Why Talent Needs External Connections

by Stefan Lindegaard

Why Talent Needs External ConnectionsThe May issue of Fast Company had an interesting column by Dan and Chip Heath. They looked into the thinking of Boris Groysberg, a Harvard Business School professor who is due with a new book, Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance.

In this book, Groysberg argues that talents and star performers – the case in the column focuses on Wall Street analysts – do not only rely solely on their own skills and capabilities, but also on resources made available to them inside their firms in order to make great things happen.

These Wall Street analysts were not as portable as expected. They could not just switch to another firm and perform as they used to since they are more dependent than initially expected on the internal infrastructure.

Groysberg did find an exception; women. The reasoning is that as Wall Street is an alpha-male culture, women need to build stronger external networks in order to compensate for the lack of internal resources they miss internally compared with their male colleagues. The interesting thing here is that external relationships are more portable thus creating more opportunities should the employee decide to switch to another company.

I think this is a great story on the portability of talent and how external connections can help create value not just for the company but also for the individual. This only gives more reason for you – and your company – to embrace external resources within your innovation processes. Why miss out on more opportunities?

Furthermore, once top executives really begin to embrace open innovation and value external resources, they will have to change their innovation teams.

Today, we often see that the “kings” of corporate innovation have very strong internal ties and they are often rooted in R&D functions. This is good seeding ground for the development of a corporate culture in which there is too much confidence in the internal capabilities and thus reluctance to integrate external resources into the innovation process.

Simply put: Open innovation is a paradigm shift and this shift requires a different mindset. Not everyone will be up to this task. Are you?

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Stegan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

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