Confession time: I’m a big fan of America’s Got Talent. We watch it as often as we can and laugh at the silly, outrageous people without talent, while we marvel at the wonderful people with talent.
The show is a form of reality TV. Its goal is to discover an “act” that can headline in Las Vegas. It's also a bit self-serving since the goal is to capitalize on someone’s ability (talent) to make the producers a lot of money. In the end, though, the winner gets more than $1 million, and America’s Got Talent gets a nice return on investment.
America’s Got Talent is not a department in your office building. It’s not a strategy for success, in business.
Or, is it? Should you have a team of employees whose main responsibility is to uncover talent and capitalize on it? How would that work? Would the ability to bring innate talent to work every day, and be rewarded for utilizing it, move your products and sell your ideas? Oh yeah.
Could tapping into the talent your ‘people’ possess be a strategy? Could allowing employees two hours every week to display, work on, perform, engage, and share with co-workers and managers a winning strategy for long-term success? Oh yeah.
Since the concept of ‘talent’ is subjective (you may not agree on the things I consider talented and vice-versa, which is why America’s Got Talent has three judges, not one or two), it’s important to allow each individual to embrace and share her talent without judgment or criticism. The idea is to allow all manner of activity and creativity, within reason. As with anything, guidelines are important. One must approach this idea with the understanding that the results will, at some time, be made public. And, as we see on TV, the public is unforgiving if you annoy or embarrass them.
Do not misunderstand. I’m not suggesting your people be allowed to bring creativity to their work. If you don’t already allow your employees a creative outlet in their job, you’re stuck somewhere in the mid-20th century, a slave to the clock, which does its best to stymie creativity, not expand it.
I’m suggesting you allow employees time to work on the creative needs of their soul: singing, dancing, painting, writing, comedy, acting, drawing, whatever it is that makes their hearts beat a little faster.
Imagine this: A large boardroom or warehouse space that you set aside for the purpose of promoting creativity and ‘talent’ in your employees. (Please, include your management staff and yourself!) This area should be filled with the ‘tools’ needed to support a variety of talents.
For artists, there should be paints, easels, brushes, rags, and whatever else painters need.
For dancers, there should be corner with mirrors, costumes, music, and whatever else the dancers tell you they need.
For writers, have a corner filled with books, tables, paper, pen and any other tools they ask for.
Let your employees tell you what needs to be there for them. Then, provide it. Give them a stake in it. They will be in charge of inventory and replacing items that get worn out or used up, using a set budget. Any items needed beyond the budget, should be provided by the group.
Yes, America’s got talent—languishing in offices everywhere. It’s talent that is being buried by a focus on the 9-to-5 grind.
Don’t just imagine tapping into it; unleash the power of the possible: give your employees a place to embrace their talent, for themselves and for you.