Just because an enterprise declares that their people are the greatest assets doesn't make them a good practitioner of talent management. Neither does the awards for the best place to work nor the changing of titles to People's Officer and Happiness Officer. As we become increasingly democratic in every walk of life and the digital economy enforces an intelligent life on this planet, the narrative needs to shift from Human Resources to Human Capital. The fundamental difference between the two is that the former is an Acquisition while the latter is Creation. Accountability matters and enterprises must take it up more seriously even as they question and demand an answer from themselves in the digital economy is:
Do we have a Cognitive framework for Talent?
Making a distinction between referring to people as resources and talent is a very important first step in the narrative of a cognitive framework. In the earlier economy when democracy and technology were still maturing, there were a minority who could essentially set rules and regulate most. Now with the free flow of Information and Intelligence in Real-Time, Systems and Societies have to adapt to what the majority aspires. Herein lies the secret sauce which is not only democratization of growth but also the expression of the free spirit.
Seeking the best talent (Purpose) in the world to respond to the stimulus of the enterprise with the deep ability to Sense, Learn and Seek continuously is what will make talent and enterprises successful in the future.
The digital economy blurs the distinctive boundaries and the distance between the customer and the economic value chain through a seamless offering of Platform, Product, Process and / or Service On-Demand. This promise of the digital can potentially only be fulfilled by Talent. There are no two ways about it. Those that want to be ahead of the game need to start now. The leaders are already blazing the trail.
Amazon deploys software into the marketplace every 11.6 seconds in a day totalling to about 136,000 deployments per day. Compare this to one of the Top 5 Banks in the US that takes 3 months at a cost of $ 1.8 Million to deploy 1 database field name change*.
Technologist will have you believe that the above quote is a marvel of technology. No, it isn't. It is the marvel of what talent can achieve for an enterprise with purpose. Let us just understand the above context. Amazon is not a conventional software development company but rather a supply chain marketplace. But what determines its success is connecting its customers and consumers. Being on top of the food chain it will obviously refuse to do business with weak links. And from books to shopping to entertainment to media, it has crossed the technology chasm effortlessly. How long do you reckon before it bids to acquire one of the top 5 banking corporations in America? Jeff Bezos is undoubtedly a Visionary Leader who has always focused on this cognitive framework for talent that actions that vision every waking hour of our living.
It is time enterprises quit the rhetoric of Human Resource Management and started embracing Human Capital Management with the following change in its narrative:
Jobs Vs. Roles: It is ironical that in most enterprises job descriptions are written as a 'cut n paste' exercise. The modern professionals are looking for much more than wearing the colored color and turning up at work. They want to see the fruits of their labor and it is not the piled up cartons at the end of the assembly line anymore. Yes, those jobs will most likely be taken up by robots. Humans will have to find roles where they can exercise their ability to Sense and Respond. Can you imagine if a basketball scout were to look at just filling the numbers on his team as opposed to the role based on the talent available? Or for that matter would any movie make money if the casting director found the least common denominator to play the lead? Enterprises need to replace recruiters with talent scouters whose only job is to unearth talent and not just warm bodies.
Career Vs. Aspirations: Loyalty and Longevity of Service was okay when the employer was a benefactor who created jobs because they had the Financial Capital that was scarce. The pendulum has shifted and now Financial Capital is abundant. It is the Human Capital that is becoming scarce to fulfill the demands of generating wealth that sustains the Financial Capital. In the digital economy it is the Intellectual Property (IP) that will serve the purpose. Hence the focus has now got to be on People's Aspirations to match that of the Enterprise. It is this Aspiration that needs to be nurtured and enterprises must endeavor to provide the right environment and infrastructure for the Aspirations to flourish thru the Intellectual Capital produced by the people. Why would anyone want to leave something that they love?
Skills Vs. Capabilities: Even a donkey can acquire skills with training but n ot capability. The word capability needs to be understood as a split of Capacity to Transform + Ability to Perform. To focus on capability, an enterprise must have a Transformation Program Office instead of a Human Resource Management office. In these times of Anxiety and Depression leading people to severe personal and emotional crisis, an enterprise must focus on transforming talent to its transformation agenda continuously. Such a transformation program looks at all the three dimensions of Human Capital to grow; Personal, Professional and Emotional that in turn contributes to its growth.
The following table exemplifies the shift in thinking and acting that enterprises need to demonstrate to cross the chasm from the age of Industrial to the Digital Revolution:
At the turn of every revolution we pathetic humans have asked this question whether the oncoming changes will replace us? Have we been? Not really! Look around...only the beings with lesser intelligence and motivation have been replaced. Like the horses and bulls that used to pull our carriages have been replaced by faster modes of communication while the bulls and the horses also continue to exist and perform their assigned roles in societal framework. Bean counters and wordsmiths who selfishly subjugated the majority will be replaced by Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Augmented Reality will replace humans. The answer to that question is very simple. All those who do not adapt and render themselves to a more intelligent way of existence and living will undoubtedly find themselves obsolete. The choice is for us to make.
* Source: Mulesoft Research Engagement