Alignment of Learning and Development activities to become value addding deeds that influence the corporate bottomline and act as enablers for achieving organisational goals thereby operating as strategic business partner.
“Successful HR professionals must chart roles that
include early and active involvement in key strategic
business choices. They must become the partners of
decision makers, sharing accountability for organizing
work -- including where it is performed. Everyone, at
every level, must stay focused on shared strategic
priorities, challenge old ways and actively promote
innovation. The HR professional needs to be a model
and take on the specific role of integrating people
strategies with business strategies in a way that
advances the bottom line.”
- Cynthia A. Metzler
“HR appear chameleon-like, constantly aware of
and adapting to their changing environment and
keen to lead organisational change, yet their
ultimate goal to be considered fully strategic is a
branch too far”
- Astik Ranade
A survey of 500 HR directors across Europe, the
Middle East and Asia, found out that only 15% of
the activities carried out by HR departments are
related to "pure strategic interventions".
“The most successful firms are notable in
employing imagination to define a new
position, or find new value in whatever
starting position they have.”
- Michael Porter, The State of Strategic Thinking
Strategic Thinking is the way in which people
think about, assess, view and define the
future for themselves and their tasks,
processes, associates, alliances, clients and
It stretches beyond responding to day-to-day
problems and long term problems,
opportunities and new realities. It actually
involves proactive effort towards developing
blueprint of the future.
“Strategic Thinking is a synthesizing process
utilizing intuition and creativity whose
outcome is an integrated perspective of the
- Henry Mintzberg, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning
Strategic Thinking in HR
HR must log into strategic horizon while sifting
value-contemplation for the purpose of
ensuring decision alignments focus on
quickening of corporate and business objectives.
If HR fails to achieve the above-stated aim, its
deliverables will continue to be considered as
non-value adding deeds, that are equivalent to
products of unprofitable cost centers.
Source: Elijah Ezendu, Strategic Thinking in HR
Strategic Thinking and Strategic Planning
The purpose of strategic
thinking is to discover novel
imaginative strategies which can
re-write the rules of the
competitive game; and to
envision potential futures,
significantly different from the
The purpose of strategic
planning is to operationalize
the strategies developed
through strategic thinking,
and to support the strategic
Source: Loizos Heracleos, Strategic Thinking or Strategic Planning
Five Criteria for Strategic Thinking Process
Source: US Small Business Administration
Strategic Thinking is a mindset and array of
thinking skills that facilitate the following:
Envisioning the future.
Development of alternative scenarios.
Understanding the options.
Appropriate decision making patterning to
Determination of the right direction for
getting there on a winning basis.
• Strategic Thinking involves change and
culminates to constructive imagination of an
• It’s practical dreaming of appropriate future
results that would add value.
Strategic Thinking as a Resource
Strategic thinking uncovers potential
opportunities for creating value and
challenges assumptions about existing value
propositions, so that new plan shall effectively
target those opportunities.
Tim O’Shannassy Model of Strategic Thinking Elements
Helicopter View Strategic Intent
Participation of Internal and
THINKING IN TIME
• Solving strategic problems
• A conceptualization of the firms future
• Disruption of alignment of McKinsey “7S Model”
• Commitment of internal and external
stakeholders to the strategy
• Formulation and implementation of strategy
concurrently or sequentially
Source: Tim O’Shannassy, Strategic Thinking, A Continuum of Views and Conceptualization
• Flexible technology
Steps of Strategic Thinking
• Defining where you are today.
• Going beyond conventional thinking.
• Discovering the scope of opportunities by
broadening current view of services/products.
• Anticipating the future.
• Developing scenarios and a vision of the
• Verification, Feasibility and Building the
Strategic Output which would become the
basis for Strategic Plan.
Strategic Thinking Tools
Visualization: Developing mental picture of an
ideal process, system, relationships and service.
Mind-Mapping: Use of words, simple logic, lines,
colours, images and links to depict connectivity
and stimulate thinking in order to create an
outline form on a paper or page for exploration.
Scenario Building: Painting different scenarios
about the future and developing appropriate
strategies for them.
