Talent Architecture

Success in business is simple: you just need to put the right people in the right jobs within the right environment. But this has proven to be an exceedingly difficult task. We spent decades trying different conventional approaches, each failing in some critical way. We systematically studied these failures and the latest science in management, psychology and economics. We decoded the psychological and environmental factors that drive peak performance. We then built our own model: Talent Architecture.

Talent Architecture is based on the insight that people realities drive strategic opportunities and operational designs. Your people realities determine which strategic goals the organization can best achieve, which culture and work designs will result in the best performance, and which hires will best thrive in each role. This must start with an understanding of what the leader of the organization (the “architect”) is like. They have the ultimate authority to hire and fire, and to design culture and work.

Using Talent Architecture as a starting point, we have created a suite of products that help executives and investors make practical changes to the way they design, operate and staff businesses to reliably achieve mission-critical goals.

Performance Diagnostic

You can’t make good decisions with bad information. We believe the single greatest barrier to a leader’s success is an inaccurate or incomplete picture of the state of the business. Leaders can live in a bubble of distorted and conflicting information. They mistakenly believe that they have tools to monitor business health, but often these tools fail to focus on what truly matters for long-term success.

We know what matters. We use a rigorous approach to diagnose the most critical areas of your business’s health and provide a deep, comprehensive, data-driven view of your reality. Our diagnostics uncover the biggest impediments to achieving your goals and enable you to make targeted and practical changes to increase performance.

The Performance Diagnostic focuses on what we have found to be the four big levers of business performance:

Leader Diagnostic

At the root of understanding the health of the business is a clear picture of the organization’s leaders. We help you develop a deep appreciation for what your senior team is truly like: their fundamental beliefs, biases, motivations and strengths. Using both business outcomes and deep-targeted interviews, we help you understand what you can expect from each person and the contexts under which they are likely to succeed and fail. When a member of your leadership team isn’t producing the outcomes you need, we help you answer the question: are they wrong for the company, wrong for the role, or need better management? What will it take to make this person great? The result is a picture that allows you to create the right design and team at the most senior levels of your organization.

Culture Diagnostic

Every organization has a culture: a set of beliefs about the behaviors that are rewarded and punished. A culture that is designed to align with the organization’s purpose, goals and leaders will greatly enhance business performance. Yet few leaders purposefully create and manage their business’s culture. The culture may be stated in the employee handbook. But on the ground, misunderstandings and mixed messages fester over time, creating confusion and employee disengagement. We use both business outcomes and a proprietary survey to get a clear picture on the four key elements of culture (purpose, interaction, trust and improvement) and identify ways that cultural confusion may be impacting performance.

Work Diagnostic

While culture defines acceptable behaviors, an organization’s work design determines acceptable results. It is critical that people are clear about the value proposition of their work to the market, what “good quality” means, and how to navigate the dizzying array of choices in the modern workplace. Winning businesses design work based on what the leader is like and the unique talents that people bring to their responsibilities. We discover if there is clarity and alignment in the four key elements of work design (strategy, standards, signals and recognition), and help you understand how gaps in clarity and misalignment of work design with people are impacting the organization’s ability to achieve its goals.

Management Diagnostic

A great culture and work design are critical to getting the most from your people. But daily excellence requires excellent management. This means ensuring that operational and organizational designs will achieve goals, the right people are in the right jobs and clear about what’s required, and improvements are happening from continuous diagnosis of outcomes. Yet most organizations fail to describe good management practice and reward good management behavior. We help determine the gap between excellent management practice and your current reality, and show you how that is impacting your ability to achieve your most important goals.

Optimized Management Playbook

Comprehensive studies show that 4 out of 5 managers are failing to achieve excellence in their major management responsibilities. Without continuously excellent management at all levels of the organization, and especially at the top, you can expect persistently poor employee engagement, failed change initiatives, sub-optimal M&A and missed growth and productivity targets.

After decades of study and practice, we have developed a detailed approach to best practice in executing management responsibilities. We tailor these best practices to the unique needs of your business and people, creating a detailed, practical field guide that managers can actually use to manage. The Management Playbook starts by clarifying the organization’s purpose and goals, then outlines each manager’s responsibilities and success measures, and finally describes the day to day process through which key managers will get people in the right jobs, clarify and measure performance standards, and constantly improve.

