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Dan Heath and Chip Heath explain why you should grow your next generation of talent, not recruit it.
The business world is obsessed with "talent" -- hiring it, retaining it, rewarding it. We're urged to "get the right people on the bus." (And, really, what better symbol of the high-performing enterprise than a bus?) The metaphor implies that good workers are portable units of competence. They can bring their talent to your bus or your competitor's bus, but ultimately, it's their prize to bestow.
What if talent is more like an orchid, thriving in certain environments and dying in others? It's an interesting question, full of nature-versus-nurture overtones; we could debate it endlessly. But Boris Groysberg, a professor at Harvard Business School, has spoiled the debate with an unsporting move. He's gathered some data. And what he discovered forces us to rethink the argument.
In his new book, Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, Groysberg studies a group of professionals renowned for the portability of their talent -- Wall Street research analysts. Analysts are a hybrid of researchers and pundits; they study public companies and write recommendations about whether to buy or sell their stocks.
To do that, analysts need good research and writing skills, and more important, they need great relationships with top executives (to get the straight dope) and with reporters (to spread their conclusions). This would seem to be the ideal free-agent job because when analysts switch firms, they retain their skills and their network. In fact, there's a common saying on Wall Street: "When an analyst moves from one firm to another, the only thing that changes is the letterhead."...