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Additional talent management lessons.

Comparing talent management to supply chain challenges, Peter Cappelli guides us toward four handy lessons. Set aside for a moment the tempting reaction to his comparison of employees to manufactured widgets, Cappelli's points are useful. So let us plunge into the supply chain metaphor to find additional talent management lessons from the modern industry icons of, Google and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

(What, you say? What about the Wildlife Conservation Society, a 114-year-old organization known for running the Bronx Zoo and worldwide conservation efforts, as a modern industry icon? While even the whiff of comparing employees to caged animals will get us into trouble, bear with us.)

1. disruptive leader in the retail supply chain and e-publishing.

* Customized portals that learn from our history and interests work spectacularly well. Amazon introduced many of us to the convenience of online shopping, including the shopping cart, product suggestions and virtual storefronts. Brought together under one portal is an impressive coalition of businesses (including mega brands like Target mixed in with auctions and used merchandise). Employees are not books, yet this portal has parallels for how we might shop for talent in the future. (And let us not think of employees as "used;" maybe just transitioned from other careers or semi-retirement.)

* Ambidexterity is required. Organizational ambidexterity is the simultaneous maintenance of traditional businesses focused on efficiency (e.g., shipping books) alongside radical innovation (e.g., Kindle). Talent management efforts need to balance get-it-done efficiency with the disruptive change that fuels an organization's future.

2. Google--no widgets to warehouse and distribute, yet information to share.

* Search algorithms work better than organized directories. The world generates an ever-changing, organic blob of information. Google has taught us that we can organize this blob and make it accessible. As Cappelli implied, perhaps formally structured succession planning needs to give way to a more organic, ongoing flow of information.

* Talent management must reflect organizational strategy. Not even Google is immune to the impact of the recession on a "world's best workplace." But stepping back, it is clear that Google's impressive talent management pipeline is managed to match its core business: rigorous, intense and scientifically minded. Google's talent management style honors its value proposition.

3. Wildlife Conservation Society--a venerable, yet reinvented non-profit dedicated to "help people imagine wildlife and humans living in sustainable interaction."

* "Supply chains" are about more than widgets. WCS supplies experiences and education, nothing physical for a traditional supply chain to manage. Correspondingly, the intangibles of the talent management experience matter.

* A sustained supply of wildlife interactions requires working with the rhythms of the natural world. Modern wildlife husbandry deals with permeable organizational boundaries. Similarly, as the management sciences continue to mature, we uncover more about the natural rhythms of organizations as well as individuals. Talent management strategies must keep these synchronized.

Thus, when building from the supply chain metaphor, we can learn additional lessons from how organizations deliver not just physical goods, but information and experiences. This helps to calibrate Cappelli's advice and to promote overall organizational vitality.

Scott Brooks and Jeffrey Saltzman, Kenexa

Scott Brooks, Ph.D. is the director of the Consulting Center of Excellence for Kenexa's Global Survey Practice. Jeffrey Saltzman is a principal at Kenexa.
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Title Annotation:THE U.S. PERSPECTIVES
Author:Brooks, Scott; Saltzman, Jeffrey
Publication:People & Strategy
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Previous Article:Value chain focus: the human touch.
Next Article:Balance is the key in the global context.

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