…Not the Solution.” – John Boudreau and Steven Rice



This morning I read a powerful quote in a Harvard Business Review piece here from John Boudreau and Steven Rice. In the piece, the authors note that easier than ever access to best practices, new research, tools and ideas makes it tempting to reach for the latest off-the-shelf solution to whatever challenge one’s team or organization is facing (as opposed to really ruminating on the problem itself and coming up with a customized solution).

The insight was powerful for me because it gets at the heart of a challenge I constantly struggle with when addressing individual, departmental, and even broader organizational issues on a day-to-day basis; which is remaining focused on contextualizing the current state of an issue so that I can map out a solution that starts off where we are as opposed to where we want to be.

Case in point: Lately I have really been bullish on the idea of having high departmental pass-through rates. Whether this takes the form of frequent, short-term job-rotations… or clearly defining development plans and progression time horizons for all colleagues, I think setting targeted pass-through rates is a great way to develop talent pipelines for succession at all levels of the organization (and this process also helps contribute to a robust knowledge management system for operationally critical roles).

^And yet any decision to set pass-through rates must take into account the function, team makeup, and business conditions: What works for one group may *not* work for another, and simply saying ‘this is a best practice’ and setting blanket target rates (or even setting any rate at all) misses the fact that a talent development function should not be managed the way that, say, an accounting function is managed – which is to say that there is not one set of universal principals that can be applied to managing and developing individuals and teams.

…The same could also be said of most other aspects of HR. For example, many HR pros often wonder what the ‘best’ ATS is, and/or agonize over the ‘best’ compensation strategy (broad banding, traditional structures, market pricing, step systems etc.). They wonder how much transparency is too much transparency, what the best incentive program is etc.

1. Copyright TAE.Of course, the answer to all of these queries starts with ‘it depends’. 1 Every organization has different business conditions that should impact its talent development, succession, compensation and benefits, HRIS management, and labor strategies (among others). And even in situations where the end goal for every company should be to get to the same place (for example every company should aspire to have an internally equitable, market competitive total rewards program that attracts and retains top performers), dependent on where one is in their journey the steps to get to that place may be different (e.g. such a program is not built and implemented in a day).

Ergo, as we get started this week, before looking to generate solutions to our challenge(s) of the day, let’s look to really understand the problem(s) at hand and generate a customized solution that really solves the matter(s) in the best way possible.

Happy Monday,