Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are You Ready for the 51% Challenge

One conclusion that I have come to during my relatively short time here in Asia is that there is a pressing need to identify high potential talent, as there is in other regions of the world. The main differentiator is that, due to the increased pace of change taking place in Asian business relative to other regions, the size of the leadership gap and the speed at which it needs to be closed is even greater. The end result is that a type of hyper-development is required to create tomorrow’s leaders today. There are certainly ways to do this through very targeted and aggressive 70-20-10 development efforts. But more than that, it will require leaders, both HR and line, to take unprecedented risks with talent.

This very matter was confirmed by a recent conversation I had with the APAC Regional President of a global life sciences company. During our discussion, he turned and pointed to a quote he had placed in large print beside his desk and said that the philosophy captured in the quote was critical to shifting his mindset and driving his efforts around talent.

Here is the quote, attributed to Koh Boon Hwee, a prominent Singaporean business leader:

"If the man or the woman who has worked with us is 51% ready, I will give him or her the job. But he or she will come up to speed so that he or she is 100 percent ready in a short space of time, or we will deal with the problem. It's fair."

I found the quote intriguing. It seems to take the notions of learning agility, assignmentology and development heat to the next level.

What are your thoughts on this philosophy? Is it sufficient for meeting the apparent challenge at hand for many businesses or is it simply stretching too far?