A few days ago I came across an interesting story in my news ticker:
Back in April, J.K. Rowling – beloved author of the Harry Potter series – had written and released a crime novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Not surprisingly, once it was revealed that Rowling was the book’s author its sales skyrocketed. By many accounts, the book was critically acclaimed before the reading public ever discovered it was written by Rowling… yet without a brand name attached to it sales were modest.
To this point, life is filled with moments like these – moments that demonstrate the power of platform. A celebrity re-tweets a message and – in the span of a day – it goes from having one view to one thousand. New stories are brought into the public consciousness every day via the national news media. I’ve also talked before about the power of an Oprah endorsement in raising the profile of a person or product.
…Of course, the curious thing about the many people, products, and stories whose profiles are elevated everyday via various influencers and channels is that they were always there… just beneath the surface of the public consciousness, they were waiting to be plucked.
Talent is all around us.
The issue at hand, of course, is that investing time, resources, and brand equity into unproven commodities is risky. If the person, product, or interest piece one invests in turns out to be less reliable, compelling, or otherwise worthy than initially seemed then the benefactor providing the platform can often times lose heavily.
So what does that mean for talent management?
The answer has for years been progressive responsibility. Give someone talented a role with a little more complexity, scale and control… and if they prove themselves move them up the next step.
Incremental change has been the order of the day.
What if we’re wasting our best people this way, though? How much talent do we waste – and to that point how much money do we leave on the table – by 1. I’ve said before that genius has an expiration date. Like a pitcher that loses his fast ball or the running back that loses his explosive first step, talent is only with us for a moment and then it is gone. We are all a product of our time, and our life experiences. The world keeps changing, and with it the old washes away the new. I say this to say that when our best talents spend years doing work they are overqualified for (years when they could be doing their best work), it may be a squandering of not just some – but all – of their potential.leaving transcendent performers on the sidelines? 1
Robert Galbraith (our mystery author from the beginning of this post) had already written a best-seller. He was already capable of producing that level of work. We just didn’t know it yet.
He didn’t have a platform and a mic.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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