Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious -- but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

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Sep 16, 2005

Got Me Thinking Continued: Resource-based Problem Solvers

Continuing with my thoughts that sprung from Microsoft's Hiring Practices...

How many kinds of problem solvers are there?  Some that I have thought of are:

"Leave me alone, I can find it on my own" - The ultra self-motivated type of person

"Give me a few books (or an Internet connection) and I'll figure it out" - The resourceful type of person

"I'm going to look very cute until you tell me" - The sociologically-resourceful type of person.  Some ex-girlfriends come to mind here.

"I won't ever figure it out" - The non-problem solver.

...and I'm sure that technical names for these categories have been coined by people who do much more thinking about problem solving than I do.  Maybe we can even map them to this chart of the 16 personality types.  But the names do not concern me for now.

What does concern me, however, is how successful these types of people are going to be in different circumstances throughout life.

The Non-Problem-Solver will probably stay in their hometown and perform the same tasks that their most visible example (a parent?) performs. They will probably be happy, if only internally, and that is good.

The Sociologically-Resourceful type, my ex-girlfriends, will be successful so long as they can surround themselves with people who are eager to share (for whatever reason).

I expect only partial success for the Ultra-Self-Motivated type.  People simply cannot do everything on their own anymore.  In fact, we can do less and less all the time while things become more and more complex:  Who can repair their own car?  Can they do their own taxes?  Architect a financially-secure network?  Can they re-wire their house?  Can they raise their children?  Can they repair a levy?  Can they manage the task of rebuilding a disaster site?  Can they decorate their house?  Can they listen to your concerns without turning the conversation towards themselves?

As civilization progresses (or re-progresses if you talk to Graham Hancock), it becomes increasingly unreasonable to enjoy success as an introverted, self-reliant person.  Instead, success will come to people who can immediately convert anything into a resource -- books, people, web-pages, inanimate objects, or their own intellect -- and use any type of resource equally well.

This is what Twenty-Something's son B is doing when playing Legend of Zelda.  He is managing resources of various types to accomplish a daunting task:  beating the game.  The Legend of Zelda is an enormous and enormously impressive game; anybody who can complete it deserves some respect.

I played the original mid-1980's edition of The Legend of Zelda.  Even back then the game was huge.  At one point, I must have been 8 or 9 years old, I learned basic mapping skills because I could no longer keep track of the game's world and was forced to write it down in order to navigate directly to where I wanted to go.  In the 80's, there were no external resources for video gamers.  Today there are countless resources in the form of web-page walk-throughs, hints books and even older generations of video gamers.

Lots of employees with this skill of being able to use any type of resource to help accomplish any kind of goal is what progressive organizations need in order to progress.  These people are their most valuable assets.

From the stories that come back from interviewees, it seems that Microsoft understands the need to have resourceful employees.  Their hiring practices appear to be designed to determine what kind of problem solver a candidate is.  Based on the handful of people whom I know personally to have gone to work for Microsoft, they seem to be hiring the resourceful types.

I dislike Microsoft and loathe its success.  But I certainly cannot deny that it is a successful organization.

As an aside, I wouldn't be surprised if they saw the need for resourceful marketers before they saw the need for resourceful developers.  This might help explain its impressive sales numbers despite the terrible security and stability issues with Windows 95, 98 and Me, and Office 97-2003.

posted at 12:57 PM by Chris Chew in Education, Leadership, Technology | Comments (0)

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A perfect example of resource-based problem solving! A programmer from Italy reportedly stumbled across previously unknown ancient Roman ruins near his home when he was simply messing around with Google Earth. [Read More]

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