Joshua Letourneau | Blank Slate Challenge

On March 19, 2010, in HRExaminer, by John Sumser

blank-slate-challenge-entry-200x200The submissions for our Blank Slate Challenge are in and this week we’ll be featuring some of your submissions from around the world of HR. You may recall that we challenged readers to create an HR led strategy that could produce results in your organization like the iPhone and iPad have for Apple. How would you change the way you recruit, hire, develop and retain your employees so they could reach their full potential while keeping them engaged? After we post these select submissions our Editorial Advisory Board will be voting on the top three entries with the grand prize winner taking home an Apple iPad. – John Sumser

Here is the last submission we’re going to post for Blank Slate. It’s from Joshua Letourneau who writes about Toyota…

From: Joshua Letourneau, OODA5 (

I. Introduction

As requested, a movement toward a more impactful Talent Strategy for Toyota North America, Inc. (TNA) has been investigated.  The following data/numbers suggests the extreme importance of this initiative:

Margin per Vehicle Sold (North America) $967 USD
Margin Per Vehicle Sold (Global) $108 USD

Translation: Vehicles sold in North America achieve an 8.95x (+$859 USD) margin relative to the global average.

1/4/2010 2/23/2010
Stock Price $85.08 $71.55
Shares Outsanding 1.57B 1.57B
Market Capitalization $133.58B USD $112.33B USD
Net Loss of Market Cap $21.25B (15.9% Loss)

Translation: As of 2/23/2010, due to massive recalls and a PR failure in North America (Q1 FY2010), TNA has lost $21.25B USD in Market Capitalization (-15.9%.)

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We must view our current challenges as a key inflection point in our history. The time has come to fundamentally shift the way we operate and view our markets in an effort to more closely reflect our new business realities.

[Note: This is a high-level overview of our change initiative.  More granular reports, project timelines, financial objectives, etc. have been provided to the leaders of each individual SBU.]

II. HR Has Been Disbanded and is Now “Human Networks” (HN)

As of March 1, 2010, the Human Resources Group will be disbanded and will no longer be a functional silo of TNA.

The Human Networks Group (HN) will emerge.  The premise of “Human-Networks” leads to our new understanding that performance extends far beyond ‘Human Resources’ (seeing people inherently as costs).  While we see our employees as ‘capital’ (as investments) instead of as ‘resources’, we will move forward with the acknowledgement that the value is created by Human-Networks, not individuals or ‘teams’ alone.

The following are foundational principles to our current change initiative:

  1. Value is created and delivered by Human-Networks, many of which are not visible within the formal hierarchy of the organizational chart.
  2. Human Networks (systems) often self-organize. However, we will attempt to influence such (system) self-organization so as to increase the probability of high performance.
  3. We will focus time/energy/investments on not only improving individual and team performance, but also on understanding and creating an ecosphere conducive to high-performing Human-Networks.
  4. Our HN structure will allow us to more accurately reflect the further fragmenting and decentralized nature of our target markets and consumer society, in general.  As these markets are further decentralizing, so will we.
  5. HN will now be positioned and operate as a true profit-center. We accept full accountability for reporting our performance as such.

III. Strategic Objectives

Starting on 3/1/2010, HN will begin a major change initiative aimed at improving our functional profile within 5 distinct dimensions (which are subsequently “Human-Nework” traits/attributes):

  1. Agility (ability to adapt rapidly and cost effectively in response to changes in the business environment.)
  2. Adaptability (ability to fluidly morph/adjust to the needs of our customer base and/or other external factors.)
  3. Innovation (ability to develop and launch new products faster and more profitably than our competition.)
  4. Resilience (reinforcing our ability to respond to external ‘attack’, such as loss of key talent, recall scenarios, loss of market share, etc.)
  5. Engagement (ability to deliver meaningful brand experiences, both internal [employees] and external.)

V. Tactical Plan Overview

The following outlines a high-level tactical overview of how HN will be structured so as to reflect the above foundational principles and achievement of our strategic objectives:

  1. HR Administration will be entirely outsourced. As a profit center, HN will manage costs and outsource low-margin, administrative activities to vendors that can achieve economies-of-scale we cannot.
  1. HN will actively invest in Social Network Analysis (SNA) tools and mapping, so as to gain a much deeper understanding of how value is created from a Human-Networks (systems) perspective.
  1. HN will operate Talent Acquisition as a fully decentralized function —
    1. ‘Tactical Talent Managers’ (TTM, micro-focus) will be embedded within each business unit on 12-month to 18-month rotations so as to keep them “fresh”. They will own the strategy of recruiting several internal champions who will assist penetration of niche talent pools.  While TTMSs’ will also own Sourcing initiative deliverables, they will not go about Sourcing alone – Through SNA, for example, the TTM will identify employees who have access to highly pivotal talent pools and collaborate with them to fill key positions and build external Talent Communities.  This is much more than a typical referral program, and the benefit to the employees selected will be enhanced compensation and visibility/upward progression opportunity.  TTMs’ will also be judged on engagement levels of their business unit, which extends beyond solely talent acquisition.
    1. TTMs will report to a Strategic Talent Analyst (STA, macro-focus). STAs’ will not be embedded within each business unit, but will own unique Customer Segments. They will be responsible for partnering with Sales and Marketing (and other functions, as applicable) so as to better understand the customer segments that are the focus of the business units in which their Tactical Recruiters are embedded.  In addition to providing unique insights (Sourcing/Social Intel, etc.) to their embedded recruiters, they will also be judged upon overall profitability of their Customer Segment.  It will also be their ongoing charter to research how talent in key areas supports the creation and delivery of value to such segments.  While we understand the difficulty of such an approach, we seek to create a tension that leads the Strategic Talent Analyst to look to not only today’s profitability, but also tomorrow’s.
    1. As further Human-Network intelligence is derived through SNA tools and mapping, Talent Acquisition will begin to test and interview for certain personality and behavioral traits that are consistent with high-performing networks (relative to the role each particular candidate will fill.)  For example, if a number of high-performing networks (from a value-creation standpoint) have individuals exhibiting certain behaviors (‘Hubs’, ‘Gatekeepers’, ‘Pulsetakers’, etc.) at given points in the overall network, hiring efforts will be made to duplicate such high-performance from a Human-Network (system) perspective.
  • Tom F.

    The movement toward a solution that recognizes human activities along networks is commendable. It's also refreshing that Toyota is recognizing human failure within the system instead of blaming the system (i.e., blaming the Toyota Production System)

    One has to recognize that the individuals in the network will never have all of the information needed to ensure success. Blowing up the silo and creating an environment in which the agents make better informed decisions is supposed to decrease the frequency of catastrophic failure over time. Then again the variables (i.e., people not acting rationally) that occur along the networks make this impossible to predict as well as unlikely. It will be interesting to see this play out. Can we have some quarterly updates?

    Recommended reading:

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Lorena Perry | Blank Slate Challenge

The submissions for our Blank Slate Challenge are in and this week we'll be featuring some of your submissions from...