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Humaneering Technology

Humaneering is an emerging applied science derived largely from the human sciences of biology, psychology, and sociology, yet includes relevant knowledge from more than 100 science disciplines. With a mission to one day increase the effectiveness of people in many of life's endeavors, humaneering's initial focus is the design and management of work performed by people. Engineering, which is derived primarily from the physical sciences of chemistry and physics, complements the application of humaneering and increases the effectiveness of people performing work that is highly standardized or machine-dependent.

In effect, humaneering enhances the design and management of people-dependent work system elements, whereas engineering enhances the design and management of machine-like work system elements. The design of man-made work systems typically involves both people-dependent and machine-like elements, and applying humaneering and engineering technologies respectively for the design and management of these system elements enables maximum overall system performance. Conversely, work systems are sub-optimized when only humaneering or engineering is applied, or either humaneering or engineering is misapplied to work system elements for which the respective technologies are not effective.

The human sciences were still largely undeveloped during the Industrial Revolution, such that early job designs and management practices failed to capitalize on many of the productive forces of human nature. Later attempts to apply the human sciences to work were largely rejected or ignored by management. In the late 1930s, a distinguished industrial psychology scholar, Joseph Tiffin, called attention to humaneering—the missing technology—by recognizing the additional economic value possible from human work if only the human sciences were translated into a universal applied science and more accessible to management.

In the ensuing years, human science scholars continued their efforts to expand and refine human-science knowledge, while consulting firms and individual practitioners applied this knowledge and pioneered increasingly comprehensive models of human behavior within work systems. However, the engineering-centric culture of business rendered much of this new potential inaccessible to management, if only because we see best what we already believe. Rapidly developing information technologies eventually flooded management with thousands of bits of piecemeal advice, much of it based on little more than a good story or shred of evidence and driven by visions of personal riches or fame rather than of effective operations. Today, management is pummeled annually with hundreds of new "must-read" books to distill and integrate into management practice, yet rarely has the time or temperament for such effort.

The vision of creating an integral human-science technology re-appeared as a practitioner-led, proprietary development effort in the mid 1980s, and after many years of successful application some of its still-emerging insights were shared professionally (PDF 137KB). This early proprietary approach to humaneering was later contributed to the non-profit Humaneering Institute to support the development of a more expansive, institutionally maintained, and freely accessible public version of humaneering technology. The Institute's current development of humaneering technology builds on this pioneering work, while extending its potential through ongoing research and development that continues to draw on the work of research scholars and workplace practitioners from all parts of the world (See The European Productivity Network article on humaneering.

People familiar with humaneering's recent development efforts suggest that this technology promises to be the principal enabler of 21st century post-industrial economic development, in the same way that engineering technology was the principle enabler of 20th century industrial economic development. History will tell. For now, it is well established in its field trials that humaneering technology will provide management with a single, integrated technology for most effectively employing human capital to create economic value. In every type of work, humaneering consistently yields greater productivity from operations that depend on people.

Recognizing and adopting a new technology is not easy for people who have grown up and worked without that technology for their entire careers. To prevent unfamiliarity from becoming a barrier to improved enterprise performance, organizations that are innovation pioneers should apply for the available EarlyAccess (private beta) field trial initiatives, which consist of opportunities to apply humaneering technology to improve business operations. By working with the Institute to conduct these comparative experiments within your work culture, your managers will learn firsthand how to utilize humaneering to design more effective and robust work systems, how to best maximize the economic value creation of business operations, and how to develop people-based forms of operational competitive advantage.

Did we mention that humaneering technology is free? The Institute is a non-profit organization with a mission to serve the public. When humaneering technology is released, it will be royalty free.  

Please contact us if you have questions about humaneering technology or would like to receive additional about how humaneering can benefit you.