A strange thing happened this year. A number of highly talented people I know were made redundant from the (typically) large companies they were working for. Good people. Capable, bright, knowledgeable people. People skilled in digital and who were willing to challenge the conventional ways of doing things in order to find a better way.
This makes little sense to me. I recently worked on a fascinating piece of research on behalf of the smart folk at Econsultancy into how organisations are resourcing their digital marketing capability. One of the findings was that companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find talented people with both a depth and breadth of digital skills and knowledge. And yet some people who seemingly have all the skills and attributes that you would *think* would be highly prized by organisations (particularly those looking to adapt to the challenges brought by digital and emerging technologies) have been ‘let go’.
In a recent post Rishad Tobaccowala defined strategy as ‘Future Competitive Advantage’, and described the two biggest challenges for firms seeking to deliver on a strategy as being to address their organisational design (processes and products that are optimised for existing customers) and their talent (attracting new skills, or up-skilling, and building out new incentives).
Despite talking a good game, many large organisations remain relatively poor at moving talent around the company. The silo culture that still characterises many businesses doesn’t help. Requirements and expectations become optimised to local needs rather than those of the organisation as a whole. Strangely, the people who can really see the bigger picture and are often the ones to challenge existing assumptions are the ones that begin to not fit so easily into those silos. So companies take the easy option.
In my view, it’s their loss. As Rishad says: “Strategy has a better chance of becoming reality if we keep in mind that the future does not fit in the containers or the mindsets of the past.” That applies as much to talent as it does to business models. But sometimes finding the talent of the future is less about talking to headhunters and more about looking right under your nose.