But if the future I see coming is true, then every company is about to experience that kind of frenzy, all of the time. Personnel is about to become the key competitive factor. And how each HR department deals with this new reality will decide whether its company will succeed or fail.
It will take online daily newspapers and global teleconferences and spirit events in stadiums and special awards and gifts and titles and a thousand other motivational devices we can't even yet imagine to get fiercely independent and talented workers to cleave, if only temporarily, to employers. It will also take genius, and the dissemination of that genius, and a whole lot of hard work to figure out this new challenge.
And most of all, it will take a few brave and entrepreneurial HR professionals to lead the attack; the 21st century equivalents of Regis McKenna and Fred Hoar.
Is HR ready for this onslaught? No. I see no sign that anyone in that profession sees the disaster coming. Is there anyone in the field that can lead this charge? I'm sure there are — as always with entrepreneurs, they must find themselves. But first they must see the opportunity and the threat.
Will HR succeed at this daunting task? Sure it will. But the longer it fails to see and accept its destiny, the more painful it will be for American corporations to cope with this new era
So wake up, HR Department! Put on brave faces and draw your swords. You are about to lead the charge.
Michael S. Malone, once called “the Boswell of Silicon Valley,” most recently was editor-at-large of Forbes ASAP magazine. His work as the nation’s first daily high-tech reporter at the San Jose Mercury-News sparked the writing of his critically acclaimed The Big Score: The Billion Dollar Story of Silicon Valley, which went on to become a public TV series. He has written several other highly praised business books and a novel about Silicon Valley, where he was raised.