Maybe This Explains Some of General Motor’s Issues

Dr. Michael Arena is the Chief Talent Officer at General Motors. He is an expert and authority on talent, and has focused on how to get talent to innovate. He identifies three types of talent involved in the innovation process:

  1. Brokers: These are the people who come up with the new ideas. He correctly notes that while these people generate ideas, that is not enough, as an unimplemented idea is useless.
  2. Energizers: He describes these people as those that generate interest in the idea and advance it in the organization.
  3. Connectors: He describes these people as the ones who get the idea implemented.

As readers may know, we have worked with the Team Dimensions Profile for 20 years as it applies to innovation. Each of the three roles Dr. Arena describes are perfectly aligned with the profile’s ability to identify people’s natural tendency towards a role. The names, as you might expect, are different.

What Dr. Arena calls Brokers are called Creators. What he calls Energizers are called Advancers; and Connectors are referred to as Executors. Unfortunately, Dr. Arena has left out a critical fourth profile and process step in his analogy, which may explain some of GM’s problems.

He left out Refiners. Those people are what we call the “Yes but…” people. The ones who don’t belong in a brainstorming meeting (where people act as if there are no bad ideas), but must be heavily involved in design reviews or similar to make sure the idea has been completely thought out. Refiners are critical and his failure to acknowledge their importance my help explain issues GM has with some (many) of their new products and processes.

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