The Talent – Why Smart people put people before numbers?

images“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” –  Derek Bok,

This sums up what I consider to be the bottom line of Talent Masters. Bill Conaty, former senior VP for Human Resources at General Electric under legendary leader and leadership developer Jack Welsh, and Ram Charan, prolific writer, educator, and coach to many leading companies, have teamed up to write this “Bible” on leadership talent development. Talent Masters argues persuasively that the main job of a CEO, and key leaders for that matter, is to develop future talent—emerging leaders who will create corporate value and who will take the current executives’ places when the time comes.

If talent is the leading indicator of whether a business is up or down,. . . do you know how to accurately judge raw human talent? Understand a person’s unique combination of traits? Develop that talent? Convert what supposedly are “soft” subjective judgments about people into objective criteria that are as specific, verifiable, and concrete as the contents of a financial statement? The talent masters do. They put people before numbers for the simple reason that it is talent that delivers the numbers. Success comes from those who are able to extract meaning from events and the forces affecting a business, and are able to look at the world and assess the risks to take and the risks to avoid.

“The Talent Masters” rests on three principles that characterize the Welch approach to management: (1) A focus on talent development. Mr. Welch and the other “talent masters” in the book—we also hear from folks at companies including Procter & Gamble and Novartis—claim that they spend more than a third of their time developing their people. (2) Differentiation. Talent masters create a meritocracy by constantly evaluating their people—a process which, in Mr. Welch’s case, was derided by critics as “rank and yank.” (3) Candor. This is the ultimate Welch trademark: ruthless honesty in evaluating the performance of people and businesses.

But the authors add to the Welchian wisdom by documenting some interesting examples. For instance, we learn about the day in 2000 when Larry Johnston, head of GE’s appliance business, flew to corporate headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., to tell his bosses that he was leaving to head up Albertsons, the supermarket chain. The news was a surprise to Mr. Conaty, to Jeff Immelt—who was then making a transition to the CEO job—and to Mr. Welch.All three tried to talk Mr. Johnston into changing his mind. But after determining that their effort was futile, the executives turned their attention to succession. Within a half-day they had agreed on who would replace Mr. Johnston and on who would fill three other slots down the chain of command. The quick action was possible, we’re told, only because the three men had been heavily involved in the continuous evaluation of the company’s top talent.

The authors compare GE’s rapid-fire performance in replacing Mr. Johnston with what happened recently at Hewlett Packard, when Mark Hurd was forced to step down after indiscretions involving a marketing consultant. The company, the book says, came “unhinged.” For the third time in little more than a decade, the HP board felt compelled to pick a chief executive from the outside—an implicit acknowledgment of failed succession planning.

Messrs. Conaty and Charan also show the forgiving side of Mr. Welch’s GE. They tell the story of Mark Little, who in 1995 was promoted to vice president of engineering at the company’s Power Systems group. Following his appointment, the group missed its numbers three times in a row, and Mr. Little was demoted. He suspected that his career at GE was over.Instead, executives there worked with Mr. Little to assure him that he still had a future and to help him rebuild his career in a position that made better use of his talents. Today he is the senior vice president in charge of the corporate R&D center, and one of the company’s top 25 executives.

The book begins with GE-related examples, but some of its most arresting stories come from outside the company. A particularly interesting chapter involves Hindustan Unilever, Unilever’s $3.5 billion Indian subsidiary. The company routinely evaluates candidates for management jobs by putting several applicants together to discuss a specific business issue in a group. This allows the company to see how they interact with each other and who has leadership potential.

Another instructive anecdote comes from Adrian Dillon, Skype’s chief financial officer. Mr. Dillon tells of how, early in his management career, when he was working at Eaton Corp., he was accosted after a meeting by his boss, the company’s CFO. “That was a great meeting, but your problem is that you still think your job is to be the smartest guy in the room. It’s not,” the man told him. Instead, Mr. Dillon was told, his job was to “make everybody in the room think that they’re the smartest guy in the room. You’ve got to teach them what you know and what you do, not tell them.”

Overall, “The Talent Masters” offers a valuable window into the skills of talent development. And it makes a persuasive case, yet again, for the wisdom of the Welch way. But you do have to wonder whether, a decade after Mr. Welch’s retirement, it isn’t time to find a new icon for the rapidly evolving world of business management.


Who Moved My Cheese ???

whomovedmycheesecoverWho Moved My Cheese? An Amazing way to deal with Change In your work and In your life.

A motivational book by Spencer Johnson Co-author of The One Minute Manager -, written in the form of a business fable – sold more than 26 million copies worldwide in 37 languages and still remains to be the best selling business books. The book clocks in at 96 pages, and you can read it cover to cover in 40 minutes if you are not a speed reader. The book speaks about the vital importance of dealing with unexpected change in life.


