Jerry Michalski on the Relationship Economy

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Jerry Michalski on the Relationship Economy


In-depth conversation on open and closed models, undertaken by Gordon Cook.


"Enabling Talent to Thrive in Open Communities

Michalski: The whole hunt for talent and the creation of viable communities that know how to work together is essential. Architecting the infrastructure for collaborative innovation that spans company boundaries using service oriented architectures and all the other stuff you talked about – this is in the background and is perfectly parallel to the general process you are talking about.

There are lots of ways of building talent and you can take an open or a closed approach to building talent as well. The part of this that I am really interested in is the natural way that talent bubbles up and out when you have pretty open communities that are collaborating.

There are a thousand kinds of talent. This is not a good example but if you talk to a company that uses the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory a lot, you will find that they are looking to blend different kinds of talent on their teams. You don’t want six Indian chiefs on a team – but rather some followers and leaders. In other areas you don’t want only creative types. You better have a mixture of creation, execution, vision and reality. What you need is this deep pool of talent that has a variety of aspects.

The example I do want to cite is open source projects. If you look at the Apache foundation and how Apache matured, you will find that different people’s talents became evident from the way the projects evolved. It used to be that your talent was somehow reflected on your resume and that as an ordinary individual you had maybe three or four resumes depending on what kind of job you thought you were applying for and what you thought that particular employer was going to look for. That’s kind of dumb.

Now your interactions in your blog and in the online social groups in which you participate become a kind of memory of who you are. Those on line exchanges really become the modern resume. Nature abhors a vacuum. The resume process – the old interview dance of “you lie to me, I lie to you” can be superseded by newer online tools.

COOK Report: Can it be said then that in an open, productive, and well-managed operation that the role of a director, a manager, or someone else in a leadership position is to create an environment that balances these issues of corporate vulnerability and enables talent to bubble up? From this bubbling up process he or she will get a pretty good idea of what talents, abilities and strengths do exist within the company, and that if they are a good leader, organizer, manager – such a person will be in position to help grow and organize productively the innate talent within the organization.

Michalski: Or hire in missing pieces of talent. Part of the makings of a really good manager is to be able to understand what is missing from the team and to be able to make sure it shows up. Totally. You can do this in an open way or a closed way and the dynamics are pretty substantially different although the human skills of noticing what’s going on are probably the same.

COOK Report: Elaborate on open versus closed please.

Michalski: Closed is how we used to do it entirely unless there was a very small community of people who knew each other. Now imagine these high school kids who have their Facebook and MySpace. Now by the time they show up years later for an interview, maybe they are going to make it illegal to search for your Facebook file, but somehow I doubt that. There will be no way to avoid knowing you were a profligate and otherwise irresponsible youth." (