The Power of Talent-Focused Insights in Pre-Deal Diligence

Unlocking Value in Private Equity: A New Approach

In today’s fiercely competitive private equity landscape, the need for comprehensive pre-deal diligence has never been greater. Traditional evaluations have long emphasized financial metrics, operational efficiencies, and market positioning. However, our latest white paper, “Enhancing Pre-Deal Diligence with Talent-Focused Insights,” highlights a critical yet often overlooked component: the assessment of talent within potential acquisition targets. By focusing on the people who drive business success, private equity firms can unlock substantial value and gain a competitive edge.

Why Talent Matters

The white paper delves into the importance of evaluating leadership teams and their potential to drive future performance. Key insights include:

  • The concept of “CEO alpha” and its extension to the entire leadership team
  • How the right leadership team can generate a 2.5 times return on initial investment
  • The significant impact of leadership on investment returns, contributing over 50% according to a 2022 survey of private equity general partners

By assessing the intrinsic strengths and weaknesses of leadership teams, private equity firms can better predict future performance and align their investment strategies accordingly.

Practical Applications and Benefits

Incorporating talent-focused insights into pre-deal diligence offers numerous benefits. Our white paper outlines best practices and real-world case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach. Highlights include:

  • Improved risk assessment and mitigation strategies through comprehensive talent evaluations
  • Identification of growth opportunities and potential roadblocks
  • Enhanced post-deal integration and value creation plans

**UPDATED 7/22 – This White Paper is AVAILABLE! The below form will bring you to the white paper**

Stay tuned for the release of our white paper to explore these insights in detail and learn how Talent Sequencing’s methodology can transform your investment strategy and maximize your portfolio’s potential. Sign up to be the first to receive our in-depth analysis and actionable strategies designed to elevate your private equity investments.

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The Next Generation of Company Goal Setting

As new frameworks like total quality management, lean, & Six Sigma revolutionized manufacturing, and the Agile framework took technology development to the next level, so too has evolved “company operating systems” to now help manage a company’s performance, not just manufacturing or software development.

Evolution of Company Performance Management: From MBO to OKRs and EOS

Once upon a time, back in the last century, a business problem began to spur solutions. The problem? It was devilishly difficult to push out across an organization’s business goals and make them “actionable.” There were precious few techniques to measure and manage waypoints across the year other than via financial results, which were almost always “forensic” or backward-looking. Once a company’s annual budgets were established for the coming year, and quarterly forecasts created by the leadership team to estimate revenue targets and associated spending to support those revenue targets, it was left to lower-level managers to figure out the action plans, strategies, and tactics to deliver on “the budget.” Two of the earliest solutions to the operating and management problem? Creation of the MBO framework and later in the century a second often referred to with another 3-letter acronym, the BSC. Both promised to offer a bridle to help manage and steer the company’s horsepower toward financial budgets and goals using a more real-time methodology, an operating framework that promised a higher probability of actually meeting or (gulp) exceeding company targets on a more frequent and reliable basis. A bit more on each of these:

Management by Objectives (MBO): Developed by Peter Drucker in the 1950s, MBO is one of the earliest goal-setting frameworks designed to improve organizational performance through clear and agreed-upon objectives between management and employees. The focus is on setting measurable goals that are achievable, realistic, and time-bound, with regular reviews and appraisals to assess progress.

Balanced Scorecard (BSC): Developed by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in the early 1990s, the Balanced Scorecard is a strategic planning and management system that organizations use to communicate what they are trying to accomplish, align day-to-day work with strategy, prioritize projects, products, and services, and measure and monitor progress towards strategic targets. BSC focuses on balancing financial and non-financial objectives to achieve long-term goals.

But then, as the 20th century faded into the rearview, almost as if born of a fever dream spurred by the relentless human need for progress, innovation once again triumphed in an effort to create a “2.0” solution for company performance management. The result? Two new frameworks were born, paying homage to their framework ancestors if only by the use of yet another set of 3-letter acronyms—OKRs and EOS.

