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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Clever People

The authors of 'Clever' show how organizations can better serve their most valuable employees. The authors of "Clever: Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People" -- Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones make some points.

Clever people need teams in which to operate. They may not always be team players, but they cannot flourish as soloists either.

So managers must make sure their teams allow their clever people's talents to be exploited. "In our experience," the authors say, "the best clever teams are not designed; they find each other."

The challenge is clear. In the future, the authors say: "The most effective clever organizations will be collections of value networks, or . . . temporary value chains. These deliver a particular project or perform as a particular team and then, once they have completed their work, are reabsorbed in other places."

So this is the central task for leaders and managers: "Creating attractive places for clever people to express themselves."

The authors provide an insightful description of the anatomy of clever employees. Clever people know their worth, they say. They ask difficult questions. Cleverness is central to their identity. And they are not impressed by corporate hierarchy. "They claim they do not want to be led, and they are absolutely certain that they don't want to be managed," Goffee and Jones say.

Clever people do need boundaries and simple rules. Leaders should protect their "clevers" from "organizational rain" -- the nonsense, the politics and the aggravation of organizational life. If not they will leave, and form their own 'clever organization'.

Then again, "Sometimes I am so clever that I don't understand a single word of what I am saying. "

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