In an October 2006 cover story, “The Search for Talent,” The Economist reported that finding the right people is the single biggest problem in business today.
THESE are heady days for most companies. Profits are up. Capital is footloose and fancy-free. Trade unions are getting weaker. India and China are adding billions of new cheap workers and consumers to the world economy. This week the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new high.
But talk to bosses and you discover a gnawing worry—about the supply of talent. “Talent” is one of those irritating words that has been hijacked by management gurus. It used to mean innate ability, but in modern business it has become a synonym for brainpower (both natural and trained) and especially the ability to think creatively. That may sound waffly; but look around the business world and two things stand out: the modern economy places an enormous premium on brainpower; and there is not enough to go round.
The best evidence of a “talent shortage” can be seen in high-tech firms. The likes of Yahoo! and Microsoft are battling for the world’s best computer scientists. Google, founded by two brainboxes, uses billboards bearing a mathematical problem: solve it for the telephone number to call. And once you have been lured in, they fight like hell to keep you: hence the growing number of Silicon Valley lawsuits.
Go to the source for more: The search for talent | The Economist
We doubt that surprised most readers. The fact is, virtually every manager struggles to find and hire the talent necessary to drive his or her business forward. We’ve all been there. We’ve all heard the horror stories of the CEO who sank a multibillion-dollar public company, the district manager who allowed his region to fall behind competition, even the executive assistant who couldn’t keep a schedule. Most of us have lived those stories and could add dozens more to the list. Even we have made bad who decisions. A few years back, Geoff and his wife hired a nanny we’ll call Tammy to look after their children. Unfortunately, Geoff had what his six-year-old calls a “space-out moment” and neglected to apply the method this book describes when he hired her. Not many months later, Geoff was on the phone in his home office when he saw his two-year-old running naked down the driveway. He immediately hung up on his client and raced outdoors to stop his daughter before she ran into the street. Fortunately, the FedEx truck was not barreling up the driveway at that moment. Then Geoff went looking for Tammy to find out what had happened. All she could say was, “Well, it’s hard to keep track of all of the kids.” It is, but as Geoff explained to her, that’s exactly what she had been hired to do. Sometimes a who problem can mean life or death.
Smart, Geoff; Street, Randy (2008-08-19). Who: The A Method for Hiring (Kindle Locations 97-110). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.