Thursday, July 19, 2007

The tao of talent and passion

Functionality many of us possess, passion we might muster, but can we see and recognise talent?

On our way home from filming the Ferrari 599GTB - a rare car I have been told - Kevin Haggarthy, a man with one of the envious jobs in the world testing super luxury cars started a conversation.

"Many of us can control a car, but few can drive one" - a treasurably didactive exchange then followed. The essence, that the talent to drive a car becoming one with its chassis, the ability to read the road, assess the future is rare. The height of this is that rarest of beast, F1 drivers.

The thread in this resonates with the two professions I have been privy to: the media and academia. Like most professions, the function of day to day work becomes second nature, but at times we're called on to tee off beyond our par, then something else must kick in: talent and passion.

In this month's Harvard Business Review the question of Talent and Talent Factories is adressed and makes fascinating reading. The upshot, what caught my attention: Fostering commitment, building engagement and accountability are values that sit at the heart of a company's bid to create and manage talent.

And companies we learn are pretty bad at this: the ability to create talent growth by nuturing staff, stimulate the work force, provide long term goals, is little more than gesture.

On the back end of that, two incidents. Firstly, a seminar organised by broadcast magazine (UK mag about the industry) called Future TV. The speakers, all eminent people, hail from the world of TV. Yep not a single "outsider" to tell of the greens of new ideas yonder in California, New York, Norway or closer to home in the bed rooms of the wunder kids.

But what really came home was the lack of any indication towards creating and managing talent. The organisers would have done well to have any number of university or business industry fellows addressing the issue of next generation talent. In this case with reference to the newsrooms. That is talent that might see the present structures re-adjust for the next phase of Net tastic, post 8mb. It's amazing how linear TV still is.

Secondly, a major event staged by a union I pay my subs to BECTU ( Broadcasting Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union). The quest is to get more people of colour into the News industry.

While admirable and long overdue, the question once again? Where are the structures that create and manage these schemes for ongoing success? No doubt there's a cluster where you are, but that's a rarity.

If managers really are serious about pushing boundaries, then they've got to as highlighted in HBR have some strategy to foster, pool and grow talent, because in the end everyone is richer for it; a real win win situation.

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