Tag Archive for: Leadership


You’ve got to fight for your right to innovate

If reaching optimal brain function requires longer than an hour-long meeting, we must schedule time for innovation, argues Adam Kingl.

Written by
Adam Kingl, author, keynote speaker and advisor

15 Jul 2020

In my many conversations with organisations about their quest to be more creative, the challenge that I hear more than any other is, ‘We just don’t have enough time.’ Yet these same organisations complain that their relevance is declining daily because they are not as innovative as they need to be, governed by the tyranny of the daily schedule, the hundred emails, the endless conference calls.

So I offer one hack for individuals and organisations to be more creative that has little to do with bringing in jugglers, sticky notes on the wall, or foosball tables – be disciplined about carving out time to dream, brainstorm, prototype and look outside your immediate silo. After advising companies whose very existence depends on their creative capacity, such as Disney and Pixar, I found one crystal clear distinction in their daily habits versus those in organisations from just about any other industry. Companies who depend on innovation prioritise it in their daily activities. I know – shocking idea, right?

But I’m not asking you to trust my own experience or instinct. Let’s look to the neuroscience as to why this advice may be mission critical. We cannot trust that only hurried, captured moments of precious time for creativity will yield anything but paltry results. Our brains can’t turn on the creative magic for such short, unsustained periods of time.

It’s a state of mind

There are several brain states from deep sleep to normal consciousness to deep focus and peak performance. The higher the performing brain, the higher the brain wave frequency, hence Hertz is the degree of measurement. Our typical brain state during a normal work day is beta (14-30 Hz). You might disagree and suggest it’s theta (4-8 Hz), which is light sleep, and I would neither agree or disagree with you until I experienced your employer! But beta is probably our normal state and theta when we’re in committee meetings, agreed? Beta is what we require of our brains to accomplish our normal tasks of answering emails and solving our workaday problems.

Neuroscientific research has revealed that our brains can stay in beta for a long time and in fact are conditioned to stay there. As a result, if we crank the mental engine to get up to gamma (30-70 Hz) for peak performance and creative thinking the brain through habit easily and proactively usually drags us back to beta. Therefore, if we need our brains to be in gamma in order to be truly innovative, genuinely adding previously unheard of insight and exponentially big ideas, our brains would struggle to do that in, say, a one-hour meeting once a week, no doubt in the creative committee meeting! Beta state is like a constant and familiar noise; it’s the ever-present static of our work lives that can block gamma state. I compare it to how it’s hard for me to think when I’m eating an apple because I have this magnified constant crunching noise in the echo chamber of my skull.

We can’t shut off the laundry list of actions and decisions we have to make, even if we’re completely confident in our ability to make them. Beta is our habit, our rhythm, our tyranny. Because we don’t have balance between the mundane and the creative, we can’t achieve innovation even if we give ourselves those fleeting thirty minutes a week to do so. We have to fight for our right to be innovators.



Should We Focus On Our Strengths Or Our Weaknesses?

Perspectives: Should we focus on our strengths or our weaknesses?
Written by
Adam Kingl, author, keynote speaker and advisor

04 Nov 2019

Our willingness to focus on negatives has persisted since the post-war era, and this includes our approach to talent management. Shifting emphasis from weakness to strengths can help transform personal development, argues Adam Kingl.

The ways in which we consider and develop talent are still largely derived from military influence on leadership in the wake of the Second World War, as imported into the business world from generations entering the workforce upon their release from service, and the “delete all errors” foundations of scientific management.

Our talent experiences these foundations as a two-pronged pincer assault on their weaknesses. The implications are that they are never good enough, always wary of slipping up, and their fleeting moments of pride and job satisfaction are quickly subsumed by frequent reminders of their own inadequacies.

Assessing strengths vs weaknesses

Consider your own experience of talent-assessment reports in the organisations in which you have worked; 99% of you will probably recall an almost universal way in which these reports are organised: your strengths and your weaknesses.

Now remember how you read and reflected on this assessment. For most of us it went something like this:

Strengths: “Oh, I’m pleased that I have done well here. I know that I’m good at these things.”

Reader now dismisses and forgets this section entirely. Similarly, their manager opens a development conversation with these strengths for all of five minutes, then never mentions them again.

Weaknesses: “Oh no, I’m not good enough. I’m a terrible colleague and an embarrassment to my family. I’m wholly inadequate. And who was that traitor who gave me ones across the board in my 360?!”

