My observation is that a “talent synthesis” is going to be required by all types of businesses in the years ahead. By that I mean that executives are going to have to identify the types of talent, sources of talent, and relationships with talent that are optimal to maximize the impact of products, services, relationships, and resultant profit.
The recession and volatility of the times have created a conservatism about investment and growth. Large staffs and concomitant overhead aren’t prudent—in fact, they’re frightening. From the employees’ perspective, the daily likelihood of reduced benefits, lower salaries, and minimal job security create an intelligent demand for more personal control over one’s destiny than is currently in danger of a scary call to visit human resources first thing in the morning.
Organizations require outside talent, because the residual talent within the firm’s four walls has been vastly reduced and, truthfully, much of it is far more economical on a temporary rather than permanent basis. That’s why the future is so rich for consultants—very few organizations can justify internal consulting and organization development staffs, which were far more the norm a decade or so ago.
I think the talent synthesis looks like this:
- Residual Talent: These are the people worth investing in on a full-time basis. Insurance companies require actuaries and underwriters, coffees shops require whatever a “barrista” is.
- Technical Talent: These are “pairs of hands” as opposed to trusted advisors. They are stereotypically the IT people writing code or the trainers hired to deliver a seminar. They are told what to do and complete tasks.
- External Expertise: These are consultants who are trusted advisors and most obvious to be requested. They might include local people on retainer, trusted by the buyer, or a “name” consulting firm which is expert in a field in which the buyer craves security (and justification to the board).
- External Extraordinary Expertise: These are consultants specially sought out because of their intellectual property, body of work, public profile, and so on. These people can demand a premium fee. They are considered important and even “status” investments.
- Client Synergy: There will be more and more occasion to embrace customers and clients in issues such as design, delivery, customization, support, and so forth. We’re seeing this daily with forums, chat rooms, and web sites supported by companies urging their customers to offer suggestions. (I design new offerings based on the participants in AlansForums.com, knowing that I have a ready audience and no risk in the development investment.)
- Serendipity: Just as chemists frequently claim they invented the wrong thing that serves a better purpose (Post-It® Notes), organizations will find that varied combinations of the above five sources will produce innovation and improvement that can be harvested.
Someone will have to help organize and coordinate these resources. I doubt it will be an internal department. It may well be by default. But it may also be an ideal opportunity for those in category 3 above to add still more value by establishing criteria and metrics to maximize these new talent opportunities.
My own view is that those organizations that can best access and utilizes all six will race to the front of their markets.
© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.