I am excited. It is our annual Talent Review next week. I am excited about what I know we will discuss…and I am excited about what I don’t know we will discuss. We have an agenda of course…and a focus – our people. And I know that each section will be great value and very interesting. So I am excited.
But I also know that these are one of the best meetings for unexpected ideas and new opportunities to appear. Thoughts or themes that none of us have considered; that only ever appear because we invest this time – and the time leading up to our review – thinking about our people…our talent…our future.
I have been involved in annual talent reviews for…well for longer than I care to (or can) remember. But they still excite and engage me. The people in any organisation are what make that organisation work. People innovate and interact, partner and perform, define and deliver. Individually and collectively. Our people are our culture…and in many ways, they are our legacy. And so it makes absolute sense that we invest this time – formally – at least once a year. Along with all the other people based activities we are all involved in.
At some point in my past, one of my colleagues introduced me to the concept of Significant Experiences. Within a discussion of how we could better work with our talented people to help them grow and develop more, more broadly, more successfully and more rapidly. Waiting for time to go by – growth by osmosis almost – always felt so passive. And so the idea of us agreeing and achieving Significant Experiences came about.
Like most ideas that excite me, ‘Significant Experiences’ is very simple. For any of us to best grow and develop we need Significant Experiences. Not experiences alone, nor significant moments, or even significant opportunities, but Significant Experiences.
Significant Experiences have to be defined and agreed…along with the need and the opportunity. Immediately this exemplifies that development by Significant Experiences is an active, joint activity. My supervisor and I have to agree together the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ for any Significant Experiences we identify. I can’t do this alone, and neither can my supervisor.
And then there is the discussion of what makes an experience ‘significant’. I checked the dictionary – significant: ‘large enough to be noticed or have an effect’. I particularly like that last piece – large enough have an effect.
But as with a lot of these people discussions, the value is achieved more by considering the impact of the experience than how we describe or delineate it. By definition, our beliefs are developed from our experiences…and our beliefs dictate what actions we take in any given situation.
So a ‘Significant Experience’ then – an experience that is able to change our beliefs.
An example. For years my beliefs about the CRO industry were solely based on my experiences whilst working in a Pharma Company. It was only when I moved to work in a CRO – a Significant Experience – that my beliefs changed (for the better). Similarly, I had opportunity to lead teams locally for years before I had the Significant Experience of leading a global team…and again my beliefs were changed.
Not every Significant Experience has to involve such a large personal change – for example, my beliefs have changed about consultants, and about emerging Biotech, based on my recent experiences of working directly together…something I had not experienced when I was in large pharma.
Experiences significant enough to change our beliefs and thereby to change how we act. That is how – and when – I believe I have developed most.
I am excited…