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Featured Executive Overview Webinar

KSA Suite Executive Overview Webinar: Transcript


Good afternoon from Winston-Salem and good morning from Minneapolis, where Bob is located. We’re so thankful to have each of you join us today for this Executive Overview. Our primary webinar goal today is to give you a thirty-thousand-foot view fly-by of the TalentTelligent suite of tools. You’re going to leave here with enough knowledge to be dangerous about what we do at TalentTelligent.

I’m Garrick Throckmorton. Just as a matter of introduction and a little bit of background, I spent the last 15 or so years as an HR practitioner across financial services, health care, higher education, consumer goods, and pharmaceuticals before coming on board with TalentTelligent. For the last two years my role is as Chief Product and Services Officer and also as an Associate. What that really means is I do a little bit of everything that you can imagine.
I’m so thankful and feel a lot of gratitude to get to co-present today with Bob Eichinger, who many of you, I’m sure, know from your history working in talent management. I’ll let him share a deeper introduction as well.

As I started to say at the very beginning, what are we trying to accomplish at the end of this? You should know who we are at TalentTelligent, what is our research driven approach is and why it’s important. How the suite of tools are structured to help solve today’s and tomorrow’s talent challenges, and then how we partner with people. We’ll save some time at the end to capture any questions. You can open your mics at that point.

We’ll certainly answer your questions. However, the chat panel is open so I’d also ask that you go ahead and just say hello and good morning or good afternoon and where you’re located, if you would, in the chat panel. And if you have questions that surface throughout the presentation, feel free to put them in the chat and we’ll do our best to answer those as well. So, that being said, I want to start today’s discussion talking about VUCA.

All of you have probably heard this term over the last several decades, but just as a little bit of storytelling, many people don’t know where that term came from. So the term VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, really came directly from the work of Warren Bennis and Bert Nanus as applied at the U.S. Army War College back in the 80s. I think it was 1987. And one of the things that they were teaching students around this acronym was to say, really, you’re going to experience turbulence (the term that they used) as you come into positions of strategic leadership in the future.
They were looking at the global environment and the shifts that were occurring over time and really saying VUCA is happening. So you need to prepare developmentally for that. Years later, Harvard came in and said, OK, what’s part of the answer to VUCA?

They saw volatility with having vision. They saw uncertainty with an increase of understanding. When complexity occurs, we seek clarity and caring. And when there is ambiguity, we must be able to leverage agility. So why this is important for us specifically is that our tools flex and are tailored to the environment that they’re used in, to help allow talent management strategies to be flexible. I mean, if there’s anything that we’ve learned from the past year is that our plans can be blown up instantaneously. And when something like a pandemic happens, or we could go back years ago to the recession, so on and so forth.

Well, it’s important from a talent management perspective to have solutions that, from our perspective, allow us to pivot very quickly. You’re going to learn a little bit today about how we take a level-specific approach. That means we have talent tools that address the unique needs of individual contributors, managers and leaders, and also solutions for high potentials and teams. So, we have a comprehensive solution to talent management. You can align the talent conversation in your organization, create a common language of leadership all the way from the first touch point of recruitment and sourcing, to onboarding and developing, to creating succession plan and identifying high potential teams, all drawn upon decades and decades of research and experience.
So I’ll let Bob take a moment and introduce himself and also talk a little bit about his background and that of Roger Pearman, our other Managing Director, relative to all of the work that we do at TalentTelligent.

So, Bob….


Thank you, Garrick.

Most of you know Roger and I individually or collectively. We’ve worked together now for over 30 years. Both of us have similar backgrounds, we’ve both been academics, practitioners, researchers and creators of tools for talent management.

I hate to think about it but combined we have about 100 years of experience. We’re both executive coaches, so we’ve been involved in helping people who are struggling as they’re preparing for C suite roles. We have about a hundred publications between the two of us over that time.
Aside from this set of tools that you’re learning about now, Roger and Mike Lombardo and I created the YOU book, which is a book on the Myers Briggs. We are also the creators of the so-called nine box model, which I created at Frito-Lay in the late 70s.

I am the co-creator of the so-called 70-20-10 phenomenon. We created the concept of learning agility, which is now used by 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in talent management. So. The fresh set of tools that you’ll be looking at today are from the hands of people who have been in the business for a long time.

In my case, I started at the University of Minnesota teaching psychology. Long, long ago. And then I got involved as a practitioner at both PepsiCo and Pillsbury. During those years, CCL was doing research on what made executives successful, called the “Lessons of Experience” research. Both Roger and I contributed in various capacities in that research. Pepsi and Pillsbury both became sponsors of the research program, so I sat with the researchers during those years and helped guide what they were doing. In 1991, Michael Lombardo (one of the lead researchers) and I created a course called Tools for Developing Effective Executives. at the Center, in order to propagate the findings of the Lessons of Experience research. I think eventually 328 companies came through that program to learn about CCL’s research, In 1991.