Company goal-setting frameworks like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) are designed to help organizations set clear objectives and systematically achieve them, thereby improving performance and alignment. These frameworks have evolved over time, influenced by changing business environments and the need for more dynamic and inclusive approaches to management. History Behind OKRs and EOS

OKRs: The OKR framework was initially developed by Andy Grove at Intel during the 1970s and later popularized by John Doerr, who introduced it to Google. OKRs aim to help organizations set ambitious goals with measurable results, encouraging teams and individuals to stretch beyond their comfort zones. The framework emphasizes alignment and transparency, allowing everyone in the organization to see what others are working on and how it contributes to the company’s overarching objectives.

EOS: The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) was created by Gino Wickman and outlined in his book “Traction.” EOS is designed to help small to medium-sized businesses achieve greater operational efficiency and business success. The system focuses on six key components: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction, aiming to align all aspects of the business to work cohesively towards common goals. So, what of these new company operating systems and their promise, effectiveness, and impact? Well, thanks to software, these COS frameworks (company operating systems) can be deployed across all employees, not just leadership or management ranks. The individual employee often has agency (and responsibility) for their own mini set of COS deliverables. And now they can be tracked not just monthly or quarterly, but weekly, daily, or via real-time COS dashboards run by software sitting in the cloud with pleasing user interfaces that are much easier to use, interpret, and harness for course-correction. No longer was it necessary to perpetuate the past tradition of having the finance department and senior leadership as the only ones with knowledge of the performance of the business, historically measured by periodic reports called “budgets” that reported on actual versus forecast. Now sales, marketing, and more could see what is moving the needle (and what wasn’t), report out on how they’re doing against their big quarterly deliverables and goals (called “rocks” in the EOS framework), and pivot with greater and speedier agility when needed to course-correct their way to the larger corporate bogey. One last frontier remained to be crossed however in bringing these COS to life. In the vocabulary of the management consulting industry, there is more than just “process” or technology involved in hitting goals. There’s a third word in the well-worn phrase that ends with “[___ ], process & technology.” This third pillar of business success? “People” of course. Ah yes, not only is this the third pillar, but note that it’s listed first in the 3-pillar management adage. And it’s the longest pole required to hold the company’s tent up. It’s also one of the most difficult to get right. So, what does support does this third “people” pillar require? Master facilitators of course. Just like in Six Sigma where you have different “belts” akin to those awarded in the martial arts, often beginning with white and ending with black, to run a COS successfully there needs to be a black-belt equivalent with a phalanx of lower belts strategically distributed and made accountable across the organization—functionally, geographically, layer- and level-distributed from individual contributor through supervisory, managerial, and beyond.

Reach out to [email protected] if you’d like to learn more about how we can help match you with the right COS framework as well as master facilitators to help make the dream of consistent and repeatable company high performance a reality.

Fast-Tracking New Leader Onboarding: Crafting Your ‘Working With Me’ Guide

Introducing the Leadership User’s Manual for Your New Team

[Credits: Claire Hughes Johnson, former COO at Stripe and executive at Google, author of Scaling People, Ilad Gil, “High Growth Handbook”]

In this guide, we’ll delve into the concept of creating a “Working with Me” or User’s Guide, inspired by the insights of Claire Hughes Johnson, who developed this approach during her tenure at Google and Stripe.

The Problem & Dilemma for Newly Hired Leaders & Their Teams

Imagine this scenario: You’re either a new leader joining a company or an existing team facing a new executive. While there may be an initial meeting, it often takes weeks or even months of working closely together to truly understand how to collaborate effectively. This period is fraught with ups and downs, confusion, miscommunication, unmet expectations, and potential disappointment. Such challenges can strain relationships and hinder productivity, leaving both the individual and the company worse off.

But is there a better way?

Many leaders facing similar situations have embraced the idea of creating “User’s Manuals for Working with Me.” Let’s explore this concept further, including its origins, variations, templates, and potential pitfalls.

