Well, yes, according to Bob Sutton, who teaches at the Stanford D-school. HR departments focus on hiring individuals, not teams or networks of people, and that doesn’t help innovation, it hurts it. Hmm. Come to think of it, HR departments also focus on firing individuals, not teams or networks of people and that hurts innovation as well. Point is, we are in the first stages of a huge talent hunt sweeping the global economy and HR departments don’t get it according to Sutton.
Two weeks ago, we ran our first D-school survey and it was called “The Talent Hunt.” We argued that if you are looking for creative talent these days, you had better check out the graduates of design thinking coming out of D-schools and D and B-school joint programs. Last week, the Economist ran a cover story on “The Search For Talent.” OK, we have a trend.
Both stories talked about individual talent and Sutton is saying that most innovation inside corporations and organizations in general come out of individuals working in groups. This is an important point. He’s got lots of research about GE to back it up too.
The key thing here is that leaders and managers—and HR departments—have to start thinking in terms of social networking, not brilliant individuals. Incentives—and disincentives—should revolve around team play. Yes, I realize that the lone individual doing breakthrough work remains important, critical at times (after all, it is Bob Sutton coming up with this insight about HR Departments and talent). But as we demass, open source and team up, it’s the magic of the team that produces the value for companies.
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