Basic Creative Thinking: This involves generating
many possible alternatives, on the path of
innovation, as a method of problem solving.
Scenario Building overshoots forecasting, and takes
advantage of foresight.
Forecasting involves getting advance information
about the future by analyzing existing trends and
Foresight is the ability to see what is emerging.
Scenario Building is not about predicting the future,
but perceiving futures in the present.
Process Considerations for Strategic Thinking
• Goal Oriented
• Based on Broad Thinking
• Agreed Upon
Critical Success Factors for Strategic Thinking
• Paradigm shift.
• Results versus methods and means.
• Link Mega, Macro and Micro levels.
• Develop Measurable Objectives.
• Use an Ideal Vision.
• Define needs as gaps in results.
Source: Kaufman, Strategic Thinking
The Imperative of Integrating L & D Policy
and Practices with Business Practices
Integrating learning and development policies
and practices with other business practices
yields a well-rounded value-chain piecing
together which facilitates uniform coordination
towards organisational business objectives.
Integration of Learning and Development with
Business Practices can be achieved by applying
Competency Framework for mapping Corporate
Goals to Performance Standards as well as
Learning and Development Interventions.
What is Competency?
“Observable performance dimensions, including
individual knowledge, skills, attitudes, and
behaviours, as well as collective team, process,
and organizational capabilities, that are linked
to high performance, and provide the
organization with sustainable competitive
(Arvy & Orth).
Competence vs. Competency
In the past, HR professionals have tended to draw a clear
distinction between 'competences' and 'competencies'. The
term ‘competence’ (competences) was used to describe what
people need to do to perform a job and was concerned with
effect and output rather than effort and input. ‘Competency’
(competencies) described the behaviour that lies behind
competent performance, such as critical thinking or analytical
skills, and described what people bring to the job. However, in
recent years, there has been growing awareness that job
performance requires a mix of behaviour, attitude and action
and hence the two terms are now more often used
A ‘competency framework’ is a structure that
sets out and defines each individual competency
(such as problem-solving or people
management) required by individuals working in
an organisation or part of an organisation.
Components of a Competency Framework
A competency framework consists of Behavioural indicators, Competencies and Competency clusters.
These are examples of behaviours that would be observed when someone demonstrates competence. They
are the building blocks of the competency framework. For example behavioural indicators for the competency
“Teamwork Work and Collaboration” are:
Identifies when team members need support and provide it.
Shares knowledge and information willingly with others.
Collaborates effectively in meetings and informal interactions.
This is a set of behaviours, which demonstrates that a person has the abilities, knowledge, skills and personal
attributes to do the job competently.
The best way to describe competencies is to use behavioural language that describes the actions needed to
achieve the organisation’s goals. For example the competency “Teamwork” is described as “Works with others
to cooperatively accomplish objectives”.
These are individual competencies that are grouped into competency clusters. For example the competency
“Teamwork” forms part of the competency cluster “Working With Others”. Other competencies that would
form part of this cluster are, “Influencing and Persuading”, “Building Relationships”, “Managing Others”, etc.
Progression in Competency
Progression in competency depends on the
Configuration of Mastery Levels
Size of Mastery Levels depends on the following:
•Hierarchical Layer Variance
•Organisational Dynamics Philosophy
Progress from one Mastery Level to another is
characterised by calibrated increase in
proficiency which synchronises with
performance requirement at that level for
effective contribution to business goals.
Using Competency Framework
Learning and Development Programmes can be
developed as targeted intervention models for
each competency mastery level. This enables
appropriate effectuation of Learning and
Development Programmes by linking its output
to the required results that are akin to business
Strategic Alignment: The Result
Strategic Alignment of Learning and
Development Programmes to Corporate Goals
by means of Competency Mastery Level
symbolises the activity stream of Strategic
Business Partnership in that section of HR
What does integration of training allow?