Background on the Genesis and History of This Concept & Tool

Claire Hughes Johnson, drawing from her experiences as a VP at Google and later as COO at Stripe, introduced the concept of a personal “working with me” guide to manage rapid team expansion. As companies like Google ballooned from 1,800 to 60,000 employees and Stripe grew from 160 to 7,000 employees, Johnson saw the need to streamline communication and expectations within her teams. Her approach aimed to eliminate guesswork in team interactions, fostering a more inclusive and productive work environment from the outset.

The guide, now a cornerstone of her book “Scaling People,” encourages both managers and new hires to outline work preferences, communication styles, and emotional approaches to work. For instance, Johnson detailed her preferred communication channels for different messages, aiming to make implicit expectations explicit and reduce workplace anxiety. By sharing insights into decision-making styles, stress responses, and individual quirks, Johnson’s guide serves as a blueprint for expectations and behaviors, facilitating smoother integration for new hires and adjustments for existing team members.

Moreover, Johnson emphasizes the importance of feedback on these guides, fostering a culture of open dialogue about strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This feedback mechanism supports continuous improvement, retention, and a focus on human aspects amid rapid company growth.

Sample Tool Template

A sample template for the “Working with Me” guide can be found here, which can be filled in online or downloaded as a Word document for offline use.

Pitfalls to Beware of & How to Avoid

While creating a User’s Manual can be beneficial, there are pitfalls to avoid. Some view it skeptically as a means for managers to excuse bad behavior by preemptively acknowledging flaws. To mitigate these concerns, consider the following actions:

  • Enhance self-awareness by engaging in personality assessments such as Hogan, DISC, Myers-Briggs, or Predictive Index.
  • Seek feedback from past team members and close associates to ensure the guide accurately reflects your working style and preferences.
  • Encourage bi-directional communication by inviting team members to create their own manuals, fostering mutual understanding and collaboration.
  • Regularly review and update the manual to reflect changes in working style, technology, and team dynamics.

Remember, the User’s Manual isn’t a one-time endeavor but an evolving document that supports ongoing communication and collaboration within teams.

Building High-Performing Teams: Strategies for Enhanced Collaboration and Productivity

In the modern workplace, the effectiveness of teams plays a critical role in driving organizational success. High-performing teams not only achieve better results but also foster innovation and adaptability. To cultivate such teams, organizations must focus on enhancing collaboration and productivity. One valuable tool in this endeavor is the Quality of Team assessment, which offers insights into team dynamics and performance.

Understanding the Significance of High-Performing Teams

High-performing teams are characterized by their ability to work cohesively towards common objectives, leveraging the diverse skills and perspectives of their members. These teams are not only more productive but also more innovative and resilient in the face of challenges. Therefore, investing in the development of high-performing teams is essential for organizations aiming to thrive in competitive environments.

Leveraging the Quality of Team Assessment

The Quality of Team assessment provides organizations with valuable insights into the strengths and areas for improvement within their teams. By evaluating factors such as communication, collaboration, leadership, and trust, this assessment offers a comprehensive understanding of team dynamics. Organizations can use the findings from this assessment to identify areas where collaboration and productivity can be enhanced.

Key Strategies for Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity

  1. Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly defined roles and responsibilities help minimize confusion and foster accountability within teams. Organizations can use insights from the assessment to identify any ambiguity in roles and take steps to clarify expectations.
  2. Fostering Open Communication: Effective communication is essential for promoting collaboration. Encouraging open dialogue and providing platforms for transparent communication can help teams share ideas, provide feedback, and address concerns effectively.
  3. Promoting Trust and Psychological Safety: Trust is a foundational element of high-performing teams. Organizations can use assessment insights to identify opportunities for building trust among team members, such as fostering mutual respect, honoring commitments, and encouraging vulnerability.
  4. Encouraging Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Collaboration and knowledge sharing are key drivers of team success. Creating opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and facilitating knowledge exchange can enhance team cohesion and performance.
  5. Providing Growth Opportunities: Investing in the development of team members is crucial for fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Organizations can use assessment findings to identify skill gaps and provide relevant training and development opportunities to support individual and collective growth.


