Flat, Fluid, and Fast: A book review by Bob Morris

Flat, Fluid, and Fast: Harness the Talent Mobility Revolution to Drive Employee Engagement, Accelerate Innovation, and Unleash Growth
Brynne Kennedy
McGraw Hill Education (2019)

What — if anything — do you know about the Talent Mobility Revolution?

According to Brynne Kennedy, “We’re right on the brink of the Talent Mobility Revolution.” Briefly, “Talent mobility is the movement of employees across geographies, jobs, locations and employment classifications.”

She goes on to suggest, “In our definition of talent mobility, geographic movement includes six configurations.” They are: Relocations, Expatriate Assignments, Long-Distance Commutes, Frequent Business Travel, Short-Term Projects, and Rotation and Training Programs. What Kennedy characterizes as “F3 Companies” identify and include all six. “They harness geographic movement to attract, retain, and deploy their talent in the face of rapidly changing global business needs, technology disruptions, and employee demands.”

The key point is that, years ago, globalization, automation, and demographic change began to drive employee mobility in ways and to an extent never seen before. According to Kennedy, “To succeed in today’s rapidly changing business world, companies must transform their traditional HR department to be a talent mobility department that unleashes agility and movement throughout the company.”

How important is being FAST? In The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler explain how and why — in today’s VUCA world — the only constant is change, and the pace of change is accelerating.

According to William Gibson, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” The arrival of the future in months and years to come will be even sooner and even faster than ever before.

To place this reality in proper context, Diamandis and Kotler cite an example: “individual car ownership enjoyed over a century of ascendency. The first real threat it faced, today’s ride-sharing model, only showed up in the last decade. But that ridesharing model won’t even get ten years to dominate. Already, it’s on the brink of autonomous care replacement, which is on the brink of flying car disruption. Plus, avatars. The most important part: All of this change will happen over the next ten years.”

This is precisely why Kennedy stresses the importance of FAST when harnessing the Talent Mobility Revolution “to drive employee engagement, accelerate innovation, and unleash growth.”

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Kennedy’s coverage:

o The Traditional Company Lexicon (Pages 5-9)
o The Building Blocks of Talent Mobility Today (9-22)
o Traditional Company Design (29-35)
o Talent Mobility Company Design (35-42)
o The Chief Talent Mobility Officer (43-48)

o The New Talent Mobility Office (56-61)
o Redesigning Roles as Dynamic Jobs (77-81)
o Five Principels of a Jobs World (88-91)
o Redesigning Teams for the Talent Mobility Era (100-108)
o Rethinking Management Amid Dynamic, Extended Teams (108-112)

o How Career Paths Are Changing (124-129)
o Designing Policies for Geographic Movement (143-151)
o Creating Policies for Job Movement (153-157)
o Structuring Policies for Location Movement (158-163)
o Rethinking Compensation Models (169-174)

o Reinventing Employee Benefits (176-185)
o How to Employ People and Get them Paid (193-199)
o Strategies to Enable Talent Mobility and Engage Workers (209-215)
o Transforming Traditional Companies to Be Flat, Fluid, and Fast (222-227)
o Building New Companies That Are Flat, Fluid, and Fast (228-233)

As you try to wrap your head around the reality that the Talent Mobility Revolution is driving employee engagement, accelerating innovation, and unleashing growth, keep in mind this prediction made by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock (published in 1984): “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

The information, insights, and counsel that Brynne Kennedy provides in abundance will help her reader develop the literacy and mindset needed to take full advantage of the opportunities made possible by the Talent Mobility Revolution, one that can accelerate personal growth and professional development.

One final point. In my opinion, there are no HR issues. Rather, there are only [begin italics] business [end italics] issues and they must be fully addressed in order to achieve the given strategic objectives.

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