Provocative Propositions

In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.

In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.

The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.

Simply click on the category and read away.

Managing Brilliance
This is what businesses are looking for today - Clever people. There is no time to waste, and the old ways of doing things seem archaic in the new reality of business.

As a leader, you have an obligation to your organization to recruit and retain as many of these prized commodities before your competitors take all of them.

The Fact is - business recruiting and development programs have focused on IQ alone as a predictor of future success.

The Problem is - many ďsmartĒ people think along linear paths, and use proven models to come to their conclusions.

The Outcome is - organization after organization full of linear thinkers running tired out-dated programs into the ground.

The Solution is - to find people who challenge the status quo, and have the ability to think in new ways, in order to create a future that includes your organization. The solution is to hire clever people.

Not Just Smart

Rob Goffee and Gaeeth Jones in their book "Clever" state that "Clever people are famous fast. Their impact is more profound and spreads more quickly than ever before. The global economy amplifies their influence".
Being clever isnít just about being smart. While in many cases your organizationís most clever people may also be on the smarter end of the IQ scale, there are many other components to be on the look out for.

The bottom line is that not only do clever people add value, they seek it out. Clever people are always on the lookout for new and exciting things. They are self motivated, and this is one of their key differentiators.

What Clevers Want

Clever people need to work in clever environments and, if possible, for a clever boss. The major difference managers and leaders within organizations have to understand is that clevers respond to expertise, not hierarchy. Therefore, your position alone isnít going to get you anywhere with Clever people. In the end, this leads to a two-fold benefit to having a Clever-friendly culture - you get innovative and creative thinkers, and your managers must constantly develop themselves in order to keep one step ahead of the Clevers.

Another cultural expectation Clevers have is freedom. At Google, a Clever-haven, their corporate culture has been developed in a way that enables Clevers to spend a percentage of their time working on anything that is of personal interest to them. This freedom fulfills a fundamental need in the Clever and, therefore, results in a greater ability to focus on other corporate driven initiatives.

Leading Clever People

Herding cats may seem like a a perfect analogy for Clevers. The immediate picture is a room full of self-absorbed, creative thinkers with high ambition.

As a manager, it may seem virtually impossible to approach them, let alone lead them. However, they, as with all other people, are just that - people, and they need you.

In terms of specifics, the first thing they need is context setting. Clever people may have a great ability to solve a problem, however leaders must spend a great amount of time ensuring that the Clevers understand the context in which to solve the problem. In other words, tell them the What and the Why of the problem, let them come up with the How.

Secondly, and probably more importantly than the first, is the fact that Clevers need rewards and recognition for their accomplishments. While they may be self-motivated in terms of picking up the next project, they need the satisfaction of knowing that they impressed you, and that you value their contribution.

In Our Opinion
The Beacon Groupís Keys to building a Clever Culture

Freedom - Apple CEO Steve Jobs has it right. He hires clever people, and gives them the freedom to work on great things for the company. As a leader, you must trust your people, and let the answers come to them.

Context - Clever people need to know where they are going. While they may actually choose the final destination, it is the role of the leader to determine the direction the company is going.

Encouragement - Not what you think. Encourage an ability to fail. This allows clevers to test new limits, and to take a few more risks. Once success is achieved, you can encourage clevers to tackle the next problem.
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