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breaking down bersin

Breaking Down Bersin: 5 Ways to Solidify Your Startup Strategy

In 2010, Josh Bersin and his team released what they call “The New Talent Management Framework”. For those unfamiliar with his work, Josh Bersin is a renowned talent management analyst and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a company that has been conducting rigorous research in the field of HR and offering evidence-based management tools and information to organizations for nearly 20 years.

The New Talent Management Framework is widely-used by entrepreneurs, talent acquisition specialists, and business managers alike – it concisely describes an integrated approach to recruiting, business development, performance management, and development planning for companies of any size in any industry.

There are multiple components in Bersin’s framework, each of which are vital to examine when creating a scalable startup. We’ll begin by delving into the first and arguably most important area, Talent Strategy and Business Alignment. Make no mistake about the importance of your chosen strategy – it’s the foundation of your startup, and if it’s not airtight your company won’t be competing in the market for long.


Talent Strategy


strategy (noun): a plan of action designed to achieve an overall aim. Seems simple – what’s there to analyze?

While strategy makes for a simple concept and definition, a surprising number of business leaders have difficulty translating a strategic vision into measurable goals, as well as understanding how metrics should be used to evaluate an organization’s performance.

The results of a Metrus Group survey revealed that while 65% of participating companies have an agreed-upon strategy, 37% of respondents said that strategy was linked to their business functions, and only 24% linked the strategy to individual employees responsibilities and capabilities.

The most shocking findings of this survey? Only 14% of employees responded that they understand their company’s strategy and direction.

Take notes entrepreneurs – these results suggest that business leaders tend to rely on big-picture, potentially underdeveloped strategies. At the very least, the lack of organizational alignment stems from leaders’ failure to fragment the strategy into achievable and measurable goals for their employees. When you’re creating the outline for your startup’s strategy, no detail is small enough to be insignificant – “maximize profits and minimize losses” is a great start, but you’ve still got a lot of work to do.

CEO of Strategic Thinking Institute, Rich Horwath, explains why he believes pinning down a strategy everyone understands is a challenging process before providing suggestions to make a proposed strategy more comprehensible for everyone in the business.

Strategy is abstract, like leadership or love. And anytime we’re dealing with things that feel abstract, there’s too much room for interpretation. Then, when you mix managers with different backgrounds and experiences, you get a hodge-podge of definitions and approaches that make a big mess.”


How to Make Your Abstract Strategy Concrete


Define the competitive edges your business has over your competitors. What genuinely makes you stand out? In what areas do you outperform other businesses? How is your plan to capture the interest of potential customers unique? What about your services will assist you in retaining customers?

Retain your identity. Horwath explains, “75-80% of the time, when people are struggling with strategy, it’s really the fact that they haven’t clarified, or stayed clear, on their business model. They’ve lost sight of who they are. Once organizations start to mature, people forget about their identity and their business model. Things become diffuse.” Going along with the first point – once you’ve gained a customer base, continue improving the services that brought them in initially. There’s a remarkable difference between adjusting your startup’s identity as time goes on and completely abandoning your business model.

Make time to talk about it. A 2012 study found that 70% of business leaders spend less than one day a month discussing their strategy. There will be a continuous stream of threats to the success of your company, internally and externally – continuously calibrating your approach as you navigate the market is critical. Allot a few days a month for your team to closely examine your strategy and improve it along the way.

Use a simple set of terms to describe strategic work. Ron Carruci, a leadership strategist and contributing writer for Forbes explains the significance of this point succinctly. “I recently watched a set of 30 top executives in their company’s quarterly business review vehemently disagreeing over whether or not they were there to review progress on “goals” or “objectives.” This hijacked about 40 minutes of the meeting.” Using an agreed-upon set of terms to create, deploy, and measure the effectiveness of strategies company-wide will cut out confusion and save time you’d otherwise spend disagreeing over definitions.

Focus on strategic alignment. Aligning the business model of your startup with your strategy is key to surviving the rapidly-changing tides of the market. Consider conducting a communication audit to see how effectively information is sent, received, and shared within your organization. Strategic alignment in your startup ensures that resources won’t go to waste, clarifies your businesses’s competitive edge, and provides clarity for your employees so they better understand the direction the company is heading in. Most importantly, strategic alignment allows for market maneuverability; once you become comfortable maneuvering, you can become comfortable outmaneuvering your competitors.

Would you consider your organization to have strong alignment between its strategy and business needs? Are you familiar with, or do you have experience using the Bersin framework to manage talent? Leave a comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook pages and let us know your thoughts!


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