Getting your people fit for the future

By Rik Farenhorst | April 1, 2017

This letter, written some time ago, is becoming increasingly relevant for organizations that wish to stay in business:

Dear executive

By now you have been convinced that digital transformation is your answer to survival. You understand the new world of IT we are living in, and the forces at play that have changed the playing field and most of the game rules. One of those new rules is that you need to build an antifragile organization that focuses around continuous innovation, adaptability, speed, quality and customer delight. A rule that will not change is that your people are your best chance of creating such an organization. But are they fit for the future?

The war for talent that is currently fought far beyond Silicon Valley illustrates that only with the right minds on board, you have a chance for turning your ship. But hiring alone is not enough. Autonomy, mastery and purpose are key ingredients for creating the right culture needed for building high-performance organizations. Next, to become high-performant, your people need to be self-organized, work in multi-disciplinary teams, take ownership on quality and customer-centric action, and continuously invest in knowledge and skills needed to run digital enterprises.

To create a culture of continuous learning and improvement, your role is not to be underestimated. Together with your people you need to invest in joint initiatives that foster development of your people’s competences. Not just top-down or bottom-up, or a one-time investment for example by a bunch of classroom training. And please don’t get your hopes up on a “just one-size-fits-all” approach. Continuous learning requires that talent management is high on your and your people’s agenda at all times.

There are two strategies you can choose from to ingrain talent management in your digital enterprise: engage and disrupt. The former helps in professionalizing your workforce by taking them on an expedition to the new world of IT. A new world that uses IT to creating high-performant organizations. The latter is crucial in establishing a culture where champions are grown and nurtured, where experimentation, continuous improvement and craftsmanship are key. This strategy builds on the lessons we can learn from successful startups who are luring away your best people for good reasons. A combination of engagement and disruption is the perfect cocktail for talent management. It helps ensuring your best people not only stay, but also lead the transformation towards a great organization, acting as ambassadors and champions. At the same time it provides “a journey for all” where all professionals are engaged and where needed refit for their new roles and responsibilities. So take the helm and help your people getting fit for the future!

The popularity of the Instruqt learning platform is just one example of a trend that is irreversable: only the organizations that solve the HR and talent management challenges will win. Focussing on technology would be a grave mistake. Organizations do not run on technology, but on people, and their skills. Despite AI and robotization trends that are around the corner, this is not going to change anytime soon.