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Shamni Pande | Print Edition: October 2, 2011

Human resource managers, bogged down by administrative ho-hum, have been raving about One Page Talent Management, a book that suggests cutting down on the unnecessary layers that make assessment of talent opaque. Author Marc Effron, in India recently to research a new book, spoke to Shamni Pande about how he got started and his new ideas. Edited excerpts:

What led you to write the book?
This was around the year 2006 when Avon (one of the world's largest direct selling companies) was undertaking a serious restructuring of its business. Andrea Jung, then CEO, gave me just six months to not just put in place a system, but also create a structure that would deliver results within a year. I was working with the company as its HR head and my job was tough, to say the least. I did not have the time to experiment with any one system. That was when I actually sat down with some experts and looked at the existing methods and realised that managers are inundated with loads of paper and presentations to read and assess. What does it take to actually sit across with a colleague and say that these are the three things that I need you to work on and expect from you? Or that these are the areas that have not gone the way we agreed on?

You are saying that 360 degree and other such reviews are not effective?
The point is not that these are bad, or ineffective. The process is effective but the point is lost many times. How many managers have the time to devote to tomes of content over one issue? My experience with Avon led to this book where I wanted the results that any of these processes could deliver - all in one page, so to say.

Will there be takers for your idea, given that so much investment goes into adopting an HR system?
Yes. I've had many managers giving me positive feedback. They would like to simplify their existing systems. My book does not ask them to ditch their internal systems but suggests ways in which things can be simplified.

Your next book is said to deal with a rather radical idea - it is about CEOs and says they come with a shelf life. Won't that create a lot of instability?
My next book is about CEOs and how they can be more effective. It deals with matching CEOs with companies and the strategic challenges the latter are dealing with. The basic concept is that companies are very dynamic - they evolve as they grow and also as various economic shifts hit them. People, though, are much more static. We tend to become very fixed in our capabilities and behaviours. So, as companies dynamically move, the individual doesn't move, and then there are larger gaps at some points in time.

The implication is that the more successfully we match the strategic situation with an individual who has the capability to deal with the situation, the better the results will be for all in the process.

This is not going to create instability, but will give more clarity to organisations about the direction they want to move in, and which ones are best placed to do so. In any case, there have been ugly departures and those are best avoided. A review suggests that the CEOs of the top 200 companies tend to currently have a tenure of anywhere between four and six years. 

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