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Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage [Hardcover]

Dave Ulrich , Edward E. Lawler III
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 May 2008
The source of competitive advantage has shifted in many organizations from reliability to innovation and flexibility. But what does it take for an organization that innovates to then manage effectively? In this follow–up to Built to Change, Ed Lawler argues that it is a combination of the right structure and the right people. First, organizations must decide what structure they are: are you a high–involvement organization that has products and services that require a high level of coordination and cooperation among employees? Or do you have a more global competitor structure in which you are constantly bringing in new talent and technological expertise? Are you a mixture of both? Lawler outlines the unique human capital strategy for each approach, shows what it looks like in action, and provides the foundation and tools for creating competitive and innovative organizations.

Frequently Bought Together

Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage + The Talent Wave: Why Succession Planning Fails and What to Do About It + The Talent Management Handbook: Creating a Sustainable Competitive Advantage by Selecting, Developing, and Promoting the Best People
Price For All Three: 69.87

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (20 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787998389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787998387
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Voted "Best Book of 2008" in Human Capital, Strategy + Business "Some boards do have committees on human resources, but they typically focus on CEO and executive compensation and perhaps succession planning at the executive level, not on the overall talent strategy and effectiveness of the organization...What is needed is a human capital committee that addresses succession planning for senior management positions and the evaluation of the CEO and the top management team."––as excerpted from TALENT by Edward E. Lawler, III in Directors & Boards "There was one chapter in Talent that I found to be really new and interesting. That was the chapter about corporate boards and talent management. Often when we think about boards of directors we think about a room of former CEOs and finance guys who go over number and compliance issues. That′s pretty much what Lawler has found in his research as well. But if a company wants to really use its people as its competitive advantage, then these boards of directors have to be informed on the talent management issues within the company. Not only that, but at least some of these board members should have some HR expertise––which according to Lawler′s research, is a pretty rare occurrence."–– Workforce Management "In his book––for those who wish to proceed with HC–centricity––Lawler describes the steps involved in building talent–based organizations. Through generous case studies of companies from Whole Foods to BMW to Siebel Systems, Lawler outlines ways of achieving HC–centric management through approaches he labels ′high involvement′ or ′global competitor."–– HR Magazine "Lawler presents visionary information and examples that any organization can take pieces from. As a whole, Talent is a thought–provoking read. More importantly it is a practical book. Anytime the reader starts to say to him or herself "yeah right, that would never work" Lawler responds with an acknowledgment of the practicalities and support for optimism. If Lawler’s prediction that more companies will turn towards HC–centric organizations then it would be wise to read this book now." ––The Employment File, 6/10/2008 "A lot of people know a little about Talent. Ed Lawler knows a lot! In fact, he may know more about this topic than anyone I know!" "There is no better person to provide advice on Talent than Ed Lawler!" "The world’s authority on HR systems – he shows you how to change the people equation in your company!" – Marshall Goldsmith is the New York Times best selling author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – the Harold Longman Award Best Business Book of 2007.

“There is nothing limited about this author’s grasp of his subject… Lawler looks at every important aspect of organisational life”  Financial Times   Thursday 7 August 2008

From the Inside Flap

Talent In today′s global business environment, it is more and more difficult to gain a competitive edge, but it is not impossible. Talent , potentially the most powerful source of competitive advantage, is available. But how should organizations be designed to make talent their key source of competitive advantage? In this follow–up to his best–selling book Built to Change , Ed Lawler shows how organizations can combine the right organization design, management practices, and talent to gain a critical performance edge. Talent offers a blueprint that succinctly maps out the best approach to organizing and leading a talent–focused organization. The organizational features needed to create a talent–focused organization are identified and their operation explained. Special attention is paid to: Leadership Corporate boards Talent management Performance management Information and decision making Lawler shows how organizations can determine which talent–focused management approach best fits their business: a high–involvement approach that has long–term employment relationships and a high level of employee involvement in decision making, or a global–competitor approach where there is a constant influx of new talent and technological expertise. Drawing from his expertise and providing insights into today′s most innovative companies, Lawler describes the human capital strategy and organization design for each approach. He provides the foundation and tools for creating effective and innovative organizations. A timely, much–needed resource, Talent defines how companies can be managed for competitive advantage today.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
There is no knowledge leader I admire more than I do Ed Lawler. In this book, he makes what I consider to be his most important contributions thus far to our understanding of how to gain and then sustain a competitive advantage by finding, hiring, and retaining the right talent with the right structures, systems, processes, and practices in place. Only then can organizations "perform so well and change so fast that they string together a series of temporary advantages." Lawler asserts (and I agree) that "fewer and fewer companies can be successful by practicing an old-school bureaucratic [structure-centric] approach to management." What does he recommend to decision-makers in most (but not all) organizations? The human capital centric (i.e. HC-centric) business model. What does it look like? "To begin with, it is important to understand what its core is. Above all else, an HC-centric organization is one that aligns its features (reporting systems, compensation, division and department structure, information systems, and so on) toward the creation of working relationships that attract talented individuals and enable them to work together in an effective manner." As Dave Ulrich observes in the Foreword, "While talent is necessary, it is not sufficient. Successful management in today's business world requires attention to both talent and teamwork, individual ability and organization capability. Lawler captures both."

