When compliance and business development work in tandem, everyone wins.

In business, competition for the highest value resources – human, physical, economic, non-economic – is constant and a given. Less clear is what leaders can do to differentiate their organizations, and to gain and sustain competitive advantages. This is where the principle of “Organizational Relevance” comes into play.

Organizational Relevance refers to the pertinence, meaningfulness, and importance that a business earns with employees, customers and all stakeholders. It has a finite shelf life and must continually be re-earned due to the dynamic nature of business environments. Employees’ and customers’ needs, expectations, perspectives are always in motion as well.

Perpetual motion in business is normal though speed can vary. Recognizing this fundamental aspect of the paradigm in which we all operate signals us that our jobs as human resource leaders is to continually identify opportunities that deliver greater value to all stakeholders. With our highest value resources, greater value comes from operating as a human resource development exemplar.

Many organizations overlook the opportunity to see themselves as human resource development exemplars but the following illustration outside the business arena can help highlight this concept and showcase its value:

Precise, authentic classic car restoration is an art and a science, involving research into a vehicle’s original condition specifications, accessing original equipment manufacturer parts and meticulous reconstruction. According to Classic Car Magazine,[1] there are four levels of automobile restoration:

  • Driver Level – Good operating and body condition with the main purpose of providing the car’s owner personal satisfaction.
  • Street Show Quality – The car looks good and drives well, and most of the body work is of high quality. This level generally requires professional craftsperson to help with the finer details of body restoration.
  • Show Cars  These cars are restored with the intent of presenting at shows. Some restoration must be performed at the finest level of detail as professional judges will know the difference.
  • Concours  Also known as mint condition, this level is for cars in national shows or private collectors who don’t plan to drive the vehicle. The restoration process is defined by exemplary craftsmanship in developing the vehicle. The car is completely disassembled to prepare restoration. Significant research is performed to obtain original components, finishes and operating specifications, creating a flawless finished product.

These classic car restoration levels reflect a range of physical resource development, up to Concours condition, that demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to vehicle advancement. A similar commitment is necessary to differentiate an organization as a human resource development exemplar. “Stewardship” of human, physical, economic, and non-economic resources is to acquisition of these elements of capital as Concours is to Driver Level automobile restoration.

Organizations thus must make conscious decisions about their resource management philosophy. Differentiation as a talent development exemplar is a well-thought-out strategy, implemented through engaged managers who understand the value of the human resources they steward. Soundbites saying “people matter here” or “people are our competitive advantage” are hollow unless they reflect the philosophy, strategy and actions aligned with nurturing and development of highly valued human resources. Mindful talent management strategy becomes a differentiator through a commitment to adding value to human resources under the organization’s stewardship. Differentiation in this domain is essential to attract and retain the best available resources.

As a paradigm imperative from my book Leading from Zero, the principle of differentiating an organization as a resource development exemplar applies to human, physical, economic, and non-economic resources available to the organization. Exemplary resource development differentiates an organization, enhances its ability to attract the best available resources and demonstrates a core principle of the Leading from Zero approach, that of the requisite commitment to continually earn, and sustain, organizational relevance.


Originally published at HR.com, April 9, 2021


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