Cross-post from BadConsultant:

OK. We’ll paraphrase because, well, going back and finding the original LinkedIn forum discussion would be just a little too much of a gaze into the abyss

[and staring at the walls of solitary confinement hotel rooms is more than enough for us most of the time]

but suffice to say, it was a very excited HR professional who’d just been hired to lead talent/succession planning for a major company and wanted to know:

… implementing talent planning, is a 9-box or 6-box better?

It’s hard to know where to start, it really is.

But let’s start with what should be the blindingly obvious – you’ve been hired to deliver something, presumably because you have a track record of delivering that something

[or something very similar]

and – even though most leaders run in the opposite direction of accountability for thought, intent, or deed – like it or not, you’re getting paid to have an opinion.

About that thing you’ve been hired to do.

You know. The thing. That you…

I don’t care how inclusive you aim to be, you can’t start from

I don’t know, you tell me what I should do


OK. Before we blame the victim, let’s not be so kind to the HR leadership who placed this person in such a predicament.

Have we really come to the point where needing to check the box that says

we have a succession planning process

is so desirable/necessary/expected that we’ll put someone… anyone in the role even if they have no clue about the process, its intent or the pitfalls inherent in the assessment and categorization of individual talent?

Have we?

I guess so.

Time for some BadConsultant-ism. Time for sh*t to hit fan.

It doesn’t matter how many boxes.

Because the leaders who provide


data on potential successors, are AWFUL raters

[and if you don’t know why that is, then what the hell are you doing in ANY assessment based role?]

The final grid will be the result of horse-trading and executive insecurity – narcissistic egos, handbags at dawn

[if you’ve never been in a compensation calibration meeting, you just aren’t qualified to weigh in on this subject]

We guarantee that your upper right box

[of 3, 6, 9, 47…]

will contain the names of those people who do enough to look great, but not so much that they unsettle their chain of command. Any objective assessment of the upper right box would show political operatives, and very, very few change-makers

[and if you don’t know why that is, what the hell are you doing in a role remotely connected to leadership and organization development?]

though the chance of objectivity getting anywhere near a talent/succession planning grid is, frankly, laughable – or, at minimum, delusional.

In fact, the number of boxes

[much like the number of performance rankings available for year-end rating]

is just another example of HR’s red-herrings. It’s a false end-point that makes us feel like we’re moving things forward, when in reality, all we’re doing is maintaining the illusion of hunky-doryness.

For the most part the outcomes of Talent/Succession Planning rarely come close to the decisions they should facilitate.

Just another day in the corporate abnormality of HR


best practices.



Cross-post from BadConsultant:

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that BadConsultant was riding a trend before it had even become a spark in the eye of an in-utero idea emergent at an innovation incubative blue-sky research fantasy novel land far, far away, would it?

Yet now, some 4 years later, what does BadConsultant read in the comments section of an update on LinkedIn?

“… Let’s pretend that the role of a Chief Performance Officer is to: 1) identify dysfunctions in bot-human, bot-bot, and human-human performances; 2) determine the hidden costs of those dysfunctions (ain’t no line item for ‘shit’s not working’ but there’s damn sure a cost and it’ll be huge for the next 20 years, because a LOT of shit’s not going to work); 3) save the company a LOT of money money by eliminating the dysfunctions; 4) convert the cost savings into investments in sustainable growth via new revenue generating activities….”

Well, who is this BadConsultant to be meek, mild and self-effacing.

You might not remember, but we do…

DestructionHR was always intended as a safe haven for those HR and OD professionals who seriously believed the rule-book needed to be torn apart. It started, but very quickly went into suspended animation

[we think of John Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, et al sleeping in their pods on the Nostromo]

mainly because, in every discussion where the title was shared, the knee jerk reaction to that word


was absolute

[almost as interesting was the fact that HR representatives actually thought we didn’t take that into consideration when designing the concept]

We were told there was NO WAY that DestructionHR would ever make any sense.

So we let it sleep.

[but, of course, held onto the domain name]

4 years passed

[4 long years of seeing the need for DestructionHR at most clients and at every networking event]

then suddenly we see that comment on LinkedIn.

