How The Net Impact Movement Can Turn The Talent Crisis Into An Opportunity


Kent Barnett is CEO/Founder of Performitiv, the world’s most advanced learning analytics platform, and formerly CEO of KnowledgeAdvisors.

Enough ink has already been spilled about the “Great Resignation” and the global talent crisis facing CEOs and business leaders. It would be reasonable to assume that the situation might simply course correct with a potential post-Covid-19 normalization. However, most experts acknowledge that the seismic shifts that started over the past two to three years are likely to continue well into the future.

As a recent Forbes piece points out, “by 2030, Korn Ferry estimates that the global talent shortage could reach 85.2 million people, resulting in the loss of trillions of dollars in economic opportunity for companies.”

The fact is, the ability to attract, retain and engage a diverse workforce is likely to remain the single biggest challenge that modern business leaders face for the foreseeable future.

From Crisis, Comes Opportunity

They approach talent development in ways that are similar to how manufacturers like Toyota and Motorola pioneered Six Sigma to outperform their competitors in manufacturing quality, and customer-focused organizations like IBM, Intuit and Sprint used (and still use) the Net Promoter Score to drive outsized financial returns through improved customer loyalty.

In both examples, innovative leaders invested in creating the means to measure, analyze and optimize every step of their key processes, with the goal of driving daily improvement and — ultimately — major returns.

Using A Continuous Improvement Methodology

For the past 20 years, through my current company Performitiv and my previous company KnowledgeAdvisors, I’ve been speaking with CEOs, business executives and boards on the topic of talent optimization. What I’ve learned is that while HR and L&D deserve credit for the way they have adapted to change and used technology to deliver improved learning experiences, it’s clear that the C-suite still craves access to better talent information so that they can maximize shareholder value. In a recent Brandon Hall study, only 3% of executives said they believe their company’s learning strategy is highly aligned with helping them achieve their business goals.

Dissatisfaction in this regard is a two-way street. HR executives want to provide more quantifiable evidence of impact and value creation, but they are buried with data and struggle with what to actually do with it. One out of every two HR leaders interviewed in a recent Performitiv study said their organization does a poor job of measuring the impact of talent development, and only 8% can track ROI.

A solution to this problem is continuous improvement, and its impact can be massive. McKinsey, for example, reports having clients that see operating performance improve as much as 80% and productivity improve as much as 20% in as little as two months due to continuous improvement efforts. While other industries have embraced continuous improvement, I’ve observed that few HR organizations have implemented a comprehensive continuous improvement process.

Enter Net Impact: A New Continuous Improvement For Talent Development

Developed by leading organizations and industry experts and based on Dr. Gary Becker’s Nobel Prize-winning research on human capital, the Net Impact System (NIS) is a continuous improvement approach specific to talent development that better measures and analyzes the impact of talent investments. The Center for Talent Reporting (led by Dave Vance) discovered that, in most organizations, the talent development process has significant waste that causes them to make poor hires, misspend a portion of their L&D investments, employ poor leaders and have poor-performing employees.

I’ve found that NIS is a scientifically sound, yet practical, approach to continuous improvement meant to address these issues head-on. And leading companies around the globe are using this new method to:

• Reduce waste or “scrap learning” and increase performance.

• Predict program impact.

• Measure performance against key financial and business objectives using hard data.

• Provide a common way to score and benchmark across the entire talent development process.

• Provide world-class executive reporting to business leaders.

As recent research from BCG points out, where companies used to compete based on a positional or adaptive advantage, “another basis of competition has risen above them all in the digital age: learning advantage. The winners of tomorrow will be those that can accelerate their rate of learning.” And you can do that using NIS.

There are also alternative options to NIS for continuous improvement. Some organizations have designed and implemented their own model. Some use Six Sigma’s DMAIC model, and some use Net Promoter System. NIS leverages the core components of these solutions while also providing industry benchmarks and a process map designed specifically for corporate learning programs such as leadership development, onboarding, sales training, transformation programs, etc.

If learning and talent development are a part of your competitive strategy (and they should be), don’t waste time. Embrace the “learning advantage.” Get started with NIS and gain a competitive edge through continuous improvement now. You owe it to your employees and your shareholders.


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