The Battle For Brainpower

Economist.com has an interesting article about the battle for brainpower.

IN A speech at Harvard University in 1943 Winston Churchill observed that "the empires of the future will be empires of the mind." He might have added that the battles of the future will be battles for talent. To be sure, the old battles for natural resources are still with us. But they are being supplemented by new ones for talent-not just among companies (which are competing for "human resources") but also among countries (which fret about the "balance of brains" as well as the "balance of power").

The war for talent is at its fiercest in high-tech industries. The arrival of an aggressive new superpower-Google-has made it bloodier still. The company has assembled a formidable hiring machine to help it find the people it needs. It has also experimented with clever new recruiting tools, such as billboards featuring complicated mathematical problems. Other tech giants have responded by supercharging their own talent machines (Yahoo! has hired a constellation of academic stars) and suing people who suddenly leave.

Hiring talent is important, but I think some companies are overlooking the value of the steady contributor. Everyone can't be a superstar genius.

Have you ever seen the movie "Miracle"? At the Olympic tryouts, Herb Brooks, the guy hired to coach the USA hockey team, gives his boss a list of the players he has chosen for the team. The guy protests, saying that many of the best college players didn't make it. Brooks responds by saying that he isn't looking for the best players, he is looking for the best team. Business is the same way.