The talent challenge is for real. And it isn’t just the frontline Indian software firms that are realising this. Increasingly, the global IT majors setting up shop in India are sensing the need to find new ways to attract and retain talent. There’s also the need to quickly build new capabilities and skills. In October 2004, a conference in Chennai, addressed these issues. On the sidelines of the summit, Businessworld (India) and Nasscom brought together six experts to debate issues related to talent management. The panelists were Subroto Bagchi, co-founder and COO, MindTree Consulting, Hema Ravichander, senior vice-president (HR), Infosys Technologies, Ajit Rangnekar, the deputy dean of the Indian School of Business, Ray Kloss, Peoplesoft’s director, product and industry marketing (Japan & Asia Pacific), Martin Appel, the HR head of IBM India and Nasscom president Kiran Karnik . Businessworld’s deputy editor Indrajit Gupta moderated the discussion.
The objective of the session was to identify the challenges India’s knowledge-based firms will face as they scale up, and also identify creative solutions and ideas that will help them design organisations that leverage and engage talent.
Excerpts of their excellent discussion are available online here.
Some highlights (without context):

  • Biggest challenges for talent management:
    • The education system is not creating the right kind of people
    • Speed and growth – “just-in-time recruiting”
    • Only hiring professionals – no diversity
    • Mechanical recruitment processes
  • Diversity is not just male-female, or age, or culture (including language, religion) – we need intellectual (professional) diversity
    • “Great research has been done on this. A highly diverse group usually struggles more than a moderate group to arrive at the regular results. The moderate groups get the regular results with far higher consistency. But they do not get the breakthroughs. It is the diverse groups that consistently generate the significant breakthrough ideas.”
    • “Make your leaders meet 12 different people from 12 different sectors over the next year. Then, they will think differently. And practise diversity.”
  • This is leadership-driven, not by HR.
  • One simple thing. Throw away the time sheet. It measures input, not output.
  • “Measurement and compensation lead behaviour. If you are serious about being an externally focused organisation, then, at the senior-most levels in the business, you have to establish metrics that are externally focused.”


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