Area of Behavioral
Focus: Talent Solutions
“Coaching serves as a critical tool to help senior succession
candidates and leaders change how they view themselves; this
in turn gives them the power to get the most out of everyone
who works for them.”
—Hy Pomerance
Global Head, Talent Management
Human Resources
UBS Investment Bank
he dictionary tells us that a “solution” is a method of solving
a problem or answering a question. A talent solution is how a
talent problem or challenge is solved. We’ll go on record say-
ing that providing an answer to a talent question, as important as that
can be, is only part of a solution, not the solution itself. Answering a
Talent Systems
Talent Solutions
question about talent is more a talent systems measurement and/or as-
sessment issue. Nevertheless, answering questions related to talent so-
lutions marries talent systems and talent solutions in a systemic way.
That means the two are operating as parts of the same system.
This chapter on talent solutions covers the sixth of the ten com-
ponents in the Contextual Coaching model. Talent solutions and
talent systems continuously circle each other in a spiraling symbio-
sis. One feeds the other, after which the other returns the favor. Tal-
ent systems define, measure, and monitor the raw and experienced
talent that talent solutions develop and optimize. More and better
talent solutions based on ever-evolving definitions of needs, new
measurements, and feedback provided by talent systems can be ap-
plied to keep individual and organizational learning alive and
Solving a talent problem or challenge (our preferred term) re-
quires more than studying, researching, discussing, and/or ponder-
ing. Solving a talent challenge requires action, and lots of
it—before, during, and even after the solution has been achieved.
Only action can transform talent systems information into a true
talent solution, and only action can make the solution sustainable.
In a nutshell, we believe that solving a talent challenge means re-
solving, repairing, fixing, tuning up, and/or generally making some-
thing better than it is or, better yet, the best it can be—with an eye
to making it better yet at every opportunity. Therein can be found
the three prongs of the talent solutions fork:
1. Teaching something that has never been learned
before (new knowledge)
2. Repairing something that is broken or bogged down
(restorative knowledge)
3. Making something good even better (expanding and
enhancing knowledge)
At the risk of getting cute with semantics, talent solutions are rarely
singular. “One-size-fits-all” and “universal wrench” are not terms
commonly associated with talent solutions. Talent challenges tend
to be layered and complex in nature, requiring multifaceted solu-
tions. Put another way, a true and lasting talent solution is a care-
fully concocted blend of different individual solutions, which be-
comes a complex and unique chemical-type “solution” of its own.
Talent Solutions in Perspective
It helps to put the topic of talent solutions into some context that
many can relate to or, at least, understand—like sales. How uni-
versally corporate can you get? Customer service is a good
metaphor for illustrating the type of positive attitude you should be
wearing when approaching a coaching engagement.
You can think about selling in a lot of different ways. If you look
at the job description for a sales position today, you will probably
read that the applicant needs to have expertise in solution selling. The
term “solution selling” is used to describe a shift in focus from selling
a product to convincing customers or prospective customers that it is
in their best interest to buy into a complete solution. Combining
the notion of “solution” with sales also marks a shift in focus from
product-based competitive advantage to people-based competitive
advantage. The solution, of course, features the products and services
the sales person represents. Solution selling is based on hearing your
clients’ perspective, understanding the gaps in their satisfaction, and
crafting a solution that uses the stuff your organization offers.
Solution selling is dominant in the world of consulting, finan-
cial services, and technology. It is rapidly becoming the standard
for sales programs in many different industries. Food distributors,
transportation companies, and automobile dealers (among others)
are sending their salespeople to training programs on solution sell-
ing in the belief that sales representatives will do a better job push-
ing product if they sell that product as part of a solution to the
customers’ problems.

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