Building high-performing teams requires a strategic approach focused on enhancing collaboration and productivity. By leveraging the insights from a Quality of Team assessment, organizations can identify areas for improvement and implement targeted strategies to cultivate strong team dynamics. By fostering clear communication, trust, collaboration, and growth opportunities, organizations can create environments where teams thrive and drive organizational success.

Why Executive Coaching Should Be Your Company’s Top Priority

If the term “executive coach” immediately causes you to think of “fixing a problem”, we’ve got news for you: today is the day your view is going to change. Why? Because its time that executive coaches move out of the remedial perspective and into the spotlight, alongside key specializations and professional coaches, as the true agents of change and performance that they are. Today is the day you’re going to consider how to best put an executive coach to work for your team.

The Benefits of Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is a key ingredient to creating top performing executive teams and individual professionals. We’re on a mission to educate businesses on how they approach coaching, moving it away from remedial or punitive approaches and into the framework of optimizing human talent and quality of executives in a proactive approach for maximizing results.

If you want your employees to be happier, more engaged at work—and ultimately better functioning individual contributors, managers and teams—executive coaching should be an essential part of your approach to development and management.

Additionally, executive coaching is an investment that pays off. It’s a proactive approach to talent management, and it can help ensure your company has the best people in place for success. 

Executive Coaching Use Cases

If you’re not sure whether this applies to your teams, here are some recent engagements where forward-thinking companies leveraged coaching by Talent Sequencing to improve everything from their org structures and teams to their hiring practices:

  1. Establishing an organization design to determine the best structure between product, marketing and engineering. By aligning these departments in the most functional and effective manner, we reduce friction points and prioritize interconnectivity and productivity. Coaching these teams to successful outcomes directly informs the overall performance of the company on the balance sheet and beyond.
  2. Developing high potential technology executives to support their leadership, management and communication skills to drive improved organizational impact. Have a top individual contributor who is poised to move into a higher level role? If you haven’t considered the additional skills required for success, the critical role of coaching may be overlooked until your high potential are floundering. Approaching this with a proactive view will position these transitions for success.
  3. Improving SLT alignment, communication and performance through coaching and psychometric assessments of a 6 member leadership team.
  4. Developing a high performance hiring model to identify key success ingredients possessed by most successful existing sales team members and create an assessment tool to drive team expansion. Using an psychometrics-power approach, we could model the best potential performers and create hiring metrics around them to propel strategic team growth.

The executive coaching process with the leadership team began by identifying their shared goals and aspirations to identify a common pathway. The combination of qualitative and quantitative data and analysis plays a strategic role in the development of coaching initiatives. Then engaging in an ongoing dialogue can guide transitions essential to performance. By leveraging psychometric assessments to learn about how people think and perceive their roles and companies, we can pinpoint key areas for opportunity, improvement and engagement.

Convinced coaching is key to your company or team’s next stage of development? Our coaches are ready to help your maximize your potential.

The Case for Executive Coaching | Talent Sequencing Vision Series

Coaching. A phrase oft wrought with the distinction of self-improvement and positive enhancement. Considered “mission critical” across the realms of sports, entertainment and the like, it is understood to be a key piece of strategy when discussing performance potential and capability.

Yet, when included in the business context, the idealization surrounding coaching swiftly takes on a darker and more pejorative tone. Insofar as coaching business executives, it is often only seen in a remedial light, as a last ditch effort to course correct problems.

Stigma aside, the executive coaching experts at Talent Sequencing have gone to great lengths to reframe the cornerstone concepts underpinning executive coaching—because rather than “fixing” a presupposed “problem”, our approach towards coaching utilizes it in the same framework that top athletes, entertainers, and others assemble teams of specialized coaches to develop into optimal, high performance versions of themselves.

