"We looked at one another and suddenly the light bulb blinked on."
The very best companies had leaders who were obsessed with the talent issue. They recruited ceaselessly, finding and hiring as many top performers as possible. They singled out and segregated their stars, rewarding them disproportionately, and pushing them into ever more senior positions.
This "talent mind-set" is the new orthodoxy of American management.
Ken Lay: "The only thing that differentiates Enron from our competitors is our people, our talent."
Author of _Creative Destruction_: "We hire very smart people and we pay them more than they think they are worth."
The War for Talent amounts to an argument for indulging A employees, for fawning over them. "You need to do everything you can to keep them engaged and satisfied -- even delighted. Find out what they would most like to be doing, and shape their career and responsibilities in that direction. Solve any issues that might be pushing them out the door ..."
... They were there looking for people who had the talent to think outside the box. It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.
Doesn't that last comment pretty well sum up many of the problems faced by businesses today?
[Originally from Jeremy.]
[Good article. Good discussion. Crappy conclusions. The problem isn't that there was a focus on talent, the problem was how the talent was focused on. The author makes an assertion about the failure of that system, but only provides proof that the methodology that McKinsey used/employed/pushed was broken. The "star" system is still a good idea in many ways. I've seen too many companies fail from not implementing it in at least some fashion. --Rek]