Mike and I created a set of competencies to use in the course, and we gave them to CCL to publish. We assumed that they were going to publish and print those competencies and sell them, and 91 days later we got a letter back from the Center. Mike and I read it on Friday afternoon at four o’clock and it said, “we really like your stuff but we are extremely busy and we don’t have time to do this. So go ahead and do whatever you want with this stuff”. (further) We have attached a letter to release our copyrights to you in perpetuity, so go ahead and use any of the research from the Center in whatever it is the two of you are going to be doing. Thanks for stopping by. Yours sincerely, The president of CCL.

So Friday afternoon in September of 1991, Mike and I looked at each other. We had no interest in starting a company. Mike was working for the Center. And we began Lominger that afternoon.

Lominger, of course, is a combination of Lombardo and Eichinger. So we put the two names together because we had nine minutes before the patent office closed to get our name into Washington, D.C. In hindsight, we should have called the company The Leadership Architect, but so we made a mistake. And we did find out that Eibardo would not have worked well, so it became Lominger.

Roger was involved in Lominger as a licensed certifier of Lominger products around the world. We ran Lominger for 20 years, realized that we needed to get bigger, and we had need for an international footprint. So, Mike and I looked around the world and we selected nine companies that we thought might be able to use the IP and expand it to a global market. We had three offers. We took the offer from Korn Ferry, and in 2006 we sold Lominger to Korn Ferry. I stayed on for three years to integrate.

I left in 2009, Roger and I started TalentTelligent in 2010, and we went on to create a series of iPad apps and now the suite that you’re looking at today.

Roger’s background is similar to mine so he’s got an academic background of teaching. He worked on the CCL project, as I did. He started a company called Qualifying.org, which certified clients to use a set of tools to include Myers Briggs and many others. He went back and did some rework on the Lessons of Experience that pretty much led to some of the things that were using in our current KSA sweet. He and I then began to collaborate in 2006 when I was still at Korn Ferry and we created Teamosity, which is an iPad app that’s still up and running out on the Internet.

And then, as I said, we started TalentTelligent and created the suite. So the current fresh set of tools that we have pretty much has a 50 year background. We often get asked, where does this stuff come from? Basically, it’s been around for 50 years. This is just the freshest view of it. So let’s take a look at the suite of tools to get a quick introduction.


Yes, perfect, thank you, Bob. So as we begin to unpack the suite of tools, I’ll orient you to some of the language that you’re going to see throughout. So KSAs are not new. That’s not a new terminology to anyone on this call.

But when we define that we say Knowledge, Skills and Attributes and the entire suite takes these into consideration. We see knowledge, skills and attributes, s imply put, as what people bring to work. Our knowledge comes to life oftentimes through our hands and skills, and the attributes are really what brings it all together.

You’ll see KSAs throughout our entire suite coming to life through five unique areas of focus. As I talked about earlier, we have taken a level-specific approach, which is somewhat distinct in the marketplace, because the work worlds of individual contributors, managers and leaders are very unique.
You could even go back into the 90s in the work of Barry Oshry and see he talked about it as every organization having tops, middles and bottoms. So as someone moves throughout an organization, they experience these different work worlds.

And we’ve defined and created the libraries to be able to take that into consideration. Additionally, as we get to the latter part of the presentation today, Bob’s going to talk about high potentials, those (sort of) elusive animals that we look for out in organizations and also in high performing teams.
So this is another way to just think about that. These five unique areas are all behavioral based. So we think it’s important in the tools that we’ve created to get as quickly as possible to behaviors, because that is something that is observable.

And frankly, that’s what normal people (meaning employees that are out in the business), they can understand behaviors very, very quickly. So, in its application, when you have performance-based and behavioral-based libraries across those five areas, you’re then able to solve challenges that we all face across the talent management continuum.

So many vendors you’ve worked with before have a wheel that looks exactly like this. But when you think about interviewing, succession, development, the use of surveys, high potential identification, coaching and team building, the suites can be tailored to apply to any of these areas where an organization, or maybe a client if you’re a consultant, is feeling pain, if you will. Having something that they want to solve for.

So let’s start by talking about the three levels. I’m going to unpack tools for leaders, managers and individual contributors. And the truth is, once you understand the way that the suite has been structured at any of those levels, you understand it for all three.

So the language that we use when we talk about our performance libraries are Roles and Practices. At every level we have defined the mission critical (the most important) Roles in the behavioral-based Practices that drive effectiveness inside of those work worlds. This is based upon decades of research that Roger and Bob have called together. As Bob said, I won’t say the number again, but decades of experience that the two bring to the table. They then consulting with other panels of experts to come up with these libraries.

So how do the performance-based libraries come to action inside of the suite? At every level that I referenced earlier, what you will find is sort cards sitting at the center.

Right, card sorting has been a best practice process for the last 50 or 60 years inside the space of certainly psychology and then inside of human capital functions. We’ll talk in a little bit about the fact that we’ve taken that application and we’ve turned it into a virtual platform where you can administer virtual card sorts and bring key stakeholders to the table to make decisions based upon this information. We also have diagnostic placements that allow practitioners to have an enhanced view of how to make data driven, analytical decisions from the tools, development guides at every single level, 360 surveys at every level, and also interview guides.

