FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Killing the Golden Goose... Over and Over

An interesting post in the Manyworlds business blog discusses what could be called the "golden goose" paradox in talent management. When an organization experiences a downturn, it's usually the most creative people, as well as those most comfortable with risk and ambugiuty, who are the first ones out the door. The post states that these are the people must vulnerable to layoffs, which is true. But in my experience, these folks are also the ones most likely to leave voluntarily. An organization's "best and brightest" typically have the most career options, the most marketable skills, and the best connections. They are also politically savvy enough to see trouble coming early and take action. They are often the highest paid people, and know they are the most vulnerable to cuts due to sheer bean-counting. Or, they simply get bored once all the cool projects get cancelled.

The paradox is that, when the time comes for a turnaround, the people an organization needs to have on board the most are the people most likely to be long gone. These are the visionaries, the ones most likely to see and "get" future trends. The history of business is filled with these kinds of stories, and too many businesses have declined because they failed to view their people as a long-term investment. Yet it happens over and over...