The Tool – Some Definitions

  • Talent Management Forensics (TMF)
  • Heuristics
  • Skills Management
  • Performance Management
  • Subjectivity vs Objectivity


The talent of a business is vested in the collective skills of the people working in it at any particular time. The value of this is in the capacity it provides for wealth creation through business trading and operations. Despite this value, you will not find it identified in your Balance Sheet.

Accounting practices have yet to step up to ways of measuring this value. If represented at all, it sits under intangibles in the premium value of the business over its identifiable assets.

Skillspeak offers businesses a means of managing this critically valuable resource by providing unprecedented metrics control over the organisation’s inventory and movements of talent.

To do this successfully, we need to measure its elements in as much detail as possible. This provides a map of skills penetration: where they are and where they need to be. Tracking these over time, as the business strategy evolves, requires a far greater depth of analysis than has been previously possible.

We call this functional capability Talent Management Forensics (TMF). In essence it is a metrics-based approach, applying science and precision to the challenge of finding the right person for any given position (best fit).  This avoids the all-pervasive and inadequate approach of simply allocating the “next available” person, due to of the unavailability of real resource data. The potential impact of the TMF approach on business success is without limit. Work truly does evaporate in the hands of an expert.


This is a process whereby a system learns from its users and from the experience gained in prior scenarios.  Information gained from each interaction builds to allow greater accuracy, until the system becomes an excellent model of its environment.

Why is this important?

All previous skills management systems were based on monolithic methods. In these systems, all structures are locked in before the processes are used. This requires huge amounts of work in defining parameters, with insufficient knowledge of how the system will eventually be used.  Very often, these projects do not survive this definition period. They fail because too much time has been invested before any useful result could be forthcoming.

Results, when they become available, are less than useful, due to the number of compromises necessary to fit them in to the monolithic structure. Most staff would not recognize the given skills selections as looking sufficiently like ‘their job’. User acceptance is the casualty of this method, and it brings with it an inbuilt predisposition to system failure.

By using a heuristic approach, the process can commence immediately, with as much information as is available at that time. It swiftly gains more accuracy as each user contributes information. The results bear a greater correlation to the expectation of users, because of the degree to which their view of the facts is reflected. It is their data, so they will far more readily embrace the results.

Skillspeak is useful immediately, and becomes even more useful as it is used continuously, forming part of the business fabric.


Skills Management includes the process of identifying the skills and competencies an individual has accumulated through training, practice and life experience, as well as the level achieved. These are then compared to the needs of the organisation, so gaps may be explored. The basis of this is the current and future requirements of the business.

Collection and use of data on skills

Only the individual concerned is qualified to specify all the skills they have acquired throughout their lifetime. This information is made more useful after it has been reviewed, and validated by an authority, such as a manager, colleague or teacher.

Individuals will offer non-job related skills if asked and the Skillspeak system permits gathering of these. The benefit to listing these skills is that they facilitate resource deployment where there are needs going beyond each person’s currently defined job.

Possessing a skill means a person has the intellectual capacity, experience, track record, qualifications and credentials in sufficient measure to be credible in performing.

Special note on Team Skills Assessments – especially Boards of Directors

Team assessments should be able to break new ground, since the results achieved by the team draw on all the available skills of each individual in unlimited combinations.

The Skillspeak methodology brings inventive treatments to the challenge of defining the skill needs of a team. It is counter-intuitive, since it does not equal the aggregation of the individual team members. Using the powerful Skillspeak functions, teams are measured through gaps relating to their consolidated intellectual capacity, the strength of leadership and the number of people holding a particular skill compared to the minimum for satisfactory achievement. This give teams unprecedented value in knowing where they need to do more or to recruit new talent.

Going beyond this simple measurement, it also incorporates a full dependency analysis. Teams will know the degree to which they are dependent on the skills of each contributor. A sensitivity analysis shows teams when they are overly dependent on one or two key people, as this can cause major instability should these people became unavailable.


Performance is the diligent execution of work to achieve needed results through honest, thorough and consistent application of the required skills.

Performance Management starts with the assessment and measurement of an individual’s work results and outcomes. To achieve an indication of true performance, the Skillspeak process provides the ultimate in objectivity. Comparison of one’s self-assessment with the opinion of peers forms a very powerful assessment tool if the relative subjectivity of each person’s contribution can be eliminated.

Skillspeak has perfected the alchemy of converting naturally subjective opinion into highly valuable objective measurements. This leads to the identification of areas of performance needing priority attention.

It should be stressed that as an empirical tool, Skillspeak operates in a metrics layer. It does not of itself draw conclusions about the meanings of various results. It does, however, present management with an intelligent mirror, picturing the status of the business environment being studied – in much the same way as a surgeon uses an MRI scan. The excellent pictures afforded allow operations to become faster, safer and more accurate, and have far greater success rates.

Intelligent interpretation is the complementary link here, possibly provided by experts in the field. These can advise on the various results patterns, and lead the effort to diagnose and remedy any exposure to peril highlighted by the tool.


(The challenge for team performance assessments – especially Boards)

My opinion of you is naturally subjective – it has to be, because it is subject to my view of the world.  Some of the subjective factors are:

  • My expectations
  • What else I have seen that serves as a benchmark
  • Whether I like you
  • Whether I think you like me
  • Whether I truly know all you have done
  • Whether I have any misconceptions
  • Whether I have any deep-seated prejudices
  • How much I know about the topic being assessed
  • … And so on

Even if subjective, it is my true opinion of your work. In that sense, it represents fact. This opinion, if given honestly, is still valuable. The perception people have of you may as well be fact, because it drives the way people relate to you.

To make objective sense from the information we gather about your performance you can:

  • Reject it as not being relevant, for whatever reason (at your peril)
  • Accept it, since it agrees with what you are already doing for self-improvement
  • Accept it, and build plans to improve performance
  • Accept it, but plan to represent what you do better, since you actually perform better than others currently realise

Objectivity can be achieved by having solid measurable targets that are easily compared to the performance under scrutiny. This is not always possible, so we must attempt to get as much value as possible from what is available.

Skillspeak Performance Assessments use advanced techniques to isolate valuable objective results from all the information provided. By prioritising these in unique ways through our detailed reporting methodologies, we are able to point you to those areas you will need to fix as a matter of high priority.

Specific ingenious colour coding sorts the objective from the subjective, the critical and important from the ‘nice to have’, the urgent from the casual, the high consensus from the polarised opinion.

The Norman Gap Index is where it all comes together. This exclusive index brings together performance gaps of measurement items and their importance into a single figure, allowing direct comparisons and the opportunity to prioritise actions.