Again, back to the wheel that we looked at. These are the tools that you use to help solve those talent challenges. So let’s talk a little bit about sorting cards. So every solution in the suite, as I said, has sorting cards.

There are three primary sections to any tangible deck of cards. You’ll have a section that has Roles that includes a narrative description of every Role, a section of Practices that have a narrative description and observable behaviors of those Practices, and then a section that provides you a variety of different sorting applications to solve, whether it’s a skill-based sort or a sort where you’re trying to discern the importance of something inside the organization as well. (Referencing the slide deck) I love this little cartoon that says bad news, hon, I got replaced by an app.

For decades, card sorting has been done live, in person and in a group setting using tangible cards. They’re still used today, but we’re excited that we’ve actually taken that best practice process and created what we would call a “next practice”, which is the introduction of virtual card sorting.

I just want to say a couple things about virtual card sorting. This has been an area of our suite that has been, I would say, pretty widely adopted in the marketplace at this point. You know, our clients are using this on a weekly basis to be able to launch card sorting experiences using any area of the library, obviously in a digital way. So key stakeholders come into the platform and can sort the cards based upon any question that you want to ask and solve for, specific to that user group. And what’s fantastic about it is that it analyzes the aggregate data that comes in.

So as a qualified administrator, someone who is certified, you’re able to see the data of how they made selections. You’re able to apply demographic data cuts to those selections as well, with the ultimate intent being that we want to make data-driven decisions.

This is just a sample of what the actual platform looks like for the user. You can see at the top of the screen a question that gets to be customized and created, and then a deck of cards that the individuals will drag and drop into any of these categories below. As I said, there are dashboards and analytics that support this. We won’t go too much farther into the details but I’ll give you a few screenshots.

Our Develop It Yourself, or DIY, development guides are really a way to have a hands-on, go-to guide for development at the level at which the individual works.

So, these guides are full of decades of research, neuroscience tips, behavioral based tips and development tips that speak to and were written for employees. They are written in the voice of the employee so that it’s much more accessible, in our opinion, to the reader than maybe other guides that have been used in the past.

I also talked a little bit about placemats. We have three placemats that are front and back, so in total, six different placemats at a high level. We have placemat A/B that allows you to see the entire suite of roles and practices. C/D assigns developmental difficulty, as not all practices are created equal in terms of the amount of time, energy, effort, money, or coaches that you might need to develop (someone). And so we provide diagnostic tools to help you make that decision and allow you to see the connection between the Roles and the behavior-based Practices which fuel any given role to the greatest degree.

The placemats tell you that. And my personal favorite placemat is E/F, which is about assignmentology. So, what are the most common assignments out in the work world that people engage in? And what kind of developmental outcome can we expect when we assign them there?

So, just as an example, if we give them a change management position or project, what practices is that (assignment) going to develop to the greatest degree? And this can help H.R. professionals be strategic in that decision developmentally. Ah, hello!

Interview guides are also level-specific. Our behavioral based interview guides provide you with questions, follow up probes and scorecards to increase the probability of making the right behavioral hire that matches the organization, and the organizational context.

And then lastly, as I said, three separate 360 surveys that fall across all the areas you see on the right- hand side. Our platform allows you to administer an assessment in two different ways. So, on the left- hand side, you’ll see virtual card sorting make itself known once more.

Most people are using virtual card sorting. So, we ask a 360 question and then the user (the rater or the learner) drags and drops cards based upon the degree to which that learner demonstrates those behaviors inside of their work.

You also have the ability, if you would like, to use a traditional Likert scale or a five-point rating scale on the right hand side in terms of the experience that the learner and raters actually encounter in that process.

One of the great things in terms of our approach is that once you have made the selection and purchase the 360, you get access to all of these reports without any additional charge. You can print them, you know, hundreds of times if you’d like.

We have a placemat report, summary report, detailed report, hidden strengths and blind spots report, obviously written comments (which are traditional in 360’s) and also new in the last four or six weeks, our group reports. So as a talent practitioner, you can see where the developmental opportunities are across the larger sample size.

At this point, we’re going to pivot over and Bob’s going to talk about High Potentials and then the High Performing Teams area of our suite.


Thank you. We consider the three tools that you’ve seen so far as being fresh, updated, and enhanced. Because KSAL, which is for leaders, KSAM, which is for supervisors and managers and KSAI, which is for individual contributors, are all tools made better.

Over the 50 years that Roger, Mike and I have been working on these, they are maybe 10 or 20 percent different, newer, and updated than before. So, if you take a look at these and compare them to what you’re using now there are differences, but basically they’re just updated. They’re the most recent set of tools that have been developed.

High potential. The KSAP tool, we believe, is disruptive. I have spent my entire career on the issue of high potentials. I got intrigued about it in graduate school. I took the course on individual differences and I have been fascinated for years on what, exactly, is high potential and what characteristics they have in common. So I’ve spent my entire working career at Pepsi and Pillsbury and Lominger and Korn Ferry, and now with TalentTelligent, on this issue of high potential.

