Saturday, September 13, 2008

The New Realities of Talent Development

Knowledge has become very much like the technology products we rely on: once counted on to retain value for five or more years, it now becomes out of date in less than two. What’s worse, the rate at which knowledge becomes obsolete is likely to increase over the coming years. More employees are gaining access to massive, computer-aided knowledge bases. Meanwhile, globalization and offshore outsourcing practices are diversifying our employee population. What does all this mean for the development function and everyone involved? Current processes and programs must be redesigned to account for rapid obsolescence.

Organizations must develop processes to learn faster, share ideas more quickly, and increase the speed at which individuals update their capabilities. This task is made even more daunting by the environment created by downsizing, mergers, and economic pressures. No one has time to learn, and development budgets have been cut to the bone.

Are training and development obsolete?
Many experts now agree that the corporate training department as we know it is fast becoming obsolete. For too long organizations have accepted putting together a catalog of classes, providing facilitators, and implementing every fad from emotional intelligence to exercises in the woods as the equivalent of developing individuals and producing business results. What senior executives want now is a radical new approach. They want to see a direct connection between development activities and increased workforce productivity. They don’t want training or even development. What they want are results that:

• Increase the capabilities of the workforce
• Boost individual output or productivity
• Improve the adoption rate of best practices
• Enhance innovation and creativity in the workforce

In short, senior executives want the development function to radically change into one that increases productivity and delivers business results.

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