Do You Have the Right Balance of Intelligence to Maximize Business Returns?

February 23, 2022
# min read
Janice Giannini

Recently I read a report on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge site titled When Working Harder Doesn't Work, Time to Reinvent Your Career by Avery Forman. The article relies heavily on the book, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life.

As I read the article, some of the concepts might be in greater demand in the current work environment. Businesses are shifting from many people in central locations to remote work. The altered lack of presence in collocated spaces impacts:

  • How people work
  • Whom you deploy staff
  • Whom you hire
  • How to integrate new hires into the culture
  • How to establish meaningful and necessary business relationships

All of this flows through the business's return and growth in the near term, mid and long term. One of the concepts that caught my eye was discussing what the author called Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized intelligence.

People focused on success may not appreciate or understand that the smarts that allowed them to innovate quickly in their earlier professional years, called fluid intelligence, naturally decline toward midlife.

This decline is not uniform across all disciplines. Musicians and athletes are examples of significant and visible reduction with age, use, and injury. Even in knowledge-based professions where people think it's different, research shows that decline sets in between the late 30's and 50s.

  • Innovation for physicists peaks at 50
  • Writers peak between 40 and 45
  • Financial professionals between 36 and 40
  • Doctors in their 30's
  • Start-ups favor the young; just 5% are 60

A different kind of thinking marked by synthesizing and sharing knowledge grows. Specific abilities develop and strengthen with age, such as wisdom, teaching, sharing ideas, language skills, articulation, and connecting the dots. As a result of this, mathematicians, for example, have much greater longevity.

What caught my eye was the potential impact on businesses today. For example, if the work environment has changed so dramatically, might companies need to hire different skills and abilities or re-deploy current resources with this in mind?

If companies deploy staff to take full advantage of their strengths, would the business return be robust, increasing personnel satisfaction, sustainability, and financial returns?

Reference: When Working Harder Doesn’t Work, Time to Reinvent Your Career by Avery Forman

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