A primer and programs: recognizing talent

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

We have been figuring out ways of recognizing talent inside and outside organizations through several stories in this series. Recognition of talent is crucial to hiring and development of people. It isn’t always straightforward because some talents like the one we saw in Salil’s case aren’t obvious during interviews. People themselves may not be aware of their talents and may have ended up in their jobs by accident or may have been swayed by some other considerations.

Here is a primer

1. Shun nouns and adjectives:

Figure out what you really mean by ‘talent’. Shun ‘catch all’ skills or traits like ‘communication skills,  hard working, resourceful, networker’. These are nouns or adjectives. Consider verbs like “planning a project”, “improving a process”, ‘writing a story”, “evaluating people”, “framing a problem”, “framing actions” It is easier to ask for examples of these and evaluate the answers to compare with what you need. Also consider what the candidate might need to be doing after one or two years on the job.  Read the post

2.  Look deeper into your needs:

There are two kinds of skills. There are basic skills like coding, selling, writing, planning….. Then their applied skills like using computers, using Photoshop or SAP. The latter type of skills are about specific tools or being used to working on a specific platform. Avoid the mistake of looking only at the latter of the above two types of skills. You may know how to use MSWord well, but that doesn’t mean that you can write well. Read the post

3. Observe:

Talented people are passionate about doing things which utilize their talents. They forget everything else when they get going. They don’t waste time. They don’t wait for formal instructions. They simply start doing things. Observe them. Read the post

4. Ask & listen:

He was excited  and proud as he talked. He was passionate.  He had no experience. But he clearly had taken on a challenge. He had gone into details. He had identified root causes and solution to at least one of them by talking to his colleagues. He also got the solution implemented.  Talented people put their soul in their work and they take on challenges. So ask and listen to them. Read the post

5.  Be ready:

Talented people are restless and they try to improve their knowledge and skills all the time. They put in extra efforts for this. They do it on their own. It may seem abnormal and paranoid of them.  Read the post

6. Draw them out (you will need someone as talented)

Talented people love appreciation of finer aspects of their work. They also love informed criticism. These are their rewards. They thrive on such rewards. Read the post

7. Waste their time and observe (you don’t need any talent to waste their time, but you do need talent to observe)

Talented people hate wasting their time in doing things that are not or can’t be done well. Waste their time and sense their frustration. Read the post

8. Ask them & listen

Talented people seek help in order to do a much better job. Ask them about their teachers, trainers, instructors, coaches, mentors. You will learn plenty. Read the post

9. Look at who gather around them

Talented people recognize talent in others even if the talent is unrelated to their own area. Yes, they have a knack of knowing and and a yen for sticking around with talented people. But you need some talent to recognize all this yourself :-) Read the post

So we need to look for certain behaviors, we need to ask pertinent questions, we need to shut up, we need to listen & observe, and we need to have some talent ourselves for us to recognize talent.

Does your hiring process and your development process incorporate the above?

A very systematic program for developing your own talent of leadership and recognizing talent in your people is in the book ‘Lead to Regenerate

Interactive coaching based programs are available via our web site at www.learning-leaership.com

 About me:

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadership coaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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How do you brand ‘thinking’ ?

When some eminent intellectuals of Pune, got together with an idea  of setting up a think tank, they needed to communicate:

PIC LOGOPune has always been a city of learning, scholarship, values, enlightened thinking and action. The city today boasts of the presence of thought leaders from all walks of life be it art, culture, education, law, science, engineering, politics, trade, commerce, manufacturing industry, knowledge based services, and so on. The Pune International Center (PIC) is a world class think tank, it provides a public forum for free & fair debates on policy, and it promotes art and culture.

That was the design challenge. We needed to communicate profound and abstract thinking prowess. We needed to reflect aspirations, yet bring out the quality of intellectual output rising above the ordinary.

After much brain storming a logo concept was finalized and designed by Falguni Gokhale, Director Visual Communications, Design Directions, Pune.

