CIPD 2016: What HR can learn from chickens

CIPD 2016: What HR can learn from chickens

Those looking to increase productivity within their teams can learn a thing or two from chickens it seems. 

Entrepreneur, CEO, and author, Margaret Heffernan opened this year's annual CIPD conference with a keynote speech about how businesses should be tackling productivity by ignoring the pursuit of high-potential talent. 

She made a comparison to the geneticist William Muir's experiment with chickens and their egg-laying productivity. 

Muir studied a flock, identified the highly productive, and then separated them in to two groups; normal chickens and 'super chickens'. He then continued to monitor their productivity for six generations. Surprisingly, the result was that the group of normal chickens increased their productivity, while the super chickens barely even survived. 

Heffernan addressed this as a parallel to modern-day workforces by saying: "The productivity of the few was achieved by suppressing the productivity of the rest." 

And so, for her, "it's not about having a few talented individuals, it's about getting a varied group to collaborate. 

"We have spent so much time evaluating the bricks, when it is the mortar that really counts." 

The keynote speaker continued to address the importance of communication and a more joined-up way of working in today's business landscape. She says: "We have moved from a 'complicated' world to one that is 'complex' - one you can't predict. 

"And if you don't create high levels of trust and shared consciousness you can't get anything done, that is the nature of complexity." 

Heffernan concluded her talk by saying: "Challenges are coming and we don't need a super chicken, a superman, or a superwoman, we need everybody."

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