The Navigator: Charting a Path to Leadership Excellence

President's Message
The Compelling Case for a Common Organizational Talent Management Language

We've observed with interest, and a little envy, that finance and information technology executives have successfully implemented universal systems, vocabulary, and metrics to optimize their functions across entire enterprises. In the specific case of finance, CFOs have realized that it's essential to implement common reporting systems and metrics to reliably measure and report relevant financial performance. One business unit can't be measuring "net profit" while another measures "EBITDA" (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), or report "RONA" (Return on Net Assets) versus "ROIC" (Return on Invested Capital) and still present a coherent, consistent report of annual performance to stakeholders. Financial experts do admit that there are different terms and metrics that can effectively report revenue, profitability, and measures of economic value, BUT they also know that it's absolutely necessary to choose a standard set of terms and stick with it over time to optimize systems. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) can provide standard terms, but within these guidelines, custom variations can and do exist.

This same consistent approach should be a common practice in corporate human resources. But, all too often, it has been our experience that different criteria are used to hire, promote, evaluate, and train talent in the same organization. Recruiters will adopt one set of criteria, while succession managers use another, and trainers employ a third set as learning objectives! Of course, this leads to confusion on the part of line managers, and inefficient (and probably ineffective) talent systems that should synergize across the enterprise. These conflicting models may actually sub-optimize all of talent management. In one organization we observed that hiring interviews for managers used one set of criteria, while different behavioral standards were used in performance appraisal, and yet a third model for performance was employed in a 360 survey guided development process. Of course these conflicting standards caused confusion and tended to interfere with efficient and effective applications.

The easy remedy for this problem of conflicting criteria is to adopt a common set of valid criteria that can reliably be measured to support all TM systems across the enterprise. And competency models have become an accepted practice to provide organizations with this consistent "blueprint" for ideal presentation. Since they first became popular, and preferred, in the 1970's, competencies have helped standardize and make more effective human resource practices. Competency models provide ideal criteria that can be used as a template to compare candidates to job needs in selection interviews or assessment centers. Taken from the same model, a subset of competencies can also help clarify individual role requirements and populate job descriptions, thus setting expectations to help in performance management. And the same model can provide competencies as learning objectives in development programs, or as criteria for a 360 in a survey guided leadership development experience. In this way, a common language is introduced to allow all talent management systems to talk to each other and reinforce organizational talent excellence.

As you'll see from the featured announcement in this Navigator, I do have a specific motive for addressing the challenges of conflicting competency models for talent management. As one ready remedy for this problem, OSI has recently released version 4.0 of its benchmark universal competency architecture the Polaris® Competency Model. With 34 years of experience to support it, plus over 100 custom competency modeling research projects, Polaris® is now one of the best researched, most complete, and freshest models available. Organizations such as Nike, Wendy's, American Greetings, Blizzard Entertainment, and Kawasaki have jump started their search for a valid, comprehensive model by using Polaris® as the foundation for their universal organizational models. Our recommended approach is to license and customize the model to provide a solid, scientific foundation for your criteria while tailoring content to fit your culture, industry, and strategy.

But whether or not you choose Polaris®, we still do strongly recommend adopting a valid, comprehensive model to serve as a bridge language, and criteria, for all your talent management systems.


OSI Launches Polaris® 4.0
OSI is pleased to announce the official release of our latest competency model content: the Polaris® 4.0 series. This new iteration reflects our most recent research conducted in the past five years with dozens of high performing leaders, managers, and professionals across a number of successful brands. We also included the collective wisdom of our extensive network by doing a reality check with our most seasoned coaches, consultants, and clients. Our update confirmed that the fundamentals of leadership, management, and professional competence are persistent, but did result in several minor changes to the basic model to reflect some nuances we found in how competence really drives results. In addition to updating the Polaris® Competency Model, we have also updated and upgraded the Polaris® Development Guide and Proficiency Continuums to reflect our research and to add more productive ways to acquire needed knowledge and skill. Version 4.0 also includes a highlighted subset of Polaris® competencies (The Big Six) that have been found to predict exceptional performance in front line leadership roles. Polaris® 4.0 is the freshest model on the market, and represents over 33 years of cumulative OSI experience in selecting and developing top talent in top brands. The Polaris® 4.0 universal model can serve as the foundation for talent management systems by providing valid criteria, and an integrating language across talent management applications. As research has shown, anything short of this common language sub-optimizes all organizational talent selection, development, and appraisal systems as managers struggle with competing criteria for interviewing, training, and providing performance feedback.
New Polaris® 4.0 Launch Sale!
OSI will be offering a 10% discount on all products from Monday, April 14th to Sunday, April 20th to help introduce the new Polaris® Competency Model. We are also now accepting American Express and Discover Cards in addition to Visa and Mastercards.

*The discount will not be shown in shopping cart, however discount will be applied before credit cards are processed and a receipt will be emailed.

At Organization Systems International, we are celebrating over 30 years of quality, service, and innovation. We deliver client success with a high-performance approach designed to enhance occupational relationships, improve operational efficiency, and sustain customer relationships.


American Greetings
Blizzard Entertainment
Bowling Green State University
Dow Corning Corp.
GE Capital
Insurance Company of the West
Limited Brands
Nike, Inc.
Northwest Pipe
Portland State University
Schneider Trucking Company
Standard Insurance Company
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
State Auto Insurance
The Walt Disney Company
Wendy's International Inc.


Polaris® 360° Survey
Polaris® Competency Model Card Set
Polaris® Competency Model Development Guide
Polaris® Proficiency Continuums
Organizational Leadership Materials
Star Select™ Interviewing Program
TEAMx Survey
Contact Us

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Phone: 1.858.455.0923
Fax: 1.858.455.6161

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