Sometimes New Leaders Have to Burn It All Down...
Mizzou Football: Leaders Need To Make Sure Urgency Is Obvious to All...

Good HR? Steve Jobs Might Say It's Like a Bicycle For Your Employee's Career...

I haven't been to the new Steve Jobs movie yet.  Mrs. Capitalist is chronically uninterested and while my oldest would like the story, at 15 going to the movies with dad isn't on his priority list.  

So I did what any professional grade ADHD television browser would do last night - I watched the 15 minute sneak peek on HBO. Steve-jobs-movie-poster-800px-800x1259

The new Steve Jobs movie has struggled a bit at the box office.  Still, there's a lot to like.  Aaron Sorkin has a style about him.  Michael Fassbender is one of the most underrated actors of our time.  Seth Rogen plays the Woz.  Lots to like.

But all I got was the HBO sneak peak.  And it was there I uncovered this nugget of wisdom from the annuals of Steve Jobs, one I hadn't heard before:

"I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list....That didn't look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle and a man on a bicycle blew the condor away. That's what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds."  --Steve Jobs

That's pretty brilliant.  And because I'm a HR/Recruiting/Talent nerd, I started wondering about the application of that quote to HR. Here's what I came up with:

"Good HR is the equivalent of the bicycle for your employee's career."

Love that quote/application or not, it's true.  

Good HR enables employees to be everything they can be.  Good HR encourages, nudges and grows employees in all the right ways.  Good HR also tells employees the truth, even when it might not be in HR's best interest to do that.  Good HR maximizes the prospects of the individual employee, because it knows that approach maximizes the long term interests of the enterprise, even if short term pain is inflicted.

Bad HR? That makes employees look like they're walking - rather than riding - on the journey.

Steve Jobs probably hated HR. But he would love a great HR pro who's more like an artist than a transaction.



Great stuff. I don't know if I would have enjoyed being Jobs' HR leader, but I'll say it would have been and exciting challenge. One note to add, Kris; good HR provides good locomotion to business leaders WHEN they are willing to listen and act. It's our job to lead them to water, but they have to want to drink.

Susan Muegge

Thanks for a thought-provoking piece. The idea that an HR team has the ability to make their employees more efficient, faster, simply more is exciting and empowering.


Agree: Good HR is bold and daring with a sense of humanity. On Jobs' side: good HR has to be visionary, has to be the catalyst to make things happen at the company and the employee level. Jobs would probably have appreciated that kind of HR.

Matt Landrum

Great analogy.
Also, loved Fassbender in Inglourious Basterds and 12 Years a Slave.


Great quote.

I would love to have lunch with Ann Bowers. She was the first Director of Personnel for Intel Corporation and the first Vice President of Human Resources for Apple Inc. I bet she has a few stories to tell about HR under Steve and company.

Lance Perez

Agree: Good HR has to provide the tools and skills necessary for employees to grow within an organization and their career. That's where training and development programs become very important. Any organization needs to investment in its employees because in the end their return on investment will be greater than the cost of training and developing them. Higher productivity, job satisfaction and moral. There is nothing worse than performing a job that one knows absolutely nothing about.

Jonathan Batin

That is a great point you make. HR is like a bicycle for employees. Bicycles make for a good ride wherever your destination is. An employee would like to have a good ride in any job they have, and that is where HR comes in. A good HR will help employees become satisfied and happy in their job, therefore producing more and more. That is one of the main goals of any company, is to make sure productivity is at its highest level.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)