Saturday, October 07, 2006

Talent Search

The phrase thought-leader features prominently in the industry buzz-word soup. The Economist tries to assess what the scarcity of such leadership means for businesses that depend on brainpower to operate. Of the many interesting observations and statistics are the effects of disloyalty both of employer and employee:

Companies happily chopped out layers of managers during the 1990s; now people are likely to repay them by moving to the highest bidder.

Anyone who has been let go "unfairly" and has been wooed by the competition across the street only to be fired in a few months knows first hand that loyalty to an employer can be kamikaze. To survive the choppy waters of the fickle job market, you need stay alert and be on the move.

Likewise, when you have seen your team of A players drop off like flies for a fifty percent pay-hike plus scandalizing stock options you realize that the best work-life balance and commitment to career development amount to nothing. For more reasons than one, talented employees and "Lifers" are disjoint sets in this day and age.

Of the burgeoning masses of engineers, scientists and researchers in the developing world, the article says :

Alas, adding willing hands to the global economy is not the same as adding trained brains. Both India and China are suffering from acute skills shortages at the more sophisticated end of their economies. Wage inflation in Bangalore is close to 20%, and job turnover is double that (“Trespassers will be recruited” reads a sign in one office). The few elite institutions, such as India's Institutes of Technology, cannot meet demand. And there are also cultural legacies to deal with: India's Licence Raj destroyed management skills, while China's Confucian tradition still emphasises “face” over innovation.

Indian managers have another cultural legacy that this story does not mention. While they often have an eye for detail and will get the job done, they rarely challenge the status quo or question the premise of objectives their higher-ups expect them to fulfill.

An education system that involves learning by rote and rewards the ability to regurgitate verbatim a years worth of classes from early childhood, does not promote creativity in management style. Only the select few that make it to top tier engineering and business schools get a shot at being able to exercise their originality and even that is many years too late.

With the average student- teacher ratio in Indian grade schools, fostering individual creativity is a luxury that teachers can ill-afford. They have to get through the syllabus and prepare their wards for the all important board exams - goals in direct conflict with exercise of free will in education and learning for pleasure.

1 comment:

cheti said...

“Trespassers will be recruited” reads a sign in one office

Really ? Which office ?? That, to the best of my limited knowledge was a sms joke that was doing the orunds ! I wonder which office posted this !

"India's Licence Raj destroyed management skills: Sigh !! This again is a generalisation ! How many managers did the License Raj kill ? HOw many came out of stronger ?