Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's Our Most Valuable Asset?

If someone asked you what your - or anyone's - most valuable assets are, how would you respond? Likely by saying "People, of course!" And you'd have a point.

Check out the implications:

This Dilbert cartoon strongly implies that a boss who makes decisions "based on what [he knows] about the people involved," as the cartoon has the boss character put it, is silly. What could be more important than the technical details?

The skills, character and collaborative ability of the people, that's what. As the boss observes, Dilbert is pale and poorly dressed - signals that he's not socially adept and thus may have a hard time cooperating with others. He also apparently doesn't understand others enough to know what impresses them - or he just doesn't care how others feel. And possibly he doesn't even have good enough attention to detail. Those issues can sink any project no matter what the numbers look like.

Have you gotten a bank loan? Perhaps you've noticed that the bankers don't just look at the data you send in like your income, current debts, projected profits (for a business loan), etc...they like to meet with you. That gives them an idea of who you are as a person. And that's an important way for them to know how likely they'll get their money back as agreed.

We ourselves - not our computers, nor our money, nor even our knowledge - are our most important asset. And for that reason, anyone who's considering starting or keeping any kind of relationship with us is most concerned with our attitude, our skill at dealing with the unexpected...and our ability to link up with others. They're what make us unique.

Those things, not our diplomas, technical skills or numbers, will make or break us.


Anonymous said...


Suppose one contributes excellent technical tasks to his or her workplace.

Now suppose that same person, no matter if on purpose or accidentally, also drives away another coworker from that workplace.

Sure his or her employer has gained this worker's technical tasks, but also *lost* all the contributions of the other worker whom this worker drove away, which means this worker's *net* contribution is lower than the technical contribution aloe. It's possibly even a net *minus*!

Jeff Deutsch said...

Absolutely! (In fact, it can be even worse if the offended co-workers stay but reduce their efforts or otherwise show how ticked off they are.)

That's why improving social skills doesn't "just" make life more pleasant for everyone. It also makes it possible to use people's great technical skills. (Kind of like safety gear and precautions for powerful machinery!)

Jeff Deutsch