By : Jim Pinto,
By : Jim Pinto,
In today's competitive global market automation end-users and suppliers alike are under increasing pressure to improve return on assets. Many companies tend to forget that people are their primary assets.
Automation World, January 2006.
In today's competitive global market automation end-users and suppliers alike are under increasing pressure to improve return on assets – which is the theme of this issue of Automation World.
There are several advanced technology solutions that address asset management – on-line condition monitoring and diagnostics, preventive maintenance, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the like. Asset operating ROI can be made available at any time, all the time, focused on strictly financial investments and returns.
In the drive for improved asset-management, many companies tend to forget that people are the primary assets. Technology solutions and asset-management software suites are available to global competitors, leveling the playing-field. The key competitive differentiator is management of people – attracting, motivating and retaining knowledge workers.
Peter Drucker, the great management guru, died peacefully in his sleep at home on Nov. 11 at 95, eight days short of his 96th birthday. For over a half-century he wrote continuously on management and social issues. He originated the view of the corporation not just as a profit-making machine, but as a human community built on trust and respect for its people. He coined the term “knowledge workers”. In his later years his comprehensive articles covered an amazingly wide spectrum of human affairs.
More than 50 years ago Peter Drucker was the first to assert that people should be treated as assets, not as costs or liabilities to be eliminated. He originated the view of the corporation as a human community built on trust and respect for workers, and not just a profit-making machine. In a 1992 article in Harvard Business Review he observed that, while all organizations say routinely that people are their greatest asset, "Few practice what they preach, let alone truly believe it."
When companies make the claim that they are people-orientated it’s often corporate hypocrisy. After all, how can companies claim that they put their employees first when they are willing to lay off thousands to boost share price? When the CEO’s compensation is several times more than the training budget?
The core problem is not that companies don’t value their people — it’s not easy. People orientation is not simply a matter of buying additional equipment and software to “manage the assets” – it’s much more widespread and diffuse than that. It’s part of the corporate culture, a slow and deliberate process. To value people companies must move beyond the notion of human resources and towards the notion of human capital. The term "resource" implies an available supply that can be drawn upon when needed. The term “capital,” however, refers to something that gains or loses value depending on how much is invested, and how it is invested.
Here are some issues that stem from the idea of "human capital":
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