Through Talent Sequencing’s experience, our perspective is that coaching as a remedial approach is entirely shortsighted.  Why should the default setting in the corporate context be “coaching is only for the damaged or broken”? Why shouldn’t it be along the lines of, “Hey, let’s follow the proven paths with what works in the high performance world of professional sports and entertainment, and bring in coaches to improve upon those who already demonstrate the highest ability, talent, and skills, and—in doing so—perhaps we can help them improve even further.” This is akin to the Marcus Buckingham mantra, “focus on improving your strengths,” vs. remediating your weaknesses (  

A typical professional sports team averages more coaches than players on the field. There are head coaches, strength coaches, psychological coaches, conditioning coaches, and strategy coaches. Often there is a ratio of 3 or 4 coaches to every 1 athlete when you take into consideration all the experts brought in to work on performance. An Olympic athlete has an arsenal of coaches on which they can draw.

In our approach at Talent Sequencing, we believe “let’s breed more Olympic corporate athletes & teams” is the right way to handle executive coaching. Can you imagine what would happen to business growth and productivity if we focused on energy on making the top performers and top potential—even better?  Eric Schmidt, the vaunted former Google CEO and now Chair, confessed the value of coaching for him and his Google mandate with great candor in this video interview:

In our next post, we will discuss the key arguments for executive coaching at this level. We encourage you to share your thoughts with us as well.

Surprising Improvement in Culture Health with This Heat Map

How can you tell if your company’s culture is healthy? It might be hard to answer that question, but there is one thing that you should know for sure: it’s not enough to simply ask the employees–especially not in the age of distributed, remote workforces. That’s why we created the Distributed Culture Heatmap – a survey tool that creates a heat map of potential problem areas across distributed cultures in order to help leadership and coaching course correct and strengthen where necessary.

In many situations, companies are flying blind when they try to assess and analyze their company cultures. Surveys? OK, but how? Feedback loops? Sure, but are they being honest? Sprinkle in surprise departures by key employees or an overwhelmed HR department in the new virtual environment, and you’re on the precipice of company culture disaster in the virtual world.

What’s the solution to our “new normal” workplace concerns? Distributed culture monitoring. The idea is to create a heat map of potential problem areas, using respondents from all over the company (and even outside it), in order to help leadership and coaching course correct and strengthen where necessary.

The company culture monitoring survey tool we’re discussing here, DCH, creates a heat map for potential problem areas which can then be analyzed by leadership, and leveraged to find opportunities to infuse coaches, development, and support where needed.

So what happens when your heatmap spots problem areas? What are some culture problems that may be creeping up?

  • Is your company’s culture is too lax?
  • Do you have a high turnover rate, especially in key positions?
  • Are people not working as hard or are they overworked
  • Do employees feel connected and engaged with their counterparts?

DCH can help by providing leadership with the data to address and eliminate these problems. This will lead to far-reaching, long term improvements from improving client retention to expanding operations and teams. It will also help support future remote and distributed culture plans so you can offer your teams the flexibility they desire without compromising your company’s efficiency.

