This morning I read an interesting white paper from Korn Ferry Institute discussing how talent strategy can drive business strategy. The report, completed by J. Evelyn Orr, Ilene Gochman and Michael McGowan, can be found here.

The article draws an interesting distinction between effectively designing a talent infrastructure and aligning it with business strategy. Put another way, it is possible for an organization to have a talent infrastructure in place that recognizes the differing strategic value of its talent (and invests in their development accordingly), while at the same time failing to hire the right people, help them develop the right skills, and/or reward the right achievements to drive business objectives. Or vice versa. Korn Ferry illustrates this well in the image below (again, you can read the full report here):

Korn Ferry Talent Alignment

When we really break this down it is fascinating. Some organizations are hiring people and rewarding them for doing work that isn’t value added to the business. The flip side of this – hiring talented people and then not properly developing them – is a tale as old as time. It’s also a really challenging problem to fix, requiring considerable resources coming in many forms including (but not limited to) manager training and development programs – both of which can be costly and difficult to implement.

Conversely, aligning talent and business strategy is table stakes, right? Korn Ferry uses the following example (paraphrasing):

If business strategy is to drive innovation, what HR needs to do is provide the talent that will drive innovation.

…For an organization to fail to do the above, managers and HR alike have to be out of step with senior leadership on what their business objectives are at multiple levels of the organization. In my mind, this makes failing to hire the right talent a communication problem, not an implementation problem.

Is your organization trying to solve the right talent challenges? Often times organizations spend significant time and resources developing talent management infrastructures and implementing HR best practices, but all that is for naught if the organization’s talent strategy isn’t aligned with business objectives. Ultimately, if a company isn’t hiring the right people and developing and rewarding the right skills, it doesn’t matter how many HR best practices it has in place.

…Or maybe I have this wrong? I’m still wrapping my mind around it.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.