It has been almost 25 years since McKinsey & Co. introduced the term \u201ctalent war\u201d to the world. For almost a quarter of a century CIOs have been locked in a Sisyphean battle to attract and retain the IT talent necessary to create competitive advantage.\n\nEvery year, \u201ctalent\u201d is one of the top challenges facing IT organizations. Every year, lack of critical IT skills is blamed for failure to deliver the full promise of IT investments. Is there something CIOs can do to transcend this endless cycle of lament?\n\nTalent matters \u2014 but is \u2018war\u2019 the right metaphor?\n\nIn his 2001 best-seller, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don\u2019t, author Jim Collins reminds us that \u201cGreat vision without great people is irrelevant.\u201d In The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential, from 2017, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explains that \u201cAll organizations have problems and they nearly always concern people.\u201d Having the right people, with the right skills, working on the right tasks is the key to future success.\n\nA recent report from Korn Ferry Institute predicts that by 2030 the tech industry labor-skill shortage will reach 4.3 million (85 million worker short fall for all skills), costing the global economy $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. \n\nYet, despite these projections, in today\u2019s globalized and digitized environment, where talent can be sourced from almost anywhere, shouldn\u2019t IT leaders be able to de-escalate the \u201cWar for Talent\u201d?\n\nI am not certain \u201cwar\u201d is the appropriate metaphor for dealing with the massively complex human capital predicament CIOs are working through. While this point may seem pedantic on its surface, given that many IT leaders carry the metaphor through to their hiring and retention strategies, it is anything but.\n\nWar, for example, implies there are \u201cenemies.\u201d Who are the enemies in this \u201cwar\u201d? Other companies? Demographic? Employees? A lack of financial resources? The traditional answer would be your hiring competitors, which, with every company becoming in some sense a technology company, is just about every business out there. How do you construct a campaign against that?\n\nUnfortunately, the \u201cwar\u201d metaphor, and its tendency toward dualities, is pervasive in hiring strategies and approaches. The we\/they, manager\/staff, company\/employee dualism, for example, is dysfunctional. The concept of thinking of employees as \u201cenemies\u201d needing to be captured via pay packages and \u201cemployee experience\u201d to labor toward some seemingly arbitrarily corporate financial objective is ludicrous and unsustainable. Partnership \u2014 finding a mutually agreeable path forward is a better way of thinking about the future of work.\n\nRe-thinking work management and motivation\n\nRight now, many employees and employers are not on the same page regarding productivity and performance measurement, pay, and commuting and remote work issues.\n\nIn a recent survey of more than 20,000 people, Microsoft found that 87% of employees say they are productive at work, while only 12% of leaders have confidence that their workers are being productive.\n\nMoreover, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Every executive I have spoken with has a friend who knows a colleague employed in technology enjoying a six-figure-plus salary while they essentially ski in Idaho, snorkel in Bali, or sip margaritas on the Yucat\u00e1n Peninsula.\n\nIn a world of increasing pay transparency, employee outcome transparency \u2014 determining every employee\u2019s contribution \u2014 is required as well. But this doesn\u2019t mean going as far as one overzealous manager who required two meetings every day: one at the start of the day to decide what everyone should do and one at the end to determine what was actually accomplished. And we are seeing the downside of top-down exhortations to \u201cwork hard or else\u201d unfold at Twitter.\n\nInstead, CIOs need to implement a performance management system that prevents slackers from abusing the system while at the same time stimulating the better angels of an employee\u2019s creativity and work ethic. \n\nThis means creating a culture where people want to work and establishing systems for work that people want to do.\n\nBuilding a workplace that works\n\nMany years ago, some IT organizations embraced the mantra, \u201cWe suck less,\u201d by which they meant: We may not be the very best in the world, but we certainly aren\u2019t the worst.\n\nThe good news for IT hiring managers is that a lot of places that employed lots of talented IT professionals are starting to \u201csuck more.\u201d Tech giants in Silicon Valley are exfoliating staff at rates never seen before. More than 100,000 tech workers have been returned via layoffs to the talent pool.\n\nI suggest CIOs commit themselves to making IT a great place to work for all employees paying particular attention to not just to being a good place for women to work but being the best place for them to work. This would include investments in childcare, for example, as well as better maternity leave policies and support for perimenopause and menopause counseling and support services, given that more than 1 million American women enter menopause each year, and one in ten women employed during menopause leave their job due to symptoms.\n\nThis also means improving employee experience by implementing hassle-free workplace technology, which will be a great way to attract and retain quality IT staff. According to the Virgin Media O2 Business and Censuswide Battle for Talent survey, 72% of workers are frustrated at least once a week by the poor quality or lack of business technology available to them, and 48% say that poor-quality business technology makes them more likely to resign from their jobs within the next six months.\n\nA new metaphor for talent acquisition\n\nCreating a workplace culture where candidates want to work and employees want to stay will assuredly give you an advantage in the talent market, but so too will embracing a new central metaphor for your talent acquisition strategy.\n\nHigher-ed inadequacies and demographic realities \u2014 a million fewer college students enrolled in 2021 than in 2019 \u2014 have created a human capital pipeline unable to deliver a reliable stream of fit-for-purpose technology professionals. \n\nRather than \u201cbattle-plan\u201d how to \u201cwin\u201d given this faltering human capital pipeline, the only rational alternative is to create your own talent supply chain. Partnering with organizations such as Year Up and NPower, working with universities, and establishing apprenticeships are just a few of the ways to take your IT organization out of the \u201cbattle theater\u201d and into a better place \u2014 one less ruled by the mentality of war and instead guided by supply chain imperatives: integration and orchestration.