A few weeks ago I was teaching a course at the HQ of one of the biggest and well-storied companies in the US. 

During the lunch break I started chatting to one of their senior HR execs. Within a few minutes we’d got into everything from Chinese innovation to the EU working directive and NYC’s freelance scene.

All these subjects touched on the 3 key components he considered when  building and extending the organization’s talent capabilities:

Build: Level up the existing workforce. 

Buy: Hire more full time employees. Resource reliability, but top talent will keep getting more expensive.

Borrow: Bring in freelancers, consultants, agencies, or other service providers. There’s expertise ready to be put to work, and lower overheads to go with it, but when they’re done a big chunk of knowledge leaves with them.

But while before there were 3, now there are 4. And this fourth element has created a new whole new set of questions, considerations, and conversations, and affects the existing 3 pillars as well.

You probably know what it is.


Automate. Use machine learning. Remove humans. 

The question he is now asked most often about talent development is how machines can be used.

A question asked far less often: Why?

And more specifically, why they should be used at all.

There’s plenty we can do, but far less we should do.

Whenever the conversation shifts to Build, Buy, Borrow or Bot – it’s better to go back and start with Why.

Build, Buy, Borrow, or...

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