From a professional standpoint, the issue that I have spent the most time on, the question I get the most is “what the hell is a high potential?”. So, it’s an elusive characteristic. Every month in the journals, there are academics and practitioners who publish articles on the fact that we don’t all agree on what a high potential is, so Roger and I decided to start from scratch. Since we’re both elderly, we thought this is our last chance to answer the question “what the hell is a high potential?”.

Could you tell one if you saw one? What did they look like? If you were interviewing, what do they look like? What did they say? How do they act? How did they sound? How could we tell the difference?

And we did all of the things you’d expect us to do. We looked at all of the research to date. We looked at all of the practitioners like Alan Church at Pepsi, and others, as to what they’re actually doing in the real world.

We took a look at our high school yearbooks and we thought about, in both of our cases, what we thought about the people we graduated with. Which ones were going to “make it”, and which ones weren’t. And now, 40 years later, we could actually go check on the 61 people I graduated with, and the five that I thought at that time were going to make something of themselves. We could actually track their success.

We also both took a look at all of our children and grandchildren and cousins, and we thought about the family parties we used to have. We would drink a cup of coffee and sort of wonder while looking at all of the kids running around the house and say, you know, I think Ralph and Susan are someday going to make something of themselves. And we track that over time.

We also read biographies and autobiographies about Elon Musk and Jack Welch and Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. Everybody wrote about what they were like and what they did in their early years and how those characteristics lend themselves to further leadership.

So we looked at everything you could possibly look at. And what we found is that there are twelve major drivers and markers that describe the difference between somebody who’s high potential and somebody who’s not. And then there are 25 behaviors or Practices that you would have to have in order to do those 12 drivers well. So, as with all the other tools, we have defined the behaviors that are involved in each of those 25. And we find that these things very early in life can estimate whether somebody is or is not going to be a high potential.

So we have a library, our fourth tool (KSAP) and this is the secret sauce. It’s in the red box on the left. Those are the 12 common characteristics that form extremely early in life. You ought to be able to go into an elementary school class and observe them for a day and you ought to be able to come out of that class and say, you know, I think these five are going to probably be significant somewhere in the nonprofit, military, education world…wherever they end up from a career standpoint.

For sure, you could take a look at 50 college graduates, interview them in February on campus, and sort of get back on the airplane and say, I think these five are going to be significant. And when you do that, what we find is that they have some portion of these 12 drivers. And then in order to do those twelve drivers you need the 25 behaviors that are on the right-hand side. So, this is the latest. This is disruptive. This is not like the tools we’re using today.
I think this is as close as we have ever come, and possibly that we will ever be, to defining what high potential is. Now, we have also added neuroscience. Because the latest individual difference that has surfaced that psychologists and academics are studying is what difference does brain function make?
And there is a new technology, as you know, called mindfulness. So that’s in here. We find that people who are successful high potentials that reach the C suite are better self-managed than the ones who do not reach the C suite.

We also find in behavior #25 (Beginner’s Mindset) down in the bottom right-hand corner. It’s actually called Buddha’s brain, but in in the secular world we call it beginner’s mindset, and the Buddha taught that the only way you could actually learn is by shutting up and listening. Buddha said that the best mindset to be in is: that this is the first time I have ever, ever heard about what the person is talking about and that I know nothing about it.

If your brain listens and says “I think I’ve heard all this before. I already don’t agree with the first statement they make. I don’t think this is going to be valuable or this is a waste of my time”, you’re never going to learn anything.

So those of us who are our coaches know that Listening Skills is the single number one issue that we work with as coaches for managers and leaders. One difference in a high potential is the ability and willingness to listen. And then another neural aspect is growth mindset–Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset is behavior 20 in the purple box on the left hand side.

There’s another neuroscience which us old guys would call optimism. So, we’ve known for 50 years in the research that optimistic people outperform pessimistic people. Now it’s a new show is called Growth Mindset, and it’s the little train that could. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can. I know I can. It turns out that a positive mindset, or a vision of hope matters (like Steve Jobs, like Elon Musk). Imagine how many people laughed at him (Musk) when he said “I’m going to build a rocket and take people to Mars”. Well, they’re not laughing now because the Mars rocket right at this moment has just been put on the pad. And we’ll be going shortly.

So we’ve begun to bring neuroscience into the libraries because it’s the last individual difference that we’re beginning to learn about now with this new tool called KSAP, which is the knowledge, skills and attributes of people with potential.

We have all of the tools that Garrick showed for the others, so there’s a card deck and there’s analytical placemats, and there’s a 360 and there’s a DIY and there’s a Hello! interview (guide). But there’s a difference in the sense that we’ve created an index called the R.A.N.D. Index, which we’ve come to through an analytical analysis of the results. We have a predictive index that results from people being evaluated, primarily by others, which predicts the likelihood that they are high potential. Which means that if they are exposed to the correct assignmentology assignments and roles in their career there’s a very high likelihood that they will, in fact, end up being successful in the C-suite. So that’s what is new and I don’t think it’s available any place else that I know of, it’s called the R.A.N.D. Potential Index.

