Contemporary Thinking on Talent Identification

With the shortage of talent across the board, more and more organisations are turning to organisations like Wadenhoe to help them identify potential. Our first question is always: “Talent for What?” Does answering this question really matter? After all most organisations say: “we are looking for GOOD people”.

Yes it does matter, because there is a very big difference between identifying “good” people who have learnt enough to apply Best Practice to relatively straightforward management challenges. And “good” people who have enough experience to analyse and respond to complicated management challenges, which require analysis of all the known options leading to a Good Practice management response.

All of this works where past performance and experience can be used as a guide. What happens though when the world becomes more unpredictable?


Contrary to what we may think, potential is measurable and predictable. However, if we are looking for talent to handle complex challenges, past performance and experience in itself is not an adequate guide. We need to know not just how people have behaved in the past, but how they will think and act in the future.

Over the years there have been many studies, including our own “Learning for the Top” research, of people who have risen to the top of their chosen activity. All of these studies share two common themes:

• Successful people have learned more or acquired significantly more skills than their colleagues or competitors – mostly through self-directed “natural” learning and some key people.
• Successful people have high levels of Drive. Having the talent is not enough. There must also be the will and energy to exercise it fully.

Some people, however hard they work, find it hard to function well outside the areas that they know. They tend to rely on experience alone, rather than experience plus thought. Coupling a bigger job with the increasingly complex and uncertain world in which we work, requires us to answer the key question:

What can this person learn to do that they have never done or been asked to do before?

The organisation can use our High Potential Rolescoping Resource Pack to answer this question...