You are investing talent management (TM) efforts, how do you know they are working or are going to work? These questions apply to any strategic issue that an organization (actually even for individuals who behave strategically). Today’s post will explore how we can discern the likelihood of future success.
Yes this about creating effective cups of tealeaves so we have something to read. As a first principle, we are unable to predict the future because of its uncertainties. We use the conceptually correct notions of luncertainty here:
- If we can envisage possible events, we are unable to make meaningful sense of their likelihood (sometimes called Grey Swan Events).
- We can’t even envisage possible future significant events (sometimes called Black Swan Events).
So how do we begin to make sense of how to “sense the probable future”? Note I have reframed the statement to clearly speak to the first uncertainty point above. But it also covers the second point in a round about way.
We can sense the future by understanding the cause and effect relationships between:
- How our actions impact the world out there.
- How the world out there impacts our actions (in a better way).
How do we build a useful cause and effect perspective? We do it using the levels of measurement model:
- Inputs – what we invest and put energy into (and of what quality, quantity, timeliness, etc.)
- Throughputs – how we use our investments (and how well)
- Outputs – what results we get from our input and throughput efforts (on time, within budget, meeting quality and quantity expectations)
- Outcomes – what difference does it make to our lives anyway! This really the measurement that matters.
Each of the first three measure levels is a leading indicator for subsequent measure levels.
Taking any strategy that we care to proceed with we can build a description of it in framework of measure levels above. Let us illustrate this with a very prosaic TM activity – recruitment.
- Inputs: are the education institutions training the talent we believe need in 2016?
- Throughputs: will we able to further develop, deploy and use this talent effectively and efficiently in 2016 and beyond?
- Outputs: will this talent be able to produce what we need in 2016 and beyond?
- Outcomes: will this lead to a successful enterprise?
Each question area for the four measurement levels enables us to begin to identify a list of attributes that if they occur will significantly enable or impede our strategy outcome’s success. Creating and periodically reviewing these four lists enables us to better envisage what can go right and wrong. Hence we are better able to do two things:
- Monitor the environment for any one of these events likely happening (e.g., a technical school that is a major trainer of students in the knowledge areas we care about ceasing this activity).
- Enable us to setup contingencies to better minimize (adverse events) or capitalize (enabling events) in a timely and cost effective manner.
Mapping out our understanding of how our strategy works within the context of its environment enables us to better manage uncertainty. Understand that this is not a static effort. As time goes by, the environment shifts, and our strategy becomes “exposed” in ways that we previously did not foresee. The periodic review of the lists helps us become aware of how these sifts can matter.
One more recommendation:
When reviewing the lists use a diverse perspective as diversity of perspective will more likely note the possibility of surprising events (e.g., a completely unexpected competitive presence).