Top Coaching Recommendations for Executives | Talent Sequencing Vision Series

  • When Individual Executive Coaching Should Be Considered
    • While onboarding a new executive hire into a new organization
    • When existing high performance executives are looking to move to the next level of learning & performance
    • When existing executives are require new skills as the company moves from one stage of growth to another
  • Individual executive coaching has 4 popular common coaching focuses. Coaching executives in relation to:
    • Themselves.
    • Their superior(s)
    • Peer(s)
    • Subordinates
  • Some great self-help management coaching publications for managers and leaders. All below address how a manager or leader can improve their effectiveness and supercharge positive impact on co-workers, regardless of direction of focus:
  • Executive team coaching is different—there are unique requirements vis-a-vis individual executive coaching
    • Team coaching carries with it the intrinsic goal of making the “whole greater than the sum of its parts.”
    • Team coaching fuses together collective objectives instead of individual ones, with the primary focus on business unit or company goals.
    • Research such as “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” are the basis for this sort of team coaching (links in bibliography below)
  • Key considerations for individual executive coaching prospects include:
    • Most importantly, willingness to accept coaching—often referred to as the “attitude” variable. 
    • If a candidate has very low EI/EQ (emotional intelligence), it is probably they’ll hit a ceiling before intended performance goals are achieved.
    • Ability to commit time. Coaching time requires prioritization rather than risking subordination to other urgent business priorities, otherwise progress is unlikely to be made.
  • What kind of time commitment is required?
    • For individuals, there is often a minimum monthly or weekly commitment depending upon goals.
    • For teams this can evolve differently, with an intense kick-off or multi-day retreat for the parties involved and then with a recurring cadence of team and individual meetings over many months.
  • There are coaching “tools” that can help map areas of existing strength and future growth. From personality profiling at the lightest level (think DISC or Myers-Briggs MBTI), to more expansive profiling tools such as Gallup’s StrengthsFinder or Hogan psychometric instruments.
  • There are coaching certifications, such as the ICF (International Coaching Federation), which is the recognized standards body and certification entity. More at However, many coaches, both team coaches and individual executive coaches, may have a PhD in clinical psychology in addition to or instead of an ICF certification.
  • Selecting a coach who is most likely to be a strong fit takes many things into consideration. Like hiring any other professional advisor, it is important to explore several candidates to get a better understanding of what feels like a good fit. Key indicators include:
    • Trust—Can you establish a nonjudgmental, trust-driven relationship with the coach?
    • Vulnerability—Can you be vulnerable with the coach, or will you feel like you always have to put forth your “best side”?
    • Location—If it is important to the executive to have in person/face to face meetings, establish whether coaching sessions will all be in person, hybrid of in person and phone/video, or via virtual means only. Keep in mind that many platforms have switched their standard course given the pandemic, but there really is no “right answer” to this question.  However, keep in mind that coaches will typically travel to “players.”  Therefore, it is not necessary or advisable to prioritize those who are local.  Find the best coach first, and then figure out the logistics of meeting cadence and virtual/in-person later.
  • Some content & reading resources may be valuable to you while you’re exploring coaching. Consider reviewing the following:

ELIMINATE FIRST DATE BEHAVIORS | 2021 Talent Sequencing Success Series

FACT #5: Interviewing & assessing executive candidates in 2020 got a whole lot more difficult when forced to do so remotely  
For many, it felt like 2 out of 3 legs of the interviewing stool got cut off, leaving the interviewer precariously teetering on one spindle, off balance and unable to trust what they were seeing through a video camera on the other side of the now virtual interview table. How is the interviewer to get beyond “first date best behavior” and more clearly see how a candidate might behave a week, month or even a year into their new role? As if it isn’t hard enough to assess for this in the physical , companies and hiring authorities in 2020 were forced to do virtually all of their interviewing by video, replacing physical with digital, replacing 3 dimensions with 1. And—since our 5 senses were now reduced to 2— the question arose around how to bridge over that loss, and if/what tools could be used to replace

Resolution #5: Find, test & deploy a psychometric assessment instrument to help identify personality “derailers” that may exist within a candidate’s behavioral profile. 

What is a psychometric assessment? 

Based on the “5 Factor Model” and accompanying body of more than 50 years of data & research, Talent Sequencing’s Team Fit Analysis— — is the best tool we’ve been able to create, and is also administered & interpreted by a credentialed PhD psychologist to ensure executive candidates aren’t trying to “game the system.” For more on the history and development of the Big 5, see (

Interested in testing a 5 Factor Model? Test drive the Little Big 5 at Talent Sequencing at no cost.

FOLLOW THE RESEARCH | 2021 Talent Sequencing Success Series

For our latest, we’re letting the experts at Vistage handle the 4th resolution as presented by their Chief Research Officer Joe Galvin and simply recommending that you “follow the research”.

FACT #4: Hiring and Recruiting will be the #1 decision the C-Suite will have to face in 2021  
According to the Vistage Organization and its Chief Research Officer Joe Galvin, hiring, recruitment and sourcing is the most important challenge facing executives in 2021. 

Resolution #4: Prioritize your talent strategy for 2021. A well-crafted strategy will tackle the challenges of virtual recruiting, selection and onboarding, incorporate a comprehensive assessment for skills as well as culture fit, and a keen understanding of which are the right people for the right seats. Finally quantitative and qualitative data points will help keep your hiring success on track if you acknowledge the critical importance recruitment will have on 2021.