And R.A.N.D. doesn’t mean anything itself. It just stands for the four elements of the index. So, the R.A.N.D. index is made up of four predictions. The first thing is we’ve taken the drivers and markers and behaviors and coded them against the 30 roles that people play across their careers, from your first day of work to your last day when you retire.

So if you look at the roles in KSAI, KSAM and KSAL across individual contributors, first line supervisors, managers and leaders, what do those roles require among the characteristics that we know are connected to high potential? So the analytical formula takes a look at the answers. If you filled out a KSAP virtual sort on a potential candidate, it’ll score how well they’re going to do against the 30 Roles of a career.

The A in the R.A.N.D. index is Assignmentology. We’ve taken the 22 common Roles and jobs people do over their careers, like start-ups, turn-arounds, crisis management, international assignments and so forth, and we’ve said, OK, through each of those 22 assignments, which of the 12 drivers and markers and 25 behaviors are required? So, we’ve coded it. The result is a normative index and this one is reverse scored, in other words, how rare are these 12 drivers and 25 behaviors? The theory is that the more rare they are, the more valuable they will be. And then the D in the R.A.N.D. index has to do with how difficult they are to develop if you don’t have them.

So, if you’re a manager and you’ve been identified as a high potential in your company and you’ve still got some flat spots to develop, each of the 12 drivers and markers and 25 behaviors have been assigned a developmental index of how difficult it would be for an adult (who isn’t good at Curiosity, for instance)–how much developmental effort and resources would it take for somebody who is not naturally curious and make them curious enough to be a high potential? So that’s the R.A.N.D. index. When you fill out a survey or card sort on someone, one report that you can call for is the R.A.N.D. report and then this will give you an index.

The KSAP set of tools can be used at five different levels of execution, and all of us have probably done all these things.

I’ve spent the majority of my career at Level 1 at Pepsi and Pillsbury and at two hundred clients since. You can use it (KSAP/R.A.N.D.) for educational purposes. That is, you can hand sort cards or the analytical placemat or the DIY or the Hello! (guide) to two managers who have to get ready for the annual review.

And I have done, as Roger has, countless one hour workshops, lunch and learns half day workshops, all day workshops, trying to teach line managers to make an accurate call on who is and who is not a high potential. You can hand a line manager this set of tools in service of teaching them what is and is not a high potential, and how to look at their seven people that they’re going to report on in the annual review, so that they give an accurate estimate.

Level 2 is a little bit more serious. That is, privately a manager could use the card sort technology, either physically or the digital sort, and do a private card sort of the seven people who report to them. This puts them in a rank order with the R.A.N.D. potential predictive index so that when that person goes and presents their seven people in the annual talent review, they could, in fact, present a rank order list from the highest potential person, to the lowest. And it’s got some science behind it. It’s got some evidence behind it, but at Level 2, it’s private. You don’t have to disclose the numbers.

Level 3 makes it operational, and a number of our clients are now doing this. The line manager still presents a subjective estimate of who on his or her team is of sufficient potential to be ready for challenging work in the future, but along with that subjective index is the numerical R.A.N.D. index score.

Now, a line manager at Level 3 can argue that, even with low scoring R.A.N.D, “I think they’re high potential”. So the line manager can say “I don’t in this case believe the R.A.N.D. Index for the following reasons”, or, the other way around, somebody could be the highest R.A.N.D. scorer on the team but the line manager could say “for the following three reasons, I just don’t think they are high potential”. So at the operational level, the line manager still controls.
Level 4 is where science makes the call.

Now, I’ve been out of the market for about five years, but at the moment I think Alan Church at PepsiCo is probably one of the few practitioners that has a science-based, annual talent review system. And he has many, many publications that you could take a look at describing his system. But at level four that (science) makes the call. So a KSAP assessment is required of everybody you’re going to present in the review and you display the R.A.N.D. Potential Index, and you display the strengths and weaknesses report among the 12 drivers and 25 behaviors. Now, technically, the manager could still argue against the science but my guess is that that’s going to happen less and less frequently ss people figure out that it really does predict who is and who is not a high potential.

We are capable of Level 4 now, but it’s going to take clients three to four to five years to get up to that level. So everybody can start at Levels 1 and 2, because that’s private. Level 3 is where it begins to be interesting, where science begins to be used in the talent review. So we’re pretty excited about KSAP. We believe it’s a disruptive tool and we believe it’s capable of making a lot of money. For organizations that begin to use it, we think that the talent professionals that bring KSAP into their organizations are going to reap the rewards of knowing what tools to use.

The fifth tool in our portfolio of tools is a tool on high performance where teams can explore the knowledge, skills and attributes of high performing work teams. This is a well-known technology that goes back probably to Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. It’s in the Bible and the Koran, so this is not disruptive but this is a fresh, updated tool and it’s the best that’s available by some percentage point. It’s not disruptive but it’s all of the things that you would think would be in a tool for teams.

