Monday, 23 June 2014

The New Global Currency

I'm looking forward to the Economist's 2014’s Talent Management Summit on Thursday.
My main focus as a consultant is helping HR respond to changes in the world of work so the sessions I’m most eager to see are the earlier ones on the new Global Currency, and the later ones on the New Work Order.  (That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to the ones on Boardroom Conversations and Redefining Leadership too!)

I’m going to devote this post to the New Global Currency and I’ll be blogging here on all the other later sessions, as well as these earlier ones, at the conference.

So what is this new global currency we’re talking about?  (Hint: it's not Bitcoin.)

Well this is what the marketing literature suggests:

“Most companies publicly state that their people are their most valuable asset. So why aren’t talent and leadership strategies keeping pace with today’s fast-changing world?

  What strategies will keep you ahead of the global skills race and defend your talent from potential competitive raids?

  Why are companies still struggling with building an effective global leadership pipeline?

  What are the best operating models for high performing, adaptive, global, mobile leadership teams?

Attendees will hear first-hand perspectives of corporate executives and thought leaders on how businesses can leverage their talent and leadership currency to compete in the face of such sweeping change.

So the new global currency is talent and leadership - people, and well be finding out how to accumulate this new type of cash!
Well I must admit Im in two or three minds about equating people with money.  On one hand I agree that people need to be more clearly recognised as the new source of competitive success and that the old school of thought that (old style) cash is king has had its day.
On the other hand I dont think that being talked about as currency will be that engaging for many employees, which is a problem given that engagement is certainly a key part of realigning talent and leadership strategies with the new work order.
I face the same problem with my brand - Strategic HCM or Strategic Human Capital Management, i.e. the management of people to create human capital.  However I always explain that human capital is what people provide, its not jargon for the people themselves.  I think its important to call people people.
Thirdly, thinking of people as or like money isnt going to be helpful even if we dont refer to them as such.  There are some critical differences between talent and old style cash - the main one being that cash is scarce and talent is abundant.
Cash needs managing with a scarcity mentality - it can generate amazing returns but unless its spent carefully, it gets flittered away.  (Thats why companies are still sitting on a record amount of cash despite the improving economy.)
Talent benefits from an abundance mentality as it can also deliver amazing returns but not if it gets hoarded.  The more we use talent (the more we practice), the more the quantity and quality of talent we get back.
Therefore a key concern to me, that relates to the Economists initial question about why HR isnt keeping pace, is that most surveys of potential suggest most people are using just a small fraction (generally about 20 to 30%) of their potential in their jobs.  If we could free up the remaining 70% wed get more work done, but wed also accumulate more new global currency in the process.
So how do we move on? - how do we manage people - talent, leaders - in ways which enable not constrain; engender passion not boredom, and support collaboration not petty politics and turf warfares?

Arvinder Dhesi (Korn Ferry), Gary Elliott (Diageo), Tracy Robbins (IHG) and Rita Vanhauwenhuyse (BP) - as speakers in this session at the conference: answers please!

And readers - I hope you might be at the conference to listen to Arvinder, Gary, Tracy and Rita first hand and if you are, please do say hello!
And if not, please do check out my blog posts on or after Thursday.

And regardless of which of these you do, please do take some action - we want to see a completely new agenda next year, not an even more urgent rehash of the question asked this year.  In fact my dream topic for 2015 would be Outsourcing Finance - as obviously with people being king, we wont need so much focus on that traditionally more important function!
The kings no longer what it was.  Long live the king!

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