What combat commandos can teach us about finding and keeping great talent.
What combat commandos can teach us about finding and keeping great talent
by Rob Keogh | 3 May 2017
The book “No Easy Day” by Mark Bissonette, is a great read and was made into a highly successful movie. It is a first-hand, behind the scenes account, of the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
It provides a detailed insight into the processes around recruitment and training, to develop front-line mission-critical troops. No surprise, there is a direct parallel in developing talent in business.
The book goes into great detail around the support and resources that are supplied to each soldier. They are provided everything possible, to ensure they have what they need, to execute their role on the front line. For life or death combat missions, it is pretty obvious. You want the fastest, most powerful weapons, the latest accurate intelligence, communications, vision enhancement, body armour, the list goes on.
Interestingly, the commandos get to choose from a whole array of weapons and equipment, picking the specifications that they prefer. Pretty much anything they need, to ensure they can operate effectively. One pair of night-vision goggles alone costs USD$65,000, but it is dark nearly half of each day, and their business is open all hours.
So what weapons do businesses arm their front-line people with. This aspect of “talent-support” is something top line companies do well. However, too many companies tie up top people with out-of-date technology, processes and administration. The sunk cost of old legacy systems, support decisions that bind people to outdated processes. This is not only a highly inefficient application of resources; it is a barrier to attracting and keeping great people. It really doesn't make sense, when the profitability & future of the company, is directly reliant on a framework for consistently delivering quality and performance.
What is evident in “No Easy Day” is that, unlike the old-time war movies, in real life the battle isn’t won by one man. It comes down to the structure and resources of the unit that enable them to perform and execute their mission, what-ever the conditions. The army understand that talent cannot be in just the person, because they might not be around for the whole mission.
Talent is in the resources and framework of the unit. If you have top resources and a great framework, you can swap out the people and (with good training) the standards of performance are maintained. In business, talent is People, Process, Technology (PPT). "Talent", being the ability to naturally perform well, above the level of one's peers, must reside in and become an attribute of the business. Creating a PPT framework in a business, is creating an infrastructure asset for performance and success.
This model for talent is perhaps more important now than ever before. It is said that already in the U.S. over 40% of the workforce are contractors. Whether it's the gig economy, or just the career expectations of millennials, people are now transient. Having the core talent reside in the business framework is important, because good systems and technology is what you keep, when people walk out the door.