WHERE TALENT IS KING
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Growing a talent-base in Gisborne to lift the region’s prosperity will require a change in perspective, the McGuinness Institute’s Wendy McGuinness told a public meeting this week. It is now up to us to explore a ‘menu of initiatives’. Mark Peters reports on the meeting.
How to develop Gisborne and the East Coast as a place where talent wants to live was the topic of a blue-sky discussion led by McGuinness Institute think-tank founder Wendy McGuinness this week.
“Where talent wants to live” is the theme on which the Wellington-based institute has based its vision for the nation’s future.
Mrs McGuinness and Productivity Commission principal adviser Dr Patrick Nolan talked about how cities and towns, rather than central government, can help create a talent-based economy.
The aim of their visit was to introduce the institute’s TalentNZ project, the fundamental premise of which is that a talent-based economy will require a change in perspective.
“New Zealand came on to the world stage as an economy based on natural resources such as coal, gold and gum, which then evolved into an agricultural-based economy,” says Mrs McGuinness.
“This is how most developed countries grew their economy, but they then moved on to create economies based on providing services and intellectual property.
“New Zealand, as a whole, has not made this move.”
The aim of 2014 TalentNZ tour was to build on “learnings” from the 2013 TalentNZ Journal in which 30 New Zealanders discussed how the country might best implement the late Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision — the creation of a talent-based economy; one based on innovation, technology and a highly-skilled workforce, rather than traditional industries.
“From this work it became apparent the potential initiatives could be divided into four integrated work streams, what we have called four pillars: grow, attract, retain and connect talent,” Mrs McGuinness said at the meeting.
Part of Mrs McGuinness and Dr Nolan’s visit was to encourage people to participate in a collaborative exercise — a worksheet based on the “four pillars” — to create a menu of initiatives that focuses on how to create a talent-based economy.
Creating a place where talent wants to live is a concept promoted by Sir Paul in his final years as he was dying from bowel cancer.
In a 2011 keynote address StrategyNZ: Mapping our Future, Sir Paul said New Zealand did not think terribly well about the future.
“The Government is right to have a goal of wanting to lift New Zealand’s prosperity but they seem to have not the faintest idea how to do it.
“We are the second hardest working country in the OECD but we are the lowest in terms of productivity. We are poor because we choose to be poor. We choose to work in low-wage activities.
“What we’re good at is really weird stuff.”
Mrs McGuinness said Sir Paul tested myths about what was real and what was not and came to the conclusion that talent was what we as a nation should focus on rather than jobs.
“Talent is about people rather than innovation or jobs.
“A strong correlation exists between talent, economic wealth and community well-being.
“A talent-based economy is people-based.”
‘Rules of capital inverted in Silicon Valley’
The think tank known as the McGuinness Institute came about as a response to a lack of discussion about New Zealand’s long-term future.
The fundamental philosophy behind a talent-based economy is that “wealth is derived from talented people doing what they do well — working hard, being creative and delivering value”.
The focus is on people rather than mineral deposits or agriculture.
“The solution is as much about culture and a way of life, as trying to predict which products and services will be in demand in 10 years time,” says Mrs McGuinness.
One example could be Silicon Valley.
The American high-technology sector already runs on the basis of talent acquiring capital, says PandoDaily columnist Francisco Dao.
For thousands of years economies were based almost exclusively on labour, with some leverage provided by land.
“As industry developed, and the means of production grew to a scale beyond the reach of small operators, labour was subjugated to capital and those who owned the means of production,” says Mr Dao.
Examples of this can be seen most clearly in labour-intensive industries everywhere.
“In almost every part of the world, if you don’t have access to bank loans (which typically require collateral) or wealthy family connections, it is extremely difficult to launch a new endeavour with any scale. Capital is indeed king.
“But in Silicon Valley, the rules of capital have been inverted. Talent is king. I can think of no other place where an entire ecosystem exists for capital to pursue talent as an asset class.”
“Act local, but think global.”
“Talent does what it can genius does what it must.”
– Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.