2020 – The Year of Human Capital

The subject that I draw my knowledge from, Crew Resource Management, has been described as the synergistic coming together of systems, equipment and people.  It’s about effectively meshing all the various puzzle pieces that make us able to operate at a high level of skill, functionality, efficiency and productivity.  Crew Resource Management doesn’t focus on the systems and equipment – or not primarily.  Primarily, it focuses on the people.  Why?  Because people are always the variable, and the ones who must operate the systems and equipment.  If you remove the people from the equation, the systems and equipment lie idle… you need to add the people for anything to work.  And yet, whilst the systems and equipment are known quantities, the people bring variables that require awareness to mesh together.
No other year in recent history has highlighted the intricacies of Human Capital quite like 2020.  The wholesale removal of the human factor from our businesses, our cities and our world has had massive and far-reaching effects and implications, and our focus has swung round to the health of our Human Capital like never before.  We’ve learned that our natural world flourishes without us, immediately setting about repairing and replenishing what we have removed, robbed or misused.  Our human world, the one we’ve built to sustain and justify us, crumbles fairly quickly without our input though.
We’ve learned that focusing only on profit and returns for extended periods of time without any investment into buffers (whether they be financial, resourceful or energetic) left us with no reserves to call on as teams, as entities or as individuals when the wheels stopped turning.
We’ve learned that nothing is assured, least of all our stability, to the degree that we place our focus on transient things.  We’ve learned the value of those transient things (whatever they may have been for you) in comparison to our own mental, emotional and physical health; and that of those we care about.  We’ve learned to reassess, this year, the true value of the Human Factor, and just what it takes to keep that running.  We’ve been brought face to face with our own strengths and weaknesses, our own fears and desires, and we’ve been asked to reassess our value and usefulness and to fight for what we believe we can offer.
As the leader of a team of people, it’s important to have a Human Capital Strategy.  It is as important as having a business strategy, although many leaders don’t actively consider the people they lead as an asset that must be tended to and utilised with as much care and precision as more traditionally recognised assets like financial capital.  Many leaders have a business strategy which is aimed at developing their business and taking it to new heights and the achievement of new goals.  Yet few, in comparison, have a human capital strategy that details how they’ll actively employ and grow their human resources so that they can drive that business on the journey described.
It’s been a hell of a ride this year, whether you’re a leader or a team member, and it has shaken most of us to our core.  It has asked us to draw on reserves we didn’t know we had; to prioritise things with clarity we hadn’t previously considered; and to make decisions we didn’t know we were ready for.  It has highlighted the difference between our qualifications and our value as a human being – something most have intricately tied together.  We’ve experienced the great scything of qualified individuals the world over as businesses fought for survival.  These losses threatened our stability and survival and challenged how the business world valued us; but it didn’t diminish our intrinsic value as human beings – and it is that value that allows us to rise again.
This has been a year of reassessment and reinvention.  Of reprioritising and reclarifying.  We’ve learned what we really require to keep running, and what we have within us when it’s called on.  We’ve learned what we’re prepared to fight for and what we’re not.  We’ve learned something about what we stand for and what we won’t tolerate.
We’ve learned something new about what we need to invest in ourselves and our people in order for us to find flow and energy, rest and recovery.  We’ve learned that without us, some things go on turning, and some fall apart – and they weren’t necessarily the things we thought.  We’ve learned more definitively that people are more important than things, and that life is about finding ways to live fully every day.
The lessons from this year have been deep, important and costly.  They have been fundamental and hard-earned.  Whilst our inclination may be to close the door on this year as soon as possible, it would be a tragedy if we had to relearn any of these lessons at a later stage because we didn’t take the time to recognise them.
As the little that remains of 2020 passes by, let’s use it to decide what we’d like to take forward with us and what we’d like to leave behind as that calendar page flips over to a new year.  What are the lessons and thinking from this year that have added definition and clarity to how you choose to go forward?  What have you found you can discard and have no wish to carry forward?  What and who is important, and what are you willing to invest in those things.  What have you learned you need to input or allow in order to maintain balance?  Where has your Human Capital Strategy worked and where has it not – whether that was managing yourself or leading others.  2020 has allowed us a new view-point – what will you do with yours?

by Christen Killick

December 14th, 2020


  1. Sean Kennedy on December 16, 2020 at 3:56 am

    Christen greetings as we Are about to welcome Christmas 🎄 and 2021 in as year of change,
    with lessons learned not necessarily what we wanted
    or even expected or prepared for!
    Your article is as always an overview thought out with incredible human passion and care for how, when and where we can improve, look inwards and finally make choices that are with all factors being considered.
    I fear the aviation industry lost an incredible pilot but we as a group gained an awesome author! Thank you again Sean. Wishing you and yours only the best .

    • Christen Killick on December 22, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Thank you, Sean. I truly appreciate your encouragement – energy shared counts for much! Have an awesome Christmas and here’s to applying what 2020 has taught us next year!

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