The Talent Function

I really like this quote from Warren Buffet. 

Three traits to look for in recruiting the best people:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Energy
  3. Integrity

But what good are the first two without the third one?

So Integrity first (or squared for emphasis)…then intelligence plus the energy to use it plentifully and you have yourself an organizational winner!

Related to this, I saw someone on the train today with a tee shirt (from Sweet Green…not sure why this is their slogan) that said:




This seemed like a good motto to me define the energy (#2) in Buffet’s top 3 items for recruiting. 

With a clear intent plus the compelling feeling to achieve it, you got energy to apply.

The resulting function: 

Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy (or Passion x Purpose), Integrity Squared}

Now that’s a recruiting formula we can all follow–thank you Mr. Buffet. 😉

(Source Photo: LinkedIn)

>The Three I’s and Enterprise Architecture


One question that is frequently asked in enterprise architecture is whether new technologies should be adopted early (more cutting edge) or later (more as quick followers). Of course, the third course of action is to close ones eyes or resist change and simply “stay the course.”

The advantages to bleeding edge technology adoption is having the early advantage over competitors in the marketplace (this head start provides the ability to incorporate innovation into products early and capture a hefty market share and quite possibly dominance), while the advantage to quick followers being learning from mistakes of others, building from their initial investments and a more mature technology base (for example, with software, one where the bugs have been worked out) thereby potentially enabling a leapfrog effect over competitors. The advantage to staying the course is organizational stability in the face of market turmoil; however, this is usually short lived, as change overwhelms those resistant, as the flood waters overflow a levee.

The Wall Street Journal 5-6 July 2008 has an interview with Theodore J. Frostmann, a billionaire private-equity businessman, who tells of Warren Buffet’s “rule of the three ‘I’s,” which is applicable to the question of timing on technology adoption.

“Buffet once told me there are three ‘I’s in every cycle. The ‘innovator,’ that’s the first ‘I’. After the innovator comes the ‘imitator.’ And after the imitator in the cycle comes the idiot. So when…we’re at the end of an era it’s another way of saying…that the idiots have made their entrance.”

I relate the innovator and the early adopter in their quest for performance improvement and their sharing the early competitive advantage of innovation.

Similarly, I associate the imitator with the quick followers in their desire to learn from others and benefits from their investments. They recognize the need to compete in the marketplace with scarce economic resources and adapt mindfully to changes.

Finally, I relate the idiots that Warren Buffet refers to with those that ignore or resist change. Often these organizations mistake their early market success for dominance and in their arrogance, refuse to cede to the need to adjust to changing circumstance. Alternatively, these enterprises are truly ignorant of the requisite to adapt, grow, mature, and transform over time, and they mistakenly believe that simply sitting behind the cash register and waiting for customers is the way to run a business (versus a Costco whose warehouse, wholesale model has turned the nature of the business on its head).

In architecting the enterprise, innovation and imitation, while not without cost and risk, will generally speaking be highly rewarded by superior products and services, greater market share and more loyal customers, and a culture of success in the face of constant change. You don’t need to look far for examples: Apple, 3M, P&G, Intel, Toyota, Amazon, and more.

>Fear, Greed and Enterprise Architecture


Fear and greed can have a huge influence on our decision making processes. Rather than making rational, informed decisions, we are driven by fear and greed and herd mentality to do stupid things.

Irrational decisions driven by fear and greed are the antithesis of rational, well-thought out decisions driven by enterprise architecture planning and governance.

In an interview with Fortune Magazine 28 April 2008 (and on a day of teaching students from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business), Warren Buffet stated: “when people panic, when fear takes over, or when greed takes over, people react just as irrationally as they have in the past.”

Similarly, in The Wall Street Journal 18 April 2008, an MIT financial economist, Andrew Lo, stated: “You have to understand the mechanism of how fear and greed impact market decisions.”

Fear and greed are affected by our endocrine system. According to Andrew Lo, “for better or for worse, biochemistry makes money go to our heads. ‘We need to understand that physiological aspects of brain behavior really impact financial decisions.”

Testosterone is the hormone that makes us irrationally exuberant, confident and greedy, and another hormone, cortisol, causes us to feel fear and gloom.

Do these hormones and the resulting emotions we feel impact our decisions and behavior?

Your bet!

“Among males and females, testosterone is a natural component in the chemistry of competition…it enhances persistence, fearlessness, and a willingness to take risks. Among athletes it rises in victory, and falls in defeat. “

Endocrinologists have identified “the ‘winners’ effect,’ in which successive victories boost levels of testosterone higher and higher, until the winner is drunk with success—so overconfident that he can no longer think clearly, assess risk properly or make sound decisions.” On the opposite side of the spectrum, “too much cortisol, secreted in response to stress, might in turn make them overly shy of risk.”

In the face of fear and greed, decision making is impaired and becomes irrational. Decisions are no longer driven by the facts on the ground or by judicious planning or sound governance that comes with disciplines like enterprise architecture. Instead, people become slaves to their hormones and emotional effects.

In Fortune Magazine, Warren Buffet warned against falling into the fear/greed trap of decision making. He stated: “I always say you should get greedy when other are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. But that’s too much to expect. Of course [at a minimum] you shouldn’t get greedy when others get greedy and fearful when others get fearful.”

Rather than optimizing decision making, our fears and greed destabilize our ability to think clearly and rationally. When this happens, we need to rely more than ever on our enterprise architecture target and plans and on our governance processes, so that we stay focused on our goals and path to them and not be sidetracked by, as Alan Greenspan stated, “irrational exuberance” or irrational fears.