enabling this Solution in the wider enterprise.
Know this joke?
'Doctor, when I bend my arm backwards like this...it hurts like hell!'
'Stop bending your arm like that then, you moron.'
The solution to organisational issues related to size, hierachies, apathy and ignorance is not HR 3.0. It's not incremental change. It is not more of the same. It is NOT Enterprise 2.0. The answer is a reboot of how we think about organisations, our business ethics and how we fundamentally design and run the enterprise. The answer for existing organisations is a transformational framework from Human Resources, via a Hybrid, to a pure Resourceful Humans working ecology. 
The Resourceful Humans concept enables an evolution from central command & control power structures, via decentralized design, to an organic distributed federation of self-organising teams. Functions such as HR, Marketing and Finance become competencies in service of fast-acting teams. Think of it as the difference between a Starfish and a Spider. A spider has a centralized body with legs. Cut off the head, it dies. A starfish is a distributed organism, major organis are replicated throughout each arm. Cut it in half and you get two starfish.
The core concepts of Resourceful Humans are:
1. Organisational Democracy of the Willing and Able
2. Free Flow of Information
3. Fair Gain Sharing
This core concept translates into the following entrepreneurial terms: 
1. I possess the choice to pursue what I love doing and attach myself to like-minded, competent people.
2. I have the neccessary information to make good decisions.
3. I will fairly benefit from the measure of my efforts.
Holistically, it means teams are free to gravitate towards topics closest to their intrinsic motivation, enabled by democratic decision making and tools, informed by transparent information, networked through self-organized contracting based on mutual commitments, and fueled by the prospect of entrepreneurial gain-sharing, will have the greatest possible business impact. 
By implementing such a democractic management framework, the RH-Way allows the sustainable co-existence of evolutionary and revolutionary innovation. The former required to strive for process excellence in existing products and services, the latter giving te space for game-changing ideas.
The Transformation Design is split into 4 distinct phases:
0. Engage - Assessing Organisational Readiness
1. Revolution - Piloting the RH-Way as a new Spirit of Enterprise 
2. Baseline - Deriving an (in)credible Plan for Scaling the RH-Way in a customized Hybrid Fashion
3. Evolution -  Embedding a new framework to sustain the customized RH-Way
Core component of the RH-Way's four phases is the Dream-Adapt-Evolve loop. The first step is to seize the opportunity that provides a meaningful contribution, then move into rapid prototyping and embed short-spaced sprint cycles for fast-reviews and design iterations. Through the social checkpoint of free association, ideas will stick through more talent attacahing themselves to the idea and therefore grow or remain unconvincing in the internal talent market, whither and die.
The RH-Way also utilize an appreciative method called the "3Ys" - asking simple questions to probe the product at every point of development. It acts as preventive measure to slip into 'doing things right', instead of 'doing the right thing'. When the Y-Questions can be answered simply and clearly, the teams can establish clear networks of contracts between themselves and will buy into each others Visions - driving the business forward through and ecology of shared belief. 
As a product matures, talent has the choice to remain with the maturing business and adopt evolutionary innovation, or undertake the entrepreneurial risk of pitching/attaching to a new revolutionary idea in the business ecology.
The HR Function splits three ways:
1. A classic adminsitrative function to be out-sourced
2. A temporary RH Change Force. Facilitators, Mediators, Keepers of positive Momentum towards RH and Guardians of the organisational peace.
3. HR becomes not only agent of the Starfish ecology but literally becomes the ecology. As more teams move past Baseline, HR distributes its competencies directly where they are needed - in the value-chains of the temporary teams. Human Resources literally becomes Resourceful Humans.
Practical Impact 

The RH-Way reboots an Organization's entrepreneurial spirit. In the words of HP Founder Dave Packard, 'The Purpose of a Company is NOT to make money! It makes money in order to do what it is really all about, and in our case that's to make a meaningful contribution to the people who work here and the communities we operate in.'

RH-Way Origins - Purpose of a Company











Resourceful Humans pre-empts the issues of size, hierarchies, apathy and ignorance by creating a  a peer-creation culture. It enable the mindset and tools for a healthy self-sustaining culture of Innovation. Regardless of hierarchy, everyone will have the same opportunity to approach work in the most innovative, productive and efficient manner, based on networks of self-organized contracts with shared goals. Purposeful accomplices who can design their own work environment to create the best possible product of service, will not employ normal management tools and techniques. 

What does an environment of Resourceful Humans look like?

No Hierarchies but Circles

Each teams resembles a circle: independent and autonomous. Once you join, you’re an equal. Its then up to you to contribute to the best of your ability in service of the shared idea.

No Mission Statement but Ideology

Ideology is the glue that holds distributed organizations together. It consists of authentic, often unarticulated, belief in the purpose of the team and organization's benefit to the community. Not Central Strategy, but fluid, mutating Network. Resourceful Humans do not perceived organizations as confining constructs, but as enabling platforms - semi-permeable membranes. The Resourceful Humans Concept lets them associate freely to the enterprise in whatever form they chose, as long as they are accepted by the receiving team.

