Category Archives: Talent Management

Talent Acquisition or Growth

This is one the most debated topic by all passionate HR members in almost all forums. This sounds more like the conventional Make or BUY decision in manufacturing or service operations. I propose to add my two cents to this debate.

Making or buying decision is as old as the time when mankind started living in settlement. The option of buying did not exist before that. The concept of “Someone makes and someone consumes (buys)” was only after sometime the mankind settled and became a social-able animal. The barter system of exchange was to exchange goods or services that I do not make and am willing to buy from someone who makes it. Such system was known to exist based on recorded history approx. 6000 BC. Imagine if every person had to make his fire or his wheel from scratch, we would not have seen this kind of revolutions and change that we experience today. One can always argue that this is ok for goods but how would this get applied to Knowledge/ Talent.

Can all kind of knowledge or talent be grown within? My response would be Yes and No both. One can possibly grow all talents within. But does the individual and organisation has necessary time and other resource to invest in growing this talent. Is the investment worth? I am reminded of story from the pages of life of Swami Vivekananda.

Once Swami Vivekananda was waiting on the banks of a river for a boat to cross the river. Another saint from the local village passed by, who had not seen Swami Vivekananda earlier though knew about Swamiji. He got into a discussion with Swami Vivekananda. He also learnt that Swami is waiting for a boat. The saint was surprised.

Saint : I have heard so much about you and your achievements but I am surprised that you have to wait for boat to cross river. With your powers you should know how to walk on water.”

He demonstrated to emphasize his achievement by walking on water.

Swamiji : That’s a great feat! How long you took to ACQUIRE this talent?

Saint :    I did rigorous tapasya (religious austerity) for 20 years to acquire this talent

Swamiji : Your 20 years is wasted on something that can be BOUGHT for a penny

Talent can be grown within but at what cost and time. I reckon that till 80s or early 90s the stress on memorizing tables were pretty high. Today students and many teachers do not believe that it is necessary, as calculators have replaced the need for memorising. It does not matter whether this new belief is right or wrong. The fact remains that today you have more individuals who cannot perform basic arithmetic computation without the help of calculators. In this context it is almost like buying TALENT / KNOWLEDGE (Calculator represents Talent provided by a machine) instead of growing (MEMORIZING).

If this is true then why debate, why not buy every talent that one needs?

This is a question that needs more attention. A life cycle of human takes pride in what he or she has learnt and the talent that remains with him after his “working life”. This to me an inherent need for a human being. This means as he grows he constantly attempts to acquire newer skills and talents. This is important for him/her to remain relevant in family and/or society. This desire is reflected by the fact that every culture and religion in the world has a deity or two for knowledge, learning.

Hindus worship Saraswathi, Ganesha and Hayagriva ; Persians worship Anahita; Greek worshiped Athena, Eidyia, Prometheus; Egyptians worshipped Thot ; St Paul is considered by many as Saint for Wisdom;

The growth of talent is a great motivator for many to work in an organisation. I have met many who leave organisation that has little to offer as learning opportunity. I have myself moved from one to another organisation in my early carrier for exploring and learning newer skills and knowledge. Organisation needs to invest in Growing Talent (Making) while it continues to Acquire Talent from outside (Buying). The need to invest in Growing Talent within can be

  1. Keep the motivation of existing employees high by giving them opportunity in newer technology, skills, knowledge. This would also help in managing retention of available talent within organisation.
  2. Investing on acquiring Talent well in advance can enable organisation to effectively meet the client’s requirement in the initial stages of business acquisition. The start or transition phase usually requires smaller number of resources with the new Talent.

An approach in acquiring talents from outside.

There are two ways of acquiring new talents within organisation.

  1. Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) Mode

    One can hire expert for a defined time frame with following objective

    1. Setting up system and define the processes that consumes the talent
    2. Operate with the existing resources with higher content of on the job training
    3. Hand hold the team
    4. Exit the team
  2. Acquire the Talent for full time
    1. This is regular staffing process
    2. The challenge in this approach is the lead time to hire and time available to hire.

Either of the options or both of the options can be deployed. The factors that would define this would be:

  1. Type of Talent required
  2. Availability of the Talent
  3. Time available to hire
  4. Time required to hire
  5. Capability to attract such Talent
  6. Capability to assess such Talent

In the end, I think it is still a decision that is dependent on organisational and business context. What works for one need not work of another organisation.