Business

How talented are you at spotting talent?

Talent: How to determine motivation, creativity, and winners around the world

by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross (St. Martin’s Press, 2022)

“You can help the world a lot by being a better talent judge.” So let’s say Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross in their new book, Talent: How to determine motivation, creativity, and winners around the world.

Cowen (a renowned writer and economics professor) and Gross (an entrepreneur and investor, and not related to Daniel Gross, who edited strategy+business) believes that the most valuable and least understood resource needed for today’s dynamic growth is talent– the untapped potential of intelligent individuals with the capacity for self-improvement. And that this important dojo is often obscured by what they define as the now-common bureaucratic method of spotting high-potential employees, based on safe, utopian and ultimately unscrupulous methods. suffocating.

That’s why they crave a better way to find and hire the right mindset individuals to unlock the potential in today’s economy. In other words, they are seeking to reach “those who generate new ideas, start new organizations, develop new methods of execution on known products, lead intellectual or philanthropy or inspire others with their own presence, leadership, and charisma, regardless of context. These are all people with a gift for improving the world by re-imagining the future as a different and better place.”

Such “rare, transformative talent” is often underrepresented in today’s economy, they write, leading to costly misallocation of talent away from where it is needed most. Cowen and Gross focused on finding these unrecognized, misplaced stars. Dissatisfied with traditional methods of finding new hires based on a secure, flawed approach “seeking to minimize errors and losses, and… above all by consensus”, they drive the action. Looking for more open talent.

They say: “Identifying underrated talent is one of the most effective ways to give yourself an individual or organizational advantage. (They also show hiring trends for innovative positions and high-growth venture ventures often run by private equity or funded through venture capital.)

Identifying underrated talent is one of the most effective ways to give yourself an individual or organizational advantage. “

The Authors’ New Guide is an insightful – albeit sometimes frustrating – book that can improve your ability to spot and hire individuals who will develop their capabilities and help your business. your development. Talent offers thoughtful ways to gauge the fledgling potential of candidates. In addition to native intelligence (which the authors, in fact, discount as a hiring criterion), employers should find out how well an individual practices self-improvement, they say.

Both offer some wise tactics for assessing the potential talent of a potential employer. For example, they want to ask candidates, “What are the open tabs in your browser right now?” as a means of discovering their interests and habits. “The best performers don’t stop practicing for too long,” they assert, noting that a candidate’s pursuit reveals more relevant data than people’s stories of past work. and can also track an individual’s self-improvement. Cowen and Gross define these habits as “a path to a continuous mix of learning and performance.”

Authors are at their best when they challenge prevailing wisdom and offer simple tips for better recruiting. Placing an initial interview in a public location can provide an opportunity to see how candidates interact with strangers, while also providing other indications of their ability to improvise in new environments. . So it is also possible to ask a belief question, such as, “What is a mainstream or consensus view that you wholeheartedly agree with?” Or, “Do you have a view that is not nearly as implausible?” They also learn ways to profit from online interviews, a modern convention that contains many potentially false clues to personality. One surprising aspect of the book is the authors’ advice not to rely too heavily on a candidate’s ability to articulate clearly in an interview, which they say is often overestimated – “more All by smart people.”

Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the book has to do with the effort to help people dispel their prejudices about gender and disability. The authors challenge the negative connotations of people with autism or ADHD and instead explore the merits of neurodiversity in the workplace. Cowen and Gross argue that individuals with such superficial weaknesses often compensate in ways that lead to greater skill or achievement.

However, these good ideas become increasingly difficult to harvest throughout the book, where common assertions are made by drawing from the exemplary habits of a well-known group of top achievers — raises the question of whether these lessons can be applied to ordinary people like us. We hear about the instructional practices of individuals such as Pablo Picasso, Paul McCartney, Michael Jordan, Taylor Swift, Aretha Franklin, and Richard Branson. This naming demonstration has clearly identified useful tips for employers as well as job seekers.

Relying on the available literature also suggests that the authors did little original research on their books. Primarily drawing from the public domain, they sacrifice the opportunity to help readers uncover potentially helpful clues from many other individuals. I would appreciate their prescriptive insights into habits and personality traits to learn.

That said, this book will challenge you to think more deeply about how talent is judged and guide you in finding the right person for the right gig.

Author profile:

  • Tom Ehrenfeld is a freelance writer and editor based in Cambridge, Mass. Formerly a writer/editor with Inc. magazine and Harvard Business Reviewhe is also the author of Startup Garden. He has written extensively on lean business; The nine books he edited have won the Shingo Publishing Award.

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