We went back and did the same thing that we did and all the other tools. The tool is broken down into drivers and practices. In this case we have (team) derailment characteristics. What are the 10 reasons why teams falter? That has its origins somewhat in the book by Lencioni or the five dysfunctions of teams.
So, every team has this list of the performance drivers of teams. This is universal. It’s been in place for thousands of years. The hunting party that went out to hunt for meat in the Neanderthal period had to be able to do these 10 things in order to get that done. It’s a pretty commonplace set of characteristics. As before, there are behaviors or practices that back this up. It’s got card sorting and discussion tools and ways to develop, so it’s got a DIY guide.

It’s a helluva book for managers who are filling open positions on teams. It’s got all of the same tools. You can take a look and do a profile on the team skills. You can do an intra-team analysis of the collaboration, skills and engagement within a team. You can figure out, if you have an opening on the team, what kind of a person you should bring in. More extreme, if you lose a team leader, the tool will help you figure out what kind of team leader you should put in to get the best results from the team.

We’ve also put neuroscience in all of the tools, including the KSAT tool. And brain science and neuroscience are interesting. In my graduate training, which ended in the early 70s, I don’t think we ever mentioned the brain or neuroscience in six years of graduate school. I have fellowships at the University of Minnesota, so I regularly meet with the five students who are getting my scholarship for the I/O (Psych) Program at the University of Minnesota, and they’re all taking neuroscience and brain courses now. In the time between when I left in ‘75 and now, neuroscience is being taught and what we’re seeing in the popular press is that a lot of large organizations now have a Chief Brain Officer or a Chief Mindfulness Officer.

Most companies that have their own educational facilities have self-management courses and mindfulness courses and stress management courses. So, I believe in my career this is going to make the biggest difference of anything in my day. Remember when I started EQ didn’t exist. That’s new and made a big difference in high potential and leadership development. Learning agility didn’t exist. And now learning agility is used by 90 percent of companies to help manage and predict who is, and who isn’t, a high potential. I think neuroscience or neuro-leadership is going to be of that size. It’s going to make up (I’ll make up a number) 25 percent difference in our ability to select, observe, train and develop, prepare, and coach. And, as you know, David Rock has the phenomenal book called Coaching with the Brain in Mind for those of us who are coaches.

I can’t imagine coaching an executive today if you don’t know about neuroscience. So, what we’re going to be doing in the current decade is figuring out how to execute and implement neuroscience intelligence into what we do. Technically, it’s called mindfulness, and it has to do with effective management of self. More specifically, efficient management of our brain resources.

There are, as you (may) know, 17 techniques in mindfulness practices that you can learn and everybody can apply. It all sort of started with meditation, which is one of the 17 practices, and it has to do with emotional management, so it’s overlapped with EQ and it’s got an overlap with learning agility, with beginners mindset (or a Buddhist practice), so stay tuned. I think it’s going to be pretty exciting.


Yes, Bob, so just a couple more slides here. Really, how do we get started and how can you engage us further? We hope this has been helpful as an executive overview to give you enough information just to be dangerous, as they say. We’d love it if you would you take a moment, if you haven’t done so already, and visit our new website at Talent Telligent.com. You have the ability there to download a two-page PDF and you’ll see the action button at the upper right-hand corner and sprinkled throughout the pages.

It’s a great way to have something on your desk to re-orient you to what we’ve talk about today and also to socialize with others inside of your work. So, I encourage you to take the time to be able to do that.

Clearly, we do virtual events, and this is one of those from an executive overview perspective. We also do monthly Pearman Talent Insight Hours that are thought leadership typically focused to ask “how can research help us solve problems and diversity and inclusion and innovation?”, for example.

And then, lastly, virtual certification programs that we hope that you consider engaging in so that you can gain access to these tools. So thank you for joining us today. We’re very excited to have the opportunity to share our story. And if you would like to learn more, we hope that you visit our website or give us a call at any point.

The Origin and Importance of 70 20 10

70-20-10: Transcript

Bob Eichinger–

You’ve probably heard about the meme of 70-20-10.

It’s the answer to the existential question of how successful Leaders and Executives grow and develop over time. The meme comes from the research at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was fortunate enough to be on the research advisory committee during the years of the Lessons of Experience study. Let me give you a little history on 70-20-10. It’s actually 70-20-10-25 and I’ll explain that in a second. 

CCL is a research institute and the academic researchers enjoy studying existential questions and, probably for centuries and originating with Socrates, I imagine we’ve had the meme in society that “experience is the best teacher”. Oddly enough, by the late seventies that meme had never been tested by research. It was just assumed to be true so the Center decided that what it wanted to do was to specify exactly what percent is learned through experience, and where does other learning come from. So the research design was that they interviewed successful (and it turns out unsuccessful) Executives. The researchers did not know which of the two they were interviewing and they asked the question “where do you think you learned the skills that you use today to be successful?”. The researchers recorded those sessions and a different team took and coded the recordings and put them into categories. It turns out that when executives are asked “where in life did you really learn delegation skills” or “where did you learn listening skills” or “where did you learn analytical, critical thinking” there were 16 life events that they mentioned. 