Reader obsesses about this section for the next eight months, and their manager is similarly obsessed, beginning every conversation with a progress report and feedback on how well the weaknesses are being addressed.

The positive effect of building on strengths
This is a deficits-based approach to talent assessment. It implies that the best way for our people to develop is to focus on and improve those things at which they are terrible. There’s a massive and obvious problem with this philosophy. Allow me to explain with a personal story.

When I was about 12 years old, my parents took me on holiday to a ski resort. I was hopeless on skis; ragingly atrocious. I was holding onto a rope (my only job was to hang onto the rope quietly and do nothing else) that would drag me up the kiddy slope…and I fell over. Since no one behind me could ski either, and I couldn’t navigate out of the way, everyone fell on top of me – a novice skier puppy pile. My nose met my tonsils, as I was squashed into the bottom of a Black Forest Gateau of helmets, scarves and skis, a tartiflette of flattened bodies and egos.

Now, here’s the point: imagine I’d spent the rest of my life attempting to be a world-class professional skier. That was never going to happen, and I don’t regret it. I pursued hobbies that I enjoyed and academic topics about which I was either curious or had some natural aptitude.

I’m sure that for most people this is completely normal and ‘commonsensical’. Yet in most companies today, incredibly, we assess and spend our development resources as if we want to turn our ‘worst skiers’ into ‘average skiers’.

Developing world-class qualities

Wouldn’t our organisations be stronger and our people more fulfilled and successful if we identified their strongest skills and invested in turning those great attributes into absolutely world-class skills?

The shift we are just beginning to experience is from deficit-focused performance management (improving one’s weaknesses) to a focus on strengths. If we work on our weaknesses, most likely we can at best hope to improve those areas from ‘weak’ to ‘mediocre’ or ‘barely passable’ and only after an unconscionable amount of unfulfilling graft and attention.

If we work on our strengths, we have at least some chance, maybe even a reasonable one, of improving those qualities to ‘world class’, which will have a stronger impact on us individually and on the success of our organisations.

What do you want to tell your customers?

“Everyone in our company is world class at something, and we’ve worked hard on that.”

Or: “Everyone in our company is at least average in everything, and we’ve worked hard on that.”

Generational shifts
This shift from weakness-based assessment to strength-based assessment will only accelerate as generation Y (millennials) grow in numbers to become the majority of the global working population. As one typical way in which a generation develops its attitudes is its reaction to previous generation(s), gen Y is clearly embracing a healthier approach to self-regard, celebrating what colleagues can bring to the table.

Positive psychology is also a harbour from the ceaseless economic and socio-political breakers crashing into generation Y’s already justifiably shaky sense of security and confidence.

Adam Kingl is the author of Next Generation Leadership and a keynote speaker, educator and advisor. He was previously the regional managing director, Europe, for Duke Corporate Education (Duke University), and the executive director of Thought Leadership and Learning Solutions at London Business School.

Financial Times Logo

How Lockdown Is Changing Decision Making

By Dawn Cowie, The Financial Times

People Feature

28 April 2020


The Covid-19 lockdown should be used to usher in a new era of more devolved decision making and put an end to control freakery, say experts.

Leaders have an opportunity to learn from the crisis by stamping out micromanagement and trusting more in the expertise of managers that have kept businesses running smoothly in unprecedented times.

Some firms have been taking the lockdown as an opportunity to streamline and speed up decision-making procedures that are too cumbersome.

Adam Kingl, author of Next Generation Leadership and keynote speaker, says: “Your people, customers and community are looking for transparency and quick answers. This is not the time for bureaucracy to encumber action.”

Having never run a business remotely before, leaders have been deferring more to specialists in their operational, technology and digital teams.

Chris Mills, a financial services expert at technology consultancy 6point6, says decisions about day-to-day issues, such as client reporting, are being taken “faster than ever”.

People in operations and technology teams at fund firms say getting authorisation to push ahead with existing projects has become much quicker, according to Mr Mills.

Typically, business leaders ask if everything is “as expected” and, if there are no problems, then they give the green light, he adds.

Increased levels of trust in IT and operations chiefs over the lockdown period may have lasting consequences, says Mr Mills.

Now that technology and digital strategy are being recognised as business critical, Mr Mills expects more chief technology and digital officers to be given seats on boards.

