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Home » Blog » Transforming the HR Discipline- Using Howard Gardner's 5 Minds of the future framework
Transforming the HR Discipline- Using Howard Gardner's 5 Minds of the future framework
Published: Mar-27-2013

Dr. Howard Gardner is professor of cognition at the Harvard graduate school of Education and recognised as the father of the theory of Multiple Intelligences. In his book Five Minds for the Future he outlines the specific cognitive abilities that will be sought and cultivated by leaders in the years ahead.



I have tried to use the 5 Minds of the Future as a framework for HR professional development.




  1. The Disciplined Mind- the mastery of major schools of thought, including science, mathematics, and history, and of at least one professional craft or in our case- Human Resource. The question here is – what would it take for Human resource to be considered a professional craft:-


    1.  Gladwell in his book Outliers mentioned the 10,000 hrs rule- the time it takes someone to become a master in a profession. So an HR professional with 5 years rigorous experience in a particular aspect can be called an expert in that area ? But how do you become an expert in the HR craft? I think the answer is a combination of a standard body of theory combined with practice and certifications as detailed in the following


    2.  How do you track the progress of a Finance/ Accounts professional- they go through a rigorous theory body in the form of a Chartered Accountancy, ICWA or MBA Finance and within 5-7 years a competent finance manager should be able to lead a team which manages the books of accounts and balance sheet for a mid-sized firm. If we use the same benchmark in the HR- I would assume it would be a professional who can run the HR Policy and Strategy or Resourcing or Development or Performance Management or HR Operations function for a mid-sized firm; but while for finance its easy to calibrate the expertise basis how the books were maintained and the team lead; the HR milestones are tougher to measure and would be the subject of another blog post!



    3.  The biggest intellectual scam in Human Resource is the “HR Generalist” role - what does it mean ?- have you heard of a Finance generalist, or Sales Generalist or a Mergers and Acquisition generalist- I believe what it really indicates is that – “since I am not an expert and the HR function is structured in a manner that it cannot be measured or held accountable- please give me a role which makes me do everything and nothing so that I can get the next job”. As HR Professionals, academics and craftsmen – we need to detail each Role / Milestone in a manner which makes it easy fathom the – rigour and competencies required to be a HR professional. The competency map for the Resourcing expert is an attempt in this direction.



  2. The Synthesizing Mind: the ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres into a coherent whole and to communicate that integration to others. The changing management context requires this in every sphere and like we mentioned in an earlier blog post on 5 competencies of HR Professionals in 2013 and beyond   it will also happen in Human Resource , for example – Organisation design will require knowledge of collaboration tools and HR Cloud; Gamification will permeate every HR interface and system and requires knowledge of behaviour architecture, instructional design and technology . In my opinion the following disciplines would influence HR the most

    1.  Behaviour Architecture- This is an evolving discipline with exciting opportunities for Human Resource – whether its Performance management, Employee engagement or even Employee health initiatives


    2.  Psychology- From Assessment to training to individual coaching Psychology will continue to influence Human Resource and if you combine it with analytics and big data- it would become even more powerful. 

    3.  Statistics- The amount of data available on each employee, their interaction with HR Interface – human or technology – analytics and statistics will become the bedrock of HR decision-making and policy


    4.  Instructional Design – Instructional design will become more specialized, and involve technology , subject matter experts and User experience specialists


    5.  Marketing – While HR collaborates with Marketing even now – it would increasingly draw on the discipline for not only Employee Branding but as a promoter of collaboration, complex organisational design and new engagement ideas



    6. Finance- HR Professionals will have to go beyond the usual Finance for non- finance professionals course, as the decisions they take- whether to hire or use the HR cloud, Globalized workforce and opportunity cost of competency mis-match , outsource or in-source , will have large Financial and organisational bottom line impact



  3.  The Creating Mind- The capacity to uncover and solve new problems, questions and phenomenon . We are in unchartered territory and increasingly HR will be asked to solve problems/ issues which have their origin in technology and human interface, globalization , engagement for the HR Cloud, dealing with multiple category of workers- some of them you will never meet. The solutions will define the fate of not only companies but Industries.



  4.  The Respectful Mind – Awareness and appreciation of the difference between human beings and human groups. The world hopefully will not have a place for the prejudiced mind !! but HR will increasingly be asked to deal with human problems and issues at the scale of the individual and not resort to all encompassing HR Policies. Not only that – the link between organisation success/ creativity and Organisational diversity has been proved – now its upto HR to deliver on it



  5.  The Ethical Mind- fulfillment of ones responsibility as a worker and as a citizen . HR will have to create organisation policies and performance management systems which value long term wealth creation and ethical performance and not the ones which encouraged self destructive behaviour in the banks during the sub-prime crisis.


     Omar Farooq

    Founder and CEO- AceProHR













































































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