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A STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE ON FIVE MINDS FOR THE FUTURE

The diversity of Human Resource Management (HRM) practices in Organizations is designed based on wide-ranging attributes of the business environment unique to a nation, namely; incentive compensation, labor laws and regulations, employable manpower availability, flexible working hours, counseling in career management, recruitment, training, re-skilling and compensation policies and many more.

Further, globalization is characterized by four unprecedented trends in the world economy as under:


     
  • The movement of capital and other market instruments around the globe.

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  • The movement of human capital across national borders, (about 100 million immigrants at any one time around the world).

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  • The movement of information through cyberspace.

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  • The movement of popular culture (clothing, food) across national borders.

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    Of the trends identified the influence of ‘Culture’ is strategic and has to be handled and managed properly because many aspects of human resource management are affected by differences in national cultures.

    It is pertinent that we comprehend how people learn, create, lead, change the minds of other persons or their own minds for a cohesive society and a sustainable organizational development.

    Numerous reports con¬tend that the advent of the global eco¬nomy has brought a realization that the only lasting competitive advantage is an organization’s ability in deploying Human Resource effectively.

    Psychologists with a background in cognitive and neuroscience draw attention that we know how the human mind operates from a scientific perspective. As humans we have hundreds of diverse cultures and subcultures, and the possibility of informed and conscious choice is immense. This shapes our values and the directions in which our society, our political and our economic considerations are headed.

    Research over time ascribes five ‘Dramatis Personae’ qualities that form the core of human mind. Each one is important historically and is even more critical in the future. With these characteristics an individual will be well equipped to cope with the expected and the unexpected. Devoid of these an individual will be at the mercy of forces that she or he can’t understand, let alone control. Further, the world of the future, with its ever-present search engines, technological changes and other computational devices, will demand capacities that until now have been mere options. To meet this new global setting on its own terms one has to cultivate these mental capacities to sustain and organizations have to develop these cognitive attributes in their employees through the endless effort of training and development programmes.

    The first dramatis persona of an individual is the “Disciplined mind”. A mind that masters one way of thinking—a distinctive mode of reasoning that characterizes a specific scholarly discipline, a craft, or a profession. Research substantiates that it takes up to ten years to master a discipline. The disciplined mind is informed how to work steadily over time to improve skill and understanding. Without conscious training and control the individual is destined to march to the tune of someone else.

    The second dramatis persona of an individual is the “Synthesizing mind”. A mind that is always in quest of information from unrelated and different sources to update oneself, A person understands and evaluates all the information objectively and puts it together in ways that make sense to self and others. This characteristic was valuable in the past but the capacity to synthesize has become ever more crucial today as information flow continues to mount at dizzying pace.

    The third dramatis persona of an individual is build on discipline and synthesis, and is called the “Creating mind” and does something that is different to anything that has been done before. It is the mental mechanism by which one puts forth new ideas, questions old conventions and methods, poses unfamiliar questions, conjures up fresh ways of thinking and arrives at unexpected answers. But these creations must be naturally acceptable and recognized by all. Such thought process is beyond the realm of ‘bounded rationality’ and in a territory that is not rule governed. The creating mind seeks to remain at least one step ahead of even the most sophisticated computers and robots.

    The fourth dramatis persona of an individual is the “Respectful mind” that is observant and welcomes differences whole heartedly among human individuals and groups. It tries to appreciate “others” and seeks to work effectively with them. This mental setup is due to recognition of the fact that nowadays no one can remain in isolation within one’s shell or in one’s home territory. Due to globalization we live in an era where we are all interlinked and intolerance or disrespect is no longer acceptable.

    Moving ahead the fifth dramatis persona of an individual is on a level more abstract than the respectful mind, the “Ethical mind” that ponders on the nature of one’s work and the needs and desires of the society in which one lives. This mind conceptualizes how work can serve purposes beyond self-interest and how members of society can work selflessly to better the lot of all. The ethical mind then acts on the basis of these analyses.

    Persons who inculcate these five dramatis personae of the ‘five minds of the future’ are at a premium in the world of today and will be even more so tomorrow. They span both the cognitive spectrum and the human spectrum—in that sense they are comprehensive and different from human intelligence. They are considered distinct from computational capabilities etc, and the broad uses of the mind which we cultivate and nurture at school, in professions, or at the workplace. In fact, the five minds result in the abilities to think and learn; for example, quality control is not possible without the exercise of a disciplined mind or innovation may not result without a creating mind.

    Human resource management is affected by globalization and by the diversity of available manpower. It is a challenge faced by HRM professionals in harmonizing seemingly oppo¬sing forces and train and develop talented personnel. For Instance, in late 2000 the US economy was slo¬wing and though workers were easier to find yet recruitment was challenging in areas where skill shortages existed. The transformation of HR practices in Japane¬se companies seems to be slow and in¬cremental, carefully avoiding agony of the past as the managers have a strong sense of corporate obligati¬on to provide jobs, income and security.

    So it is essential to cultivate and nurture the creation of five minds of the future in our human resource, if we are to have the kind of managers, leaders, and citizens needed on this globe. To conclude, persons lacking one or more disciplines will not be able to succeed in a demanding workplace and will be restricted to menial tasks. Those without synthesizing capabilities will be overwhelmed by information and unable to make judicious decisions. Those with no creating capacities will be substituted by computers and this will further drive away those who do have the creative spark. Those lacking respect will not be worthy of respect by others and will vitiate the workplace and those devoid of ethics will yield a world devoid of decent workers and responsible citizens.

    The human resource managers have to custom build unique training and development programs to cultivate this group of five mental behavioral tendencies and prepare individuals who are disciplined, synthesizing, creative, respectful, and ethical. This learning is essential for the strategic and sustainable growth of the social and organizational edifice and realizes the objectives of inclusive economic growth, corporate governance and social responsibility in this era of globalization.

    (With inputs from the book “Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner”)

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