Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The problem with clever people - SOA and talent management

I've had the pleasure in my career of working with some really very clever master technologists. The sort of people who really do deliver 10x more than the person they sit next to. I've observed over the years however that these people create a series of problems in IT but one in particular that is lethal.
  • False equivalence - This is a really bad one. You get people who are nominally the same level or grade as the master and assume they must therefore be as good
I've seen this quite a few times. The egos of the others at the same level are bruised due to the success of the person with actual talent and so they try and drive a similar agenda or result often with disastrous consequences for the company. The talented person will often be forced into collaboration with their "peer" and have to submit to some form of group decision on the way forward.

The challenge here for companies is talent management, and oddly this is something where SOA can really help when viewed from a business perspective. The point is that the talented person has the greatest ability to make a major change in how the company approaches the market and will probably get bored when doing cost reduction and spreadsheet based tracking... the sort of stuff the average folks seem to prefer as its simple. What you need therefore is some sort of way of understanding where you should put these people

(Seriously I'm loving Google Presentation right now)
The purpose of this heatmap is to show where the company should invest (red) and where they should either cost reduce or move to a utility model (blue). This means aligning your smart folks directly with the business and giving them the challenge of delivering the value and the change and aligning your average folks with the IT challenges of cost reduction and shift to utility. Putting the talent in areas that drive no value is dumb, and is probably a quick way to lose those people.

This is all about changing the way you organise IT and making sure that you don't create false equivalence. Different KPIs means different agendas which means different mentality and approach which in turn means ensuring that the talent can have the impact without the rest trying to compete.

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