Ulrich goes on to suggest that the Star (business) Model identifies the organization features about which choices need to be made - about strategy, competencies and capabilities, structure, processes, rewards, people, and identity -- to create an HC-centric organization so that its systems are aligned and integrated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book Title: Talent by Edward e. Lwaler III 6 April 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book arrived earlier than I expected and so I approached the reading of it in a good mood. I was rewarded with an excellently written book about people in teams and organisations. As a manager it held many aspects with which I was familiar, and also helped me to look at aspects of human resources from a new perspective. I can thoroughly recommend this book for anyone working in teams, groups, organisations or indeed for personal enlightenment.
Rosemarie Court
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An insightful HR textbook 22 Jan 2009
By Viriya Taecharungroj - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I don't want to ruin the rating of the book but I would like to give my honest review here.

"The HR Department is the most important staff group"

Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage by Edward E. Lawler III is another book on talent management and HR in general. The key content of the book is the four types of organisations. Hierarchical bureaucracy or low-cost operator (Struture-centric approach) and high-involvement organisation or global competitor (HC-centric, HC is Human Capital). Lawlar describes the current state of most organisations and how to move forward.

Contents:
1. Talent Matters
Talent matters due to the changing business environment in the world and the world is more competitive than ever before.

2. Making the Right Management Choice
This chapter describes the four types of organisation mentioned above and their advantages and disadvantages.

3. Designing Organizations
Lawler adapted the classic five star model of an organisation design including the elements which are People, Structure, Rewards, Processes, (Competencies, Capabilities, and Strategy), which are all related. While Identity is in the middle of all. Lawler describes effect of those elements to the organisation.

4. Managing Talent
The author wrote on how to get the right talent and how to retain them in depth.

5. Managing Performance
Chapter on performance management, full stop.

6. Information and Decision Making
I seriously think that this chapter is unnecessary, Lawler wrote about the information sharing. knowledge management, and technology.

7. Reinventing HR
To sum up the chapter, HR should not only do administration but also business support and strategy development and implementation.

8. Governing Corporations
The chapter talks mainly about the boards of directors.

9. Leading
Typical leadership topics.

10. Managing Change
Typical change management topics

...

Now, I would like to compare this book to the ideal business book; or a business book that is easy to understand, distinct, practical, credible, insightful, and provides great reading experience.

Ease of Understanding: 7/10: Although, as you can see from the contents, the structure of the book is straightforward, there are some repetitions. Descriptions of HR tools and theories are well written but they can be a bit too overwhelming.

Distinction: 4/10: This is a typical HR or people management book. There is nothing particularly new about the contents apart from a model tweak and some updated (cannot really say new) concepts here and there.

Practicality: 3/10: This book is very acedemic. The author wrote beautiful and refined concepts with a few examples but there is no such thing as "do this, do that, do it, now!". This book will be practical when I construct an HR checklist of activities that are needed to be done. But if I want to actually implement those activities, I will find good methods elsewhere.

Credibility: 9/10: As an acedemic thesis, this book deserves an "A" without a doubt. Researches are sound and a list of references is longer than many textbooks. Anyway, an experience of Ed Lawler should be credible enough.

Insightful: 8/10: Following a long list of sound references, the author wrote each topic thoroughly. Explanation between and within chapters is clear.

Reading Experience: 4/10: I am not going to lie here, this book is quite boring. This book is pretty much like a textbook, an HR textbook. I think that is enough for you know how will you feel.

Overall: 5.8/10: For HR managers and officers, this book might be useful but it is likely that you already know them all in general. For others, this book might be too detailed without straight and practical method. However, if you need to be an HR guru, the book is compulsory and check out the list of 98 references for your next stop towards an enlightenment in human resource management.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why "the future of HC-centric management is now" 6 April 2008
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is no knowledge leader I admire more than I do Ed Lawler. In this book, he makes what I consider to be his most important contributions thus far to our understanding of how to gain and then sustain a competitive advantage by finding, hiring, and retaining the right talent with the right structures, systems, processes, and practices in place. Only then can organizations "perform so well and change so fast that they string together a series of temporary advantages." Lawler asserts (and I agree) that "fewer and fewer companies can be successful by practicing an old-school bureaucratic [structure-centric] approach to management." What does he recommend to decision-makers in most (but not all) organizations? The human capital centric (i.e. HC-centric) business model. What does it look like? "To begin with, it is important to understand what its core is. Above all else, an HC-centric organization is one that aligns its features (reporting systems, compensation, division and department structure, information systems, and so on) toward the creation of working relationships that attract talented individuals and enable them to work together in an effective manner." As Dave Ulrich observes in the Foreword, "While talent is necessary, it is not sufficient. Successful management in today's business world requires attention to both talent and teamwork, individual ability and organization capability. Lawler captures both."

