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"Thinking Talent" - a new dimension

"How you think becomes how you operate within your company, and ultimately how the organisation stands in the market in the eyes of your customers. And the combined "thinking" of your people is imperative to be aligned with your company objectives, otherwise it simply won't work."

Having been in this business for nigh on 30 years, I can honestly say that it gets harder by the year to find the best people. Is it because the skill level has dropped through our well-publicised flailing (read that as failing..) education system? Or could it be that companies expect more and that the bar keeps getting raised? I suspect that these factors contribute to it. But increasingly it seems that the criteria companies are seeking in their employees expands beyond the skills and into territory that we've taken for granted over the years, but rarely put any definition around.

I'm talking about the soft skills, those neatly defined under "culture fit". The funny thing though is that what often gets missed in this equation is that every new person brought on board contributes to that culture and whilst many companies require someone to "fit their culture", the reality is that every new "recruit" (or departing person) alters the culture in some way, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. The culture of a company is the sum of the combined "personality" of the people and shifts ever so subtly over time as each new person arrives, or likewise as someone leaves. How often does one person have a huge influence on success or failure of a company or a division of a company? We can think of many high profile examples in New Zealand and I'm sure many of us have experienced this within our respective employment situations.

There is something much deeper here that I believe has greater influence on success or failure of a company, and there are a number of New Zealand (and international) companies recognising this.

Thinking style.

How you think becomes how you operate within your company, and ultimately how the organisation stands in the market in the eyes of your customers. And the combined "thinking" of your people is imperative to be aligned with your company objectives, otherwise it simply won't work. The simplest example of this is that if you have a business that promotes a quality product, and your people think in terms of producing replicated quick outcomes, then you've immediately got conflict. And another would be the failure of many a great idea because the "inventor" or "technical expert" has been unable to communicate to the market.

The underlying mismatch in company objectives and individual thinking is now a compounding problem. The catalyst for this is the quantum shift in the last two years in the environment in which we now operate. Many at the helm have never had to contend with this "new economy".

So we need new thinking, and talent in our companies who think differently. Air New Zealand are doing it and recognised now as real innovators in their sector. Whilst Telecom have come under a lot of criticism recently for their new adverts of the "CEO in the river", who could ever have imagined Teresa or Sir Rod taking the same approach. I believe it heralds a new way of thinking for Telecom. And I'm sure the likes of Pinnacle Life, KiwiBank, Whittakers, and Hell Pizza would not have got to where they are without some innovative thinking as well.

And it's not just about marketing. It's supporting it with new talent, or unleashing the existing talent in an environment that supports it. But it has to be done consciously, not just randomly. There are some great tools out there that assess individual thinking and your companies "collective thinking". For example Herrmann International has a tool called HBDI that assesses it. And we recommend it.

If different thinking is required going forward, then you need those recruiting for you to also think differently, otherwise it may be more of the same. Our innovation demonstrates this new thinking and our significant experience supports this.

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