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Talent Development Fuels Organizational Capability


Wed Dec 18 2019

Talent Development Fuels Organizational Capability

The new ATD Capability Model identifies three domains of practice, each equally important within the scope of what talent development professionals need to know and do to be successful today and in the future. You can read more about the Developing Personal Capability and Building Professional Capability domains in previous posts. The third area, Impacting Organizational Capability, is today’s topic.

In earlier competency models, ATD research identified that “business acumen” is an important skill for talent development professionals. When we talk about aligning TD practices to business goals and strategies, it becomes apparent that knowledge of the business, competitive landscape, and organizational goals are necessary components in designing and delivering effective learning programs that drive real business results. Research for the new ATD Capability Model revealed that to truly affect organizational outcomes, talent development professionals needs more than business acumen.


As noted in the book Capabilities for Talent Development, research confirms that talent development is no longer simply focused on the tactical aspects of the design and delivery of learning. Instead, the TD field has become a key element in the success and competitive advantage of organizations, making its practitioners essential partners with all areas of a business in achieving organizational goals. Key business trends that inform how talent development must approach its work include:

  • digital transformation and disruption

  • innovation and adaptability

  • contingent or gig workforce

  • demographics of workers.

To add the most value to an organization, talent development professionals must understand business principles and the specific business or organization in which they work. This includes key market influences and how an organization accomplishes its mission or purpose and makes decisions as well as the internal processes and structures of how work gets done, including goals, metrics, and performance indicators. Such insight will drive more effective and relevant learning across the business.

This type of understanding helps establish talent development professionals as valued business partners. In a partner capacity, there is more opportunity to influence and facilitate change and improve performance throughout the organization. There is also opportunity to develop capability within the organization through organization development and culture. When talent development professionals are positioned as strategic allies, the relationship unlocks opportunities to create alignment of strategy, structure, process, performance, and people, which can drive new levels of effectiveness, agility, and growth.

In today’s business environment, one of the most pressing issues is future readiness, and it is here that talent development professionals have a tremendous opportunity to influence organizational capability. The pace of change requires constant upskilling and reskilling of the workforce. No other function is better positioned within an organization to address this critical need than the talent development function. A commitment to continuous professional development is essential to ensure there is capability among TD practitioners to handle changes in how work is done in the years ahead and to be able to plan for how the workforce will adapt to meet those changes. Fostering environments that promote innovation and creativity will be key to helping organizations become future focused.

Talent development complements and supplements other organizational functions that prepare and enable the workforce to achieve the strategic aims of the business. Talent development owns specific functions in their direct execution (such as training, performance improvement, and career development), but it also influences the broader talent management and HR ecosystem (such as talent acquisition, selection, succession planning, engagement, and performance management). It is this combination of owning and influencing that establishes a strategic framework for talent development professionals to grow their capabilities and increase the value they bring to their work. Developing personal capabilities and building professional capabilities will lead to affecting organizational capabilities. It is how the work of the field must be done to truly create a world that works better.


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