Just like even the most talented sports teams need a common playbook to execute effectively as a group, we work with leaders to create a Management Playbook that will help their team achieve its goals. Then we help the team integrate the Playbook into their daily lives, providing the tools, training and facilitation needed to ensure that excellent management becomes a way of being. The result is a team that is significantly more likely to achieve important goals efficiently and predictably.

See Example Section from Optimized Management Playbook


Most senior hires fail. In fact, you have a better chance of a winning hand in Vegas than you do of picking a senior hire that will meet or exceed their goals. The simple fact is that the old way of recruiting just doesn’t work well.

We have been in your seat, spending tens of millions on failed searches. We diagnosed hundreds of senior management hires, and here is what we found:

Specifications – A bad hire is a quality problem, and all quality problems start with a bad specification. Most search firms will take your spec for granted. Our experience is that doesn’t work. We use our tools (Performance Diagnostics and Talent Architecture) to create a spec that really works: one based on the reality of what it will take to be successful in your organization.

Sourcing – A great spec doesn’t matter if you keep looking in the wrong place for a great hire. We think that finding rare talent is critical and difficult. The right person isn’t always hiding in plain sight. With the value of a great hire increasing all the time, we spend the extra cycles to develop complex algorithms and search a multitude of data sets to find the right person.

Assessment – Once you find the right candidate, you still have to deal with a simple truth: most people are bad at interviewing and assessment. They fall prey to well known biases and poor interview practice. The inevitable result is that people tend to pick other people who look or think like them, rather than the best person for the job. We include assessment training as part of our searches, helping leaders understand the best way to structure and run a world-class assessment.

Integration – Hiring the right person is only half the battle. You then have to seamlessly integrate them into your operation. Most search firms don’t have the expertise to be able to coach a candidate in the first critical months of their onboarding. We do. We ensure that our hires have a clear set of goals and deliverables, and then use what we found in the specification / design portion of the search to create a simple but effective onboarding plan, optimizing their chances of success.

Our search services aren’t for everyone. We cost a bit more, and we only work with leaders who are more concerned with finding the right person than placing someone fast. But when you need a truly Transformative Leader, our fundamentally different approach gets results.

E&E Coaching
(Excellence & Execution)

An increasing number of executives are using coaching to help them stay sharp and productive. In fact, coaching is one of the fastest growing segments of the management consulting industry. Coaching can play an important role in giving an executive a trusted outside perspective, a person to speak to when the world seems to be coming apart.

But we’re a different kind of coach. We offer much more than trusted advice and perspective. Our purpose is to enable results and amplify leaders’ impacts throughout the organization.

We have found that most leaders are unpracticed and undisciplined in their approach to solving complex business problems and unlocking productivity. They don’t apply frameworks, work through problems systematically, or anchor their decisions back to major goals. And worst of all, they don’t have an accurate picture of their own mental models, making it impossible to continually design and evolve organizations that work for them. We use Talent Architecture and Learning Leader models to support leaders making good decisions, constantly reinforcing disciplined models for decision-making and ensuring that bad habits don’t creep back in. In fact, we use coaching in all our engagements, as a way of increasing leader insight, practicing excellent management and constantly evolving design and people to achieve better business results. The results: business leaders who are focused, efficient and able to solve increasingly difficult problems reliably.

Talent Insight Platform

Rapid growth requires an ever expanding supply of the right people. C-Suite Leadership and investors know that refusing to lower the hiring bar is often what differentiates winners from losers. But hiring a lot of “A-players” at scale is often difficult, if not impossible.

The conventional wisdom about recruiting difficulties is that there is a supply problem. 60% of CEOs say a lack of qualified candidates limits their companies’ potential. But what if that wasn’t true? What if the real problem was on the demand side of the market, not the supply side?

The Talent Insights Platform is our suite of tools and analytics that helps solve the demand problem. We figure out what it truly takes to be an “A-Player” at your company, and then tell you where you can find those people.

We deploy our insight into talent architecture and powerful analytics to help you discover the keys to succeeding in your culture and work, compound that insight over time, and build reliable systems to source optimal, differentiated talent for your organization. We analyze your team’s backgrounds, behaviors and outcomes to generate successful aptitude and behavioral patterns (people archetypes). We then compare these archetypes to our deep mapping of the talent marketplace, looking for the pools and places where your competitors aren’t looking. The result is a better spec, better source and better hire. Predictably.