About the logo:

Lotus which is a symbol of beauty, art, intelligence, enlightenment and growth was chosen. The ‘whirls’ signify churning (manthan) of thoughts which bring out the core or the essence. The gold signifies purity of thought, the burgundy-pink express the youth and festivities and the blue signifies wisdom of people of Pune. The traditional motif in ‘international’ context creates a modern but timeless expression.

The logo received CII Design Excellence Award.

The PIC produces its brochures and policy papers under this identity and these are well received. PIC


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More important than finding a good job and securing that elusive promotion

With the conclusion of the series : “How to recognize talent?” when we were looking at others,  it is time to turn our attention to ourselves -to our talent.

If you don’t know what your talent is, it doesn’t mean that you have no talent. It simply means that you haven’t stumbled on it yet, unlike the luckier ones who did so. I think some of the most important questions one can ask oneself are:

“What am I good at?”

“How do I find it?”

“How do I build on it?”

“How do I make it a part of my life and work?”

I have met some people who not only found their talents but they also could make it an important part of their careers and life. I haven’t met more energetic, open, and happier people than them.

Therefore finding one’s talent and making it a nice part of one’s life is clearly the most important task. It is more important than finding a good job and securing that elusive promotion. You may land that so called ‘good job’ but your heart may not be in it and after some years you would be at loss to understand what has gone wrong despite all signs of success.

We owe it to ourselves to persist with this quest.

Our ‘Regenerative Leadership’ programs help in your quest.

Interested in knowing more about our Regenerative Leadership programs? Get in touch with me.

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadership coaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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A unique talent

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Salil, 35 owns and leads a medium size successful company which he built over just five years. His company manufactures precision parts needed by automotive safety subsystems like airbags and seat belts. He had worked in an automotive OEM major as a mechanical design engineer for about seven years. His stint as a mechanical design engineer provided him with good insights into the technical aspects of the precision parts needed in cars. He knew that various automotive parts interacted with each other in many ways during and after assembly and during actual use -and not all these aspects ever get documented and get into the spec sheets. As a result, typically OEMs ask for much tighter specs than needed.

As he turned 30, he felt that his insights like the one above could be used to economically manufacture parts and assemblies that performed well when assembled into automobiles. He decided to quit his job and start his own venture. After some years of struggle to get a chance to prove his ideas in manufacturing he received trial orders. He funded all this through his savings and from his family and friends. His company and its precision parts soon became well known among automotive industry. One business magazine interviewed him and his team for their cover story.

When asked about his success, Salil said, “I think I was lucky to come across many talented people -our designers, manufacturing technologists, purchasers and even back office people are exceptionally talented. I am fortunate that they chose to work with me and continued to do so for all these years. It is one thing to have great ideas, but it is another thing to have good people. Without good people your ideas are worth nothing” His people said about Salil, ” He is like a magnet who draws us to him and he draws the best out of us”. His manufacturing technology guy said, “I think he put more faith in me than I was prepared to put in myself” Another of his key people said, “We vigorously argue on technical matters. We often have shoot-outs for selecting correct technical solutions. But when we make decisions we match up up well about the values involved -e.g. all of us agree to delay a shipment if we are not 100% sure of quality and we do this even if there is risk of annoying our customer because we are sure that we will be able to convince the customer about our choice.”

Salil said about himself, ‘ I come from a modest background. It helped that we lived frugally and it meant that we thought deeply about everything. Another things which I always do is to ask around for ideas, guidance, and help from everyone I meet. I often give an impression that I am wasting time in talking to what many would consider as people of less education or experience or caliber. But I have always found that there is something to learn”

Salil obviously is gifted with a keen mind, an eye for talent, willingness to learn and try, and humility. He may or may not have commonly known talents like public speaking, communication skills, coding  some art, but he is uniquely talented.

Interested in knowing more about our Regenerative Leadership programs? Get in touch with me.

