through a fog
Flared trousers were in fashion; then they were out; now they are fashionable again. Careers in organizations were the norm; careers were dead; are careers now back in fashion? It is odd to recognize, but true, that fashion extends to management almost as much as to trousers. Where management is different is that the unfashionable does not simply disappear. It just ceases to be a priority, a focus of attention. I trust that I am not totally out of touch with the management fashions in writing a book that will suggest that today's priority for organizations is trying to offer their talented people careers.
Careers went out of fashion for a reason. They did not seem well suited to the dynamic organizations that are needed to cope with an environment of change. That, however, is to focus on but one concern of organizations. Another concern is having high-potential staff. They are a vital component of an organization's success in both the short and the long term. In the long term they will become the leadership of the organization. In the mean time, they fill key executive positions. Choosing, developing, motivating and retaining these people are critical to success. Organizations need a strategy to cover these aspects of human resourcing, while recognizing the contemporary environment. This strategy is a vital responsibility of the people leading organizations in the present day. The objective of this book is to help the present generation of leaders to engage and retain the people who are required for current and future success. They are in short supply. There is a battle for talent. It is a battle that will decide whether an organization has the people to help it win the commercial war.
The starting point for a strategy is the complexity that organizations face both in terms of their current circumstances and that predicted for the future. This complexity can perhaps best be summed up in the first of a series of paradoxes: this first paradox is that what is known is the extent of the unknown. Organizations are increasingly aware of what cannot be known and this can be disabling to forming a long-term strategy. The environment of organizations is dealt with in the first chapter.
In response to this complex environment, organizations have been pulled in two quite different directions. The first is to aim to have what might euphemistically be called a 'a flexible' relationship with staff,