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Beyond HR

John W. Boudreau & Peter M. Ramstad, ca. 234 pages, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation (2007)

Business leaders are increasingly realizing that effective people management is imperative to organizational success. There is a significant amount of evidence indicating that HR practices affect a company’s financial performance. It is, however, still frustratingly difficult for business leaders to drive success through the organization and investment in employee talent.

Boudreau and Ramstad pose that the resolution of this dilemma lies in a drastic change in the way in which business leaders are held responsible for their decisions about the talent resources in the organization. It relates to how the HR function is organized, rewarded, and evaluated. They state that the change will be driven by a new decision science for talent and organizations, which they coined as talentship.

Talentship enables organizations to shift beyond a standard reactive mindset of traditional HR decision-making, to developing organizational effectiveness through the improvement of decisions that affect or depend on human capital. Talentship is defined by a logic that identifies and connects the pivot points in human capital, organizational design, organizational effectiveness and strategic success. This talentship framework encompasses a structure for improving decisions about how to enhance individual contributions, as well as how to enhance individual interaction in organizational designs and structures. The authors argue that the crucial success factors for a company’s sustainability will lie in determining which talent wars to win. They suggest that this could be done by differentiating between what is important and what is ‘pivotal’.

Boudreau and Ramstad provide a persuasive argument that implementing a scientific logic to managing the resource of talent would enable competing organizations to focus on restructuring talent-based decisions. The authors are also convincingly able to highlight the benefits of HR as a decision science. They demonstrate, through clear, practical examples, how an understanding of this mind shift in HR professionals could provide radical prospects with regard to talent processes and operational strategies.

‘Beyond HR’ has a logical structure, which allows the reader to clearly identify the critical pivot points, providing a general and comprehensive way to move beyond traditional HR, towards recognizing where investment in specific areas will provide the greatest probability of success. The reader will be left with a clear, convincing introduction to ‘the new science of human capital’ and the future development and sustainability of the field of HR management and talent management.


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