Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Clever People

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away when I was a young engineer starting out in the software business, I learned and understood that the really great programmers were as much as 10x better than good programmers.  There were certain people that I met along the way who were just that much better.  They were the ones you went to with hard problems or to ask questions about how to do this or that to get your own job done.   Gary and Jeff were early ones that I knew.   Since then, I've met others in other professions who were that much better than others in the same field.

The book Clever:  Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People is about these people, these teams and these organizations.   Individuals and groups who are simply that much better than their peers and who deliver better results more often.

There are great points in here about people having become more global and truly clever individuals are going to move to find the best things to do in the best locations.   "Global is the standard" and in my line of business where I work with people around the world, I know this is true.  Retention is now the key in HR.  The book identifies nine characteristics of these people:

  1. Their cleverness is central to their identity.
  2. Their skills are not easily replicated.
  3. They know their worth.
  4. They ask difficult questions.
  5. They are organizationally savvy.
  6. They are not easily impressed by corporate hierarchy.
  7. The expect instant access.
  8. They want to be connected to other clever people and
  9. They won't thank you.

The book talks about how to lead these people with more guidance and trust rather than giving orders.   You want to point these people in the right direction.  One quote in the book is "My own philosophy to lead people that are smarter than me is to find ways for them to be more productive in what they want to do."   It is about reducing friction in the workplace for the clever folks and everyone else.  Better collaboration tools play a role here in my opinion.

The book talks about teams that didn't work and things that cause these individuals and teams to fail too.

If you are interested in this topic and looking to improve the workplace, this is a good book to read.  Recommended.

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