People are Your Greatest Asset

The Most Important Investment You Make

People are Your Greatest Asset. This often stated mantra was affirmed by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg when he was recently interviewed by J.P. Donlon (about forward looking plans for Boeing.) On the subject of the “talent gap”, Mr. Muilenburg said “I’m a firm believer that the most important investment we make is in our people.”

“Muilenburg’s Moonshot”

People are Your Greatest Asset – Extract Greatest Value

Like other tangible assets, the human kind have diverse attributes of interest to the business, pass through predictable life cycle stages, and can be subject to both anticipated and unanticipated failures.

People are Your Greatest Asset - Personal Progress

Extracting greatest value begins with acquisition practices. Where the process ends is more open to interpretation. Retention is a challenge unique to people. While machines won’t walk out on a moment’s notice, people can; taking much of the investment in their success with them and leaving a vacancy to re-fill.

While a machine will have performance bounds established by design specifications, people performance is wide open – influenced by culture, education, and professional development initiatives.

People are Your Greatest Asset – Pursue Human Resource Development.

Business knowledge developed in the course of an employee’s tenure is arguably both the property of the person and the intellectual property of the organization whose programs inculcated the related know-how and experience.

Human resource failure modes should be enumerated and tracked. Teams can take corrective and preventive actions to reduce failure frequency. Failure frequencies can be monitored to assess the impact of these actions.

On one hand, people cannot be kept running indefinitely through part replacement and preventive maintenance. On the other, people can be continuously retrofitted, through personnel development programs, to mitigate obsolescence and continually enhance goodness of fit to the organization.

Tangible asset management paradigms and thinking processes fit human resources nicely – though initial reaction to the concept might make this perspective seem crass. Asset management for people must extend into the realm of human resource development with additional steps to achieve value adding transformation and to assess impact.

A timeless and powerful framework for assessing human development program effectiveness is Don Kirkpatrick’s four-level framework for evaluating training impact. It’s scope spans program participant reaction through assessment of business impact.

Learn more about the “Kirkpatrick Model”.

The cross-functional team overseeing asset management will surely want human resources to have a seat the team table. Team collaboration with human resources will produce synergism that exploits the collective perspectives of the extended team.

Here are links to sample Human Resource Development (HRD) plans. They can provide inspiration for a team that aspires to implement a comprehensive and formalized approach to HRD.

Developing the HRM Plan


In conclusion, placing people under the asset management umbrella spawns rich conversations about vital human resource characteristics, life cycles, and human failure modes. Extending the conversations to include conventional human resource development practices creates an immensely comprehensive view of people and ways to both boost and extract their value to the organization.