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadershipcoaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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At a boot camp of a start-up in Agri business

Boot Camp

The weekend’s Saturday saw me participating in boot camp of a start-up in Agri business. Well, it was a pre start-up stage. The business entity is yet to be formed. But the core group of 7-8 people was huddled together planning activities over next three months and beyond. They had spend last about an year reaching into the market places and shaping their ideas.

Most of them were men in their twenties and thirties brought together by a ‘veteran’ who must be in his forties. Two other veteran’s couldn’t make it due to unavoidable reasons.

The group’s veterans were concerned about going forward without doing enough about developing their core team to take on various roles which would unravel as their business starts and picks up momentum. So, they had called me to help out.

Instead of typical psychological, motivational, or behavioral assessment stuff I discussed with them about their immediate goals and ways of achieving them. I also suggested them to think along two time windows -the next 3 months’ window and the 4 to 12 months’ window for figuring out ways of doing those activities.

This morning, the ‘veteran’ sent me a summary of the boot camp. He added a small comment:

My take: 
Operations Group was much more organized and quite logical in understanding various steps and identifying the sub-processes and projects. Their group dynamics was also quite promising. Each team member absorbed your coaching and their learning. However, they are too weak in English language. 
The Preparations Group was not organized. They had to reworked on one document and could not complete the another document. There was complete lack of group dynamics. 

It is clear, that the boot camp was quite productive. Not only they know much better about what all they need to do and how, but they also have a good idea about what kind of talent they have and what are the gaps which they will need to plug. The allocation of talent can now happen in more relaxed and rational manner.

One can also discern a remarkable and unconventional leadership by the veterans in shaping a business vision and bringing some capable people together!

I used some workouts from www.learning-leadership.com and my Lead to Regenerate book for the boot camp. We shall have follow up sessions and an extensive workshop down the line.

My point is: Tweet: we can recognize talent (and nurture it) through some very productive, engaging , and innovative ways like these http://ctt.ec/KYb8b+

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Brand identity & visual language

It is very easy to try very hard at creating a brand identity through a so called ‘visual language’. When you try to convey things in ‘clever’ ways the results seem to be contrived. This can also happen if you try to convey too many things or if you try to combine different visual elements assuming that the result of combining them will be ‘additive’. It doesn’t work that way.

A brand identity, on the other hand, must grow out of the essence of the brand in a visual form, so that it works and continues to work for you.  Here is a great example:

wpid-wp-1411529990848.jpeg‘Pune Farmers’ Market‘ conceptualized and established by Karen Anand, a well known Culinary expert and food writer, is the first whole foods and lifestyle market and a source of exceptional Indian and International produce. When it needed to convey the essence of its offering. Falguni Gokhale, Director Visual Communications, Design Directions, Pune came up with this. wpid-wp-1411530003127.jpegInvoking the freshness of farm produce and joy associated with consuming it through a familiar visual has helped brand. The market has now spread to Mumbai, Gurgaon, Goa, and to Kolkata.



(The above logos, trademarks etc. remain the property of respective owners. They have been shown only for the purpose of illustration of the above point)



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How to recognize talent? -8

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Shalini works as a manager of the consumer loan processing department in a finance company. She spends long hours at work. Frustrated with long hours, which were taking a toll on her family life, she decided to do something about it. A bit of reconstructing of her typical day-at-work showed to her that she was spending majority of her time (over 60%) in meeting deadlines or in dealing with complaints from customers or audit observations.

Shalini met Alec, her engineer friend, who had worked on the shop floor and was not averse to jumping into new areas. Alec told her that so many ‘rejects’ and ‘rework’ (his shop floor words) meant there is a problem ‘upstream’. In other words, the loan processing work flow needed some serious fixing. He showed her how to make flow charts and how to put some data there. Shalini was determined to put an end to those frustrating deadlines, audit questions and reprocessing. She decided to investigate as per Alec’s suggestions.

