For the last 30 years, HR has largely been defined through the programs and practices that it implements to affect the workforce. The future will focus beyond HR programs on a simple question–do you excel in the competition for talent where it matters most to your sustainable strategic success?
Talent competition takes place both within and outside organizations. It takes place globally, and it requires that organizations create a unique talent value proposition, but also that they consistently discover where the amount of talent, its quality, and how it is organized make the biggest difference to strategic success. The future of talent competition will be determined more by how well employees and leaders outside of HR think, decide, and act, than by how well HR delivers its services. The future winners will invest very differently in pivotal talent and organization elements, even when that requires uncomfortable conversations. Talent will be treated not simply as a valuable asset, but as a strategic resource that is too important not to optimize. HR will be accountable not only for its expertise and its services, but for the quality of the talent decisions that are made throughout the organization.
After decades of admonishments for HR to be more strategic, and for organizations to acquire, deploy, nurture and organize talent befitting its strategic significance, CEO research shows that HR is slow to change and many questions about how it should change remain unanswered. Little is known about how leaders inside and outside HR answer fundamental questions such as how talent can be organized to drive sustainable success, whether to make or buy talent, what organization design elements are strategically pivotal, and what the key elements are of a decision science of talent management. The answers to these questions are needed so that we can determine what the future of HR should be.