Thursday, May 28, 2009

The world's most scarce resource: Talent.

We've been on a recruiting (and I-so-wish firing) mode. And believe me, from today till the next couple of years, the world's most scarce resource will be TALENT. And when I say talent, it doesn't mean people with skills. It means people with skills and VISION. It's so hard to find that in young people these days. No, scrape young. Just people.

Especially when the world's in a mess (enviromentally, politically and socially), web 2.0 blurred everything about copyright issues and plagiarism is rampant, but at the same time, curiosity brings people to places they've never been (physically and in their mind), creating a new hybrid of thinkers who understand the mechanism of connections better (between themselves and friends, between other people, between corporations and people), and who have higher expectation on what they can do and what employers should provide. This talent management field is tough! The balance between getting someone with a vision versus over-confidence. The balance between a thinker and doer (ha! I think almost everyone in Malaysia can relate to this. They either do without thinking, or think without knowing how to do it). The balance between self and team. It's almost as tough as doing the job, trying to produce an optimum team.

Getting the right people on board is difficult. But I cannot tell which is more challenging - capturing high flyers or creating them in-house. I think for the past one year, I've experienced both. Both are equally challenging I supposed, but I have to admit that the latter brings a much sweeter satisfaction. The question is, on whose expense? Management's sanity? Client's business? The (God forbid) brand?

Awhile back, when I was still with McCann's, we were working towards setting up a McCann University in Malaysia where the unpolished diamonds will be sharpened till they gleam. It was a brilliant idea. Getting the right education endorses was a non-issue since all that really depends on 'management connections' anyway. Shortly, after I left and I never knew what happened to the project. I guess it didn't happen because if it did, McCann would have milked the PR coverage shamelessly (that's why they are a reputable brand). Then this morning, I came across what W+K is doing too, to hone talents. I think the industry is slowly recognising more and more the importance of talent management. Yet so few of us can do that. Why? Because this isn't a factory. We don't churn out square cut products. We're dealing with people. And people have feelings. I've cornered an executive so badly that she cried but I knew if she endures through the furnace, she would stretch, break out of it and become a much better thinking doer. But she's crying, what do I do? I backed off.

These issues, I'm sorry, are not taught in the best of the best Harvards of management schools. It comes with experience in dealing with people. Because at the end of the day, what your people would do for you shows who you really are.

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