Improvements for Talent Initiative 2.0

09/09/2013 in

As you may know from our press releases and other marketing activities, we merged with Talent Initiative this summer. We each bring highly complementary strengths and so I expect great things ahead.

We’re offering the Talent Initiative program right now and have made a significant number of improvements to this “second release” that build on our prior learning (see in particular the blog entries on Talent Initiative pilot evaluation and what we learned at Taproot). 


Human Capital Management Model: The way we think about leadership development and human capital management has been boiled down to a one-page model that is essentially a strategic logic model. I always think logic models are best described with if/then statements starting at the end -- mission.

So our model says that:

  • IF you can achieve an organization’s strategic goals, THEN it will achieve its mission. (That’s a big assumption but if organizations have sound strategies then its a good one, we hope.)

  • IF you can create an organization that (a) has great people in the most important roles for its strategy, (b) goals for each person that align with the organization’s strategic priorities and for which people are held accountable, and (c) supports and motivates people to achieve their goals, THEN the organization will be able to achieve its strategic goals.

  • IF you can implement the right human capital management processes for a given organization, THEN you can achieve having (a) great people in the most important roles, (b) effective individual goals and (c) an organization that supports superior goal achievement.


We’ve organized about 25 strategic human capital management processes into six areas. There’s a lot more to discuss, but more on the model at another time. The model is the foundation for every step of Talent Initiative 2.0: the RFP questions, the discovery & assessment process, the plans we create, the way we approach each initiative, and the way we measure success. It provides a perspective, a foundation, and a glue for the whole program as well as all the rest of our work.  

Team: We are staffing our Talent Initiative projects with three levels of consultant: Partner, Consultant and Associate. That will allow us to deliver a much higher level of service at the same cost. Because the principals here all have backgrounds in consulting, human capital management, nonprofits and growth organizations I think we also are providing better fitting talent at every level.


Discovery Tools: Talent Initiative 1.0 used two very good off-the-shelf diagnostic tools to assess an organization’s talent management strengths and weaknesses. For 2.0 we’re using proprietary tools and an approach that allows us to have all components fit tightly are tightly with our human capital management model, and more effectively support our change process.


Break Up the Retreat: Talent Initiative 1.0 had one two-day retreat that asked a participating nonprofit to move all the way from findings through to planning. With two retreats we’re giving people time to digest the findings and its immediate implications (retreat one), and then agree to a plan (retreat two) after significant additional work has been done.

Better Plans:  The Strategic Human Capital Management Plans we’re building will include budgets for staff time and costs for outside resources. That will allow us to build plans that are more tailored to an organization’s resource constraints and hence more implementable. Our plans also carry through using the same strategic human capital management framework bring further cogency to the entire end to end process.

Change Model: We are anchoring our work in Kotter's 8-point change model. That framework guides elements like our communications approach and our selection of implementation projects. We don’t feel its necessary to ensure that participants know that it's there, but we believe it will increase our impact. We’re also toying with using Bridge’s model for individual change.  

More Task forces: Another way to bolster the change process is by including the clients more richly in the change realization and decision-making process. In this case we’ll be doing more to use task forces for governance, for building out components of the plan, and conducting elements of the implementation.


Our human capital management model -- ultimately I think one of the biggest changes we’re making -- rest on the work of many others. Both Tom Eddington and RoJean DeChantal have contributed significantly pulling in Tom’s case from frameworks created and published by the folks at Hewitt. We also owe a debt of thanks to Mark Huselid,  Brian Becker, Richard Beatty. We’re also big fans of the work being put out by Josh Bersin. A big thanks to them all.  

We look forward to sharing with you or impression of which of these changes works and doesn’t work. If you’ve had experience that could accelerate our learning, please let us know.