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Sandy Ogg September 5 2019 6 min read

Would you cast Stallone as Forrest Gump?

Sandy Ogg and Shefali Salwan discuss how HR leaders can elevate their function by understanding the value of getting the right talent in critical roles.


I've often heard in the past 25 years that those of us in HR don't have a seat on the table. We're not really business leaders. We're just serving leaders.

If we want this old conversation to die a quick and painless death, HR leaders need to be able to explain what our new role is and how we add to the value capture process. At that point, no one is going to question why HR professionals or human capital professionals are not in the same league as other business leaders.

I'm very excited about the new remit that we are giving ourselves, and it's a powerful remit.


There's a level of sophistication required to articulate the critical roles then show how they connect to the value the organization is trying to deliver. Business leaders need to understand how much time and effort is required to select the right talent for particular roles.

If we think about the entertainment industry, it can help clarify what we mean by critical roles. One of the examples that I talk about frequently is comparing a film franchise called Rocky to another very different film called Forrest Gump. These, by any measure, are highly successful business endeavors, and if we ask, "Why?" I'd respond, "Well, it's because of the critical roles."

We need to ask, "What are the roles that are connected to that success?"

On the one hand, you have the character of Rocky, and on the other hand, you have Forrest Gump. Those are key roles, and they need to be filled with the right talent. If we were to cast Sylvester Stallone as Forrest Gump, that would not make for a successful franchise. It's hard even to imagine. You might say, "Well, the value would not be delivered because the combination of the role and the talent was just not right." So the value coaching process performed by the casting director requires thinking about a complex dynamic to deliver the right combination. That's an enormous role and not one the casting director would take lightly.

If we look at professional sports, we see a significant amount of time and effort put into uncovering who is going to be the number one draft pick. It's not random. It's analytical. It's evidence-based.

They look at their character and their background. The stakeholders interview people. There's a lot of depth and detail that goes into making the talent selection, and it's not as simple as, "Well, let's meet them or let's watch them a couple of times." The coaches and owners need to understand everything about the player, how they fit into the team, and how they fit into the system they already have. What kind of role are we likely to put this person in? What sort of a development plan are we going to implement for them to achieve their full potential? How do we get the return on investment?

Entertainment and sports are business ventures that rely upon powerful roletalent combinations to win. The Value Coaching they execute is at a level far beyond what most organizations do.

In many organizations, the key roles are even more valuable. Imagine a company is selecting a CEO to run a business with an investment of 800 or 900 million dollars of capital. If the stakeholders are looking for that capital to get three or four times the return, this becomes a multi-billion dollar talent choice. And in the past companies have done it in a "Gee, good guy," kind of way. It's crazy.

Would you cast just any "good guy" to play the role of Rocky?


Sandy Ogg’ founder, Sandy Ogg has spend 30+ years working and learning with CEOs around the world. His experience and the insights he’s gained through this work have informed the methodology.