Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sign me up as Chief Talent Officer

The modern economy puts an increasing premium on human talent over physical resources. Well-run companies, organizations, and universities are always on the lookout for talent. I know more than one CEO who argues that if you find someone good, hire them right away, and then figure out how to best deploy them. Talent is scarce, they say, so grab it while you can.

Why doesn't the same applies to countries? With some exceptions, countries make immigration difficult - including for extraordinarily qualified people. Even the US, which arguably makes use of talent better than any other economy, puts people through years of bureaucratic paper shuffling before issuing residency visas and citizenship.

What would happen if the US and other countries had Chief Talent Officers who scoured the world for the talent their countries needed - and then invited them to become residents? What if these new "recruits" were put through a dehumanizing bureaucratic grind, but instead welcomed by real people, who told them "We value your skills - thanks for moving here"?

What if countries started competing for talent by ensuring that the returns to talent were high via domestic policy reforms, infrastructure development, and open economies that promoted a lot of opportunity?

I would love to be the Chief Talent Officer for a country in a system like this.