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John W. Boudreau and Peter M. Ramstad say that companies need to transform their human resource (HR) function into a strategic resource, and compete for talent using HR as a "decision science." The tactical skill they call "talentship" is a management approach that enables firms to understand the strategic nature of their employee base and to build value through the way they handle people. Using their human capital decision-making framework ("HC BRidge") and examples from companies as diverse as Disney, McDonalds, Boeing and Williams-Sonoma, they explain that leaders inside and outside of HR must be aware of their competitive talent "pivot points." Though on the dry side, this targeted book will give you a more energetic vision of what HR can become. We recommend it to HR professionals who want a practical, actionable framework for implementing talent-oriented ideas.
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on October 28, 2007
Applies business discipline to traditional HR functions in innovative ways, following a framework that lets you focus on managing pivotal talent in your organization. How to work through the logic layer and analyze your organization's business strategy to gain talent insights, before ever looking at a metric. If you think attrition metrics are valuable, your eyes will be opened to the vast possibilities you're not yet seeing. Beyond HR is the inevitable future, the question is whether you'll be leading, following, or left behind.
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on October 23, 2007
This book will change your thinking about managing "human resources." It's a must read for anyone making decisions that involve or impact people in an organization. The framework provides a very practical and usable tool to guide organizational decisions aimed at creating value through people, and the real world examples bring the framework to life. Again, anyone faced with managing human capital -- HRM professionals, organizational leaders, line managers, and consultants -- would benefit from reading this book.
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on June 9, 2015
This is one the most complex book I have ever read on HR. This was recommended by my Prof. from IIM L – Prof. Koomar. Thanks sir for recommending this book.
Beyond HR provides a framework for better assessing human capital and maximizing its value. It also shows how organizations can uncover distinctive talent contributions, strategically differentiate their HR practices and metrics, and more optimally allocate talent to create value. Illustrations from companies such as Disney, Boeing, and Corning describe a new decision science called Talentship, that reveals opportunities by identifying strategy pivot points and the optimal talent and organization decisions that address them.
Beyond HR presents a unique framework that helps readers identify their own distinctive strategic pivot points and connect them to talent decisions, showing how today’s “HR” can evolve to fulfill its potential as a source of strategic advantage.
The typical HR department shows up on a company balance sheet as a cost, while the tangible benefits it provides elude traditional accounting methods. The authors focus on the “pivot points” at which a firm’s strategic mission hinges on talent to evoke HR’s real value. Disney, for example, vests more resources in hiring and training theme park sweepers than in developing the actors who portray its animated characters.
The range between the best and worst Mickey Mouse impersonator is narrower than that between the best and worst sweeper. Sweepers keep the park clean, but provide their primary value by assisting visitors. Such value resists formal quantifying, but investing in these staffers pays big dividends for Disney.
Knowing how you can locate such pivot points requires using a decision-making science – “talentship” – that links strategic goals with the impact of talent. Positions sensitive to differences in employee performance demand higher caliber candidates. In some cases – when balanced against other demands on company resources – standardizing a job to minimize variables in staff talent makes more sense. Boudreau and Ramstad provide a rubric for tackling their strategy and a framework for meaningfully measuring HR outcomes.
Though their approach is complex at times, they provide a starting point for making HR a strategic resource that builds value into the processes firms use to handle people.
A must read for them who wants to read some advance and real good stuff on HR.
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on July 28, 2011
I have read numerous books about talent strategy which focus on having a process, i.e. workforce planning, acquisition, development, etc. What they lack is an approach to making tradeoff decisions about where to invest. Beyond HR gave me a useful framework which ultimately led to a draft talent strategy for our company.

The concepts are dense and it took me literally three reads through some sections before I could apply it.
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on January 12, 2009
Job security in these scary times demands keeping at the cutting edge of your field. This book will help you do that! For HR to advance from providing services to making decisions with line managers/executives, HR's mission statement becomes: "to increase the success of the organization by improving decisions that depend on, or impact, people" Essential to achieving this evolution is "talentship," a concept introduced in chapter one. Other chapters build on this strategy, showing how a decision framework is used to base HR on decision science. A real-world model is used to provide a logical connection between organization and talent decisions and strategic success. The book utilizes the idea of "pivot points"-where differences in performance most affect strategic success--to facilitate optimal decision-making. Rich in ideas and perspective, HR desperately needs this kind of thinking to advance to become the "new science of human capital".
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The authors some great points about the importance of talent to a company's success. They are also correct that most companies haven't a clue about the talents their employees possess, how to tap into it, how to develop it, or how to organize it. They probably don't know what the choke points are for talent and which critical skills the company needs to compete and grow, particularly if the talent is not one of the high profile `skilled' positions in the company.

So, I think this is a pretty useful book. However, I hate the word they coined to talk about this skill, `talentship', and I sincerely doubt that the political nature of management within a company will accommodate an increase in power for HR along the lines envisioned within this book. I am also doubtful that `talentship' will become a strategic discipline within a company like finance or marketing. However, I could be wrong.

I do agree with the authors that wise managers will want to use the talents of their employees more effectively than they now do.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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on March 9, 2016
Awesome book for the HR world and has helped tremendously in my Masters class!
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on March 2, 2015
Very boring read; not as informative as I hoped
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