Maximizing People Potential

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At Google Analytics , for example, people can self-nominate to be part of the response group that forms whenever a competitor launches a product. Not everyone who volunteers will be right for a particular workgroup. You want people who care deeply about achieving the outcome—but also people without a lot of preconceived notions about how that outcome could or could not happen. Experience can be valuable, certain skills might be necessary, but overreliance on expertise can be limiting, to both the individual and the group.

Expertise can tend to work against openness to learning and new ideas. Workgroup members need to be willing to challenge others, to be challenged, and to be open to learning from those challenges. This can become more pronounced in narrower or more specialized fields and lead specialists to approach a solution in a similar way and converge in their findings. Character also matters.

Values persist. Or they might be specific to a workgroup and context. Consider this example from a Deloitte leader who credits some of her success in growing account revenue over the past decade to looking at character before competence in staffing. She has created a list of guidelines for behavior and attitude see figure 1 that addresses character. The list is both a filter and a way of setting expectations at the outset to increase the likelihood that all members are suited to creating value in that environment.

Passion and a growth mind-set. Aside from certain nonnegotiable competencies, favor passion over skill. To that end, they tend to embrace challenges and connect with others around those challenges and typically find the unexpected and difficult more motivating than fatiguing. They continuously pursue new approaches and better solutions and will persevere and look for learning in nearly every situation. In a group of passionate members, the desire to make an impact can overcome organizational tensions and barriers.

Leadership Is About Enabling The Full Potential In Others

For those with passion, a workgroup can be an attractive opportunity to connect with others and learn faster on significant challenges. One challenge is that this type of passion is scarce, characterizing only around 13 percent of the workforce, although 52 percent of workers surveyed have at least one attribute of this type of passion on which to build. Through deliberately breaking silos, workgroups can have the added benefit of connecting the passionate with other passionate people from across the organization. Connecting and working with others who are passionate can be a powerful motivator.

This in turn can create more demand for the opportunity and attract others who may not have understood the impact previously. Over time, informal practices may harden into formal processes, expectations may become codified, and perspectives and beliefs may converge.

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This may be comfortable but is not good for friction. What wins in one context may lose in another. Change it up with new people, ideas, and conditions that are surprising rather than predictable. Look for people who tend to play with, rather than within, the boundaries. Try to nudge people out of their comfort zones. Structure in ways to avoid the trap of tried and true by making it a rule to change the rules. They have honed the format to a specific pace, hitting benchmarks of discussion and analysis throughout the hour.

When something works, members stick with it—except for on Fridays, when they try some new structure or technique, keeping the group off-balance and interested and discovering useful new techniques to incorporate along the way. Individuals can be stretched and motivated and the group dynamics shaken up by making roles context-dependent. Switching up the structure and roles will likely make some members uncomfortable and may cause frustration because it works against the drive for efficiency into which we tend to fall.

Being in different roles and relationships could challenge the expectations of a group and create potential friction for individuals and the group collectively. Depending on the context and their own skills, someone might be the incident commander in one response but be boots on the ground loading water for the next one. The explicit move to gray sky seems to eliminate the friction that can come from hierarchies and refocuses everyone on achieving the shared outcome. View in article. Scott E. Page explains why diversity is fundamental to a productive workgroup in simple terms: If two collections of problem-solvers contain equal ability, but one is homogeneous and the other is diverse, the diverse group will, on average, outperform the homogeneous.

In the study of more than executive groups, performance variance was not causally related to gender, ethnicity, or age. Cass R. Mark S. Abigail Sickinger, interview with Google Analytics team, January 17, Page, The Difference.

Steven Kotler: "The Science of Maximizing Human Potential" - Talks at Google

Similarly, Reynolds and Lewis reported working with a start-up biotechnology company at which a team of scientists, mixed in terms of gender, age, and ethnicity, never finished a strategic exercise task. They were all experts in the same domain, had no versatility in how to approach the task, and could not complete the assignment. Carol S.

Whatever you lack, you will continue to lack. This fixed mind-set applies not just to your own qualities but to those of others.