She made flow-charts of loan processing work.  As Alec had told, her she examined various parts of the work flow and guessed what could be the problem areas. She called Alec again to share her hunches with him. She then called for quick discussion on the problem area with her team and redesigned the ‘troublesome’ part of the work flow.  Over next three to four weeks, she started experiencing periods of ‘lull’ at work. A bit unnerved, she obtained feedback from other departments and found that things were going on quite smoothly.

Talented people seek help. They seek out mentors, teachers, or trainers or anyone who might provide insights into what they might need to do in order to do a much better job.

A workbook for you

A workbook for you

Tweet: Talented people seek help. They seek out mentors, teachers, or trainers They are also keen learners.

Have you come across such people?

For more such stories of talented people and how they can improve further, please use “Lead to Regenerate” program book. The book has a complete practice program for practicing and improving your talents further. You can also sign up and enrol in the web based coaching programs at Learning Leadership.

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What’s all this?


Can you guess what all happens here?

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Do your corporate communications help your sales people? (a design challenge)

A field hardened sales chief once remarked that a key audience group of your marketing material is your sales team. He was so right!

In a previous post I illustrated use of visual language for communicating brand or product identity message. Brand message needs to be simple. But we also need to communicate complex messages related to a corporate brand or a complex product or a suite of offerings. The challenge for visual communications here is entirely different.

An engineering group having presence in textile engineering, liquid transfer, high speed print solutions, machine to machine communications, and clean technology through several business entities, the design challenge was to communicate all these under a single corporate master brand umbrella.

Corporate brochure center spread

Corporate brochure center spread

Such complex information places considerable cognitive load and a reader may gloss over some important part of the message. The base requirement in the above situation was that the reader should be able to visually register in her mind the corporate brand, several lines of business, and existence of business entities. She can then pay more attention to area of her immediate interest. The corporate brochure was well received by the company’s existing and prospective clients.

What’s more, the above corporate brochure became an important marketing collateral. It directly addressed the needs of sales engineers in early stage communications in a typical sales cycle -when you are introducing your company.  Imagine a sales engineer having to explain the above message! He might either lose the attention of his prospective customer or he may rush through his talk by skipping what might be relevant!

Communications need to be put in the context of business processes like selling or buying. That’s another design challenge! Tweet: Communications need to be put in the context of business processes like selling or buying. A #design challenge. http://ctt.ec/br3X4+

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You don’t deserve what you waste: Is talent one such thing?


Since you need talented people for working on your organization’s goals, you need to make sure that they don’t waste their time on anything that doesn’t create value. Since we have been giving a lot of thought to ‘talent’, it makes sense to list down what all are those time-busting activities.

Gossip, rumor mongering, and time on personal social media are the obvious wasters. But I could write down the following activities which appear like work and can indeed end up your time sheets and inflate your demand for people. Tweet: Are you wasting talent? http://ctt.ec/oQ81A+

1. Redoing something that was done with errors. You may have to do it but it is not good work because it is wasteful. (e.g. your report comes back to you with comments on missing parts, errors, etc.)

2. Reminding people. You may have to do it but it is not good work because it wastes your time. (e.g. you remind your colleagues for same work again and again. Your project management becomes a de-facto reminder service.)

3. Reinventing the wheel. It is not good work because you are not using what has been done before. You haven’t prepared and planned your work well. ( e.g. You know that someone has done a similar engineering analysis and you haven’t simply cared to find it and your deadline has passed. Now you are breathlessly working on it.)

4. Meetings that are only for information sharing. No sooner than the presentation is over the meeting is declared to be over, may be with just one or two questions. Information is best shared through write ups, charts, pictures or videos. Discussion based on a previously shared information and agenda is much more efficient. Attending former kind of meetings is definitely not good work even if you are ‘colluding’ with your boss in this!

Read about more such time wasters here

You know nature takes away what you don’t use well or waste. One can spend away money, one can let ideas rot, and one can suffer bad health by not exercising (not using your body fully). One can waste talent. It is not surprising that talented people don’t like their talents to be misused or unused.

Talent walks out in such situations leaving you to wonder about employee attrition.

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