Talent-to-Value (T2V): What Enterprises Need in Today’s Dynamic, Digital, Knowledge-Based Economy (Part 1)

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In this three-part series, we look at a new human capital model that businesses are adopting to derive value from specialized, business talent in today’s knowledge-based economy. We refer to this model as talent-to-value (T2V). In Part 1 of this series, we explain T2V in the context of the current knowledge-based economy, and we highlight the various ways that enterprises can realize value by adopting the T2V model. In Part 2 of this series, we will unpack and discuss some of the key ingredients of the T2V model, and in Part 3, we will examine some concrete examples of the T2V model in action.

T2V: Not Just Another Acronym

For some years now, individual business users and business functions within large enterprises have been utilizing the expertise and capabilities of independent talent directly sourced through various types of digital platforms (e.g., online freelancer marketplaces, ideation crowdsourcing platforms). However, while this fragmented buying activity of early adopters across an enterprise is apparently valuable for each business user or function,  significantly greater potential  value-add at an enterprise and strategic level cannot be achieved in this manner.

That leads us to the T2V model and its basic building blocks: digital, platform-based, precision sourcing and the application of external and internal expertise into time-delimited, outcome-specific projects that create value for an enterprise. The T2V model effectively links requirement-specific expertise to value generated by observable project outcomes — hence, Talent-to-Value. T2V enables enterprises to capture value not only from the specific project outcomes and their direct effects on the business, but also from the retention and redeployment of critical expertise and capabilities, as well as from the re-purposing and reuse of project artifacts and intangible assets across the enterprise.

By extension, adoption of the T2V model across an enterprise not only generates value at an operational level (as individual projects are performed), it can also generate additional value at an enterprise level, as will be further discussed.

The Knowledge-Based Economy and the Need for T2V

Enterprises have longed worked within a human capital model established in the industrial economy. The limitations of that model, however, have become clear and are constraining businesses that must operate in the knowledge-based economy. New technology, global markets, increased competition and mobility of capital, among other factors, are driving business transformation on a fundamental level.

First of all, the basis for value creation has been shifting:

  • From the management of material resources, physical assets and low-skilled labor to drive industrial production and distribution of products to slowly changing, homogeneous mass markets segments and relatively passive consumers …
  • … to the organization of knowledge/talent, information/IT and intangible assets/IP to design and deliver innovative products and services to targeted, co-creative customers across dynamic, digitally integrated communication/distribution networks.

Correspondingly, the fundamental organizational structures  have also been evolving:

  • From industrial, relatively static, administrative hierarchies structured to control, optimize and maintain the stability of production-related processes and labor located within the boundaries of the firm …
  • … to digitally enabled, dynamic, decentralized organizations structured to support the agile, optimal coordination of internal and external expertise, information and IP to deliver innovative products and services.

In an economy characterized by dynamic markets and intense competition and driven by new technologies, information, knowledge and IP (rather than raw materials and physical assets) have become the foundation of enterprise value creation. To perform in this environment, enterprise organizations have been evolving to be able to respond quickly to new  market signals and to shift gears and reconfigure in weeks (not in months or years).  Today, enterprise success depends on agile, lean organizational structures and process models--which brings us back to T2V.

The Business Value of T2V

As described above, the T2V model building blocks are: (a) leverages digital platforms to (b) source specialized expertise and capabilities (c) provided by both internal or external talent and (d) orchestrated and applied within well-defined, output-specific projects. For any given project, value can be created in at least three distinct, but interrelated, ways:

  1. Value clearly adheres to outcome of project and positive business impact. For example, if the project is to design and plan a marketing campaign for a new product, then value materializes and can be observed in  market interest in the product and the generation of sales.
  2. Additional value can potentially arise from expertise and capabilities that can be redeployed into future projects. When a project is completed, team members may be released from the specific project. However, those team members and their catalogued experience, skills and expertise do not vanish, but continue to be visible and available to the organization through its private, platform-based talent pools. Moreover, during the course of project, team members may augment their skills and expertise (or transmit them to one another), which in turn, can augment the collective enterprise "library" of skills and knowledge.
  3. Finally, additional value can arise from the material artifacts that are created in a project, to the extent that they are digitally archived, catalogued and made accessible to others in the organization. So, for example, if a project were executed to create a set of market requirements for a new product, extensive market research that was produced could potentially be used in another project. As such, value could come from preservation, sharing and reuse or re-purposing of project artifacts, information and IP within other business activities.

Direct and indirect potential value can be created with the successful completion of every project executed with T2V practices and processes.  But additional value can be generated from an increase in the number of T2V projects and from the related increase in network effects (e.g., skill and expertise augmentation and reuse, intangible asset re-purposing and reuse and the potential stimulation of innovation).  Additional value is created as T2V practices and processes are adopted across the enterprise.  If all of this is occurring, then incremental value creation (and realization) should follow an S-Curve, increases steeply (with expansion of the model across the enterprise)  and then eventually starts to flatten over time.  But to the extent that an enterprise continues to expand, the S curve will not flatten completely.  There could also be multiple ascending S-Curves to the extent that, for example, new successful products are developed.

To create value at an operational level, the T2V model prescribes practices and processes for sourcing and applying skills and expertise, executing outcome-specific projects and managing post-project talent and intangible assets.  The T2V model also prescribes the ongoing adoption and application of T2V model practices and processes across the enterprise to create additional value, at an increasing rate over time. At an even higher, level, adoption of the T2V model can be essential part of an enterprise strategy for performing successfully and creating shareholder value in today’s dynamic, knowledge-based economy.

In Part 2 of this series, we will shift our focus from the higher-level discussion of the definition, the context and the value of the T2V model to a more practical discussion of what the T2V model looks like inside the enterprise.

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