Remote working has, however, thrown up particular challenges for firms going through strategic change.

Tim McEwan, culture coach, and former head of leadership and development at Henderson Global Investors, says remote working has slowed down the pace of decision making at one firm going through a transaction.

In normal times, “corridor conversations” play an important role in allowing people to clarify points, where there might be a lack of understanding, he says.

Without these side conversations, people tend to have to go over the issues again in another round of Zoom calls, which may lead to better-quality decisions but it takes longer, says Mr McEwan.

The inability to micromanage the business at a time of crisis has been a real shock for some leaders, particularly traditional owner managers.

Mr McEwan says it has been “an uncomfortable time” for leaders who prefer “closer management” because they cannot “eyeball everyone”.

“Bosses don’t need this level of control,” says Mr McEwan.

“They need to be clear about who holds the decision rights. This must be discussed, agreed and signed off. Then they need to trust people.”

In a “shocking” attempt to retain control, one boss asked staff to wear jackets and ties on Zoom calls at the start of the lockdown, Mr McEwan says.

At another firm, managers wanted daily team gatherings at 5:15pm to talk about what had been done during the day.

The idea backfired because it was seen as a way of checking up on staff and an indication that managers did not trust them, he says.

The flaws that undermine effective decision making in physical meetings can be even worse in virtual meetings, say experts.

While meetings should be about “idea creation”, the reality is that people often sit around “waiting for the leader to say something”, says Mr Kingl.

“This dynamic risks being even worse when teams work remotely. It’s scarily easy for people to be even more silent in a virtual meeting,” he says.

Mr Kingl suggests that managers try holding team discussions on an online discussion board, where everyone is asked to contribute at least three ideas and comment constructively on at least two others.

This means that “introverts can reflect before answering, the less confident can reply thoughtfully and bravely”, says Mr Kingl.

Adding anonymity to contributions reduces the senior voices from owning the lion’s share of the conversation, he adds.

A virtual forum can then be used for part of the discussion or for teams that are particularly diverse.

This approach can help leaders to “bring out the best in everyone”.

Leaders need to be “much more aware of the composition of virtual meetings”, says Mr McEwan, who adds that 20 people on a Zoom call is a nightmare.

“The chair has to work really hard to control the discussion, which may mean they take their eye off the content,” he says.

It may be better for bosses to let someone else control the meeting so they can focus on “the meat” of the discussion.

Experts say the pandemic should not be used as an excuse for putting important decisions on hold, even if they involve a change in direction.

“The pandemic may very well have changed priorities or assumptions about our organisations’ business models, operations models, talent strategies, channels to market or customer segments,” says Mr Kingl.

“It might be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to really take a moment to examine our organisations’ long-held beliefs and ask if they’re still fit for purpose,” he says.


Next Generation Leadership

London Business School

How To Fail Successfully

How to fail successfully
The most innovative companies embed experimentation in their strategy and extract maximum learning from their mistakes.

27 MARCH 2020

Everything has shifted – and it continues to shift. Being able to adapt quickly could make the difference between staying afloat and foundering. Most fundamentally, says Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School, business leaders and managers should reevaluate and think afresh about risk, uncertainty and failure.

“Many organisations have highly structured ‘stage-gate’ processes for managing innovation, as a way of keeping things as orderly and predictable as possible,” he says. “But the reality is that innovation is messy and requires an acceptance of high failure rates. And never more so than in these unprecedented times.”

Many businesses will struggle to embrace this new reality. They might know in theory that failure is meant to be valued, but they’ve not quite put this into practice. Old habits die hard: bosses used to holding postmortems when projects or products fail are now going to need to focus on genuine learning.

“I have seen several companies adopt a zero-tolerance approach to failure,” says Professor Birkinshaw. “The person who failed gets fired, the failure gets swept under the carpet and everyone gets the message that this must not happen again. This creates a fear culture – people follow the rules, whether they make sense or not, and no-one dares try anything new. Not a recipe for success in this world where the context is changing daily.”

Experimentation takes courage
Fortunately, there are some lessons we can all learn from businesses that have taken learning from failure seriously. Tim Harford, author of Adapt, said there were three essential steps: try new things, in the expectation that some will fail; make failure survivable, because it will be common; and make sure that you know when you’ve failed.

