We do not own our talents!


Last week I participated in an interesting client event of Cubiks (www.cubiks.com). They asked me to defend one side of the following dilemma:

“Do we develop our talents towards a desired (role)profile or do we work from the principle of utilizing personal qualities?”

I was fortunate to be able  defend the “utilizing personal qualities” side, a side I feel very comfortable with. A next time I will go into all the arguments pro. In this blog I want to draw your attention to the language used in the formulation of the dilemma. “Do WE develop OUR talents….”. This is the wrong starting point. The WE and the OUR refers to organizations, or to the leadership and the HR departments in organizations. Talent is not something we own, and talent is not something we develop. Talent owns themselves, and they develop themselves (or not…). Gareth Morgan in his famous book “Images of Organization” (1986) describes several metaphors of organizations. The first metaphor is “Organizations as Machines”. The origins of this metaphor stem from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Chapter 9 of his book is called “The ugly face: organizations as instruments of domination” Why is it that we still (often implicitly) use language that fits perfectly with these metaphors? What are the metaphors of today, that can be a lot more stimulating, and that gives us a language that does not let us describe talent as something we own and can develop.


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