How Talent Drives Success for Organizations that Follow "Third Path"
November 07, 2010
Posted by Don Dunnington at November 7, 2010 08:43 AM
John Hagel III had just 10 minutes to tell us how he's found a "third path" to growing an organization's success. Hagel was the Keynote speaker at the awards ceremony for Deloitte's 2010 Greater Philadelphia Fast 50. The 10-minute limit was a self-imposed constraint Hagel placed on himself so the audience could get home in time to see the Philadelphia Phillies play the San Francisco Giants. It turned out to be the last game the Phillies would win this year.
I was at the Deloitte event with Bob Wisniewski who was accepting an award for K-Tron International. For the second year running K-Tron has been named to Deloitte's annual list of the fastest growing technology, life sciences and clean technology companies in the region. Though his presentation was cut short, Hagel's message resonated loudly for those who were present.
While Hagel was adressing a business audience, his insights have broader application; especially to those in the water and waste water industry who must keep up with fast changing environmental and technology challenges. Hagel said it's not development of major new products or services (the first path) that's going to drive success in the future. While innovation remains important and is a good starting point for growth, good ideas are quickly copied and improved upon and don't remain a competitive advantage for long. Major acquisitions (the second path) present their own challenges, and the business landscape is littered with big mergers gone wrong.
The third path is what Hagel calls "leveraged growth," and he's quick to add that doesn't mean financial leverage. It's leveraging your organization's capability to add more value for your customers. The path to more customer value, he says, lies in your organization's talent development. This secret to future growth is at the heart of a major new book Hagel has written with John Seely Brown and Lang Davidson: The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion (link to buy book on Amazon.com).
You can learn more about Hagel's books and his ideas on his website, Edge Perspectives. If you sign up for the authors' newsletter, you can instantly download six e-booklets :
- Pursuing Passion
- Shaping Serendipity
- Talent: The Dilbert Paradox
- From Passion to Potential
- Three Levels of Pull
- Passion versus Obsession
I have not yet read the book but I did download and read the six booklets. In Booklet Three, Talent: The Dilbert Paradox, you can learn more about the authors' view on talent development:
"Putting talent development center stage… forces a reassessment of business strategy, particularly growth strategies. Companies that aren't growing rapidly often fail to provide a rich set of opportunities for their employees to develop. This occurs because slower-growing companies confront fewer new performance requirements and generally offer slower advancement opportunities than faster-growing ones. Slow growth companies are thus at a disadvantage in developing the talent of their employees. Over time, they will likely find it harder to attract and retain world-class talent.
"Consider Google's ability to attract top quality talent from slower growing technology companies. And notice how even Google has more recently been losing its own talent to still-faster growing companies like Facebook….
"At another level, the broad-based shift in many markets from product-based to service-based businesses also informs how well and how fast companies develop talent. Services typically offer the opportunity for richer and quicker market feedback loops and more rapid iterations on the design of customer offers than products do. As a result, companies with a higher percentage of services relative to product businesses will have a talent advantage."
Is your organization taking the "third path" to optimizing your services? Do you work to develop your employees' talent advantage? Are your equipment and systems suppliers adding value through their development and application of talented associates devoted to solving your process problems?