The reason I ask is because I have just come across an “AIM Practice” document entitled “HRM and Innovation Assessment.” which claims it can help “assess the extent to which HRM in your organization is oriented towards innovation.” If you have never heard of AIM Practice it is the sister organisation of AIM – the Advanced Institute of Management (Research) – and if you have never heard of AIM it might be worth asking yourself what makes these academics think they are so advanced? Sometimes advanced is not good news – as when cancer reaches an advanced stage.
The Deputy Director of AIM is Professor Andy Neely and I first came across Andy in 1998 when I was invited to speak (about Organisational HR Maturity) at the ‘First International Conference on Performance Measurement’ at Cambridge University’s Judge Institute of Management Studies. One of the papers presented at that conference (by Andy himself and Mike Bourne) was entitled “Why do performance measurement initiatives succeed and fail” and I have been trying to convince Andy ever since that one of the main deciding factors will be whether or not performance management is an integral part of a well-conceived, complete HR strategy. I failed to get him or his academic colleagues interested. In fact HR strategy has never really featured much in AIM’s research; so whatever they think they mean by ‘Advanced’ it certainly has nothing to do with advanced HR thinking.
Evidence-based HR does not loom large at AIM either. Yet the very reason this blog/book exists at all is because the main area of management that still lacks evidence is, funnily enough, not operational management but human resource management. This is because producing performance data on the way organisations manage their human capital is so problematic. If anything, AIM should be concentrating on EB-HR more than any other aspect of management research. Instead it is just dumping more and more HR products into a market already awash with non-evidence-based gimmicks.
So how good are these products being peddled by AIM Practice? How about their “Hot Spots toolkit – Taken from Professor Lynda Gratton’s book ‘Hot Spots: Why Some Companies Buzz with Energy and Innovation – and Others Don’t”. Odd choice when one considers the hot spot that Gratton’s exemplar organisation, BP, managed to get itself into.
If losing $$$billions in the Gulf of Mexico is advanced management what should we expect from the ‘HRM Innovation Assessment’ toolkit? Apparently it only “takes up to 15 minutes to complete.” and “When all of your nominated participants have completed the questionnaire you will be notified, and your personalised report will be available online within 24 hours.” There is no evidence offered as to what impact this ‘report’ might have so any thinking manager is bound to ask which elements of these off-the-shelf products qualify as ‘advanced’? How arrogant are these academics and how advanced is their management ‘practice’ if they think they can produce a report about innovation without even bothering to come down from their ivory tower to visit the company concerned? They would do well to heed Toyota’s very old principle of genchi genbutsu – ‘go and see’ for yourself.
AIM is the very opposite of advanced and there are plenty of antonyms of what that means – going back, receding, regressive, unsophisticated, even uncivilised and any organisation that does not take its human capital into account is certainly that.