Organizational Expert Says Companies Should Put Talent First

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Professor Edward Lawler proposes human capital-centric structure for businesses in new book, TALENT.

Special attention needs to be paid to fostering and supporting talent, and this starts with implementing effective organizational structures, processes and systems.

Companies once were able to compete by effectively managing their tangible assets, such as natural resources and financial capital. But in today's business landscape, a surprisingly overlooked resource must be leveraged first and foremost: people.

Providing a compelling and thought provoking approach to achieving business success, Professor Edward Lawler explains in his newly released book, TALENT: Making People Your Competitive Advantage (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, April 2008, ISBN: 978-0-7879-9838-7, $29.95/Cloth), how organizations can gain a powerful competitive advantage by tapping into their talent and learning how to effectively organize and lead it.

"Companies that are truly competing on the performance of their people have adopted a Human Capital or HC-centric approach to organizational structure, acknowledging that simply doing better talent management is not sufficient," said Professor Lawler. "Special attention needs to be paid to fostering and supporting talent, and this starts with implementing effective organizational structures, processes and systems."

With the largest segment of the workforce -- the Baby Boomers -- set to retire, a rapidly expanding global economy and the dire need of companies to innovate and change, talent is in higher demand than ever before. While finding and developing the right talent is fundamental to creating an effective organization, major changes in how organizations are designed and managed are ultimately needed.

Talent provides a much-needed, comprehensive framework for helping human resource professionals, senior executives, CEOs and corporate boards structure their organization in order to effectively attract, retain and manage their talent. In Talent, Professor Lawler details the characteristics of two different types of HC-centric approaches to management and helps executives ask the right questions to choose the best approach for their organization.

Drawing upon Lawler's decades of research, Talent touches on many steps companies can take to structure themselves, including:     

  •     Establishing a shared leadership approach;
  •     Motivating a company's talent;
  •     Creating an information system that analyzes the effectiveness of talent;
  •     And, identifying the new roles that human resource departments, corporate boards and CEOs must play.

Talent shows that in today's business world, it is truly in most companies' best interest to put people front and center as their main source of sustainable competitive advantage.

About the Author:
Edward E. Lawler III ( is a distinguished professor of business and director of the Center for Effective Organizations at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and a leader in the fields of organization development and HR management. He has authored more than 350 articles and 43 books including, Built to Change.


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