Book (upcoming)

“Networks Collide” (2014 I think)

Would you like to find out how political networks form, and why? What happens to the reporting structure of the state department during a major crisis? How elections are won (and lost) by the power of networks? Then this book will do wonders for you.

This book is written (so far) with the political junky in mind, though the business community can also benefit.

My goal in this book is to illuminate how network in politics work and how the new upstart Machiavellian political Guru can navigate them, understand them, and even build them. So far I’m leaning towards a book heavily geared to  the visualization and mathematical side of the field but I’m also trying to make it more readable for the average politico. I hope to be finished with the final draft by December 2013, going into final editorial review in Q1 of 2014.


“Power of the Human Resource: A Historical Perspective” (sometime 2014-2015)

It’s an interesting title right? Well the research is not exactly easy so I’m making up for the hard work with a cool title that makes me feel good.

The idea for this book came when I was presenting at one of the major HR conferences here in the US about the history and the future of the talent function. I know that at that particular conference there were a lot of people that were like “yeah, duh, so what” as I gave example after example of great civilizations using talent strategies effectively so that they can leave their mark on history.

What was missed at that conference and is missed in every aspect of business today including business education is a comprehensive understanding of how talent functions have developed over time. In most industrial psychology and HR undergrad and graduate programs, the students wake up one day, and their teachers tell them that Ford company started all this by creating the personnel department. How ridiculous that is when you look at the research and when you look at the history and the development of the talent function.

Effective talent strategies have been used for thousands of years. In fact, you couldn’t call yourself a civilization unless you were able to recruit, train, manage, develop, and promote into leadership positions the best and the brightest. “But in the past, all countries were dictatorships, right?” perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that country rulers didn’t value talent concepts that today in some of the best business schools across the country are completely ignored. I know! I studied at one of them!

The interesting thing is, when you ask the majority of successful organizational leaders, and CEOs about what the most important driver for business success they will say something along the lines of “Our People”, and some , if not most, believe it.

The issue really stems from their training, which for the majority of organizational leaders today, is squarely laid in financial management. they simply do not view the world through talent eyes, but most of them do what they can to attract, nurture, and attract talent.

The failure, in my opinion, falls on the method of promotion, training, and professional vision that HR leaders DO NOT possess so that they can teach and coach organizational leaders. And eventually becoming leaders themselves.

I argue that there is value in tactical methods such as succession management, employee relations, recruiting, but the real value is the direct relationship between these tactics and business tactics.

Let me illustrate using an example from the upcoming book where that relationship is easily and directly visible.

Napoleon Bonaparte–HR Professional

The concepts of warfare are reflective of the concepts of business and vice versa. Except, in business no one dies, at least not physically anyway. The great thing about studying Human Capital from the perspective of direct warfare is that we can see the results on the battlefield, clearly and instantaneously, and there are volumes of materials and witness accounts to guide our understanding.

One of the greatest warfare human capitalists that can be studies today is Napoleon Bonaparte, General and Emperor of France  between 1805 and 1814. during this time, the study and advancement of warfare developed significantly due to his ingenuity. The period is a good period to look at military science from the perspective of human capital because technologies during the warring European states of the time were relatively similar. If we wished a comparison of human capital practices in warfare today, we would find it challenging because of the gulf between modern states and poor states. In other words, today’s comparisons are less relevant to understand the significance of human capital because technological superiority hides and obscures the relevant advantages of talent from outsiders that are not living the actual events.

In 19th century Europe, most of the warring states had similar, if not almost exact weapons: muskets, cannons, wooden ships, horses, and the occasional spy network which tended to be hurdled by slow communication, and thus mostly irrelevant. Therefore  in order to win one must focus on overarching strategies which include political, cultural, and social dimensions; and on direct warfare–Both a direct function of talent concepts.

In warfare, battle should be seen as a tool of negotiations. If an army isn’t doing its job on the field, then you, as the leader can’t perform off the field. Strategists have always known that battle is a risky strategy for conducting diplomacy, but they also understood that effective armed forces are a strong factor in winning political, and economic negotiations.

In no period other than 18th century, and 19th century European battle tactics is that more apparent.

Human Resources Translated into Effective Battle Strategies

Battle tactics of the 18th century were not starkly different from tactics of previous eras. Large armies marched for hundreds of miles, carrying their overwhelming supplies to their destinations, soldiers on horses would act as communicators, travelling for hours, days and weeks, from the army’s command centers to individual battle groups carrying information, orders, and intelligence. All this culminates in armies being slow, and ineffective in the long run.

Napoleon wanted to create an advantage in his battle tactics that his opponents could not match. One of the things that he did was to reorganize the Army so that it can move faster, be more flexible, and increase the precision of his orders that are being carried out.

He did thisby decentralizing the reporting structure of the Army, much like company reorganizations today. As any HR professional knows different reporting structures creates certain strengths and weaknesses in the organization that can then be leveraged toward the particular strategic goal. His, was speed and flexibility, so would make sense to divide up the large French army into small divisions, that can react and move much faster than a single large block.

Historians estimate that block to about 20 to 25,000 men. He then assigned field marshals to command each one of those divisions. but he didn’t stop there, he revolutionized the way that the military commended its armies by giving each field marshal strategic objectives, rather than task defined orders. In other words is that of ordering a particular field marshal, to go there and to do this very specifically, he simply gave them a strategic objective like “take this town”, or “protect this area”. That left the field marshals with enough flexibility to make small and tactical decisions based on how the situation changes, without a need to ask permission for every single tactical decision–thus his overall goal of speed and flexibility was served.

He then replicated the same system all the way down to the platoon level, so that every manager in his organization had the flexibility to make whatever decisions they needed to make to achieve the objective. This of course cut down on a lot of excess communication, and held each commander accountable to achieving his or her objectives in whatever way was necessary.

We know of other modern-day leaders that did similar things for example the venerable Jack Welch at General Electric. reorganizing GE said that the leaders of each divisions were given flexibility in the majority of tactical decisions they needed to make, to accomplish some larger strategic objective.

One can say, that much of reorganization efforts today, are based partly on the theories that the great Napoleon had ingeniously stumbled across.

More to come in my book….