Strategically developing talent to win in our agile world


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. To exploit these opportunities we need people to learn and unlearn capabilities and increasingly to “re-invent themselves” through their professional careers. A number of studies have highlighted that the war for talent and indeed the war to develop talent is back – for example PWCs global CEO survey 2012 stated ”One in four CEO said they were unable to pursue a market opportunity or have had to cancel or delay a strategic initiative because of talent constraints”.


I have just finished reading a new book by Janice Caplan that argues that Strategic Talent Development (defined as providing the link between talent management and employee engagement) can help us provide a transformational response to more effectively address the demands of our agile competitive environment. She argues that the speed and unpredictability of change, the increasingly serious consequences for failing to manage risk effectively and the constant need to manage the bottom line requires more involvement of people right across businesses and 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 framework Janice Caplan proposes comprises a Future Focus, Self managed succession, People databank and Shared management and is the foundation to facilitate the development of a robust, holistic approach. Moreover this goes some way to providing a systematic approach that addresses a point highlighted in a recent CEB Study that “ HR is losing faith in high potential training” due to that absence of such an approach.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As I read the book I was reminded of my school motto – Res non verba (Deeds not words) and that the core talent arguments are not new – her arguments that new leadership more acts through promising “shared values” “shared visions” and “shared understanding” resonate with elements of the McKinsey 7S thinking – 30 years ago – and theme have run through Tom Peters’ Excellence Work. That said, this book has articulated the case well for taking a more strategic approach to the development of talent – a topic that Efficienarta would be delighted to help you shape and implement in your enterprise. Better developed people are more engaged and provide you a more agile capability – A WIN WIN!


Please contact to explore how we could work together to develop your talent more strategically and more effectively – including perhaps an Excellence Audit