Professor Birkinshaw advocates an essential strategic shift for business leaders: fail methodically, through robust experimentation – and learn to maximise your return on failure. This sounds like an excellent plan. So why don’t more people do it?

“When you actually take a business person with responsibilities and a budget and sit them down and say, why don’t you do this as an experiment? They’ll say, ‘No, that won’t work: let’s pilot it or do some more research’,” says Professor Birkinshaw. “Experimentation is beautiful in concept but it’s very difficult for people to have the guts to follow through. An experiment says, let’s run two different pilots. You have to admit that you don’t know the right way forward – and nobody likes to admit that.”

Rajesh Chandy, Professor of Marketing and Academic Director, Wheeler Institute for Business and Development at London Business School, has studied how innovative companies incorporate failure in their corporate culture. He says: “Innovative companies often have asymmetric incentives for enterprise. Enterprising employees in these companies understand that the rewards for success will be much higher than any punishment for failure.”

“It’s not the case that failure has no negative consequences in these companies,” he points out. “Those responsible for failure may get their wings clipped, or may face higher burdens of justification the next time they propose something. But the incentive structure is such that if they succeed, the rewards will be disproportionately higher than any negative consequences should they fail.”

“Moreover, innovative companies manage risk by having a diverse portfolio of innovation projects – some that are quite risky, and many others that are quite safe. They also look outside and capitalise on the risks that others are taking. By letting the ecosystem do some of the risk-taking, they reduce the risks to themselves.”

Professor Birkinshaw recommends drawing up a balance sheet to assess a project’s return on failure. On one side, consider your ‘assets’. These might include: What have you learned about your customers’ needs and preferences? Do you need to change any of your assumptions? What insights have you gained into future trends? What have you discovered about how you work as a team? On the other side, look at your ‘liabilities’: costs, both financial and less tangible costs such as damage to reputation or morale. Bottom line: What are the key insights and takeaways for your business?

Costas Markides, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at LBS, agrees that experiments are crucial in identifying which of your ideas will fly, especially if you’re trying (or indeed forced) to innovate in a company that’s resistant to your big ideas.
“How do you select the good ideas? Try them out. Get the data and then you can say, ‘Look, what do you think about it now?’ Design clever little experiments to try your ideas. Small-scale, low-cost experiments, that get results quickly.”

Great idea – now prove it

This is the tricky part. “You have to bring the learning into the workplace,” says Adam Kingl, an executive education programme director at London Business School. “Realigning our position on failure, risk and experimentation is key. Aim to build a capability throughout the whole organisation so that as many people as possible have a chance to spot and respond to what’s coming in the distance. Leadership is about enabling your team continually to respond, experiment and get in front. If you experiment, by definition you will be more agile.

“Aristotle said, if you want to be a braver person, find a brave person and imitate them. Just by imitating ‘brave’, you will automatically be braver. That’s what experiments are. They give you the opportunity to try or even just imitate ‘agility’. In so doing, you will be more agile in a year’s time. Why do you need to be agile? Because, as one CEO put it, business used to be like trying to spot trends and opportunities when you’re on a swing – you’re are always moving but you can still keep an eye out. Today, it’s like trying to do so while you’re on a rollercoaster. So you need to experiment to build your agility muscles.”

Here is a four-step risk-mitigation framework Professor Birkinshaw suggests you keep in mind when you’re designing experiments:

1. Make your hypotheses explicit – a good experiment is designed so that whatever the outcome, you’ve learned something new. It’s much better to be able to say your hypothesis wasn’t supported than to say the project failed.

2. Limit the scope of the experiment. In the world of IT, the ‘sandbox’ is the offline testing environment where you try out new code. The same concept applies in business more generally – try the experiment in a limited way and make sure to run the new in parallel with the old.

3. Start at home. You want to stay under the radar during the early days of your experiment, while you figure out if it’s really a good idea. So this means trying it out in your own department or business first, and using volunteers to help you. You don’t want to expose yourself to formal review until you’re well down the track.

4. Iterate. You never get everything right first time. So learn the power of iteration and continuous improvement. James Dyson famously tried more than 5,000 prototypes before his bagless vacuum cleaner worked. Hopefully you won’t need quite that many.