And just for a second, BadConsultant was seen to do the Snoopy happy dance.

So… Are you a HeRetic?

A bientot


Mean curve performance management processes.

Relentless focus on managing the low-end of the curve.

Forced compliance of activities – on time, to formula.

Business doesn’t succeed by preventing people from underperforming.

Management doesn’t happen by one-size-fits-all templates.

Success is not the same as ‘not-failing’.

Good is not ‘not-bad’.

‘Not bad’ is ‘all right, I suppose’.

I have a broken leg. Resetting my broken leg does not make me an athlete.

Fixing broken things is not success.

Superstar performers fear less for their employment prospects.

Superstar performers seldom rest easy in the midst of the herd.

Come join us, we aim for average!

Come join us, we manage poor performance really well!

Come join us, you have potential to earn an above market-median salary!

Superstar performers perform despite Washington and Media hysteria.

Define success.

Free performance.

Burn templates.

Superstar performers will go further than you ever thought possible.

Learning a new web-scripting language at the moment. Unlearning hard-learned lessons and restructuring my neural pathways. It’s painful, frustrating and soul-destroying.

But I’m doing it for myself. For my own business.

Self-employed, I found myself putting the kids to bed and then stepping into my office at home to solving the latest in a stream of code problems.

Couple of hours later, perplexed by programming madness, I hit the hay. Slept on it. Woke up the next morning to the sound of the kids’ laughter and with a fix for the problem emerging from my subconscious.


And I ask myself, how any corporation can hope to compete with self-employment for an employee-value-proposition.

Working where I want, in the way I want, at the time I want – all at the whim of my own choices.

I didn’t have to consult the policy manual.

I didn’t have to clock in.

I didn’t have to confirm objectives and priorities.

I didn’t have to persuade someone else to look past their own insecurity and distrust of my motives and intent.

All those “didn’t have to” things that corporations choose to place every day between people and performance.

I learned more in the past couple of weeks than I did in the course of years in a corporation.

I didn’t have to.

But I did.

Destruction HR… removing those things that people shouldn’t have to…

By rigorously defining specific channels and skill-sets, competency frameworks stifle the spark that leads to innovation.


Those organizations maintaining twentieth-century practices and mindsets have to compete with this:

Our small team is growing and is in need of a full time current or future rockstar to help us get to the next level. You’ll work with a team of 5 which includes two experienced ruby/rails developers, a front end developer, a creative director and a U/I developer/designer/specialist. Here are the details:

this is what we do for 80% of our week-

we make web sites, web apps, and mobile apps for clients ranging from pre-funded startups to fortune 500 companies. there is variety in the tasks our team performs, which allows everyone to learn new things and hone their skills while not getting bored.

this is what we do for 20% of our week –

our backgrounds are very entrepreneurial, and as such, we’re always tinkering on new problems to solve and itches to scratch hoping we’ll stumble upon the next big thing. Our team spends (at a minimum) 20% of our time working on these ideas. Each team member (and future team member) will be an equity partner in any of our ideas that we launch.

work environment –

casual, in a very cool office space in historic downtown durham close to bars, restaurants, theatre, baseball stadium…and bars.

our ideal candidate –

some experience is a must, but we highly value attitude and mentality. if you want to solve problems and grow, then we’ll consider all levels of experience. Our ideal candidate is a team player who is interested in the thrill and rush of a startup yet realizes the benefit of working hard and doing a great job for a client to pay the bills.

Lastly, this is a full time position in house in durham, nc. we will consider remote opportunities but they will be prioritized lower than someone who can come to the office.

our goal for every team member –

to create the dream job that pays well, provides a fun atmosphere and comraderie, and allows everyone to pursue bigger goals.

Where are the statements on pensions and benefits? Where are the ‘minimum years experience’? Where are the ‘minimum academic qualifications’?

More importantly, where do you think the next generation of talent would rather work?

[Note: this was an actual job spec posted by North Carolina-based Smashing Boxes – if you’re interested contact]