After the Fiscal Cliff

24 12 2012

We all still wait with bated breath to see just how long Washington insiders will continue their puerile sandpit squabble; but the truth is that these are issues outside our control. Better to enter 2013 determined to something about the issues within our control. How about a commitment to get smarter – genuinely smarter – in 2013?
Two ways to do this of course. One is to understand ourselves better and leverage who we were made to be instead of trying to be a second rate copy of someone else. That makes us a lot smarter.
The other is to understand our corporate mission clearly and then focus on finding the people who really fit – in their bones – that mission. This is what I am speaking about on 16 Jan ( Not a new idea at all, but as long as business schools keep teaching the primacy of strategy and decision making, telling the larger truth, that right people comes before right plans, will continue to be a very relevant idea for CEOs and other leaders.
Finding the people who make us all a lot smarter; now there’s a resolution for 2013.
Have a great Christmas and New Year, from all of us at Elaura.


Creating Shared Value in Talent Management

10 12 2012

Good friend pointed me to Michael Porter and Mark Kramer’s 2011 HBR article “Creating Shared Value” last week. I seem to remember their original 2006 article on this subject and not quite getting the point; certainly understand it now.

What is particularly interesting to me is that it perfectly describes one of our three strategic anchor-points for Elaura, namely that our corporate engagement has to be fully synchronised with the work we do to help young people (teens and young adults) find their way in life via our hoozyu programme.

So here is Creating Shared Value in Talent Management in an (I’ve-got-a-few-minutes-on-a-Monday-afternoon) nutshell.

Inside the Corporate wall, companies struggle to find the young talent they need through a pure “graduate recruitment” approach. Internships and summer placements give a better chance to fully qualify prospects into genuine candidates. The problem is that the attrition rate is significantly high, so to acquire 100 fully-qualified recruits can mean several thousand short-term placements. The attrition is not at all because those engaged in the short-term placements are sub-standard in any way; it is far more to do with mismatch between the particular corporate mission or culture and what engages the candidate.

On the other side of the wall, Corporates invest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding into various aspects of youth training and guidance, whether within schools (e.g. work experience programmes) or outside (e.g. helping young entrepreneurs, young offenders, at risk youth etc). The size of the effort is anything but tokenistic (some large companies are investing phenomenal amounts of time and money in these programmes); but the results can be. Comparatively few of the young people so helped ever end up with a real job in a large business.

Now compare what Porter says about Cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire. Fairtrade – which is a redistribution or reallocation effort – boosts farmers’ incomes by 10-20%. Efforts that create shared value, on the other hand, boost incomes by as much as 300%. Instead of changing the share of a static pie, CSV (Creating Shared Value) builds a bigger pie so that everyone gets a bigger piece of pie, whatever their share.

A Shared Value approach to Talent Management starts by recognising that this is bigger than simply the Talent needs of one’s own enterprise. If you are International Edible Widgets, your success depends on an entire ecosystem of suppliers, distributors and customers, all of whom need their own Talent in order to succeed (and enable you to succeed). And here’s the thing – your suppliers and customers almost certainly need different Talent than you do; you are not locked in a zero-sum game with them when it comes to Talent. The person who doesn’t fit at IEW may be exactly the person Widget Express is looking for.

  • So a Shared Value approach to Talent Management, aimed at helping those currently in preparation to join the workforce, could and should be able to pull together effort and investment from the entire ecosystem.
  • Secondly, it needs to identify and develop Talent using the same tools and approaches used in industry, in order to avoid creating failure. Why use a mickey-mouse approach in school and university to tell a teenager they should become an actuary when they won’t make it through the first day of an assessment centre using a robust approach? (If you are in any doubt as to what I consider a robust approach, please read this!)
  • And finally, success has to be framed in terms of helping any given young person to identify their Talent and then develop and place that Talent appropriately. That means if IEW (to continue our fiction) is investing time and money in a programme for schools in a particular city, and Sarah Chan discovers that she was born to do logistics and follows that through, becoming in time Widget Express’s newest recruit, then IEW has had a double win: their key business partner just got better and smarter; and they – IEW – have avoided the nightmare of hiring the brilliant young Miss Chan into a role in which she could never shine. Actually it is better than that – many of Sarah’s peers have found their path in life too, so all of IEW’s ecosystem has been infused with real Talent; IEW has acquired Talent it needed; and – guess what – the number of kids with real jobs who can now afford to buy Edible Widgets increased too.

A bigger Pie all round.