I think we both define talent differently and that is not likely to change in our going back and forth here. And that’s cool. Part of the truth here is that talent is an intangible. It cannot be plugged nicely and neatly into a spreadsheet or a flowchart or a shiny new Twitter app…try as we might. I would suggest that this is actually true of all of the really, profoundly important aspects of work and life. Talent is going to be defined differently by different people…and I am less interested in the actual definition than I am in the thought process and consideration behind the definition.
Maybe the larger issue here is this… do we (as HR leaders, practitioners and consultant types) know and understand what really matters? I have heard arguments that HR should have greater “business acumen.” Maybe. I’m personally not all that interested in business acumen. Seems to me like another example of other people in other professions determining what matters. There appears to be no shortage of organizations led by people with bunches of business acumen doing bunches of heinous shit. You can keep your business acumen.
Do we know what really matters? I think we are maybe losing the battle of “what matters.” Talent is a good example. Despite how you or I might define talent, can the HR folks inside the average organization define talent…has there been some actual thought into what it means and how it matters within the context of that organization? Do the HR folks know how the organization and its employees create value? …do they know the practices, abilities, skills, processes that actually go into creating the value that sustains the organization? Do they know the basic ingredients?
I have my doubts. I love my HR people, but I go into a lot of organizations and have conversations with HR folks (and managers) about things like talent, culture, inclusion, innovation, engagement…and the one consistent thing is that when I ask what those things actually mean to them I get a lot of blank stares. I am not trying to be the word police, but I think that there is a real issue here. I think it is really hard for us to make well informed decisions and take well informed actions on these issues when there is not a common language and consistent logic in place as a foundation.
I do not care how you define talent, for example, but have you actually put some thought and consideration into what it means to your organizations and why? Things like talent, diversity, culture, engagement often take shots as being buzzwords. That’s stupid, these are really really important words, but when we just throw them around without giving any thought to what they mean for us (and why) they do become buzzwords.
If you are going to do “talent management” in your organization, don’t those words have to mean something for your organization and does there not have to be some compelling argument for that in place? It sounds like this is the case for you personally, but in the larger profession…is this not a huge blind spot for us?