It provides employees with the tools they need to succeed as
It provides managers with the tools they need to succeed as
mangers: train employees so they are at the level they need
Taking this another step further: the training enables
managers and employees to take ownership of this process
Adding value: Setting the organization up for success by
creating an environment where competency expectations are
visible to all organizational members and organizational
structures are in place to achieve desired performance levels
Source: Olson, Mihalevsky & Letourneau, Becoming a Strategic Business Partner
Provision of Value
This is the essence of presence in the value
chain of an organisation. Inability to provide
minimal value is tantamount to muda and
HR Value vs. Business Goal
Contemporary HR Value had been self-centred
and somewhat disconnected from business goal
orientated perspective. That’s why such output
is not identified as ‘value adding result’ in
corporate strategic outlay.
What is Value?
It’s an ascribed attribute which is based on
perceived benefits, cost, price and comparative
“Nothing is more useful than water; but it will
purchase scarce anything; scarce anything can
be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the
contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very
great quantity of other goods may frequently be
had in exchange for it.”
- Adam Smith
According to James and Mona Fitzsimmons, the
value equation should be as stated below.
Value = (Results Produced) + (Process Quality)
(Price) + (Cost of Acquiring the Service)
Identity of Results Produced
Results Produced should be within the context
of the receiver’s stance and not the perception
of producer. HR must identify its service value in
terms of relative worth to the receiver.
The right sets of results that are unique,
influential and conspicuous constitute
Which of these characterise the best available value
A.Out of 100 features only 70 are useful to business
B.Out of 50 features only 40 are useful to business
C.Out of 25 features only 10 are useful to business
D.Out of 20 features only 13 are useful to business
Structuring HR Value Proposition
The structure of HR Value Proposition should be
robust enough to symbolise real provisioning for
each of its stakeholders.
It can be commonsensical confining HR exertion
to Shareholders, Customers and Employees due
to the ease of identifying economic connotation
therefrom. HR needs to realise the full impact of
including External Community and Government
in its Value Proposition Target.
How does Learning and Development Value
generated by HR influence each of the following
Dr Elijah Ezendu is Award-Winning Business Expert & Certified Management Consultant with expertise
in Interim Management, Strategy, Competitive Intelligence, Transformation, Restructuring, Turnaround
Management, Business Development, Marketing, Project & Cost Management, Leadership, HR, CSR, e-
Business & Software Architecture. He had functioned as Founder, Initiative for Sustainable Business
Equity; Chairman of Board, Charisma Broadcast Film Academy; Group Chief Operating Officer, Idova
Group; CEO, Rubiini (UAE); Special Advisor, RTEAN; Director, MMNA Investments; Chair, Int’l Board of
GCC Business Council (UAE); Senior Partner, Shevach Consulting; Chairman (Certification & Training),
Coordinator (Board of Fellows), Lead Assessor & Governing Council Member, Institute of Management
Consultants, Nigeria; Lead Resource, Centre for Competitive Intelligence Development; Lead
Consultant/ Partner, JK Michaels; Turnaround Project Director, Consolidated Business Holdings Limited;
Technical Director, Gestalt; Chief Operating Officer, Rohan Group; Executive Director (Various Roles),
Fortuna, Gambia & Malta; Chief Advisor/ Partner, D & E; Vice Chairman of Board, Refined Shipping;
Director of Programmes & Governing Council Member, Institute of Business Development, Nigeria;
Member of TDD Committee, International Association of Software Architects, USA; Member of Strategic
Planning and Implementation Committee, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria;
Country Manager (Nigeria) & Adjunct Faculty (MBA Programme), Regent Business School, South Africa;
Adjunct Faculty (MBA Programme), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology; Editor-in-Chief, Cost
Management Journal; Council Member, Institute of Internal Auditors of Nigeria; Member, Board of
Directors (Several Organizations). He holds Doctoral Degree in Management, Master of Business
Administration and Fellow of Professional Institutes in North America, UK & Nigeria. He is Innovator of
Corporate Investment Structure Based on Financials and Intangibles, for valuation highlighting
intangible contributions of host communities and ecological environment: A model celebrated globally
as remedy for unmitigated depreciation of ecological capital and developmental deprivation of host
communities. He had served as Examiner to Professional Institutes and Universities. He had been a
member of Guild of Soundtrack Producers of Nigeria. He's an author and extensively featured speaker.