Yahoo was founded in the mid-1990’s out of Stanford University by students that wanted to create a guide for the web. Within a year the idea had turned into a company that was now skyrocketing as a web leader into the dotcom bubble. Their product was groundbreaking, highly respected, and irrelevant after twenty-years. Yahoo survived the bursting of the dotcom bubble but started to face stiff competition with Google. Yahoo approached the competition through the acquiring of smaller companies to bolster their technology while Google focused on acquiring talented people to boost their technology. With economic downturns, Yahoo, went through multiple rounds of employee layoffs leaving a shell of employees to run the platform while the talented stars left in droves. The company had lost its ability to create and compete leading to its eventual consumption by Verizon.
This is not an uncommon story from the history of corporations, but the speed that took Yahoo from market leader to out of business is a new reality. Included in that reality is that talent more than ever is controlling the destiny of a corporation. The complexity of work combined with new technologies has shifted the model of having a few key players being able to manage a corporation to the need for an entire organization of key players to manage ahead of the market shifts in a dynamic world.
Several philosophical theorists speculate that the future of work will become the problem of artificial intelligence and that the need for talent will dissipate. As with every great innovation that changes the world, new gaps will be identified, and talent is needed to fill those roles. There will always be a need for talented workers and thinkers, the world unfortunately just doesn’t know yet what they need to be talented in. This has shifted many organizations to focus on learning agility or the growth mindset where employees focus on wanting to learn new skills and can learn very quickly. This is under the preconception that in the future when what we know as work pivots into something new, the workforce will have to react. The hope is that if organizations will have built a learning agile workforce, they will be able to acquire the new skills rapidly and grab the early market share. Unfortunately, many organizations have reduced their human capital organizations to save costs which are putting their future sustainability at significant risk.