I had a very interesting conversation with Claus Heinrich, SAP Executive Board member and head of HR. We discussed what SAP is doing and wants to do for itself regarding talent management.
Job Rotations -- I have not discussed this on the blog previously, but it is an important talent management concept. SAP wants leaders to be well-rounded and wants to do more to provide different types of experiences (which also leads to more versatility -- see Diane Morello's research (Gartner subscription required) on "Versatilists" for more on why this is important). It is also a good way to get a fresh viewpoint into the HR organization (Claus himself started in supply chain management). In addition, it is a good opportunity to get HR professionals more educated about the business and where HR can provide value.
Succession Management -- One of the things that struck me about Shai Agassi's departure from SAP was how fast it responded with a reorganization. Now necessity is certainly the mother of invention. However, SAP does a very good job of succession planning including regular talent reviews for key positions at the Executive Board level and ensuring that adequate bench strength is in place (i.e., at least one successor is ready to assume key positions). These are good practices for all companies.
Globalization of Talent -- It probably comes as no surprise that SAP has global talent management needs. Many companies do. What was interesting was how it evolved. Product development was strongly centralized in Walldorf, but SAP found 10 years ago that the pool of talent available in Germany was not going to be large enough to meet their growth objectives so they had to become a much more decentralized product development organization. It changed the culture of SAP as well as required different competencies in managers (especially those who were managing a more virtual team). I suspect that as talent shortages loom in many industries and job categories that more creativity in global talent sourcing will put increased strain on manager capabilities. Good workforce planning that can surface these issues in advance can be useful to help manage this change.