Friday, February 24, 2006

Human Capital, Talent Management, Organizational Capability

How many different ways can we categorize programs and processes that impact the people component of our organizations? In the last few days alone, I've read articles on new Human Capital Metrics, the revised "War for Talent," aging workforce woes, succession management, and leadership development. Over the last 8 years as the economy has boomed, bottomed, and is now booming again, you see human resources and operations people scrambling to alternatively prove their worth and then deliver the people their hungry management needs to fill their positions. Are the different names designating a new magic "ingredient" or are we just re-labeling to provide new spin, white papers, and attention at conferences? Either way, there is some fundamental blocking and tackling that needs to take place.

Inside organizations, most management is continually striving to find the best people to deliver the highest value to customers (internal/external) via the most efficient processes. We all know that requires a lot of moving parts to mesh with synchronicity - when it does, things are beautiful. However, if management doesn't understand what customers want, don't have the people that can deliver it if they do, and can't keep their processes humming, all hell break loose in the form of unhappy customers, disgruntled employees, and waste-ridden processes. After working on several benchmarking studies looking at developing leadership at all levels, talent management, and succession planning, it's obvious that a significant component of business success stems from putting the right people in the right jobs, with the right development plans to eke every ounce of performance out of them. Likewise, after studying process improvement methodologies like 6Sigma and lean, it is apparent that understanding process capability, outcomes, and improvement areas is vital to success. Further, tapping into the knowledge base of the people who engage in those processes for best practices, templates, shortcuts, etc., helps to keep all of the parts moving together. Finally, providing training/learning opportunities via web, classroom, on the job coaching, and mentoring helps individuals maximize their potential and drive better people/process performance. Isn't it time we stopped thinking about disparate improvement programs and instead focused on a Performance Program that focuses on improving the performance of the processes and people that engage in the processes for our value chain?

Wow, what a rant...but these are thoughts I'm mulling over with colleagues. We're focused on investigating how to take this concept further and bring together the best thinking from leadership development, human capital management, training and learning, organizational development, process improvement, and KM into a performance program that drives real, tangible value in an integrated fashion. Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Very interesting thoughts.
I feel apart from knowledge, processes for making use of knowledge are also important. With a right approach to processes, knowledge can be used much more effectively. You may also like to have a look at my blog at

Anonymous said...

Wesley.. the fundamental think I read in your "rant" as you call it is "integration". Absolutely the right direction. As we examine and re-examine initiave success and failure, along with governance within the context of our organization, it is very apparent that a very bery big challenge is overloaded workers and managers, with no time to think about doing things differently. So what do we do? We cast strategies for talent, work environment, knowledge, information, and technology separately. We govern them separately, communicate them separately, try and measure them separately, and try and engage with internal clients separately. And in so doing, we create unnecessary demands for attention on senior managers, managers, stakeholders, and staff. YES we absolutely need to take an integrated performance program approach that engenders partnerships between IT/HR/KM/IM/internal clients, with singular, strategic governance to make the right trade-off decisions in a wholistic organizational perspective. One that acknowledges that the "scientific management method" is out of context in today's work environment, that organizations are unordered systems, where cause and effect relationships can only be assured in retrospect, and where the concept of nurturing emergence as a necessary additive/alternative to command and control management is acknowledged.

In my organization, the emerging integrating force or pivot point for thinking and discussions seems to be concept of a wholistic "work environment". For us this may end up being a frame around which we can make good integrating decisions about initiatives that blend key, related perspectives.

Anonymous said...

The enthousiasm for performance, process management and holistic approaches is a good thing but let us have some examples for spreading the news effectively.

Klaus Moll