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Play to Your Strengths: Managing Your Internal Labor Markets for Lasting Competitive Advantage Hardcover – September 12, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (September 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071422536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071422536
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

All leaders know people are critical to the success of organizations. Executives just don’t act that way sometimes. Why? Because they lack the facts. Too often they don’t know which workforce practices create the greatest value or which attributes of a workforce are critical to business strategy.

Absent these facts executives look outside for cues on what to do through benchmarking and searching for so-called best practices. The result is a perverse reality in which other companies, often competitors, are in effect telling them how to run their company. Such copycat tactics can’t be right, and the evidence shows they aren’t.

All of this is changing. Now companies can measure the links between their specific workforce practices and business results--learning what’s creating value and what’s not. Consequently, important decisions about where to cut costs, where to re-allocate spending, and where to invest more for greater returns can be based on facts specific to their enterprise.

It’s an extraordinary opportunity. Indeed it’s the last great unexploited source of competitive advantage for companies today.

Play to Your Strengths describes this new science of human capital management. Using it gives companies the advantage of acting based on the measured impact of their firm-specific practices on their business outcomes.

•Learn how to break the typically squishy thinking around workforce decisions •Learn why your "internal labor market" is the key to understanding your workforce dynamics •Learn how to actually predict what effect a new practices will have on business results •Learn how to beat the competition with advantages others can’t copy •Learn how to build true accountability for optimizing the return on your human capital investments

Whether your strategic imperative is being the low cost producer, delivering world-class customer service, producing matchless quality, or generating head-turning returns for shareholders, this book will show you how to make the necessary decisions to meet your goals.

Haig R. Nalbantian, Richard A. Guzzo, Dave Kieffer, and Jay Doherty are principals of Mercer Human Resource Consulting, cofounders of the Strategy and Metrics group, and are the originators of the groundbreaking theory, tools, and processes described in this book. [Their work has garnered major media attention in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and the Financial Times, as well as on CNN and CNBC. [back cover] Advance Praise for the innovative new approach to management Play to Your Strengths

"This book is a key read for all managers who want to invest astutely in their people to enable great performance for their company." – Adrian J. Slywotzky, best selling author of The Profit Zone and How to Grow When Markets Don’t

"I encourage every executive who takes seriously the idea that people drive revenue, profit, growth, and customer satisfaction to consider the tactics discussed in this book." – David A. Daberko, Chairman and CEO, National City Corporation

" The authors have outlined a practicable, real-world framework for companies to analyze and implement change. Any organization that sees its people as an asset can benefit from this approach." – Daniel H. Mudd, Vice Chairman & COO Fannie Mae and former President and CEO of GE Capital, Japan

"This is the new thinking in business. And it works. More than once I have applied the principles and tools presented here. The book provides innovative ways of getting the facts about how a company really is managing its people and how that affects it business results. With these insights you can do a lot, from setting long-range strategies to solving specific, pressing business problems." -- Kurt Fischer, Vice President Human Resources and Diversity Officer, Corning Incorporated

From the Back Cover

All leaders know people are critical to the success of organizations. Executives just don't act that way sometimes. Why? Because they lack the facts. Too often they don't know which workforce practices create the greatest value or which attributes of a workforce are critical to business strategy.

Absent these facts executives look outside for cues on what to do through benchmarking and searching for so-called best practices. The result is a perverse reality in which other companies, often competitors, are in effect telling them how to run their company. Such copycat tactics can't be right, and the evidence shows they aren't.

All of this is changing. Now companies can measure the links between their specific workforce practices and business results--learning what's creating value and what's not. Consequently, important decisions about where to cut costs, where to re-allocate spending, and where to invest more for greater returns can be based on facts specific to their enterprise.

It's an extraordinary opportunity. Indeed it's the last great unexploited source of competitive advantage for companies today.

Play to Your Strengths describes this new science of human capital management. Using it gives companies the advantage of acting based on the measured impact of their firm-specific practices on their business outcomes.

