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Is the War for Talent a useful concept

Recently I read an article saying that the War for Talent for was an out of date concept

Part of the critque was that "war" is not a useful metaphor for which I have some sympathy. The major argument though, was that it is more important to take a holistic view and that everyone is talent, and to discriminate is a bad idea

The three thoughts I had were

Firstly there is the current paradox that when you speak to most employers they are not short of candidates for jobs, but they are short of candidates they want to hire. How we define the talent we want is critical - it seems most big organisations feel they are full of the "wrong type of talent". It would be interesting to find any data on the average length a vacancy takes to fill and whether it has gone up.

Secondly there is the clear difference of impact that individuals have in different industries and roles. Roles which have a high degree of decision making discretion normally have a far wider range of performance. A really good software developer is way more productive and effective than the average, a factor of 10x or more is not uncommon. This is not the same in other roles, such as a supermarket manager, where the difference in outputs between the best and average is less than 2x. Senior leaders normally fit into the first type.

So in some roles and some industries differential investment in the best makes total sense. Which is not to say we don't need to be open in where we find great talent. It is essential to keep the door open for peoples’ talents to be recognised whenever they emerge.

Thirdly investing in talent does not have a straight line because investing in Talent is about creating change.  In my experience a little bit of investment in development achieves very little. There is neither the follow through or the intensity needed to create change. If we have to make choices where we invest, it does make sense to invest in the right places to make the biggest difference, the leverage points from systems thinking.

As always the answer is to look to the context and work out the answer, not try and apply a general rule for everything.