Talent Pump

The best way to raise the level of incompetence of an organization is with a talent pump. It's a two-stroke process that works as follows ...

CarverMead pointed this out to me in the context of sudden and huge industrial funding of VLSI design research. His preference: modest but steady funding increases as he builds his organizations with the best that CalTech has to offer.

Why does lowering the level of funding cause competent staff to move out, rather than the opportunists? In my experience, competent staff are more likely to care about group culture and challenge than about money.

What I've seen is that lowering the level of funding 'significantly causes both the competent and the opportunists to leave. So over several iterations of the pump, your pool does get diluted.

See also PeterPrinciple.


A simpler and more reliable kind of talent pump:

The positive feedback is limited by the propensity of people to change job. -- LorenzoGatti


Interesting background assumption that the organisation is best served by having the most talented people or those with the highest market value. Am told by Japanese friends that some companies there deliberately avoid the top 10% of ability because they are considered more dysfunctional than useful. AndrewCates

That depends on how you define "ability." If you're careful about who you hire, you will look for people who improve the effectiveness of your organization while fitting into it. And you will avoid hiring warm bodies just to fill empty seats, even if you're desperate. Often this means you can (and should) pay more for good performance. Ironically, this hiring practice also usually means money is the least of the staff's cares, such that the best performers end up not having the highest market value.


Companies don't really want "talent". They want "team players" who make the boss look good and don't rock the boat.

Depends on the company. The ones I've worked for really do want talent, because they're small-to-midsize startups that go out of business if they don't have it. Doesn't do much good to make the boss look good if the boss is out of a job. -- JonathanTang

Of course, being a "team player", making the boss look good, and keeping the boat steady could all be considered talents of their own.

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