Innovation and Talent — Recession Busting Strategies for Big and Small Companies

by Karen Armon, CEO/Founder, MarketOne Executive

The War for Talent

The War for Talent never ended. Executives must constantly rethink the way their companies plan to attract, motivate, and retain employees.

Business leaders are deeply concerned, judging by two McKinsey Quarterly global surveys. The first, in 2006, indicated that the respondents regarded finding talented people as likely to be the single most important managerial preoccupation for the rest of this decade. The second, conducted in November 2007, revealed that nearly half of the respondents expect intensifying competition for talent–and the increasingly global nature of that competition–to have a major effect on their companies over the next five years. No other global trend was considered nearly as significant. (Taken from Making Talent a Strategic Priority by Matthew Guthridge, Asmus B. Komm, and Emily Lawson, The McKensey Quarterly, Fourth Quarter 2007).

Trend:   Talent, based on definition, is very different from skills, expertise, position, or function. It is the ability to leverage knowledge, skills, and abilities to achieve current business objectives and goals. Talent is more about potential. And as we move deeper into the Creative Economy, executive roles and requirements will more align with potential – of an individual and company — rather than just a functional role one holds.

Tip: Executives need to become less focused upon a functional expertise. The Creative Economy needs executive leaders as opposed to a CMO, CFO, COO, etc. Every executive must think, act and talk like a CEO – regardless of their actual functional role.

Growth by Innovation

Many companies make the mistake of trying to spur innovation by turning to unreliable best practices and to organizational structures and processes. Our research shows that executives who focus on stimulating and supporting innovation by their employees can promote and sustain it with the current talent and resources–and more effectively than they could by using other incentives.

Three approaches can help executives mount innovation efforts. First, senior management should actively support behavior that promotes innovation. Second, network analysis can identify where the capacity for innovation already exists within an organization and help it build more innovative networks. Finally, executives should seed innovative thinking by focusing on selected managers and projects. (Taken from Leadership and innovation, The McKinsey Quarterly, February, 2008).

Trend: Innovation directly relates to organic growth for an organization and in the Creative Economy it is the spin off of well utilized human capital. Scientific Management practices, deeply embedded in the management psychic, are the hardest bias to eliminate in organizations today.

Tip: Lead by defining boundaries and let your direct reports color within the lines. Innovation will be your result.

The MarketOne Executive Bottom Line

Regardless of the doom and gloom of today’s economic forecasts (not to say that we are not headed for some major pain in the short-run), the war for talent and the utilization of talent is not a short-run issue.

Long after the bears turn into bulls, leaders today will continue to fight for talent.  Everyone is looking for that employee who is engaged, resourceful and innovative. Top leaders must learn to throw off the shackles of Frederick Taylor and learn to engage in a more personal model of leadership.

Tweaking with the organization structure will not create organic growth, either. Who among us likes to work in a matrix organization and we all know that it is just a chaotic, complicated and over-communicative system.  How does over-communication lead to innovation?

The only way to foster innovation is to humanize leadership.  Executives who engage one-on-one with his/her direct reports and tailor-make (no pun intended) motivational conversations, assignments and goals directed towards the overall objectives of the company are the leaders who employees like to follow. Leaders need to find the best way mechanize management of resources so that time can be found to do so. Neither of these are shocking to you, dear reader, I know.

So then why are so few doing it?

© Alliance Resources LLC, dba MarketOne Executive. All Rights Reserved, worldwide.

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