Last Updated Aug 22, 2008 4:53 PM EDT
He recommends a four-pronged attack on the OrgMan:
1) Assess how likely it is that forecasts for talent needs will be wrong, and what the consequences might be.
2) Look honestly at both the "make" (develop internally) and "buy" (hire from outside) approaches, and ideally figure out how to mix them.
3) Develop ways to lower the risk and cost of developing internal talent.
4) Develop new ways to match people with opportunities.
He goes into detail on how companies can break with old ways of doing things, applying supply-chain concepts like "mismatch costs," which look at undersupply (can't find someone with the right skills) and oversupply (too much of the right skill), and the "bullwhip problem," when demand spikes sharply for a brief period and then slumps. He looks at how using techniques like portfolios and demand simulations can help reduce the risk of hiring the wrong people, or devoting too much (or too little) resources to training, only to see those people go to other companies.
Most of his ideas are framed intuitively -- I am not a human resources professional, and I get where he's going. A strength of the book is the number of examples he uses from real companies on how to apply these techniques. These help make his discussion of supply-chain talent management come to life. Interestingly, he cites not General Electric or Procter & Gamble as the world's best (though they do get praise), but Indian firms such as HCL, Infosys, Tata and Wi-Pro as being perhaps the world's most sophisticated managers of talent.
All in all, the second part of the book is really geared towards helping human resources departments guide top management into better decisions about training and hiring people. The Talent Demand model he develops seems to make sense. I did find myself arching my eyebrow at the notion that the way to kill the OrgMan mentality in talent management is to centralize the function, but he's probably right.
Big Think Breakdown: A thought-provoking effort to create a new model for hiring and developing people. One can only hope its ideas will escape the HR department, and help more companies reduce employee frustration through better training and hiring.