Monday 19 January 2009

Human Capital books


Lawler Talent Last week, I briefly reviewed Ed Lawler's recent book, Talent, and explained that this really focuses on human capital management (or using Lawler's phrase, becoming human capital-centric).

Other recent books that focus on this topic, which you may also be interested in include:

Baron HCM Angela Baron's and Michael Armstrong's book on HCM presents the CIPD's research and approaches in this area.

This sees measurement as central to HCM, with taking measurements as the starting point in an HCM process, and developing HR internal scorecards; HR management objectives; human asset worth and human capital scorecards as key steps in the HCM journey.

The book starts by explaining that HCM 'is about creating and demonstrating the value that great people and great people management add to an organisation'.  However, despite this, there is little in this book to help organisations create this value (I guess the book's sub-title: 'Achieving Added Value through People' says it all).

Echols HCI

Michael Echols, Director of Bellevue University's Human Capital Lab also focuses on measurement (particularly of learning) in his book, Creating Value in Human Capital Investment.

But I think he gets closer than the CIPD to providing a compelling theory for HCM.

The key to this seems to be Echols' proposition (which I would agree with) that CLOs must treat intangible asset expenditures as future-revenue bearing investments.  Investments in intangibles like human capital, therefore need to be treated in a different way to investments in other things.

I still don't think it gets to creating value though...


Hall HCS Bradley Hall's book, The New Human Capital Strategy, is subtitled, 'Improving the Value of Your Most Important Investment' and defines HCM as 'a system designed to create sustained competitive advantage through people'  And I think it does get closer to creating value (the long-term aspect of his human capital blueprint).

However, just as Lawler's book on talent really deals with HCM, this one often focuses more on talent management ('improving the people in critical roles' more than it does on HCM.

And it also falls for the biggest elephant trap in HCM: that organisations 'need to measure and manage human capital with the same discipline as financial capital'.

Ingham HCM My own book, Strategic Human Capital Management: Creating Value through People, also focuses quite heavily on measurement, but I hope that it succeeds in putting measurement in its place, and also provides processes, tools, examples and suggestions for actually creating  value from human capital, as well as simply measuring it.

If you enjoy this blog, you'd enjoy the book too.





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  1. Hi John,

    Love your blog!!! critical and straight forward. Just had your kindle ebook version.

    Would you please share your top 3 HR favorite books?



  2. Hi Fezi, top of my head...

    Gary Hamel Future of Management
    Colin Price Beyond Performance
    Lynda Gratton Living Strategy (bit of an old one)

    Also see:

    I don't agree with all of the ones on this list, but they've all provoked me into blogging - which says something!


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