In part two of our talent optimization blog series, we will unpack the design phase.  In this phase business leaders map their business strategies to the organizational structure and teams they currently have in place.  This helps leaders understand their teams’ current strengths, and potential blind spots.  If you are new to the concept of talent optimization, take a moment to checkout our What is Talent Optimization post for some background on the discipline of talent optimization.

The Talent Optimization Process

If you have read the book Good to Great by Jim Collins you are probably familiar with his bus analogy, where he says “If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”  Most business leaders have uttered this quote, or some portion of it, at one point in time.  But when you ask them how they do this, their response is somewhat vague and generally falls into the category of “gut feel”.  

Utilizing the Predictive Index (PI), the design phase helps business leaders move from gut feel to data driven.  This is crucial during periods of transformation, especially when implementing growth strategies or a transition plan. The reason the design phase is so crucial is because it clearly shows the natural behaviors of the people primarily responsible for executing the strategy, and the skills needed to execute the strategy most efficiently.   

It is in this phase leaders can begin to identify gaps and friction points in the “people” portion of their strategy.  Using a data driven approach, leaders can shorten the time needed to assess the talent on their team and in their organization, removing the subjectivity and bias that comes from only using one’s personal experiences.  

In the design phase leaders will learn the concept of “who’s in the room, who’s in the building, and who’s on the street”.  This is an important concept for leaders at every level to learn and understand.  Here is a high-level overview of the concept:

  • Who’s in the Room – represents the core members of the team that are responsible for executing a particular strategy.  This can be the company’s strategic plan, an employee engagement strategy, or any other initiative the company is undertaking.
  • Who’s in the Building – represents employees in the organization that have the requisite skills for executing a particular strategy but are not necessarily members of the core team.  These individuals can be great resources for the core team to tap into and include in helping execute the team’s strategy.
  • Who’s on the Street – at times, the skills the company needs are not in the room or in the building. This is not unusual, especially when companies are going through periods of rapid growth or change.  In these instances, company’s often must look outside the organization to recruit the talent and skills needed to execute their strategy. 

When applying the “who’s in the room, who’s in the building, and who’s on the street” concept it is important to keep in mind that just because you have team members that fall outside a particular quadrant that is most closely associated with your strategy does not mean those individuals cannot execute the strategy.  However, it does mean that the effort required by them will be more than those individuals that naturally have those behavioral traits. 

Effort & Execution 

After analyzing millions of behavioral assessments, PI has identified 17 reference profiles that create behavioral maps for different types of people.  These reference profiles are then placed on PI’s behavioral quadrant so that individuals as well as leaders can visualize where they live relative to others in the organization.  The four behavioral quadrants are: Innovation & Agility, Results & Discipline, Process & Precision, Teamwork & Employee Experience. 

 Predictive Index Behavioral Quadrant 

Everyone falls into one of these categories, and most strongly exhibits those traits associated with that behavioral category. It does not mean that you cannot exhibit traits found in other categories, it just means those traits in your category are most natural to you. 

  • Innovation & Agility – Individuals are visionary, innovative, and risk oriented. They are quick to make connections and comfortable in uncertain situations. 
  • Results & Discipline – Individuals are driving, competitive, and demanding. They are focused on goals and disciplined with rules. 
  • Process & Precision – Individuals are well-organized, coordinated, and efficient. They build connections selectively and work to minimize risk. 
  • Teamwork & Employee Experience – Individuals are supportive, transparent, and empathetic. They are people-oriented and lenient with rules. 

To illustrate the effort level required for executing a particular strategy relative to your natural behavioral quadrant, we are going to compare it to walking, jogging, and running. 

When individuals work on and execute strategies within the behavioral quadrant that is most natural to them the effort level required by them is relatively low. Using our illustration above, it can be described as walking, the effort level is relatively low, and you can probably sustain this effort for extended periods of time. 

When individuals work on and execute strategies that are adjacent to their natural behavioral quadrant the effort level required by them is a bit more. Using our illustration, it can be described as jogging, the effort required is a bit more than walking, and can only be sustained for short durations of time. 

When individuals are executing strategies that are opposite to their natural behavioral quadrant the effort level required is high. Again, using our illustration, it can best be described as running, the effort level is high, and can only be sustained for brief periods before needing to a break. 

As with most things, individuals as well as teams can work to build skill in the areas that come less natural to them. Over time, through repeated efforts and awareness, individuals can increase their skills – or stamina when thinking about our illustration – thereby reducing the effort needed to work outside their natural behavioral quadrant. 

The Four Steps of the Design Phase 

Now that you understand the makeup of your core team members, their natural styles, and the effort level required by each team member, it is time to jump into the four primary activities of the design phase. 

  1. Select the organization’s structure – Your companies business strategy provides the context for effective organizational structure. A company’s organizational structure should allow for easy execution of the strategy and should be updated as needed to reduce friction points and inefficiencies.
  2. Evaluate the leadership team’s fit – The execution of a given business strategy will require certain skills. Map your core team’s competencies to the strategy, identify the current teams fit, and identify any gaps or blind spots.
  3. Understand team dynamics – The team needs to work well together to execute the businesses strategy. It is essential that each team member develops self-awareness as well as awareness of the group’s similarities and differences.
  4. Identify cultural gaps – Your businesses culture and business strategy must be aligned. To ensure alignment, it’s necessary to map cultural factors to the strategy, identifying and addressing any area of misalignment. 

While these four steps might seem like common sense, it is one of the most overlooked activities in strategy development. The effects can be devastating, putting unneeded strain on your companies’ culture, people, strategy, and results.   

Let’s Get Started 

Want to see how talent optimization can give your business a competitive edge? Contact us to schedule your 1:1 Talent Strategy Session.  This 90-minute virtual talent strategy session will provide you with valuable insights on how you can utilize talent optimization to build “dream teams” within your organization.  This strategy session is designed for senior leaders that are looking for ways to unlock the human potential inside their organization.  

You Will Learn… 

* YOU – Your leadership style and preferences. 

* YOU + OTHERS – How you work with others. 

* YOU + OTHERS + WORK – How you lead teams to execute on strategy.  

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About JACO Advisory Group

JACO Advisory Group (JACO) is a management consulting and advisory firm, specializing in growth strategies and transition planning for mid-market, closely held, and family-owned businesses. We help clients with strategic planning, business development, operational performance, talent optimization, succession planning, and restructuring & turnaround management.

Our team’s collection of experiences provides us with a variety of tools to help our clients develop and execute the strategies they need to maximize value for all the stakeholders of the business. We provide strategic leadership and seamless management of all engagements from kick-off to completion. JACO partners with and becomes an extension of every business we have the privilege of working with ensuring that your needs will be met, and your company’s values honored. To learn more about JACO Advisory Group, visit