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October 17, 2009


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Kevin W. Grossman

Jeff, you pose many excellent questions here, and I also hope they're discussed at Talent Camp. My first read I thought, well, this is predicated on the fact that can actually develop John Lennon's, and I don't believe you can.

My interest in employee and leadership development is growing exponentially and when I reread "What is a person’s unique capability? Where are they 'John Lennon'?" then I thought, yes, developing the John Lennon-esque qualities in your talent is certainly possible.

Carrying on the entertainment theme, one of my favorite shows (unabashedly) is "So You Think You Can Dance" - the American Idol of dancing. One of the key themes in this show is while the choreographers and judges are working to develop superstar dance talent, the contestants still have to master working with others in teams in order to achieve success on the show.

Creative productivity-centric organizations must be the future of now. You are dead on. Your system of interconnected nodes are the organizations that will thrive.

Fred Astaire I will never be, but I've been taught to cut a rug with my wife, and that teamwork thrives to elevate beyond the vertical slice.


Great post. The John Lennon analogy is a good one; it's easy to forget that the talents that made someone a great candidate for promotion may also work against them in their updated role.

I also agree that organizations need to adjust their business structure. I'm of the opinion that best-in-class companies will be structured along the lines of major sports teams. There will be a core unit responsible for the strategic initiatives of the organization, while the talent responsible for executing this will be contract workers. Talent management will be a significant, but worthwhile, expense on the balance sheet.

Thanks again and I look forward to more observations from Talent Camp!

Colin Kingsbury


How do you think scale of organization plays into this? Reading your (excellent) list of questions-for-HR-to-solve I found myself thinking that in smaller organizations, these are things that CEOs and department heads are very engaged with.

In some ways I feel like the role you describe is one that only exists within a company large enough to support an independent function for this. Conversely if you look at things like product development or sales, the scaling of knowledge and skill seems much more linear from the entry-level or small-firm to executive positions in large firms.

In that sense, it feels in some ways like the HR leaders you're envisioning would have to be laterally-transferred from more general management roles in order to have the necessary skills and wisdom. Among other things, these people would need sufficient status within the organization to drive the sort of organizational change you envision.

In any case, the central point (make sure you make the most of your Lennons) is deeply important. I have a close friend who is one of the most remarkable people I know, and while he has been fairly successful, he's also endured a lot of friction as he's rarely fit neatly into any org chart. I suspect there are a lot more people out there who are less capable self-promoters than him who are being used even less effectively by their employers.

Travis Waldrop

I would also like to thank Jeff for the encouraging blog post- I said “encouraging” because I am an artist, both traditional and 3D. I happened upon the Talentism link via Electronic Arts’ job applicant pages. I am all too familiar with the brick wall that is HR, especially in regards to larger corporations, major studios, etc…I think many artists either give up applying (having received one too many concussions from the wall) or don’t even bother to apply in the first place, understanding the prevailing corporate mentality.

In my case, I never took any particular path that a “vertical integration” minded employer would deem of high value (as my resume probably reveals). Many of my choices were driven by “how can I grow from this,” or “what new and interesting things can I learn about myself?” Another option would have been to just take the safe route, and make choices that offered a quick return and were more readily perceived as having high value. Each and every choice that I made was a valuable investment- I feel that those investments will ultimately pay off, as 3D animation continues to grow in popularity and in its applications.

Thanks for letting me add my two-cents. It is certainly encouraging to find out that this issue is even up for discussion within your walls- I hope creative corporations will learn to embrace a few more INFJ types. Regards.

Travis Waldrop


I love, love, love your perspective on this very important subject! I can't tell you how many times I hear about HR departments being just implementers with little to no strategic competencies. Is this HR's fault? Maybe, maybe not.

From my perspective, I see HR fall into 2 categories: implementation and strategic. I believe you are referring to a more strategic HR.

In grad school we learned that HR must become more strategic partners to senior leadership, and yet how many senior leaders don't *want* HR to be strategic.
Think about it - how many HR departments fall under Accounting or Legal?

Yes, HR needs to be engaged in a much different conversation AND senior leaders must value those conversations and reward accordingly. Sr leaders must also recognize that if their current HR leaders are not willing/capable of changing to this new model, they owe it to their organizations and employees to find someone who does.

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