On The Bird Wire

Talent and Development

by Dilip Kumar

It has been said: “Knowledge is expensive but ignorance is even more expensive; human possibilities to learn are unlimited”. This should rank as a very useful guide to organisations as they set about the task of developing talent. It recognises that people are the strongest resource (and therefore must be nurtured) –  and the need to ensure each person is given opportunities to fulfill his or her long-term potential and personal aspirations.

Primarily, but not necessarily exclusively, talent development must serve to solve the organisation’s challenges and imperatives. It behooves an organisation to also subscribe to the concept of a “learning organisation”, one that promotes learning in the firm belief that knowledge with strategic importance helps to increase its long-term value.

Some principles that are useful to guide and inform talent development include:

  • Development is not the sole responsibility of the organisation; it is either that of the individual or it is a joint responsibility of the individual and the organisation.
  • Recognizing that the primary way (70% or more) an individual learns and develops is by “doing” and, as such, seeking to provide challenging roles and/or to utilize “action-learning” that contain “stretch”.
  • Diversity of talent and, indeed, where it is the case, diversity of business, are sources of strength that should be fully utilised to provide “stretch” and rotational assignments.
  •  Targeting 2-4% of an individual’s time to learning and development activities.

Development options include the following:

  • On-the-job stretch assignments including line and staff roles;
  •  Coaching & mentoring;
  •  Customized workshops and other class-room training
  •  “Action-learning”
  • Business School programs
  •  On-line courses and resources

One key output from the task of talent development in the organisation must be a strategic road-map that not only provides development in basic competencies (as defined by the organisation) but also the competencies expected of leaders as they move through from entry-level right through the to its upper levels.