Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Rare Find

We're all about talent- identifying it, developing it, and making it work for your business. Fulfilled people are happy workers, after all.

Talent spotting isn't easy. You may obviously see a spark in someone, but what if another is hiding their light under a filing cabinet? How do you coax it out into the open and make it valuable? 

People promote their abilities differently- and sometimes they don't at all. Most managers say they just feel something in their gut that tells them whether they can entrust someone with a promotion, project or particularly tricky task. That's not identifying talent- that's winging it and hoping your instinct pays off.

A lot of very gifted people go undeveloped in businesses around the World just because managers believe "they know a good one when they see it." They often don't. Missing one great asset to a company is one too many. People stagnate without a challenge, or the chance to put their natural gifts into practice. Sometimes, they leave for pastures new. In turn, businesses lose out, and incur costs hiring replacement staff or even engaging consultants. (No, that's not how we work, as we explain here.)

Identifying talent is a huge challenge for businesses today. The podcast below is a talk given by author George Anders, a founding member of Bloomberg View's board of editors. For twenty years he was a top feature writer for The Wall Street Journal as part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize.

How do we recognise greatness? The world-wide hunt for talent has never been more ambitious, more systematic -- and more frustrating. It's time to redefine how we think about talent, and to come to terms with three major blind spots in the ways that most organisations hunt for superstars. Better approaches are within reach, as shown by the successful, maverick methods of the world's best talent spotters. This event marks the publication of George Anders new book The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else.

The Lean Startup: an LSE podcast

The London School of Economics share some fascinating and enlightening podcasts of talks and events they host, featuring speakers from the worlds of economics, politics, business and social work. They cover a variety of topics and I thought the below to be an exceptional example of how starting a business doesn't mean huge outlay and fancy trappings. As the 37Signals team say- "Do it right, then make it better." (I highly recommend their book ReWork.)

Most new businesses fail. But most of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach to business that's being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It's about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it's too late. Now is the time to think Lean. This event marks the publication of Eric Ries new book The Lean Startup. Eric Ries is an entrepreneur and author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup and the popular entrepreneurship blog Startup Lessons Learned.He co-founded and served as CTO of IMVU, his third startup. In 2007, BusinessWeek named him one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs of Tech. In 2009, he was honored with a TechFellow award in the category of Engineering Leadership. He serves on the advisory board of a number of technology startups, and has consulted to new and established companies as well as venture capital firms. He is currently serving as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School and a Fellow for IDEO, the design consulting firm. His Lean Startup methodology has been written about in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, the Huffington Post, and many blogs.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Creativity, Bravery- and Desert Island Discs

Jimmy Mulville is a former comedian and actor, starring in Alan Bleasdale's seminal G.B.H. and Jake's Progress. As a founder of Hat Trick Productions, he's now a man responsible for making the nation laugh more than most.

Hat Trick have brought to our screens both the the irreverence of Have I Got News For You and the drama of Case Sensitive alongside ratings hits Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Outnumbered and Father Ted.

Jimmy recently appeared on Desert Island Discs to select his 'favourite things' to be cast away with. We loved it. You can listen here. 
As he talked we realised that there was a bigger story to be told than just his selections for easy island listening; there were some lessons we can all take from his experiences.

     Jimmy set up Hat Trick Productions with Rory McGrath and Denise O'Donoghue in 1986 to get their own shows made but quickly realised that a forward-thinking and truly open company was also a perfect creative outlet for others. It was their then-unique and quick-fire attitude to making TV comedy that saw them build a reputation for originality and a queue of the best TV creatives beating a path to their door.

·    BRAVE
     Becoming an actor was a boyhood dream- Jimmy's commitment and focus to this ensured he strove to get seen and heard by key players in the media. His decision to move into production in response to his own personal need to get things done shows that sometimes, waiting for others to make it happen isn't going to work. You just have to be brave and do it for yourself.

     As a child, Jimmy was encouraged in Latin and Greek by a teacher; his appreciation for this support informs his adult decisions, and he has in turn nurtured a supportive and creative environment in his business.

·    He acknowledges that he had an enormous bit of luck when he was in a play purely because they needed a Liverpool accent – this led to his joining Footlights and enjoying great success and ready access to creative media minds. Getting this opportunity has made him take a gamble on people he's not known too well based on whether they meet his need, he meets theirs- and whether his instinct says 'Go for it'.

     Jimmy sadly took to using drink and drugs in sorrow over his father's death. It was when he recognised this as a coping mechanism and acknowledged his own destructive behaviour that he was able to grieve properly and eventually use his experience to coach others. The investment he made in rehab taught him that overcoming adversity isn't just about being able to pay for it- it's the behavioural changes that are needed that make you really dig deep.

·        His business partner in Hat Trick was also his wife, and when his marriage ended they realised quickly that there had to be compromise; agreements had to be made as so many other careers depended upon their leadership and focus.

     Jimmy admits he is melancholic by nature and goes out of his way to put laughter in his life to balance it out. This understanding of his weakness shows his determination to counteract negativity and introduce positive action for greater success.  


Space to create

Yesterday I met with a fascinating character, Jon Bartlett, the power behind Project Libero, a fresh and grounded approach to coaching. Over lunch we chatted about the potential for Libero and Treacletiger, and the roads that brought us to our current positions.

Jon clearly has a talent for identifying individuals' 'drivers', the motivating factors behind our behaviours and the decisions we make. It's not just the extensive training he's undertaken, but his own experiences and instincts that inform his creative and effective approach to coaching. It was wonderful to meet a coach so committed to his clients' wellbeing. 

Jon and I have chatted via Twitter for a while now and it's always interesting to meet someone for that otherwordly place; will there be stilted silences or a fight to promote one's own interests at the cost of good discussion and shared experience? Fortunately for me, Jon was even more personable and delightful in reality, so I felt that the meeting was over all too soon.

The conversation turned to NASA (what? It happens) and Jon revealed to me that he has stood on the floor of Mission Control, revelling in the history and human endeavour represented by the place. He's clearly inspired by man's quest for adventure and knowledge, and sees clearly how that same spirit can be instilled in a business using simple and effective techniques.

Jon is cycling London in support of Mind, a magnificent charity that's doing great things to challenge the stigma of mental health issues, and the difficulties faced by those suffering. With 1 in 4 people set to experience depression in their lives, and workplace stress fast becoming the leading cause- and cost- of absenteeism, supporting Mind's Time To Change campaign is essential for business.

You can sponsor Jon here.

The Treacletiger project is bringing some truly inspired and inspiring people into our network; we're very excited about this, and where it will take us.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Going live

So what's 'going live' all about, apart from being a fondly-remembered Saturday morning show of yesteryear?

Today, Treacletiger goes live online. This is both impossibly exciting, and the culmination of approximately three years' work. So we hope you like what you see.

We've kept it simple- our belief in getting the basics right and then developing, growing and learning as we go- and making things better. We'd love your feedback and thoughts on what you'd like to see on there.

We've been 'open for business' for a little while now, but our online home cements the deal. We are here to stay, and here for your business.