Active agent: The only reason business still needs HR today

We all know HR is very common part in today’s business world. Human resources function has been accepted as a necessary part of organization that consist of people. In certain firms, which usually do not employ big number of people, HR may not exist as a separated specialized function of the organization, but yet HR function still exists and done by managers themselves.

We also heard many discussions about how we classify HR functions. The most common differentiation is perhaps between generalist and specialist function. I generally find this differentiation often times setting our mind far away from the actual business needs. It is a useful differentiation, but when we are too busy to classify and separate HR roles, we tend to be too rigid and inadvertently creating silos and killing the dynamic in HR itself.

It is a necessity to acknowledge  that dynamic world leading to volatile uncertainties in business. This is forcing organizations to be more adaptable to uncertainties, and that refers to the ability to evolve the people within the organization should have in real-time basis. This is beyond any doubt should fall into responsibility of HR function.

I like to put it provocatively in this way: If HR can’t make people in the business evolve effectively, then HR is not needed!

There are more and more reasons to not have HR in business, such as the role of technology in doing what people used to do, and the need of having smaller but stronger number of people in a team perspective than a big organization consist many people. And yet, there is one reason that HR has become much important more than ever. This one reason has been consistently pertinent in businesses, and probably the only reason every business should have HR. I like to call it in a way that describe well what HR essential role is: ‘troop management’.

In a dynamic business world where competition is inherent and future is generally unpredictable, the organization can be seen like an army. An army to win the war, which in this case is business competition. HR is  function to allocate the people resources in the most effective formation to execute the right tactics in delivering strategic results. That means that HR is the function that prepare the qualification, activate the competence, boost up the readiness, and design the best ‘vehicles’ to optimize all of these.

Hence, HR is an active agent of the organization, instead of a rigid administration and bureaucracy. If HR is only about administration and bureaucracy, business should invest in technology. No need a team of HR.


To say HR as active agent is to say that HR business process must be designed to be easily dis-assemble and re-assemble, according to the volatility of business environment and the irregularity of business needs. Rather than a bureaucratic business administration machine, HR should be a task force that works effectively as virus strain that ‘influence’ how people within the organization is behaving and executing.

Such HR nature can most effectively work out under these conditions:

1. Driven by values, where behaviors are rooted from principles; instead of merely mechanical response toward some economic incentives.

2. Simple structure, that allows re-modification or roles and flexible responses; instead of a lazy heavy and complicated  structure that barely able to move.

3. Ability to re-assemble in multidimensional perspective; instead of pyramid, it should be more like a Rubic cubic or a Lego-type construction, or atomic formation.

4. Small number of team-member consist of versatile generalist with certain portfolio in HR expertise, and strong affinity in both strategic framework and tactical execution.

5. Business oriented, entrepreneurial mindset, ‘can-do’ attitude, and get-things-done habit.

6. Excellence in planning skill, tactical skill, and tolerance of ambiguity.

With all of these packed in HR ‘personality’, than HR function will effectively work as the agent, the virus; to enable the organization in evolution and/or immediate mutation, either one required by the business to sustain.

That, I believe, a single reason today’s businesses need HR.


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