Saturday, June 18, 2011

People Are Your Most Important Asset? - I Don't Think So

Our People Are Our Most Important Asset!

Donald Taylor posits here that people are an organization's most important asset.

Personally, I'd hesitate to work for a company that had that attitude.

On this blog, an organization's most important asset is data.

Although I wouldn't argue that a person is, "Something valuable that an entity benefits from, or has use of, in generating income", the complete definition of asset from is:
  1. Something valuable that an entity owns, benefits from, or has use of, in generating income.
  2. Accounting: Something that an entity has acquired or purchased, and that has money value (its cost, book value, market value, or residual value).
That doesn't sound right. Maybe we should dig a little deeper. Maybe people are tangible assets:
...anything that has long-term physical existence or is acquired for use in the operations of the business and not for sale to customers. 
A tad Orwellian, perhaps, but not too bad. Continuing:
...can be destroyed by fire, hurricane, or other disasters or accidents.
Gruesome, but true.
...can be used as collateral to raise loans, and can be more readily sold to raise cash in emergencies.
Stop right there.

How about intangible assets? Let's check that definition:
...the long-term resources of an entity, but have no physical existence.

Sorry, I'm just not buying the idea that people are assets. So what are they?

I think a person is a resource:
An economic or productive factor required to accomplish an activity, or as means to undertake an enterprise and achieve desired outcome.
Now that's a person!

Let's wrap this discussion up with a couple of metaphors:
  1. Data is the fuel for the engine (the resource) that produces information.
  2. Data are the ingredients for the chef (the resource) to produce a meal (information).
Do you have any better examples? Do you agree or (more importantly) disagree?

PS: Some people don't like the term "Human Resources", but I always thought it meant resources for humans, not resources that are human.

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