Beware hiring outside talent

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Also in Sloan Mgt Review, good to see a warning from Boris Groysberg and friends about the risks of hiring outside stars. Getting your hands on scarce talent has been increasingly promoted as a magic bullet in some quarters. But this article points out that even the most seemingly self-reliant super-stars actually have to function as part of a wider system. [Think I recall Boris’s research was originally about how star investment-analysts mostly failed to sustain their star-dom when they moved to other i-banks?]

This is a particular manifestation of a more general problem I’ve mentioned before – all staff work in a system of interdependent resources [systems, data, procedures etc], and anyone new will need time to get productive in the new setting. This doesn’t just apply to operations level folk, but equally – if not more so – to executives and specialists. That’s why there’s a big, big danger from over-rapid job rotations, from down-sizing and the seeming obsession with constant reorganisation and ‘transformation’!

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