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The distinction between fixed and growth mind-sets has tremendous implications—as individuals, workgroups, and organizations—for how we address the growing pressures around us. Hagel et al. While around 13 percent of the US workforce, as measured by a survey of more than 3, workers, have all three attributes of passion, they are not innate and can be cultivated and developed through experiences and environment.

Tett, The Silo Effect , p. See something interesting? Simply select text and choose how to share it:.

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Maximize potential for friction has been added to your bookmarks. Maximize potential for friction has been removed from your bookmarks. An article titled Maximize potential for friction already exists in the bookmark library. Social login not available on Microsoft Edge browser at this time. Welcome back. Still not a member? Join My Deloitte. Article 31, January, John Hagel. John Seely Brown.

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Andrew de Maar. Maggie Wooll. Nine practices to help workgroups accelerate performance improvement Introduction: Generating new knowledge The maximize potential for friction practice: What it is Intersections with the other eight practices Putting the practice into play. Intersections with the other eight practices Prioritize performance trajectory. Passionate workgroup members can be more likely to want to get better and will help pull the entire group upward.

Bias toward action. While a diverse and passionate group can bring a broader set of perspectives to shape the actions that will have the most impact, taking action can drive individual learning as well as help to cultivate passion. Seek new contexts. Experiencing new contexts can cause us to reevaluate our assumptions and broaden or change our perspectives, creating the potential for additional friction for the group and individuals.

Cultivate friction.


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Group composition and connecting with other resources provides the raw material for productive friction. Eliminate unproductive friction. Reflect more to learn faster. Analysis and adjustment can be more fruitful with more, potentially divergent, interpretations of events and passion to learn to do better. Frame a powerful question. A compelling question can attract others who are passionate to make more of an impact on the challenge.

Safeway Wins FMI’s Maximizing People Potential Award for Retail Management Training Track

Commit to a shared outcome. A clear, long-term direction around a meaningful shared outcome can help attract diverse members who are passionate about the outcome and can help mobilize others to engage as well. We need to minimize the potential for conflict, not maximize it. They know how to take you out of your comfort zone to put your potential to the test. They observe your ability to stretch yourself and whether or not you accept the challenges.

You know that you have found the right leader in your career when they never allow you to grow complacent and are constantly testing and helping you develop your skill-sets and capabilities to prepare you for the next phase in your career. They embrace the natural ways you think and build off of your own strengths.

The most effective leaders make sure they put you in situations that will leverage your strengths and make you shine. My organization knows this to be the case when training executives to develop their personal brands as leaders. However, when they learn to trust their most authentic identity those things that make them strong , they realize that it represents the roadmap to their advancement and that of others. They become more self-aware and learn how to course correct when necessary to assure they are always playing to their strengths and maximizing their full potential.

This is where a strong leader will begin to determine where an employee is most and least predictable in how they react to a problem. A great leader keeps close tabs on how much each employee is able to handle.

Leadership Is About Enabling The Full Potential In Others

They measure their performance tolerance threshold by identifying how well they manage adversity, how they operate under pressure, their willingness to accept new challenges and their overall mental toughness. Enabling their full potential means working on the areas that require further attention and development — so that they will be able to rise to any occasion on their own. With the right guidance from leadership — encouraging employees to take risks, test their ideas and ideals, and challenge the status quo in an effort to make things better — potential is something that will develop organically over time.

A great leader knows that enabling potential without a supporting cast that can keep everything in perspective is a zero-sum game. Potential needs to be challenged and surrounding it with other high-potential people can only make it stronger. In the process, employees become wiser and develop a mindset that is not afraid to take chances and experience the lessons of failure. This is what happens when you are part of a high-performance team.

Everyone in the organization has the potential to become a top-notch performer. The key to success is strengthening a strong foundation of talent by surrounding it with more experienced and knowledgeable people. Potential leaders must understand how the game is played so that they can manage their agenda s, develop maturity and project executive presence. No matter how much potential an employee has, it can remain dormant if not managed rightly and properly nourished with the right ingredients.



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