A group of friends meet for dinner and the topic of discussion gets on to CHANGE. The story involved four fictional characters. Sniff and Scurry , the mice and Hem and Haw , the little people.


Sniff who sniffs out change easily.

Scurry who hurries into action.

Hem who fears change as he feels it will lead to something worse

Haw who snaps out of his comfort zone and adapts to change when he feels its for his better.


CHEESE is What you want in life. May be a hike in in your CTC, a tender relationship, peace of mind, a vacation, hell a lot of money. MAZE is where you can find what you want. May it be your workplace, your loved ones, your family above all in YOU.

In the story, all is well as they have found an enormous source of their yummy food. Hem and Haw even shifted their houses near it. But they fail to notice as time passes by, the cheese supply had been getting smaller every day. One morning they arrived at the Cheese station and discovered there was no cheese.This is where the story splits into two. Sniff and scurry quickly accept the loss and go off into the maze in search for other sources. Whereas Hem and Haw keep cribbing and grumbling of the present situation because cheese was very important to them and trying to decide what to do.

This business fable captures very beautifully that moment after we have lost a job or relationship, we believe that’s the end of the world. No ray of hope ahead. The author enlightens us , instead of seeing change as the end of everything, we must learn to see it as the beginning. He quotes: “If you don’t change, you can become extinct”

Good points

1)      Mildly entertaining

2)      Easy read

Bad points

1)      71 pages in extra huge font, lot of white space. 10 page story made to 71 page bookby over formatting is dishonest I believe

2)      Lengthy introduction just to fill up pages

3)      Who moved my cheese says Accept whatever that gets thrown to you. You always have the right to say “ Give me back my Goddamn cheese”

4)      For big people with big minds who wants to make big decisions, Why get stuck up in the maze? LEAVE THE MAZE FELLAS. The book doesn’t even get close to discuss this point.

Let me list down certain phrases picked out directly from the book.

1)      Change happens. ( sometimes you expect it and sometimes you don’t)

2)      Anticipate change ( it helps you to deal with it quicker)

3)      Adapt to change quickly ( the sooner, the better)

4)      Enjoy change (be flexible and go with the flow mates)

The core essence of the book can be summarized from the “Cheese station N Handwriting on the Wall”





Unposted Letter-250x250After the Namma Metro first time super-duper  experience , Rahul and me decided to explore retail stores in and around the station. We had masala dosai and coffee at the widely known  Indian Coffee House ( Love the waiters  outfit, especially the cap). Clicked some candid pictures in the Nikon L810 which my sister gifted recently. On our way back to our TATA MANZA, got into Higginbothams as there was a sale going on. As always drawn to my best loved section “ SELF HELP/MANAGEMENT”,zeroed to Mahatria Ra’s UNPOSTED LETTERS. ( I have attended his discourses on Infinitheism, but reading his book for the first time.)None other than the Editor of FROZEN THOUGHTS.

 Unposted Letter is a short, crisp, write-up  published in each issue of Frozen Thoughts.  When you read the book, if you go ahead with clarity, implementation becomes much easier and desirable.

“700 million sperms dart from the man towards that one stationary egg in the woman, and only the healthiest and fastest sperm makes it.” After this line, I felt I am reading some biology textbook. But folks, these are from Unposted Letters. Let me post them into your heart. “.So every human being is that winning sperm which proved in its own way that it was one up on the remaining 700 million of its kind,”it further explains.

The next time you feel a loved one is being tough on you, lines from the chapter “Pampering weakens you. Love creates you” will play in your mind. To a lot of people, being loved means loved ones should always be soft with them, should always agree to what they say, never complain or criticise, never push them beyond comfort zones, basically leave them as they are. Pampering, in the Voice of RA is- love me only the way I want to be loved. Whereas Love is not love that pampers. It creates you.Well said.

However, it is banal at some places. For instance, chapter titles like “There is no easy way to the top”, “Great minds discuss ideas. Small minds discuss people” and “Good communication will serve a relationship” sound cliché.

Ra says Postphonement is the signature of underacheievers. There is no such days as ‘one of these days’. Today is the day. If tomorrow comes, I will tell tomorrow “ I have already done it yesterday’. Ultimate!

Easy to comprehend, brief chapters on customer management,personal/professional attitude, relationships,happiness, productivity, success vs failure, hardwork, Procastination, life, emotions,optimism, time management etc and without doubt, the big emphasis is YOU.This book brings about self-revelations that one can relate to everyday instances.

The beauty of this book is Sheer Simplicity. Power package.Open any page, an answer is seeking the seeker. Is anybody’s birthday round the corner?Ggift this book. The perfect Birthday gift ever.