At the time my partner, Mike Lombardo, who is on the research staff, and I began to teach a course called Tools for Developing Effective Executives and one of the tools in that package was a developmental protocol for how you would go about developing successful Executives and Senior Managers. We decided that 16 events was too many (it violated the “keep it simple” rule), and we had to cut it down somewhat, so we took the 16 things that Executives mentioned and we put them into four categories. It turned out that the 16 fit pretty well into four categories so one was “I learned it from doing it” (learning from experience). The second category was “I learned it watching others” (I watched exemplars who were good team managers and that’s where I learned). The third one is “I learned it from classes” (reading books, going to webinars, going to off sites). And then the last one is “I learned it through critical life experiences or crucibles or catastrophes that I went through”, basically very hard truths of life either from life or work, and that’s where the 25 comes from. So one quarter of the statements that executives said came from life’s disappointments (there are 8 of them) and the successful Executives almost always reported going through the majority of these–they got fired, they had a company scandal, they had a serious illness in the family– and that they learned grit and fortitude and resilience and resourcefulness going through those kinds of experiences. 

We were left with three categories that are manageable. We had learning from experience, we had learning from others, and we had course work, or self-learning. When you looked at the coded materials and the percentages it came out 70-20-10. Remembering that 25% were hardships we were left with 75%. Technically (and this is calculus math) the 70-20-10 is of the remaining 75% of experiences. Executives said for the most part “I learned by doing”. The second most powerful experience was learning from exemplars, and it turns out it’s mostly learning from bosses. And then the third was “I went to a course” (e.g., on strategy, and I learned the five key principles of strategy from that experience). 

The 70-20-10 model (or meme) is the answer to the question that I have gotten a lot over my 50-year career. It is “how can you accelerate the development and growth of an executive?”. Well, the answer is that every job needs to be developmental. I call this “assignmentology”. That is, how do you figure out what assignments to put growing Executives through. And the answer to how do you accelerate or make the growth of Executives more successful is every job needs to be developmental. 

The principle of assignmentology is pretty straightforward. That is, people learn from jobs that require them to do something that they have not done well before. It’s called The Burning Platform Model, that is, when we get most concerned about how to put out fires is when there’s a fire on the oil platform. That’s when you really learn how to put out fires. The key is to find out the three (or four or five or six) skillsets or mindsets that the executive needs further down the road on their career track, and find job assignments that have a mix of things they do well (to make it a legitimate job placement) AND things they need. So, if one of the things that we don’t know about an executive is “are they capable of building a team?”, find an assignment where one of the requirements is to build the team. 

What we found out when we talked to successful Executives is that if they went to a workshop on team building they’ve got that folder on their shelf. They didn’t pay much attention to the course at the time because they weren’t required to build a team, but now that they were faced with the issue of building a team from scratch, many reported that they went back to the folder that they took away from the workshop and they paged through to remember the seven principles of hiring good workers and they read the section on engaging a team. They didn’t learn at the time because it wasn’t important to them, but when the task was required in a job then it became important. Then they also thought about their past and, of the bosses they’ve had (and they’ve had 10 bosses), which three did they think we’re the best team managers. And then they reflected on that and decided which three things that they needed to learn to do.

Oddly enough this research has been duplicated 5 times. In the US, Europe and Asia, and with 3M in Minneapolis, where we redid the study from scratch with their leaders and managers. It’s come out roughly the same each time. It amuses me as one of the co-directors and co-creators of 70-20-10 that in LinkedIn and Facebook posts many say that there’s no research behind 70-20-10. There’s a lot of research behind 70-20-10. It’s hard to learn swimming from a workshop. You probably have to get in a pool to be able to do that. 

One of the criticisms (that is amusing) is that somebody said it (70-20-10) can’t possibly be true because it wouldn’t come out to be even numbers. Well, I have to humbly admit that it actually came out 69-21-9 and we rolled it into even numbers because it would be easier to remember.

The other thing you have to understand is that it’s an average. That is, it depends on the industry, the age of the company, and what’s going on? Is it a start-up, a fix-it and what the company is trying to accomplish. So the 70-20-10 won’t apply everywhere. In a highly technical company the 10 would be larger because you have to learn technical knowledge probably through workshops and other self study methods.

70-20-10 is simply the math behind how people learn best from experience. It’s something your grandmother probably told you, and it is true. And oddly for the Center, who is in the business of adult and Executive Education, it was not a good finding because they’re in the business of the 10%, so they had no conflict of interest.

It’s 70-20-10. it’s always been 70-20-10, and that’s the answer to how good Executives accelerate and grow the fastest. 

The Periodic Table of Talent

The Periodic Table of Talent: Transcript

Bob Eichinger–

If you work for a chemical company your work is benefited by the Periodic Table of the Elements. That is, everyone who works in chemistry around the globe uses the same Periodic Table. Each of the elements of the Periodic Table has known characteristics, and various combinations of things like hydrogen and oxygen bring about another element, water. In the Periodic Table of the Elements you basically choose which one of the 111 elements you need to do what you’re doing, so if you’re making brass or bronze or stainless steel all three of those are different combinations of elements in the Periodic Table. 

