Strategic Talent Development



It can often feel as if our enterprises are being subjected to avalanches of boulders as our rapidly changing world places new demands on our enterprises and open up – between the boulders – new opportunities. The “Dynamic Capability” work by David Teece provides a Sensing, Seizing and Transforming framework to help enterprises think about why they are successful. (David Teece is an Economist, Professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and entrepreneur). Each of these three dimensions of managerial activity can be anchors for Strategic Talent Development within a framework that avoids weaknesses experienced in many existing approaches – those that all too often are focused on developing competencies for yesterday’s market needs.


The speed and unpredictability of change, coupled with the increasingly serious consequences for failing to manage risk effectively and continuously optimize the bottom line, requires more agility than is consistent with traditional command and control tactics.   Deeper and more rapid involvement of people right across enterprises is needed and writers such as Strategic Talent Development by Janice Caplan argue that this necessitates:


  • A change of attitude and approaches for leading, managing and organising people – in particular grounding talent development in future needs rather than past performance,
  • Better communication of how enterprises see their businesses,
  • Involving people more in the identification of opportunities and the future capabilities required,
  • Leaders having a deeper current understanding of the people they employ – including their aspirations.


The Strategic Development framework Janice proposes comprises a Future Focus, Self managed succession, People databank and Shared management. I see these as providing a foundation for more effectively developing people so that leaders can trust and delegate more – underpinning a move to “influence and collaborate” from traditional “command and control” tactics. Moreover the framework goes some way to providing a systematic “future focused” approach to address criticisms of traditional learning and development,


This is becoming more urgent as not only are the competitive demands of the market place changing, but there are also indications again in the likes of PWC’s Global CEO Survey that the “war for talent” is re-emerging as a serious constraint on growth and that people are becoming more ready to change employees (Talent is on the move, can you catch it). Couple this with the continuing evidence that there is huge potential to secure business benefit from better employee engagement and I encourage you to re-look at how you develop your people rather than debate whether more investment is needed. Can your people add more value to your clients that your competitors people can? The challenge is to develop a blended approach of on the job, action learning and a mix of leader delivered and externally delivered learning sessions that deliver the capabilities needed to sense, seize and transform more effectively avoid the negative experiences, that taint some assessments of previous leadership and development – for example a global survey of HR professionals by advisory company CEB identified that effective frameworks were lacking and found that only half of respondents had a systematic approach in place to identify high-potential staff, and only a third used valid assessment methods to back up their choices.


The Efficienarta response to these challenges and opportunities is a menu of offerings that include:


  • Short strategy fundamentals workshop that helps managers understand strategic drivers and the enterprise’s current strategic position.


  • Excellence assessments (using the Tom Peters Company “Excellence Audit”) [link] that involve a cross section of staff in identifying the current enterprise performance from the perspectives of Brand, experience, execution, performance, architecture and the level of performance needed in each dimension to achieve your organisational ambition.


  • Action learning programmes, using your own people (including “Leaders teaching Leaders”) rather than external consultants, to build capability to address gaps so that more enterprise value is created as a consequence of by sensing, seizing and tranforming more effectively.


Please contact me ( to discuss actions we could take together to improve the capability of your staff and enable you to both win your battle to develop talent and raise your enterprise’s capacity to sense and seize market changes and to make the transformations needed to turn the changes into value.


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