A colleague posed this very interesting question via e-mail today:
"Discussed issues on talent versus human capital...how talent might be a limited resource in comparison to the unlimited human capital?"
What a fantastic question and one that cuts to the heart (and soul) of my creativity-development framework.
Think of this as a conversion issue. How do we convert latent human capital or human ability into talent.
The preface to the Australian edition of Rise says the key element of my theory is "how to stoke the creative furnace that lies deep withing every human being." Exactly right!
In my view, the supply of talent is virtually limitless--limited only by the number of humans and our human abilities.
Right now, my rather crude guesstimate is that we are tapping but a small fraction of total human ability. If, say 35 percent of the workforce in the advanced countries work in creative occupations, a safe guess is that we are tapping at most 10 percent of total human ability. That means there is at minimum 90 percent out there to harness and utilize.
So the real key is how to do that: How to harness this incredible unused reservoir of human ability in ways that can power economic gain, fuel rising living standards across the board, improve human happiness and make the world a better place generally. This, as I've said before, is exactly what Toyota did in moving beyond fordism by integrating workers' knowledge and intelligence as a source of continuous innovation on the factory floor, in effect transforming the factory itself into a living laboratory.
This, I have argued, is also the next great frontier of competitive advantage -- or, what the University of Toronto's Roger Martin has dubbed "jurisdictional advantage."
Think of it this way: By deploying fordist mass production throughout industry, the US gained an incredible productivity edge, drove up its living standards and became a super-power. The place or places that figures our how to harness this currently unused stock of human ability will gain real Schumpetarian advantage in technological, economic, social and cultural innovation on perhaps a greater scale.
For me, the only real questions are where will it happen and when?