Ultimately, what’s required is a shift in mindset. Kingl carried out a survey asking more than 100 UK HR directors about their company’s reaction to failure. Answers ranged from “A: Anyone who fails is quickly fired” through “B: We never speak of it – it’s shameful”, “C: ‘Good’ failure is tolerated but not shared” and “D: Failure is shared to a point, but there’s a stigma” to, finally, “E: Failure is shared and even celebrated”. Only 3% of the HR directors said their company’s attitude was an E.

The attitude you want to emulate is that of Tom Watson, CEO of IBM, in the company’s 1960s and 70s heyday. When a top salesman lost US$5 million on a project, Watson didn’t fire him. “Why would l fire you?” he said. “I’ve just spent five million dollars on your education.”

London Business School

The Rise of the Intrapreneur

The rise of the Intrapreneur
Forward-thinking companies are stealing a march on their competitors

01 JANUARY 2015

Jobs required the agility of a start-up, so he created a company within the company. He put together a Mac development team, housed them in a separate building with a pirate flag on the roof and told them to tear up the rulebook. Then, once his team of entrepreneurs had come up with the goods, he harnessed the size of Apple to spark a computing revolution.

Searching for agility

In the last five years, I’ve noticed a big change in what companies are asking us for in Executive Education. It used to be about skills – boosting a company’s performance by boosting the input of its key talent. Today, we’re talking more and more about the capabilities of the company as a whole – and one capability above all: agility.

How, like Apple, can a company be both big and fast? How can senior executives spot threats and opportunities sooner and respond more quickly? How can they have the mindset of entrepreneurs when they are in charge of organisations so many times larger than a start-up?

The answer involves exploding the decades-old paradigm of the ‘all-knowing’ leader. Traditionally managers make decisions and staff act on them. It’s the managers who have the authority, the responsibility and the rewards.

However, the world today is just too complex and companies are too big for managers, senior executives and CEOs to know everything about everything. They shouldn’t be solely responsible for knowing what’s over the horizon or for deciding on the best response to every new threat or opportunity. Instead they need to admit ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ and make more use of the company’s internal resources. They need to become what I call ‘intrapreneurial’.

Harnessing internal resources

Being intrapreneurial is about pushing authority down, flattening the hierarchy and saying to everybody in the company that what they bring to work is as powerful and as important as what the CEO brings. Take the example of Toyota, as originally illustrated by London Business School (LBS) Professor Gary Hamel in The Future of Management. For many years General Motors knew that its Japanese rival was putting out cars at a faster rate and with fewer errors, but they couldn’t figure out how. They returned to the problem again and again – and Toyota even allowed them to visit their factories – but for decades they simply couldn’t pinpoint a reason.

Finally it clicked. The senior management at Toyota had devolved responsibility for its production line to the experts – the people actually working on the factory floor. They were the ones best placed to spot a problem in the manufacturing process or a way to improve it. And they were the ones given the authority to bring the whole production line to a halt.

At General Motors such a potentially expensive decision could only be taken by an executive far removed from the factory floor via a series of complicated processes and protocols. What Toyota was doing was so alien to the General Motors team that they couldn’t even identify it. But for decades the agility of the Japanese giant’s decision-making had given it a real competitive advantage.

Putting it into practice

For the past five years the Executive Education team at London Business School has increasingly been working with companies to make them more intrapreneurial. We start with the idea of purpose rather than financial performance. We had one company come to us recently with a proud 140-year history and one of the first things we did was to ask what its purpose was. It quickly became apparent that long-held assumptions about the company were no longer relevant, and we challenged them to create a new purpose for the next 50 years.

The next step is to rewrite one’s business plan to match the refreshed purpose. Rewriting a business plan is something that entrepreneurs do all the time and there’s no reason why bigger companies can’t do the same. In fact, it’s often just a question of mindset; many companies tell us that what seemed like impassable blocks on innovation can turn out to self-invented obstacles.

Aligning jobs, teams and functions to be more intrapreneurial can mean a number of things. Often it’s about creating small teams with the authority to shape and execute individual projects – just like Steve Jobs did. This kind of responsibility and accountability is exactly what the Generation Y employees in many companies want, and it means that the company as a whole can benefit from the agility and entrepreneurial spirit of its smaller teams.

