iPhone 4 – $200. Cardboard Box – Priceless.

After two pre-dawn trips to retail Mecca, I became the proud owner of the much-coveted iPhone 4. It’s the first smart phone I’ve ever had, and its innovative design, personalized features, and functionality leave me impressed. Now I’m free from my desk and laptop when I want to check e-mails from work, catch up on online banking, or just goof off on Facebook. It would appear that I’ve finally become one of the “cool” people. Or maybe not.

Here’s the problem – I don’t have a case for my new phone. Although a few cases are available for the iPhone 4, they are less effective protection than the one I’d prefer, which won’t be available for anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. So while I wait, I’ve relegated my slick new phone to the box it came in, a temporary case to protect it from bumps, scratches, and my two kids, either of whom could strike at any moment. It seems ironic that such an investment is limited to the protection offered by a cardboard box. When my preferred case finally does become available, the condition of my iPhone will determine whether I made a good or bad choice. Either way, it’s a gamble.

Unfortunately, many organizations throughout the world make similar gambles, only with much greater investments and potential losses. Every organization is after the latest “iPhone 4” available to them, which may include new trends in assessment-based selection, High Potential identification, or other such programs. However, after investing considerable resources into selecting and otherwise identifying these individuals, some organizations don’t make further investments to protect their purchases. So instead of investing in assessment-based development programs to coach new hires, provide insights into derailing behaviors, or groom top talent, these organizations gamble on employees developing themselves. When employees take the initiative to develop critical competencies, the gamble works out. But when the employee fails to reach their full potential – or worse, turns over – the gamble fails.

Whether it’s on-the-go access to technology or a better solution for identifying and selecting organizational talent, making significant investments across personal and organizational levels delivers certain advantages. However, if we don’t protect those investments, we risk significant damage or loss.

Come to think of it, maybe I should buy that temporary case after all.

Blaine Gaddis
International Research Manager
Hogan Assessment Systems