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On "The Talent Myth"

Malcolm Gladwell's incisive analysis (in the New Yorker) of the culture of talent worship at Enron is very, very good — and rewarding to read, offering more than a few fascinating observations on human behavior.

It is perhaps a tiny bit misleading, though. Organizational intelligence is indeed necessary for a company to succeed; but that individual talent isn't sufficient for an organization's long-term success doesn't mean it's not necessary, as well. Organizations must adapt as circumstances and competitors present new challenges, and even the smartest managerial structure cannot solve a company's problems by itself. Gladwell's analysis demonstrates not that rewarding talent itself is bad, but that over-rewarding the wrong kind of talent is: A smart organization should still value brilliant individual performers — but it should value employees who strengthen the company as a whole even more.

July 17, 2002 1:13 PM

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