Great Talent: The Key To Innovation

Like most people, I have my favorite products and services.  Over the years, I have sampled others but when all is said and done, I return to those I am familiar with. Brand loyalty is powerful.  And what really makes one brand more powerful than others? Why do many companies repeatedly hit the nail on the head and others fail miserably? A possible answer to those questions is to be presented in this blog entry.

Apple, Google, Amazon, GE, Nike, Rolex. When you see their logo on a product or service, the expectation is that the product is best of breed and top of its class. Without any investigation, we expect those products to set the standard. Consumers are willing to brave the elements and pay a premium price for the chance to purchase those products. Every other company is looked at as less than the best. But why and how do they generate brand loyalty? Do these companies and others like them have a stranglehold on innovation? How do they continue to churn out products and services that dominate the marketplace?

Companies and products do not make themselves. People build companies and products. Smart, focused, and dedicated people make those companies and products viable and successful. Those companies above and others are focused on creating a culture that attracts the best and brightest. The engine behind those profitable and successful cultures are systems and processes that help identify the stream of human talent that keep the engine running. You may hear the phrase “the war for talent.” That is an appropriate phrase.  War involves a contest or struggle between more than one entity for supremacy. In the war for talent, the entity that wins is the entity that can best attract, retain, and focus the best warriors it can find. And the cycle is always repeated.

In his book “Crossing The Chasm,” author Geoffrey Moore presents the case for how to market high tech products. He used a normal distribution curve to illustrate the key concept of the book, which is usually referred to as a “bell curve” for its shape.  In his book, Moore refers to the curve as the “technology adoption lifecycle.” His premise is that companies reach a gap, or chasm, in the curve as they attempt to move from being a smaller focused products player to being a larger, established entity. The companies that cross the chasm with success understand how to leverage their marketing efforts to best position the products and services.  At the far left of that curve are companies identified as “Innovators” and at the far right are companies identified as “Laggards.” The curve also contains “Early Adopters” “Early Majority,” and “Late Majority” that are sandwiched between the two bookends. Crossing that chasm requires great talent. Take a closer look at the talent profile onboard at innovators and take a look at the talent profile onboard at laggards.

Innovators are always on the hunt for smart, sharp, forward thinkers because they know that great things are created by people with that skill set.  Innovators create systems and processes that harness these people. Laggards, on the other hand, tend to stick with the status quo until the outside world forces change upon them. Laggards have fairly stagnant, old school thinking when it comes to the war on talent. They use outdated systems, processes, and cultures that are not designed to attract the very people needed to push the laggard to the left of that curve.

Extending the train of thought to the war on talent, it becomes obvious that the companies that dominate our thinking, our media, and influence how we live and interact are companies based around attracting innovative employees. Innovation is driven by having a culture of smart employees that thrive on extending the reach of the organization. And the manner in which those smart people are found and leveraged has to change if the organization is a laggard and desires to move from that status.  Posting jobs on the company public website and hoping candidates stumble across the posting and submit a resume is a laggard strategy. A resume submission system that frustrates incredible applicants to the point of bailing is a laggard strategy. When they abandon the attempt and apply to the next company, that is a loss. These candidates could be the individuals to turn the tide in that organization.

As I said earlier, the companies that generate brand loyalty and also attract employees are those companies that understand that great employees are the key. Success can often occur via accident. Uncle Jed from the 1960’s television program “The Beverly Hillbillies” strikes oil while hunting with his dog. Remember the old Reese’s peanut butter commercial where one person has a chocolate bar and accidentally bumps into a person with a jar of peanut butter? Out comes a great candy bar. Humorous, but highly unlikely and repeatable. A business based on accidental strategies is not sustainable. Repeatable success is the result of finding people that are capable of delivering the strategies needed for success. The organization does not have to be a multinational consumer products company. It may be very small. But unless it has an unbreakable monopoly, it for sure needs to have a strategy to attract great people.

The rewards for the companies that employ great people are financial gain for both, great perception from its employees and its customers, and loyalty to the company and its products.  These great people have to be located first. These are a few examples of what AspireHR is working on for our client base. While we cannot dictate the culture of an organization, the compensation, benefits provided or supplant the leadership team; we can help provide both the strategy and weapons needed to effectively compete in the war for talent.  Be an Innovator, not a Laggard.

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