No Leaders but Catalysts

Leaders of Resourceful Humans-centric organizations are vastly different from traditional executives. A catalyst is any element that initiates a reaction without fusing into that reaction. In open organizations, a catalyst is the person who initiates a circle and then fades away into the background. They generated ideas and then allow the circle to follow through. They get a decentralized organization going and then cede control to the members. Letting go of the leadership role, the catalyst transfers ownership and responsibility to the circle. The catalyst is an inspirational figure who spurs others to action. Circles don’t form on their own. A catalyst develops an idea, shares it with others, and leads by example. 

No Project Managers, but Champions

A champion is relentless implementer, promoting a new idea. Catalysts are charismatic, but champions take it to the next level. Catalysts inspire and naturally connect people, but there’s nothing subtle about the champion. He is a natural people person, salesman and builder. He translates vision into reality. 

A practical exampe?

People in a company living the RH-Way asked to design a radical new bonus system, as none of the traditional models seemed to be fair to them. They created an online platform, where each employee could log onto. Depending on their seniority, each employee had a number of stars at his disposal to reward fellow employees with online on a quarterly basis. They could award stars to whomever and add commentaries as to why they awarded them. The Revenue and Profit statements of the company were available online, and at the end of the year, based on the EBIT, each star transparently received a monetary value. The employees created their own social feedback and bonus distribution platform. No more arguing with managers about unfair apraisals. No more bell-curves. No more intransparent and complex bonus calculations and administration by HR. Resourceful Humans became the solution.

First Steps 
Mini- RH Readiness Check
Assemble your best team (max 15 people, minimum 10), give each member 5 Pretzels (tell them not to eat them) and ask them the following ToDos (Don't reveal more than one ToDo at a time!):
1. In teams of 3-5 people show them the below RH-Question Cycle of Dream, Adapt, Evolve.
RH Cycle
2. For the Dream - "Which Zone are you in?", print-out the below "HR Zone to RH Zone?" table and let the teams assess the status quo of your organisation on its basis. Let the teams present their views back to the rest of the group.
HR Zone to RH Zone Table
Are you RH?
3. For Adapt - Show them the following 'Field Manual of a successful RH Pilot Team. Ask them to reflect on it. What could an RH Pilot in your organisation look like? Framing question: "If you could design your work and work environment so you could improve your business, not incremental but exponentially, what would you change? (Give them one hour to walk about, get inspired, talk, anything really, but to come back and craft an actual, tangible prototype by any means available to them other than PowerPoint, Keynote, etc...the point s actual crafting together) Give them 5 minutes to present it to each other."
RH Field Manual
f(RH)eedom Manual
4. For Evolve - Let them sit down and answer the following questions:
a) One a scale from 1-5, where 5 is the most valueable and 1 is crap, how valueable did you find this exercise?
Let them make one round, then follow-up with:
b) One the same scale, what do you think you contributed to making this a valuable exercise?
c) Now ask them to distribute their Pretzels to the people in the team they felt made the exercise most valuable. Let them do it with everybody else watching their distribution and let them explain why they awarded them.
d) What would need to change next time to achieve a 5 in both a) and b)
Now they have 'experienced' two solutions from an RH Evolution environment. mo(RH)ale - a self-organised team health survey and sta(RH)s, a social Bonus model. Both solutions are free of central HR adminstration and command & control management, intrinsically safeguarding the Baseline from slipping back into an HR Zone through democratic organisational and procedural design. The final parting question for the team should be:
e) What RH ideas could your team come up with that it could put into practise tomorrow morning?
Voila, your very own two hours "Resourceful Humans Readiness Check".


HR process being hacked:Organizational Development

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Yes, I agree! Good post and references. Thanks.

andy-lippok's picture

I like it - what more can I say! A real manifesto for change - a fundamental change in thinking, a pre-requisite for change to occur.

andy-lippok's picture

Hi Heiko - I can't believe no-one is on the team for this hack yet - unless they think this is already a completed one!!

In my view HR and people practitioners should start to become the change it and they want the organisation to be, and I reckon the key area would be around the systems thinking as espoused and demonstrated both academically and eminently practically by Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes, and countless others.

All change beings at the thinking level and not the doing level, yet the result of the change in thinking then delivers change at the doing level. Great intentions, motivation and competencies underpinned by the wrong thinking changes little.

Managers need to recognise the organisation as a system, it’s their job to remove the obstacles within the organisation. They also need to understand human motivation (Dan Pink, Alfie Kohn, etc.). Design of the work from the outside in, and focus on what is the real purpose what matters to the customer. Then, analyse the demand, design measures for what matters, then when you understand the systems thinking that determines the current way of doing things, you simply get the people who do the work to re-design the work in order to achieve purpose and what really matters, and what happens is almost magical! Service improves, costs reduce, morale increases, and the culture change happens for free. At no time do we do anything to the people, we simply get the people to work on the work. That's the systems thinking at the practical and yet quite profound level that I believe HR could help to make organisations more adaptable and adept.
If you want to work more on the Systems Thinking hack, please join the team on page 2!

salut andy,

well, in a way it is a hack thats already in progress ;-)

we kinda merged it with eliminate hr, there was so much overlap.

i just posted my thoughts on systems thinking in reply to fiona's comments i believe.