Talented people are like magnets. They attract other talented people. These talented people have their own hangouts. The Coffee House in Kolkata was a hangout for the poets, artistes, literati and people from the world of art and culture. Film makers like Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen used to hang out there. The writers and poets like Sunil Gangopadhyay and Shakti Chattopadhyay used the coffee and cigarette smoke filled atmosphere to fire up their imagination through debates. The cafes of Paris have served to inspire many philosopher and intellectuals from Sartre to Simone de Beauvoire. The Coffee House is still not a talent community.
When members of a group start to collaborate and work together to solve problems and create something, it starts to become a talent community. Technology makes it possible to now go beyond the boundaries of geography to create talent communities that are truly global. The organization’s boundaries are becoming porous. As they say, “no matter how smart your employees are, there are always more smart people outside of your company than within it.”
Hiring and more
With 3.5 million users GitHub is a talent community where the hottest engineers are coming together to share their code. They share their fun project and comment on each other’s work. Substandard skills get a ruthless dressing down and the top coders have a rockstar like status. It is a one stop shop for collaboration, code review, and code management for open source and private projects. Tech recruiters love the opportunity to network with and hire someone whose code gets the thumbs up against sky high standards. They also know that every talented coder will make it easy for them to hire more coding talent.
Design and Innovation
GE offered a $7000 prize to the million plus designers and engineers at GrabCAD to design a bracket for a jet engine that would be lighter and yet take on greater load. The young Indonesian engineer who won the challenge had zero experience in aviation.
My Starbucks Idea encourages customers to submit ideas for better products, improving the customer experience, and much more. Ideas for new coffee flavors are sourced from there. Customers suggest the music they wish to listen to at the store. The site has over 100,000 ideas without the company spending a penny.
Bombardier used the YouRail community to rethink what trains of the future would be like.
Deloitte’s Women in Tech talent is a community is leveraged to get people to dialog with employees and build a pull with a potential hire. The idea is to give people a taste of the culture and use it to attract people with the right fit. Zappos too uses its unique culture as a differentiator in the talent market.
Wipro has more than 50,000 employees on Yammer – its internal collaboration platform. There are 3000 groups and more than 20,000 artifacts. The CEOs weekly blog generates comments, suggestions and spawns many conversations. The L&D group runs YamJams (that’s what they call a brainstorming session on Yammer) that cover discussions on topics as varied as ethnography and visualization techniques. The peer learning method encourages people to teach and learn with peers.
Using a talent community only as a candidate pool is really underutilizing the potential of what a community can do. Organizations have to learn to leverage them for much more.
Written for Techgig.com on 25 April 2015
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