We’re moving from Capitalism to Talentism

I’ve been reading an old McKinsey report from HBR (2001) about the “War For Talent” by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod and loved this table:

The Old Reality
The New Reality
People need companies Companies need people
Machines, capital, and
geography are the
competitive advantage
Talented people
are the competitive
Better talent makes
some difference
Better talent makes a
huge difference
Jobs are scarce Talented people are scarce
Employees are loyal and jobs are secure People are mobile and their
commitment is short term
People accept the standard
package they are offered
People demand much more

The main topic is executive leadership, but this applies to everyone these days.

It harks back to one of my favorite things I heard at Davos back in 2011:


When going into depth in the HR literature about the meaning of “talent” it tends to skew towards leaders, but I believe it applies to anyone and everyone working in an organization. When folks figure out their unique talent, they get excited about the work that they do — it’s important that each organization find each individual’s unique set of talents. Because it’s a great way to figure out how to grow. 

This holds especially true in remote work environments — because although there’s an incredible amount of freedom, I can see how it’s difficult for individuals to see where they stand within their field and within the institution itself. Because you literally can’t see all the people every day. So you tend to lose track of them — this happens in a physical environment too, but what’s different is you lose the ability to use your spatial/environmental memory.

As human beings who’ve all evolved as social animals, there’s a lot of knowledge that we distribute in our environment as attached to the people who are close to us, physically. Many of those bearings tend to get lost in a distributed work environment because there’s no persistence-of-view for the people who are around you. It is an exciting design challenge.

So, these days I’m prioritizing what I care about the most … which is understanding each of my team member’s unique set of talents. There is no team without people, and there’s no greatness of the team without developing the greatness of those people’s talents. And I am thinking about a pseudo-spatial way in which I can organize it all. Not as an org chart per se. I wonder what the right representation should be? —JM

Footnote: Dave Potter via LinkedIn wrote, “I find org charts inadequate for visualizing teams, both their talents and passions, and, I would add, with whom they like to work (not everyone within a team enjoys working together – which is natural; it’s helpful to keep track). I use Kumu as my visualizing tool. For a long-time remote employee, I find it helpful.: