Rather than continuing to focus on attracting and retaining talent within their own companies, these firms could create enormous value by developing the management techniques required to mobilize and leverage specialized talent wherever it resides. This would require building scalable talent networks encompassing a broad range of smaller, more specialized companies.
The Indian IT services companies have been very effective in building relationships with technology product companies on a global scale. But when it comes to expanding their own IT services, they immediately focus inward. If they don’t have the capability already in place, they may go out and acquire a smaller, more specialized company, but their instinct is to bring the capability in house.
As an alternative, these companies could take their emerging skills in partnering with technology product companies and apply them to building talent networks to mobilize and leverage large numbers of more specialized service providers. The real power would be to master the techniques required to accelerate the development of talent across such a distributed network of partners, thus creating stronger incentives for partners to join the network. Focusing on this challenge would create an opportunity to innovate in “Learning 2.0” capabilities, moving from traditional training programs to more distributed learning platforms and ecologies.
Hagel's advice applies equally well to Pittsburgh. The competition for talent is fierce and Pittsburgh is struggling to foster in-migration relative to other regions. Few cities have the diaspora population that Pittsburgh enjoys and the connection with the homeland is special (e.g. Steelers Nation) when considering other places in the United States.
I recommend cultivating "Learning 2.0 capabilities" among the Burgh Diaspora, developing the kind of talent network that Hagel imagines for the Indian IT industry.