Zone of Genius
Aligning the right people with jobs to be done is an age-old problem in company building. And on a micro level, aligning yourself with the right role is also challenging. What should you delegate? Where should you focus your efforts?
I’ve found the Zone of Genius framework to be a useful way of ensuring there’s harmony between jobs and people. It’s pretty straightforward, here’s how it works:
People’s performance consists of a mixture of skills, strengths, and talents. Here’s how I define them:
- A strength is anything that gives you energy.
- A talent is an innate ability that can’t be taught. For example, a love of numbers.
- A skill is a competency that can be taught. For example, knowing Excel back to front.
- When all three are aligned, we are in our Zone of Genius.
The most obvious misalignment between people and tasks is where there is a lack of talent or skills. In this case, the person should either be retrained, redistributed in the organization or asked to find a better match elsewhere.
It’s less clear when someone is talented and skilled in a particular area but the work doesn’t give them energy. They may be successful in the short-term, but over time they will burn out. I call this the Zone of Excellence. It’s important to recognize when people are in this (or even better if they can recognize it) so you can do something about it.