Business Times p.B1
Saturday, November 22, 2008
LEARNING & INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Talent is no guarantee for success
Let us continue with our discussion of success, talent aside.
First, author Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: Secret of Success, Tipping Point & Blink) wrote: "What separates the legendary CEO from the chronically dissatisfied cubicle dweller? It's not innate talent. Instead of thinking about talent as something that you acquire, talent should be thought of as something that you develop. Procter&Gamble is a great example of a company that does that and has prospered as a result. Look around Wall Street, or what's left of it today and you'll see lots and lots and lots of people from Goldman Sachs. That's not a coincidence. It's because they took their mission to invest in people seriously."
And I say, it is definitely not vitamin and mineral supplements. Ang matalinong bata ay hindi siguradong magtatagumpay.
In the article, "Why Talent is Overrated," senior editor at large Geoff Colvin writes: "It is mid-1978, and we are inside the giant Procter&-Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, looking into a cubicle shared by a pair of 22-year-old men, fresh out of college. Their assignment is to sell Duncan Hines brownie mix, but they spend a lot of their time just rewriting memos. They are clearly smart—one has just graduated from Harvard, the other from Dart-mouth—but that doesn't distinguish them from a slew of other new hires at P&G.
"What does distinguish them from many of the young go-getters the company takes on each year is that neither man is particularly filled with ambition. Neither has any kind of career plan. Every afternoon they play waste-bin basketball with wadded-up memos. One of them later recalls, "We were voted the two guys probably least likely to succeed."
"These two young men are of interest to us now for only one reason: They are Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer, who before age 50 would become CEOs of two of the world's most valuable corporations, General Electric and Microsoft. Contrary to what any reasonable person would have expected when they were new recruits, they reached the apex of corporate achievement.
"The obvious question is how. Was it talent? If so, it was a strange kind of talent that hadn't revealed itself in the first 22 years of their lives. Brains? The two were sharp but had shown no evidence of being sharper than thousands of classmates or colleagues. Was it mountains of hard work? Certainly not up to that point. And yet something carried them to the heights of the business world.
"A number of researchers now argue that talent means nothing like what we think it means, if indeed it means anything at all. A few contend that the very existence of talent is not, as they carefully put it, supported by evidence. In studies of accomplished individuals, researchers have found few signs of precocious achievement before the individuals started intensive training. Similar findings have turned up in studies of musicians, tennis players, artists, swimmers, mathematicians and others.
Such findings do not prove that talent doesn't exist. But they do suggest an intriguing possibility: that if it does, it may be irrelevant.
"The concept of specific talents is especially troublesome in business. We all tend to assume that business giants must possess some special gift for what they do, but the evidence turns out to be extremely elusive. In fact, the overwhelming impression that comes from examining the lives of business greats is just the opposite - that they didn't seem to give any early indication of what they would become.
"Jack Welch, named by Fortune as the 20th century's manager of the century, showed no particular inclination toward business, even into his mid-20s. With a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, approaching the real world at age 25, he still wasn't sure of his direction and interviewed for faculty jobs at
"Bill Gates, the world's richest human, is a more promising candidate for those who want to explain success through talent. He became fascinated by computers as a kid and says he wrote his first piece of software at age 13; it was a program that played ticktacktoe. The problem is that nothing in his story suggests extraordinary abilities."
For leaders, at home and at work, the implication is that people need not be smart, they need trust, guidance and support every step of the way, and lots of opportunities.