  • Learn how to break the typically squishy thinking around workforce decisions
  • Learn why your "internal labor market" is the key to understanding your workforce dynamics
  • Learn how to actually predict what effect a new practices will have on business results
  • Learn how to beat the competition with advantages others can't copy
  • Learn how to build true accountability for optimizing the return on your human capital investments

Whether your strategic imperative is being the low cost producer, delivering world-class customer service, producing matchless quality, or generating head-turning returns for shareholders, this book will show you how to make the necessary decisions to meet your goals.

Haig R. Nalbantian, Richard A. Guzzo, Dave Kieffer, and Jay Doherty are principals of Mercer Human Resource Consulting, cofounders of the Strategy and Metrics group, and are the originators of the groundbreaking theory, tools, and processes described in this book. [Their work has garnered major media attention in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and the Financial Times, as well as on CNN and CNBC.

Advance Praise

for the innovative new approach to management

Play to Your Strengths

"This book is a key read for all managers who want to invest astutely in their people to enable great performance for their company."

- Adrian J. Slywotzky, best selling author of The Profit Zone and How to Grow When Markets Don't

"I encourage every executive who takes seriously the idea that people drive revenue, profit, growth, and customer satisfaction to consider the tactics discussed in this book."

- David A. Daberko, Chairman and CEO, National City Corporation

" The authors have outlined a practicable, real-world framework for companies to analyze and implement change. Any organization that sees its people as an asset can benefit from this approach."

- Daniel H. Mudd, Vice Chairman & COO Fannie Mae and former President and CEO of GE Capital, Japan

"This is the new thinking in business. And it works. More than once I have applied the principles and tools presented here. The book provides innovative ways of getting the facts about how a company really is managing its people and how that affects it business results. With these insights you can do a lot, from setting long-range strategies to solving specific, pressing business problems."

-- Kurt Fischer, Vice President Human Resources and Diversity Officer, Corning Incorporated


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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Clark on April 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The term "human capital management" has stepped into the long line of buzzwords that attempt to leverage people into increased organizational performance. Play to Your Strengths takes a step beyond the rhetoric to actually explore "how" to accomplish this. From their 3 critical questions -- led by "what are we spending on human capital (cost) and what is it buying us(value)?" -- to their six-factor framework defining human capital, the authors give insight into how organizations should measure the contribution of people to a company's bottom line. They also provide real company examples and perspectives from investors, CEOs, and managers.
As a professor of business management, I've found that one of the most difficult challenges is helping students to learn how they can actually make good decisions in deploying personnel. This book goes beyond the "soft" side of management, developing an approach that fits with the organizational imperative to heed the bottom line. I'll be using Play to Your Strengths as supplemental reading for my MBA courses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Clement on July 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's a tricky balance - do you commit resources to shore up organizational weaknesses or use those scarce allocations to maximize organizational strengths? The authors of the book "Play to Your Strengths" clearly support the latter strategy especially regarding human capital. Soundview recommends this book because it places a high value on the individuals within an organization and their skills which - more often than not - are the truly unique competitive advantage of the company. The writers' fresh perspective of managing human capital should enable any business, agency or non-for-profit to fully engage their most powerful asset to their maximum benefit.
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4 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Frank G. Anderson on October 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Whenever guru-accented statements like "leveraging human capital to produce results" I feel a quiver, not of excitement, but of caution. However, management trainees and schools like label-accented seminars and books, so this title, Play to Your Strengths, isn't anything that will offend anyone.
People are generally any company's core area asset. Despite the company's product, service, busines strategy, market share and management structure and reorganizations,it's people who ultimately make the differnce. People who are at the top, bottom, and between.
Apparently, this book is backed by a $10 million study. Hopefully, it was money well-spent. Human capital, in all of its forms - internal, external, management, labor and regulatory, is vital to understand, to appreciate, and to show appreciation for. As well, in today's world, the ethical element of conducting business is one that needs to be mentioned more often.
Frank G Anderson
MBA, Information Management
Korat, Thailand
Tel. 044-274972
mobile: 01-8773981
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