Complexity Rocks!

Complexity Rocks!

That’s right!

Folks this is where the smart people are placing themselves as we move into the middle of the second decade of the 21st century.

But what in the name of Herbert Hoover does it mean? And is it new?

Well, let’s look at what we’re seeing here as the wheels of corporate wisdom turn and turn and with them the profiles of people churn and churn.

Let’s think firstly at talent, what do we mean by this?  Is it just the people who can do the job for you? No, of course not, we should never confuse real talent with hard-working proles,  that’s the role of the public sector. If you’re really out there and your ass (and mortgage) is on the line you don’t just need the guy/gal who can “do the job” for you, what you need is the person who can do it better than your competitor.

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The talent you need is the person who can out-think and out-grow your competitors and his or her talent.  Does this mean they work hard?  Hell no!  I’ve never met a really hard-working talented person in my life!  They’re talented because they don’t have to work hard and they don’t have to work hard because they’re talented. People who work really hard can be very successful and valuable but not because they’re talented – because they’re just smart enough to know they’re not talented and that they have to work hard. That’s all!

The power of really, genuinely honest-to-God talented people, their magic, lies in being able to shift the ground of corporate expectation with just a few well chosen, and usually self-interested words.  What do I mean? I mean that when they see something is too complex they can make it simple enough to manage and understand for others, and, even more importantly, when they can see that something is too simple, they can turn it into something complex enough to give their peers plenty of leverage and entry points to get engaged in finding solutions and plotting a course forward.

This is real talent.

The guy working late on a Saturday night, he’s not your talent, unless you consider ass-kissing a talent. Let him carry on working late on Saturda’s, after all someone’s gotta kiss ass, but don’t think for a second that this guy is your talent because you let this knucklehead actually do some strategic planning and you’ll be harvesting plastic bottles from dumpsters within  18 months.

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But what about complexity? Surely “managing complexity” is what we want our talent to do? Isn’t that what they’re good at? Yea, they’re good at managing complexity because it’s usually a complexity of their own making!  Don’t get me wrong, complexity happens no matter what you do, but you can’t let it emerge organically from the collective fumblings of your company’s knuckleheads.  You need your talent to be creating complexity with deliberation and forethought, if they’re not the ones defining it, setting its outer limit and explaining it to others, then they’re just not the talent a strong company needs. They’re fakers and should be working in your communications department where their skills can actually help.

That’s it for today folks but I can guarantee this is a topic I’ll be coming back to soon. Nothing gets me more passionate than talent and complexity!

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