It would be a nice dream to have a Periodic Table of Talent. What if all of us in talent management had the same set of characteristics that we worked with. Let’s just assume for the moment that there are 111 and, depending upon what role or job or level or type of job that we were thinking of, you could go into this table of talent and pick out the specific elements or behaviors or competencies or practices that led to success in that particular task. So a start-up would be different than a fix-it which would be different than an international assignment. 

I’m happy to report there is a Periodic Table of Talent but sad to tell you that it’s unlikely we’re going to get there, and I’ll tell you why. If you locked up all talent management researchers and thought leaders and gurus in a room and wouldn’t let them out until they agreed upon the specific characteristics of a leader or a successful manager, you could probably do that. But because we’re in a free enterprise system and because of copyright laws, every vendor, and there are probably 20 of us vendors all of whom have competing competency models or practice models, you can’t use the name that somebody else has. So, if I’m calling something Influence Skills, somebody else will call it Woo, and somebody else will call it Charisma. We all have to have different names for what is all basically common. So, like chemists, who do their job better because of the Periodic Table of the Elements, what I would like to propose is that we should at some point in time agree on the Periodic Table of Talent Management.

We are a vendor of such a Periodic Table. We have 90 practices or competencies or skills. We call them KSAs, a combination of knowledge, skills and attributes. They’re in 3 libraries so that individual contributors have a Periodic Table, supervisors and managers have a Periodic Table and executives (top leaders) have a Periodic Table. Each one of those Periodic Tables has 30 characteristics. No one person has all 30 characteristics and no one needs all 30 characteristics. What we found over the last 50 years of research is that people lead in different ways and can be successful using different elements from their library. We also know that managers can manage in different ways and be equally successful.

We have all sort of hoped for a model of leadership, or a model of managers, and all of us have read the articles and read the LinkedIn and Facebook posts of (e.g.) “The Seven Characteristics of Excellent Leaders”. There is no such thing. It’s a dream. It isn’t true. The most usual format for studies like this is they put together 20 acknowledged leaders. So it’ll be Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa and Jack Welsh and Larry Bossidy and John Kennedy and Martin Luther King (and others). They put them together in a table and they retrospectively figure out what characteristics led them to be successful and then proudly say that these are the seven characteristics that these 20 leaders use to be successful. Unfortunately, if you take Mother Teresa and work her back up against the seven characteristics, Mother Teresa didn’t have all those seven characteristics. Neither did Jack Welch at GE. Neither did Nelson Mandela, because the finding is that people can lead differently. So the 25,000 studies that have been done on groups of acknowledged leaders, summarizing into this great model, is false science. It’s not real.

What we do know from the research is that there are a number of pieces of knowledge, skills and attributes, like style and personality and emotional management, that are required from time to time for every individual contributor, every manager and every leader. In these 90 characteristics in the Periodic Table of Talent, going from your first day as an individual contributor to your retiring as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, at some point in time you will use many of those 90 elements but they won’t be the same across the 3 levels. They will be different if you’re doing a startup or you’re doing a fix-it or you’re doing a turnaround or an international assignment, or you’re managing a company through the covid, “black swan” catastrophic times or a recession in the economy. Every situation means you have to go back to the library and pick out a subset.

What our research has shown is that you need about 7 to 13 of the 30 to be a successful leader but not every successful leader has the same 7 to 13 characteristics. Of the 30 you need to have about half to be able to lead organizations and to lead others. So not only do people manage differently but they have a different subset of the 30 practices or competencies or KSA’s that are needed. If we could agree that they’re all the same and they’re defined the same the field of talent management would improve greatly. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that that’s going to happen because of copyright rules. If I call something “executive listening skills” and wrap a definition around that, it means that other vendors will be prevented from using that same terminology, so they’ll have to call it something else. That’s unfortunate but the truth is that underlying all of the respected vendors, all of us are talking about the same Periodic Table of Talent. It’s just that the law requires us to name and define them differently and I think a sophisticated talent management leader or professional should be able to look at any of these respected, research-based, experience-tested sets of characteristics and say “oh, I know this one is influence, although it’s called “woo”, and the other one our division uses is “gravitas””. That’s all the same characteristics we are working with. 

Within a single company of multiple divisions what is important is that you pick one language. Our entire field would be able to do better work for our clients and stakeholders if we all used the same language. 

Go find one of the vendors that you like. Find one of the vendors that has professionals that you enjoy working with and get all of your divisions to agree to use a single vendor. Then, Implement a single language of talent from one of the respected sources across your entire organization, to do all the things that we do in talent management. The good news is that, under all of this, there is a Periodic Table of the Elements as it relates to talent management. We all need to learn what those common elements are and then in the companies in which we work, or consult, pick one of those respected sets and settle on one common language for managing talent.

 The Roles of Leaders

Investing In and Assuring Future Leadership
Representing and Responding to Stakeholders
Culture and Role of a Leader

Pearman Talent Insight Hour

What is the KSA Suite of Tools Level Specific Framework?
The unique Roles and Practices for Leaders, Managers/Supervisors, and Individual Contributors.
The Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes of Potential.