Ulrich goes on to suggest that the Star (business) Model identifies the organization features about which choices need to be made - about strategy, competencies and capabilities, structure, processes, rewards, people, and identity -- to create an HC-centric organization so that its systems are aligned and integrated. Otherwise, they cannot drive and implement the given strategy.

Unlike in a bureaucratic, structure-centric organization,

1. "Business strategy is determined by talent considerations, and it in turn drives human capital management practices.

2. Every aspect of the organization is obsessed with talent and talent management.

3. Performance management is one of the most important activities.

4. The information system gives the same amount of attention and rigor to measures of talent costs, performance, and condition as it does to measures of equipment, materials, buildings, supplies, and financial assets.

5. The HR department is the most important staff group.

6. The corporate board has both the expertise and the information it needs to understand and advise on talent issues.

7. Leadership is shared, and managers are highly skilled in talent management."

However, every organization is a "work in progress." Although these seven attributes may describe an organization today, but that by no means ensures that they will be true of it tomorrow. Hence the meaning and significance of Lawler's reference to stringing together "a series of temporary advantages." They can be achieved only if there is sufficient talent and if the right structures, systems, processes, and management practices are in place to develop and retain that talent while attracting whatever other talent may be needed. The extent to which an organization is and remains HC-centric will determine the extent to which it will not only achieve but sustain a decisive competitive advantage.

What Lawler provides in this volume is a combination of information and counsel that will help decision-makers to determine whether or not their organization should be HC-centric. Then, if the choice they make is affirmative, Lawler's book will guide and inform their efforts to design, build, and then manage such an organization. Throughout his narrative, Lawler correctly reminds his reader of the difficulties of doing that. "Structures need to change, and practices need to change, but even that is not enough. People inside and outside the need to change the way they think about the organization. The organization needs to become recognizable from all angles as HC-centric." People change organizations, books don't. (The author or co-author of more than 40 books himself, Lawler is well-aware of that.) Moreover, unless there is high involvement in the transformation process, at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise, the ultimate objectives cannot be achieved. And as Marshall Goldsmith insists, "what got you here will not get you there." That is the essence of Joseph Schumpeter's concept of "creative destruction." That is why, after Reggie Jones selected Jack Welch to succeed him as CEO of GE, he told him to "blow it up."

In this context, I am reminded again of the fact that, like species, businesses are involved in a process of natural selection. Those that do not adapt to changes are doomed to deteriorate and eventually perish. Talent is needed to design, implement, and sustain an HC-central organization. Moreover, as talent needs change, there must be a shared mindset within the given organization that enables it to recognize and then respond appropriately to those changes. Obviously, Lawler cannot provide a "blueprint" nor serve as the "general contractor." His book is best viewed as an "operations manual" for decision-makers as they decide whether or not to adopt the HC-centric business model -- or perhaps what he characterizes as a "global competitor approach," also thoroughly explained.

However, Lawler acknowledges that either approach is not the right choice for some companies, notably those "that operate in industries where the work is relatively low-skilled and low-value-added...The work in these industries makes it very difficult to create an environment where individuals can add significant value, and therefore where an HC-centric approach to management is likely to be successful." For them, a "bureaucratic, structure-centric approach" will probably be sufficient...at least for a while. But in a world that becomes "flatter" each day, that won't be long.

Those who share my high regard for this brilliant book are urged to check out Lawler's earlier books, notably The New American Workplace (co-authored with Jim O'Toole) and Built to Change: How to Achieve Sustained Organizational Effectiveness (co-authored with Chris Worley). Also Dean Spitzer's Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success as well as Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talent is a Must Read 16 May 2008
By John Yocca - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've had the pleasure of working with Professor Ed Lawler on the launch of "Talent." Personally, I found this book to be both simple in its storytelling while detailed in its valuable ideas. Professor Lawler does a wonderful job mixing in real world corporate examples of how leaders can shape their company (and their behavior) to best maximize their most pressing competitive advantage - people.

From Michael Dell's self-evaluation process to Whole Foods public salary disclosure, Professor Lawler uncovers some of corporate America's best talent practices. In my estimation, "Talent" is a must read for any executive or manager who is ready to actively tap into a company's human capital. And doing so is a must today.
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