Using Talent Management to Secure a Company’s Long-Term Survival

(From Corporate Counsel) -- William J. Rothwell missed a bunch of reporters' queries last week (including ours) when Steve Jobs relinquished his CEO spot at Apple to former COO Tim Cook. It's no wonder Rothwell was so sought after for comment: he has been teaching companies and organizations how to groom successors and plan for retirement for years. But the prolific author, Penn State professor, and succession-planning guru just happened to be en route that day from Singapore, where he is currently consulting with the government on—what else?—how to fill jobs with the right people.

Consulting with technology companies, though, is what helped shape his signature tome on technical talent management: Invaluable Knowledge: Securing Your Company's Technical Expertise (AMACOM, 2011). The core idea is that a company's competitive advantage resides in its knowledge capital, and transferring that knowledge is a crucial concern as older executives and personnel look toward retirement. caught up with Rothwell between trips to Singapore to learn more about his approach to helping companies and their law departments. Below is an edited version of that interview:

CC: What is 'technical talent management,' and how does it factor into a how a company manages its workforce?

William Rothwell: Historically, companies have been looking at talent management—defined as attracting, developing, and retaining the best people—and that often means [focusing on] people who are 'promotable.'

Technical talent management focuses not on promotability, but on knowledge transfer. And knowledge transfer focuses not so much on what we can write down, but what people have in their heads, that they're walking around with, that they learned the hard way, through experience.

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