Now the hype of the millennium is largely over we should perhaps use the advent of the Year 2000 to reflect on our profession and its role in the future - although amid all the planning to avoid problems with the Y2K bug I couldn't help but wish that there might occur some small glitches which would strike down only those PCs and telephones operated by line managers and personnel staff. How refreshing it would have been to see the faces of all those people forced to leave their offices and work stations and go out and speak to people, face to face.
But I return to my thoughts about the future and realise the same considerations which motivate my secret wishes also direct my thinking about our profession. One issue which concerns me is what we call ourselves. Of course what we do and how we do it is more important than what we call ourselves, but the trend in the past few years to call ourselves the "human resources department" sends out signals about ourselves and our profession that I hope are not true.
As a former "gunslinger" in the 1970s and 80s, I knew at the time the confrontational system of industrial relations was hardly progressive let alone constructive, but perhaps like politics was an example of the art of the possible in that particular era.
In many personnel departments there grew a reputation for admin, welfare and other costly and reactionary services. In that context, I can understand why people might want to distance themselves from the organisation and language of those times.
But in one step the Americans and academics set about "inventing" the human resources management culture. They dressed it up as "proactive" - another term I dislike. Furthermore they pretended, like road-to-Damascus visionaries, to be privy to some new philosophy which required their followers to "add value", be "customer-orientated" and clasp mission statements to their bosoms.
I don't know of any personnel director or manager who does not understand the role of his department in these areas. We all know our organisations must be flexible, nimble and, above all, people-orientated. I believe crucially in the individuality of people. I find myself, therefore, at odds with I guess about two-thirds of our profession who, by their title, regard the people they work with as "resources", to be bracketed with equipment, capital or faci