Being intrapreneurial also means opening up channels of communication so that knowledge is constantly shared throughout the company. Leaders need to be encouraged to canvass opinion from everyone – even from those who have just joined their workforce. What are they seeing? What do they think should be the company’s next move or product? With today’s communications and media, this kind of information gathering and sharing can be achieved on a much larger scale, so that decisions can be made through a process of open-sourcing. Some of the companies we work with, for example, make great use of the ‘Future of Work Jam’ technology developed by LBS Professor Lynda Gratton.

Another way to be intrapreneurial is via the inorganic path. This means finding start-ups that can help the larger parent deal with issues more quickly and effectively. It also means allowing those start-ups to continue acting like start-ups even after they have been acquired. Then, when their agility leads them to valuable insights or opportunities, the parent can quickly and profitably scale those up, as LBS Professor Costas Markides has described in his book Fast Second. It’s something that companies like Cisco and Google do very well.

Being intrapreneurial involves the type of culture change that bigger companies often struggle with, but the results can be transformational, marrying agility to size and making the most of one’s wider resources. It provides a competitive advantage that can last for years to come. It’s time to join the rise of the intrapreneur.

London Business School

The Price of Doing Business With Generation Y

The Price of Doing Business With Generation Y

05 MARCH 2014

There has been no lack of literature on the different paradigms of the generations recently. I can’t open an HR focused magazine without finding at least one article about Generation Ys or Millenials, sometimes described with admiration and awe, sometimes decried as irrational and even dangerously separated from reality.

The Price Of Doing Business With Generation Y

I had one conversation with a very senior Generation X HR executive who described conducting a job interview with a Gen Y person, and she said that the Gen Y’er sounded as if ‘He was interviewing me! These people are crazy!’

This highly emotional response illustrates a fundamental shift in the employer proposition. Gone is the ‘You should be grateful to work here’ paradigm. The more likely held paradigm by Gen Y is, ‘Why should I work for you?’ This dynamic can dramatically unsettle even the seasoned interviewer, as it genuinely does make us question who really holds the power here? The answer is not so straightforward.

In a job interview, the party who is more willing to walk away holds more power. If I can generalise for a moment, the implication here is that Generation Y has much more employee power than any generation before. They care less about working for a specific employer, and more about the quality of the work environment. They care less about employee longevity and more about employee mobility.

Just think about our own family experiences. I’ve asked this of dozens of colleagues, executive education participants, and clients over the years. It is almost invariably true, no matter the country of origin:

Our grandparents had one to two employers over the course of their professional lives,
Our parents had three to four,
Most of those currently in the workforce have, or anticipate having, at least eight.
This pattern implies a doubling of the number of employers in a lifetime in every generation! Therefore, do those in university now anticipate having 16 employers? If they work until they are 68 to 72, a reasonable assumption today, this anticipation seems very realistic – a new job every three to four years. But ignoring anecdotal information for the moment, let’s see if quantitative evidence bears this out.

Since 2009, London Business School has been issuing a survey to the participants of our executive education open enrolment Emerging Leaders Programme, asking their attitudes toward work, employee engagement, and leadership paradigms. This course is a training ground for the global managers of the future and are almost all Gen Y – average age is 29, representing 33 countries over the past five years. One of the questions of this survey asks how long the programme participants anticipate staying with their current employer:

11+ years
Six to ten years
Three to five years
Two years or fewer.

The results support this startling change in worker attitudes over the last two generations:

11+ years: 5%
Six to ten years: 5%
Three to five years: 53%
Two years or fewer: 37%.

Two startling conclusions from these results are that 1) 90% of those surveyed anticipate staying with their employer for no more than five years, and 2) over a third do not foresee staying more than two!

For the employer, and specifically the HR function, the implications are fundamental. HR needs to focus more on asking their employees: what can you do for us now rather than five years from now? How can we support your development with short, sharp interventions, programmes, mentoring, or coaching? How can we support your career, knowing you will probably explore other opportunities, and entice you back when you are an even more senior, fully developed professional? How can our culture, rather than our employee ‘package’, keep you longer than we would otherwise enjoy? What benefits do you truly want, recognising that those benefits that grow slowly over time may not be relevant to you?

These are not easy questions to answer, particularly because the answers will be idiosyncratic to each organisation, each answer defining or redefining its culture and employer proposition in a manner that supports its unique brand, mission, vision and values. But if talent is key to success, and I see no evidence to suggest this paradigm has changed over the generations, then our answers must be compelling ones and may in some cases represent a sea change over previously held sacred cows.