As one of my New year’s resolutions I have decided that I am going to try to walk to work more often. The 2 mile stroll will give me time to focus, centre and listen to all the podcasts and TED talks that I’ve not had time to listen to. This week I came across a great talk by Margaret Heffernan about an experiment by William Muir.
Muir, an eminent Biologist conducted an experiment where he created 2 groups of chickens and watched them for 6 generations, monitoring their egg production and interactions. One group was left to their own devices and the other group was selectively bred for maximum egg production. At the end of the experiment the ‘control’ group production had increased over time and the ‘selectively’ bred group had only 3 survivors; the missing having been pecked to death by their comrades in the war for supremacy!
Traditionally this has been quoted by business minds as a lesson in the dangers of high achievers and how a team of highly functioning people can be more destructive than constructive. In my opinion, I see another lesson here also; the group left to their own devices actually increased their own production over time, surpassing the ‘super’ group – maybe the correct support could have increased production even more.
This brings me back to teamwork in general and how (as I’ve blogged about previously) that diverse teams, whatever that diversity looks/feels/sounds like are the most successful.
So, should we carefully manage talent, treat it as a destructive force, with no longevity and a quick burnout? No, talent isn’t a cardboard cut-out, 1 size fits all, it doesn’t come with a flashing neon sign (well not always). Talent comes in a variety of forms and strengths – individual, and team talent are vital for success. Appropriate leadership and support of all talent (whether inherently visible or yet to shine) is the way forward for all organisations. Come on let’s not forget on our less obvious talent that is keeping us moving whilst the ‘high achievers’ are pecking each other to death.
Thank you for reading and please do let me know your thoughts. Natalie