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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Do Your People Take Their Brains Off When They Come to work? If So, You Are Missing Some Great Talent!

The BBC World Service is a mine of information mostly about what is going on (for fairly obvious reasons) in the wider world outside the UK.

It was there that I heard about what they rather patronisingly called and “business boy” rather than a businessman.  His name is Shubharm Banerjee and he lives in California USA.

He has just received investment from Intel for his invention of a simple Braille printer that he had already demonstrated to President Obama in a delegation at the White House.

He had discovered that the least expensive Braille printer costs at least $2,000.00 and he was certain that he could make something that would allow far great access to Braille for more blind people.

Accordingly using Lego bricks and some components from Lego Robotics, he built a prototype and it is this that has sparked the interest from Intel.  He thinks that this unit could be marketed for $350.00.

There is nothing particularly remarkable about this story except for the fact that he designed the unit at the age or 12 and received the investment when he had just turned 13.  The amount has not been disclosed but it is said to run into several “hundreds of thousands”.

Here is a young man who has shown great initiative, imagination, dedication and compassion for the underprivileged and above all, has a great sense of purpose.

It is because of his attitude that I was incensed at the crass, patronising interview when he was asked stupid questions like “What do your mates in the playground think now that you are rich?” and “Have your parents given you a rise in your pocket money?”.

Give Shubham his due; he just laughed them off but the interviewer missed the point entirely.  He was talking to a young man who had done something great simply because he knew that it would help underprivileged people and that is rather more important than the rest of the story.

It re-emphasises my contention that there is far more talent out there than has been or will be recognised.  In fact if we just look for people with high IQ (intelligence quotient) some statistical surveys put the UK average at around 110 with only some 2% of the population being tested at 130 or over.

If that is the case companies with a workforce of 100 could have at least two people in the high IQ category.  The question is, if that is the case, do you know who they are and more importantly what have you dome to develop them and exploit their talent?

I have long been a proponent of the hidden talent in our businesses most of which lies unrecognised and underdeveloped to the detriment of both the individual and the business.

I recall an instant in a company in which I was involved where the technical people had developed a new form of rubber coated fabric which they said would be ideal for wet suits.

One of the shop floor operatives asked a techie what the product was designed to do and when he was told, he said:

“Sorry to tell you, it won’t work”

Somewhat shocked the techie asked what right had this upstart to say such a thing only to be told that he was the Secretary of the Sub-Aqua Club and knew what he was talking about.

Ask yourself; do your people come into work, take off their coats and brains, hang them up and only put them on again to go home?

The solution is simple.  Depute someone senior and genuinely interested to be CTO, Chief Talent Office as the talent scout for and in the business.  It could be the best signing you ever make.

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