Throughout its nearly 90 years of history, Hasbro has grown its business with iconic toys like Mr. Potato Head and acquisitions of well-known companies like Parker Brothers and Tonka.

In the 2000s, Hasbro “needed to refocus, shifting from acquisitions to nurturing the cadre of more than 1,000 brands in its portfolio with the goal of total brand immersion, including games, toys, entertainment and housewares.”

How did they do it?  By developing on internal talent.  In this article, we learn how this change in focus enabled Hasbro to identify and capitalize on new markets and strategies.  The approach they took could be right out of the ISPI handbook (if there was one).  Below are some highlights and my thoughts.

In 2003, the company, in partnership with the executive education program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, created the Hasbro Global Leadership Program to bolster the talent pipeline and provide opportunity for high potentials to expand their leadership roles. (ISPI standard #4)

To set the initial curriculum, Tuck professor Vijay Govindarajan, faculty director for the Hasbro program, worked closely with Hasbro’s leadership to identify skill gaps and plot where the company needed to go and the skills needed to get there.

Three things jump out at me here.  First, they had a vision for what they wanted to accomplish (ISPI standard #1 Focus on results).  It appears this was used to stay focused (plot where they needed to go).  Second, they identified skill gaps (ISPI standard #5).  This is huge.  I am sure most of the stakeholders had opinions about how to achieve the goal.  Taking a systematic and systemic approach is a much wiser course.  I hope they didn’t end there.  Identifying gaps in knowledge and attitudes is just as important.  Finally, they prioritized they skill gaps.  Focusing on skills that will achieve their goals will maintain momentum and reduce the likelihood of burnout.

So, what did they come up with?

Modules were mapped out to address global strategy, personal leadership, brand building, emerging markets and ethics. Specific modules included “Changing the Rules of the Global Game: Creating the Future,” “Developing Transcultural Competence,” “Emerging Markets: Challenges and Opportunities,” “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” and “Building the Global Organization of the Future.”

To execute this plan they created “action learning teams.”  These teams would talk “about ways to stimulate out-of-season sales, such as promoting the games business at Easter, leveraging Kids Day in Latin America or Canada’s summer cottage season, or the cultural particulars of emerging markets. In some countries with low per-capita income, it is essential for parents to understand the educational benefits of play.”

Is this approach only good from a corporate perspective?

Of the more than 200 participants since the program started, nearly 20 percent have been promoted or taken on greater responsibilities.

HR will love this approach too because the retention rate of participants is around 90%.

Read the whole thing.  It will only take a few minutes.