Rock! Paper! Scissors! An Imago HR game changer

by | May 30, 2019

In the game Rock! Paper! Scissors! each player forms one of three shapes with their hands, using an outstretched arm. Rock (closed fist), paper (a flat hand) and scissors (a V shaped index and middle finger combo). In the simultaneous game there are only two possible outcomes, a tie, or a win-lose.

In the game, rock beats scissors because it crushes or blunts them, but loses to paper because paper covers rock. Paper loses to scissors because scissor cuts paper. If both players chose the same shape, then it’s a tie and so the game needs to be replayed to break the tie. It’s a game of strategy, judgement and wit!

People tend to have their favourite shape!

Sound familiar?

In work, we have three things …people, process and performance…  everything boils down to these three.

So, for me, I see people as the rock, the dominant force behind everything we do, without which we could not operate, but we know that rock becomes fragile when divided up and broken. Paper is the process which wraps around everything but is vulnerable to being torn up; and scissors are the performance aspects, which can be used as a sharp and incisive instrument but may become blunt and immovable if not maintained.

The thing is, in the same way that in the game no one ‘shape’ is better than the others, it’s true to say that no one aspect of business is greater than the others. People, without processes, find it hard to operate and understand purpose; and in turn, they then find it hard to perform.

When it comes to deciding, all 3 must be considered, and in the game of organisational design, just like in the game of rock, paper, scissors, everyone needs to have the opportunity to declare their hand and make a call about which they think is the best course of action to take. The strongest, in comparison to the weakest, will win, but only at that time.

Neglect all 3 and you don’t have a game; play the same shape each time (like a creature of habit) and you don’t have a game; play to win and you may end up the loser! 

I’ve I found to my cost in the past that because I was ‘HR’ I was expected to play the people hand …but this seemed too easily defeated by the performance hand or the process hand …and so as a team we would end up in debate or stalemate … or I would feel like a loser

Remember, it’s like I said, no one hand is better than the other and once everyone realises that each has its strengths when played at the right time, it stops being a game of chance or competition and becomes a game of strategy and fun!

Try it today, Rock, Paper, Scissors …………………………one, two, three, go !

Vanessa is a very experienced HR Professional with a career spanning over 30 years. Prior to setting up Imago HR she worked for many years as a senior HR leader, providing a compassionate and pragmatic approach to people management. Click on her website to find out more about the Imago HR service