MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Identify Critical Roles to Improve Performance

  • 9m
  • Abhijit Naik, Boris Groysberg, Eric Lin, Sascha L. Schmidt
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • 2023

Leaders like to show that they value employees. They proclaim that everyone on the team is critical to the organization’s success. As uplifting as that sentiment is, it simply isn’t true. Talent can be a source of competitive advantage only if great people are in the most critical roles. Having stars in jobs that aren’t critical is just a waste of talent.

It’s accepted wisdom in strategy execution that focused application of concentrated strength — identifying, developing, and leveraging critical capabilities — is required for success. Yet until these capabilities are translated into specific roles, with systems in place to ensure that high-quality employees occupy such positions, a strategy is just an intention. Unfortunately, too many organizations build strategy around the people they have at the time and current skill sets — when they should instead be devising the most promising strategy, developing a better understanding of the roles that will be most critical in executing it, and then staffing those roles with the best available talent. As we’ll demonstrate, applying data and analytics to that problem can help you determine exactly where your top talent needs to be placed.

About the Author

Boris Groysberg is the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Eric Lin is an associate professor of business at Oberlin College and Conservatory. Abhijit Naik is senior global quantitative researcher at Quent Capital. Sascha L. Schmidt is a professor and director of the Center for Sports and Management at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management.

Learn more about MIT SMR.

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  • MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Identify Critical Roles to Improve Performance