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Which team has the competitive advantage?

  1. The team with superior talent
  2. The team with superior strategy
  3. Or the team with superior culture

In the sports world, none of these teams win consistently. A single element isn't going to be enough to compete against other professionals. The championship teams have put all three together. They have at least as good of talent as anyone else. They also have a superior strategy. And they have a culture that holds the locker room together. It takes all three to play at a championship level.

In the business world, a company can be profitable with any of the three. You can have good talent, and that will succeed with an average strategy and poor culture to at least stay in business. You can have a good strategy, and that will succeed with average talent and a poor culture. Or you can have a good culture, which also succeeds with average talent and strategy.

In the sports world, the competition is so fierce that superiority on any of these three is hard. The difference between 1st and 2nd is razer thin.

In the business world, it is usually easiest to develop a winning strategy, and that's why most companies start there. Once they get the strategy, then they often feel comfortable enough to invest in the business. You are likely profitable, but it will be hard to grow the business in a competitive industry.


Why Do Talent & Culture Lag Behind Strategy

Acquiring superior talent or developing a cohesive culture requires sustained effort over years. And let's face it...the people dimension is messy.

Superior talent will be selective at the jobs they accept and the companies they will work for. Strong talent goes to the highest performing organization possible. Like attracts like.

Superior culture requires emotional safety and relationship fiber. Because companies have historically invested less on culture, there are fewer people who have the experience and skills to develop culture. And while everyone loves a superior culture, we're complacent and accept an average culture. The job is stressful enough, so let's not throw on a lot of expectations around the touchy-feely efforts required to build culture.

The bottom line is we settle. We'll work harder on getting our job done with our knowledge, skills, and experience... especially if we feel good about the strategy.


Signs of Change

There are signs of change in the business world.

In 1989, Covey introduced "highly effective" habits for collaboration. The business world took note and sought training solutions to instill these habits into their culture. Think Win-Win. Seek First to Understand. Synergize.

Emotional Intelligence burst onto the scene in 1995. Neuroscience showed us the three dimensions of the human brain and offered insights into high performance. People and companies are paying attention and developing both emotional maturity and stronger cognitive thinking.

Jim Collins published Good to Great in 2001 and popularized the phrase "the right people in the right seats." Collins suggested the right seat means that an employee is operating within their area of greatest skill and passion within an organization.

New thought leadership emerges every year to push awareness and interpersonal skills forward. Cultural progress has been slow, but optimism persists.


The Promise of Intellectual Diversity

Enter Marcus Harwood and the Intellect Scan. His ideas were revolutionary and have captivated people since the 1990's. He filled in a missing piece for the business world.

His hunch...if we could illuminate the three dimensions of natural talent, then we could rethink talent development and team building. We could more consistently match people to jobs. Engagement would rise, and culture would develop.

Neuroscience backs up his idea. His Intellect Scan measures 13 traits across the three dimensions. And these traits not only describe how a person thinks, but they also describe the work. For the first time, we have a tool that connects people to work.


The Pace of Progress

As organization development efforts take note of neuroscience breakthroughs, they are seeing new ways to think about acquiring talent and developing culture.

Workers are naturally attracted to a role that fits them. Consider shopping for clothes. You only buy something that actually fits you. Everything else stays on the rack. The same goes for workers. They accept jobs that appear to be a fit. So companies are doing a better job of designing jobs to fit real people.

And as people are in jobs that fit them, they rely less on brute force effort. There is less stress. There is more engagement. And there is smart collaboration. I do this. You do that. We are both fulfilled. Teams start winning and people know they are contributing their strengths to the success. Repeated wins turn into stories that get retold. Eventually a company has an aura about them.

It all starts with seeing the people and seeing the work through the three dimensions of the human brain. Understanding the 3 cognitive channels. Understanding 6 intrinsic motivators. Understanding 4 instinctual behaviors.

Of course people's minds are more complex than the Intellect Scan's 13 traits, but these are enough to bring massive advances to talent and culture.