Apr 17, 2013

Solving the talent challenge by harnessing the power of the quiet, in the networked enterprise

April 17, 2013 - Talent scarcity is a hydra – it doesn't just come in the form of too few people who can do the job: it also comes by underutilizing the resources you have. And sometimes, it is because they don’t speak up, crowded out in the noise of more vocal people.

One of the most successful business books of 2012 was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. It sings the praise of people who are often little heard because everyone else is more loud – but not more insightful or intelligent. I personally also think that a disproportionate number of women around the world fall in this category, “cast aside” by stereotypes of Alpha males. Not coincidentally, Facebook COO Sandberg in her “Lean In” book leads the charge to get 50% of the world’s talent (!) more squarely into the fray.

Enters the networked enterprise. The quiet might become mute in a distributed work environment. There, distance polarizes the tendency of some people to disengage from interacting in presence of overbearing team leaders, the desire to conform in face-to-face relationships, free riding team members, the dominance by articulate extroverts, all restrict a group's ability to create powerful solutions to ever changing problems.

Yet, there might be bright days ahead. Reading a recent McKinsey research on the Networked Enterprise, I couldn’t help notice the value of digital technologies in bringing power back who to people who can think and act, but don’t scream. In the safety of a less hasty digital collaboration environment, shy people might be able to subtract the testosterone from the communication, and lean back in.

Business academia's ink is pouring on the subject, but it has so far left unaddressed the additional problem created by distance. In our own journey enabling industrialized operations with Unified Collaboration we will make some good learning. It is as much a technology journey as it is a human resources, behavior-shaping one.

The prize: a world with more talent.

Please share your view. Feel free to connect with me on  twitter@ggiacomelli.

About the author

Gianni Giacomelli

Gianni Giacomelli

Chief Innovation Leader

Gianni serves as Chief Innovation Leader where he drives and sponsors Genpact’s strategic initiatives aimed at sustaining clients’ transformation into digitally-enabled companies. He also co-leads the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) efforts to set up a Collective Intelligence Design Lab.