small change: you are not a human capital asset


small change 


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Your job is

  • a joint venture
  • for a period,
  • increasingly brief


Blog 17  small change: you are not a human capital asset

you are not a human capital asset

You are not a human capital asset. No one is.

Check your body. Any barcodes?

Check your organisation’s Asset Register. Are you on it, with an annual straight-line depreciation?

Is “Human Capital” on your organisation’s balance sheet?

No, to all of the above. Of course not. If they could, accountants would have found a way by now. But they haven’t because they can’t.

Human capital doesn’t exist. Never has. Never will. No amount of metaphorical mind-bending will change that fact. No organisation “owns” you.

Of course, you are – technically speaking – a human resource to the extent that you are human and you are a resource to your organisation.

But people see themselves as neither human capital assets not human resources and that’s what counts.

Once, when facilitating a workshop with a group of Human Resources Directors (HRDs) I asked for “hands up if you love being a human resource”.

No hands. Are you surprised? Surely not.

I believe HRDs should change their titles to Chiefs of Staff and support and repatriate responsibility for creating an environment in which people in your organisation thrive to the CEO, where it rightly belongs.

Your small change task, should you wish to accept it:

Don’t use the term human capital, which has no place in an environment, society and governance (ESG) compliant organisation and support your HRDs in becoming Chiefs of Staff and remind your CEO, if required, that he or she is responsible for “human resources”. Always was. Always will.

You are not a human capital asset nor, in ESG terms, are you a human resource. You are a micro-business wholly owning your own career equity consisting of your curriculum vitae (CV), emotional intelligence (EQ) and reputation (PR).

Your job is a joint venture with the other micro-businesses in your organisation for a term. These terms are becoming increasingly brief. That you can count on.

Your organisation exists only in law. Otherwise, it’s just a construct.

I don’t like the often repeated phrase:  “our people are our greatest asset”. They’re not yours. They’re not assets.

And if you feel they are “great” then demonstrate that you value them by calling them, people.

People. A lovely word.


Ciarán Fenton

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