Talent Development in a Brave New World

January 31, 2012 by Wally Bock

We’ve realized for some time that jobs, as we’ve known them for a little over a century were doomed. The world is changing in too many fundamental ways for any artifact of the Industrial Age to remain unchanged. The big question is: “What will what we now call “jobs” look like in whatever you want to call the age we’ve moving into?”

Josh Bersin has done a stellar job of sketching several possibilities in his post, “The End of a Job as We Know It.” You should read this post more than once.

I want to pull out two quotes with direct talent development implications. Here’s the first one.

“Today, thanks to communications technology, people can do their “jobs” everywhere and anywhere. We collaborate across the globe just as easily as we can in the same room. People don’t necessarily progress “upward,” but often “sideways” or “deeper” in expertise.

And as a result of this shift, if you let your skills atrophy, you’re dead. Your employer can likely find those skills elsewhere by hiring a contractor, bidding out work, or finding another internal expert.”

This means that the personal knowledge management that Harold Jarche writes about will become more important as individuals take responsibility for their own learning. It also means that the people in your company who are responsible for learning and development will shift the focus of their activity. They will do less training design and delivery and more facilitation, resource identification, and coaching.

The organization will change, too. Here’s a summary quote from Bersin.

“What this all means is that in today’s high performing companies, people now take on ‘roles’ not ‘jobs.’ They are responsible for ‘tasks’ and ‘projects’ and not simply ‘functions.'”

This means what Susan Finerty has been saying for a while. Whether you name it so or not, every organization is becoming a matrix organization. That means your talent development efforts will need to include helping people “Master the Matrix,” the title of Susan’s forthcoming book.

Don’t read this as some kind of futurist prediction. It’s not. It’s a good description of what’s already beginning to happen.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Engagement, Leadership Development

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