I’ve been blogging about human resources, in one capacity or another, since 2004. While I’m the first to indict human resources for its stupid behaviors, I also serve as a character witness for the men and women who are in office parks and factories around the world—serving leaders and employees who don’t deserve their genius.
So when LinkedIn announced that it was asking 300 interns with very little work experience to hack their way to a better version of human resources, I was a bit confused. There’s a misplaced belief that 300 fresh and bright eyes might see things that the old people in HR don’t see.
Don’t believe the hype.
Some people think that banishing experts from brainstorming sessions is a good idea, but that’s only been shown in small studies and very contained environments. If you do further reading, science tells us that LinkedIn should just ask 300 women to attack existing HR problems. That would work, actually.
And collaborative efforts are tough. First, you have to agree on the problem. Simply muttering “HR sucks” is not a very effective problem statement. Then you have to get the right people in the room who operate with the right behaviors. Sounds unnecessarily complex because it is complex. If we could hack our way to solutions, we wouldn’t need to hack in the first place. The solutions would appear before us after a long night with a little Adderall and some Diet Mountain Dew.
Listen, I’m all for good work.
But you can’t remove scientists and solve the problem of drug-resistant TB. You can’t get a group of marketing professionals together and solve Beal’s conjecture. How can you get 300 interns to solve HR problems?
Maybe I’m missing something, but this seems sorta dumb.
Hackers know how to hack. Corporate nerds don’t.
I just hope LinkedIn asks their interns to bring more than just enthusiasm. Real hackers bring a very substantial set of tools with them to the party, if you know what I mean. They’re eager to solve problems, of course, but they don’t just show up to the party with their smartphones and a bag of weed. They start with solid computer skills and have a broad understanding of the protocols and technologies that they’re about to dismantle.
Then they might smoke some weed.
Which is why I just can’t believe that 300 interns—with limited work histories and nothing more than a stereotypical worldview of HR that’s been fed to them by consulting firms and academics who benefit from the dismantling of HR—would have more insight on the function of human resources than LinkedIn’s very own HR team.
And what do these interns have that LinkedIn’s HR team doesn’t have?
If LinkedIn doesn’t employ HR domain experts who are steeped in the future of work and implementing those philosophies within their own organization, isn’t that a wholesale indictment of LinkedIn’s business model?
Anyway, the LinkedIn HR Hackathon seems hokey and stupid to me. Just like a bunch of HR tools to watch the for-profit dismantling of their career paths from the sidelines and cheer it on. Ugh. There are days when I feel like Sisyphus, and today is one of those days.
So you can jump on the hackathon bandwagon, but I’m going to sit this one out.