Living in an age of constant technological change and improvement puts more emphasis on personal skills than ever before. It also puts more emphasis on interpersonal skills. It sounds almost contradictory. Technology and automation takes care of stuff and that should reduce the role of people. It doesn’t. People drive the machine.

I find it tremendously exciting that technology today provides more possibilities for personal expression and creativity than has ever before been possible. But people have to know how to pick the magic out of the machine, like prising a whelk out of its shell. We always ask our customers ‘what do you want to achieve?’ We ask them what they think their customers want to achieve by engaging with them. And we think about ways of making that connection. By ‘we’ I mean our people.

In my last blog post I was talking about the fusion of talent and expertise to give the igniting spark to insight, creativity, and innovation – the combination of innate abilities and acquired skills that leads to genius. Looked at another way, this fusion is about nature and nurture both playing a part in creating the outstanding team player; the person with ideas and the ability to build on the ideas of others. The trick is in identifying people with the right nature that you can then nurture. And it’s not always about taking the obvious route forward. The more dimension you can add to the challenges you ask people to contend with, the richer an understanding of problem solving in general they acquire. Recognition is a great driving force for the talented – not just from senior management but among their peers too. There’s no greater buzz than seeing one’s ideas harnessed and adopted by others and seeing light as solutions we deliver to clients.

EXPLORING FRESH TERRITORIES

We work in a collaborative business, not a prescriptive one. This is why client input is always so important as solutions and approaches are developed. It’s why interpersonal skills make for the best results – the ability to listen and probe, explore and keep an open mind, learn from others and pass on one’s own insights in return.  We give people roles and tasks, projects and responsibilities that will stretch them. This is how to crack the code – how to get the best out of people.

Here’s an example. At Saggezza we run an internal ‘pitching’ process where people are given free rein to initiate new ideas and develop proactive solutions. Our people are never idle between projects – they’re encouraged to explore their own initiatives – with the reward being that if these initiatives are seen to be viable then the company will invest further in them. It’s about providing recognition that spurs people on to even greater achievements. Ideas generated through this process have contributed to Saggezza’s Intellectual Property and have gone on to generate added value for clients. It’s a process that makes individuals, the company and our clients all the richer for the talent that makes up a winning team.