Project Talent Development

PM Case Studies

Developing Technology Consultation Skills

A global telecom company, operating in a very competitive market, realizes that it must change quickly or risk losing market share. These days customers rely on their suppliers to take a more consultative approach. So Developing Technology Consultation Skills becomes a priority.

Mobile telecommunications is one of the fastest changing technology areas today and the Japanese market is especially demanding. The customers require very high levels of technical performance, short times to market, and very low prices. The competition has also been getting tougher as a few key suppliers fight over shrinking margins. This situation has caused one global supplier to change its approach from a product portfolio-driven approach to a solution-provider approach as a way of strengthening relationships with their key customers. Another factor at work was the changing expectations of the customers – their market has also become so competitive and their margins so slim that they increasingly rely on their suppliers to take a more consultative approach with them, in effect partnering with them, to lead them to success.


The problem was that this supplier was not designed as a consultative solution provider, and positions in key customer-facing roles did not even exist for people with leadership, innovation, and consultative skills. This made the change even more challenging to implement.  So when one major mobile network operator decided to upgrade its network to LTE (Long Term Evolution, AKA 4G), the company recognized that this project would be a perfect test-case to develop and then demonstrate to the customer their new capabilities.


A global telecom manufacturer and service provider with over 1000 employees in Japan.

Solution – Technology Consultation Skill-Building Program

The solution had three main goals:

  1. Change the organization to become more customer-oriented as a way of strengthening customer relationships and implement a high performance culture as a way of reducing cost and time to market.
  1. Develop the talent to become more proactive, innovative, consultative, creative, independent and stronger leaders. In other words, develop their Consultation Skills.
  1. Firmly establish the talent development process in side the organization and integrate it with the succession management plan.

The management realized that normal organizational change practices would not work in the short time available, and that traditional instructor led training would not produce the behavioral changes required. They therefore chose a more innovative and fast-paced approach.

A strategy-driven succession management plan was drafted and executed. Hi potentials were identified. An on-the-job talent development program was designed with managers as mentors and clear performance criteria set and agreed by all. Managers were trained in coaching methodologies and feedback. And the whole program was managed by one key individual.


  1. The LTE roll-out project was completed as planned and the customer was very satisfied.
  2. The project earned profit margin as planned.
  3. The managers developed excellent coaching skills.
  4. The high potentials all exceeded their development targets.
  5. The project team demonstrated excellent team work.
  6. The talent development pilot program was a success and smoothly integrated with existing succession management processes, raising the overall succession management maturity level of the organization.

Conclusion (and Lessons Learned)

When an organization absolutely must develop its talent and must do it quickly – taking them off the job for workshops with external trainers is the worst thing to do. True talent development happens on the job, when facing extreme challenges.

Succession management maturity is achieved by fully integrating a successful on the job talent development program.

This post is also available in: Japanese