Talent: A book review by Bob Morris

Talent: The Market Cap Multiplier
Anish Batlaw and Ram Charan
Ideapress Publishing (January 2022)

How and why strategic talent management drives exceptional value creation 

Here’s this book’s basic concept: Ram Charan and Anish Batlaw examine “a methodology and practice that can unlock outsized shareholder gains, in many cases in excess of 4X over four to six years.” Organizations do not achieve these gains: individuals do. That is, exceptional practitioners of this precise, proven methodology for getting-performing talents in the right places at the right time.

More specifically, “only the most innovative, nimble, data-focused executives can make speedy decisions in real time in response to rapidly shifting market conditions and seize, or create, the best opportunities.”

Charan and Bartlaw focus on real-world case studies of exceptional practitioners in six companies — Oak Street Health, Depop, Vishal Retail, Hemnet, Argus Media, and Hireright — “drawing out the critical lessons, challenges, near misses, and results that every leader needs to understand.” I was especially interested in what this material reveals about the don’ts as well as the dos when developing and then implementing a strategic talent management program. It must be, I hasten to add, an [begin italics] ongoing [end italics] program.

These are the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the nature and extent of Charan and Batlaw’s coverage:

o Introduction: High Performing Talent Is the Market Cap Multiplier (Pages 1-10)
o Developing the talent management playbook (15-18)
o Template for talent assessment (27-28)
o Key Learnings: Oak Street Health (41-43)
o Organization Design Insights (52)

o Talent development implementation template (55)
o Key Learnings: Depop (61-62)
o Key Learnings: Vishal Retail (86-87)
o Hows to reconceptualize role of talent and foster sense of accountability and collaboration (90-93)
o Key Learnings: Johnson & Johnson (98-99)

o Key Learnings: Hemnet (114-115)
o What Makes an “A” CEO? (125)
o Key Learnings: Argus Media (130-131)
o Key Learnings: Hireright (147-148)
o The war for talent in months and years to come (154-156)

Anish Batlaw and Ram Charan make an excellent team. Batlaw provides wide and deep experience from working closely with decision-makers to help them become exceptional practitioners of a talent-driven methodology, one that focuses on EBITDA — cash flow — as a high priority. In each “Key Learnings” section, Charan accomplishes two separate but interdependent objectives: He stresses the key lessons to be learned from the given case study, and, he accelerates the reader’s mastery of the skills needed to achieve outsized shareholder gains with strategic talent management.

I hope their collaboration continues in months and years to come.

* * *

I seldom pay much (if any) attention to dedications and acknowledgments but call to your attention to what Ram Charan includes in each of the books he was written or coauthored: “Dedicated to the hearts and souls of the joint family of twelve siblings and cousins living under one roof for fifty years, whose personal sacrifices made my formal education possible.”

Perhaps you already know: Ram was first introduced to business while working in the family shoe shop in Hapur Uttar Pradesh, a small town in northern India, where he was raised. He later earned an engineering degree in India, then took a job in Australia. He went on to earn MBA and doctorate degrees from Harvard Business School, where he graduated with high distinction and was a Baker Scholar, and served on the faculties of Harvard Business School and Northwestern University before pursuing consulting full-time.

Ram has coached countless executives who went on to become CEOs. He reaches many more up-and-coming business leaders through in-house executive education programs. His energetic, interactive teaching style has won him several awards, including the Bell Ringer award at GE’s famous Crotonville Institute and best teacher award at Northwestern. He was among BusinessWeek‘s top ten resources for in-house executive development programs. Ram has authored more than 30 books since 1998 that have sold more than four million copies in more than a dozen languages.

The African proverb suggests, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Ram continues to have countless companions to whom his gratitude is deep and abiding.

Most of those who achieve greatness in their career received substantial assistance along the way from family members and friends who made all manner of personal sacrifices on their behalf.

With all due respect to Ram Charan’s great achievements thus far as a global thought leader, credit must be shared and he will always do that with style and grace.


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