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Many dominating Tech Industry Blue Chips of the 80s has fallen flat and became irrelevant in nearly every arena they entered.

No doubt, these companies are all truly entrepreneurs with tremendous achievements in their respective markets.  They have each performed phenomenally upon entering the market and they all have a great advantage over the competition … for the time being.

Create gravity for Talent

Since Sir Isaac Newton we do know that every apple once falls from the apple tree. A new dilemma arises once companies become market leaders: to maintain their hard-won position, they now put themselves on the defensive. The most innovative companies start becoming conservative the moment they become successful. True, this helps their business position. Unfortunately, it also signals the beginning of the end of their innovation leadership and immediately changes their attractiveness for Talent.

Achieving success inevitably comes with close chasers aiming to compete in your market.  They have the “eye of the tiger” and are hungering to take you down.  Without anything to lose and streamlined to bite, competitors will gather to beat out the market leader, improving and often imitating to become better than you. With all this pressure, your focus as market leader shifts from creating the next “big thing” to conserving your markets.  You will maximize return on investment, but in return loose the creativity and “eye of the tiger” that had previously propelled you to success.

What happens next?  The next generation of talent will most likely go with somebody else in the market space, not you. Despite the available budget and resources you own now, you would not be the one to introduce the game-changing innovation to the market.

Market leaders (and others, of course) have undertaken a variety of methods to cultivate organic innovation and the attractiveness for talent going along with this.  Some companies are using university programs and outsourced R&Ds to re-cultivate the drive of young and “hungry” people. 

Cooperation with students not only controls costs, but also maintains the spirit of start-ups to hopefully result in new innovations.  Others find value in engaging with customers and prospects.  While this strategy may not lead to true invention, it does allow concepts to be designed and executed in the right way – and creates freedom for individuals.

Too often, the challenge of a successful company is to create and manage an R&D unit that is fueled with visions and dreams and not fenced into a corset of profits and losses right away. Is an idea a brilliant vision or a waste of time? Who knows …

War for Talent

Millennials joining your forces is key to stay on top of innovation – but they need to be attracted. The industry and HR recruiting are undergoing a significant shift that changes the way this will need to be done.  By 2014, 47% of the workforce will be born after 1980, and by 2020, roughly 50% of the workforce will belong to the millennial generation.  The workforce will be comprised of people who have never experienced school or business without web and smartphones.

This generation will hold different expectations of their employer, yet few companies have started to pay attention to this change. The best talents may even work for several companies at a time, identifying themselves more with the WORK THEY DO than with the COMPANY THEY WORK FOR.

Future workers will, more than anything else, demand flexibility in their schedules, mobile devices and freedom in the way they work. We’re talking about a generation that prefers losing their wallet over their smartphone. Unfortunately, this change is still off the radar for today’s decision makers; mostly belong to Generation “X” …. Or beyond.

I was surprised to put it mildly, when I read about the discussion triggered by Yahoo´s CEO, Marissa Mayer, last week. Employees who work remotely have to relocate to companies´ facilities. I don´t think that is the step into the right direction.

Cutting the Gordian knot to open up the path forward requires that companies attract the right workforce in the right way and combine this with a creativity-cultivating work environment. Companies must make this necessary investment into the people who will create the next big thing for them. This starts with the recruiting process and ends with the way companies look at the work-life balance and learning (cost of human capital and subject of budget cuts vs. talent investment).  The next generation of talents expects to be found rather than searching for a new job, which puts recruiting professionals on difficult task of getting the right people on board. I´m sure Marissa Mayer had a good reason; the outside view is a step backwards.

Interestingly enough, beside TECH companies, that are pretty much aware of this new war for talent, many old economy companies miss out on a whole generation of talents by not attracting or anticipating their workforce for the next big thing.

Not long ago I received a remarkable statement from an HR manager: “Social Media is nothing that affects us today. We observe it critical to define the right point in time to start our engagement”.  I believe that it is of the utmost importance to observe and respond to trends swiftly in order to maintain the competitive edge and this company´s life cycle is already at dusk.

I’d be interested to hear your view. Leave a comment below or drop a tweet @BeSchulze

Bert Schulze

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  1. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Bert – interesting blog (there was a similar one on SCN just a couple of weeks ago), but I felt like I have to be almost offended for whatever letter my generation is (born in early 70s). We still have at least 20 good years to go (or at the rate social security is disappearing probably all 30-40 🙂 ) but we seem to be already almost written off. Hm…

    At the same time if you look at it – human nature has not changed that much recently. Not sure if you’ve seen the classic movie “9 to 5”, but things like flexible hours and simple appreciation have as much value now as they had years ago.

    As far as working remotely goes – it’s really sad that many companies don’t get it. My performance is not affected by whether I’m all dressed up behind the office desk or on a sofa wearing bunny slippers. There are other factors, such as impact on environment and cost of living (especially real estate) in the area where office is located. Companies that offer remote work will continue to be increasingly popular among “talent” of any age, I believe.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Bert Schulze Post author

      Jelena, great comment, much appreciated. Given the fact you are from early 70s we are both “digital immigrants”. I myself definetely feel comfortable there…

      Actually, from my point of view, attracting next generation does not mean that light goes out for all other people. For me it is an “AND”. The most burining problem indeed is that today´s statistics superposing growth of companies and availability of new hires show significant divergence. I personally don´t care either to work onsite or at home, but next generation of talent´s will care more about this if we can believe in all trend analyses. On the other side I strongly believe that companies will value experience and seniority also in the future.


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