In Last month’s blog ‘The perfect project resource I asked, what skills are the key to successful projects? This week I want to consider the role of higher education and its relationship with proving your suitability for a specific job.

When I left school, many years ago, only a handful of people went on to do a degree and for most employers, a degree was not considered necessary for the majority of jobs. Today, however, many more people have degrees and companies seem to demand them for jobs that previously didn’t require them.

This week I saw an interesting talk by Margret Heffernan covering the topic of high achievers. ‘Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work’, summarised below.

A few years back, MIT carried out research using hundreds of volunteers. They were divided into groups and given difficult problems to solve. As you would expect, some groups were more successful than others.

What they found was, it was not the groups with individuals with the highest IQ or even the groups with the highest IQ on average.

Overwhelmingly the results proved, really successful teams all showed high degrees of social sensitivity to each other. Within these groups, individually they gave roughly equal time to each other and all had more women in them.

The key is, their social connectedness to each other.

In another experiment, evolutionary biologist at Purdue University, William Muir carried out a study on productivity using chickens. He wanted to know if it was possible to make chickens more productive (laying eggs).

He selected an average flock of chickens and left them alone for six generations. Then he created a second group using only the most productive chickens. Each generation, he selected only the most productive for breeding.

Again after six generations he looked at the results. He found that the group of average chickens were all doing very well. All healthy and laying well.

The second group of ‘Super Chickens’? all but three were dead, pecked to death.

The Super Chickens suppressed the productivity of the other chickens in the groups to be successful as an individual.

To be successful, we must spend time to get to know each other, socialise and then we function well as a team, an organisation or even society.

When we are social, are allowed to be creative, trust and support each other with our ideas, then we become productive.

For me, it’s time to stop focussing on just the high achievers and look at the opportunities to connect individuals at all levels and academic abilities within our businesses.

Until next time.

Oliver.