I was at a dinner last week for street pastors and the speaker, Oliver Nyumbu of caret, talked about not being driven by a deficate model, in other words focus in people’s strengths not their weaknesses. We do this in all walks of life. Our child gets an A for Maths and a C for English, so we focus on improving the English rather than the Maths. Why? People have talents, we present natural ability in some areas more than others. Let’s grow the talent.
There was much in what he said that I could relate to the organisation for which I work. We use sets of competencies, insisting that everyone live up to this lowest common denominator. We put aside too often the fact that people are naturally gifted in some areas more than others. When we have people who are extraordinarily talented in some way (and often rather deficient in another) we don’t know how to deal with them. We tend to leave them to ‘get on with it’ and they are unmanaged, loose cannons. The result is they create as much chaos as they produce solutions, because no one understands what they do. Ultimately, by not properly using the talent we end up loosing it because people feel undervalued.
I’m not sure about the practical aspects of this; it is obvious that some level of competency is required. You can’t have a group of people trotting around doing only that thing for which they have a talent – too many things would just not get done then. Nonetheless, it was a challenging message.
You can teach a turkey to climb a tree, but it’s cheaper to hire a squirrel.