When a different angle works its magic


Scarcity is a tricky word. As it often translates the impression that “we’re going short” on something when facts say otherwise.

We’re getting short on talent. We need to hire more people.” A statement that might be a sign of business growth for (blooming) entrepreneurs, but a sign of troubles for others and you.

When you consider the number of unfulfilled job openings in different countries [1], some managers might be right: their team is going short on talents. Or are they?


For six years now, California has experienced a drought. Because it’s not the 1st time it happens [2], insuring water security is a recurring issue in California. This time, both civilian and corporate water wasters have been put under more scrutiny. Pressing the development of better ways to use the water pool (intended pun) at hand.

Some high-water-consumption businesses, like farms and breweries, successfully lowered their water usage. [3, 4] How? By adopting a “water conservation” approach. That is, saving water by using production methods and tech that require a smaller input of water than before.

A Californian craft beer brewer, Russ Drinker (real name), looked at the problem the other way around. In the water outputs; greywaters precisely. These are waste waters coming from dishwashers, showers and washing-machines. Once filtered, they can be reused instead of being sent directly to sewers. Then giving value to what was considered to be worthless.

Drinker’s efforts weren’t worthless. As the beer he brewed out of recycled water actually left a tasting panel unable to taste the difference between his beer and another brewed with fresh water. [5]

Put in perspective, his approach isn’t about “using less of what we have left (of water)” but “making the most out of what we already use”. Focusing on efficiency (maximizing), not only quantity.

Another resource can benefit from being looked at differently.


Going short” on talent (e.g. employees) has been a recurring issue these past years too. “I can’t seem to find the right people for a job” or “There are just not enough good candidates out there” translate very well what your team might have experienced. More importantly, it highlights what is sought after then: a talent input.

Automating some functions has helped different-size companies lower their talent usage. (Online purchasing or banking-payment platforms don’t require as many bookstore clerks or bank tellers as before, for instance.) Yet, using a smaller amount of talent doesn’t mean not using any talent (employees) at all. The number of unfulfilled job openings (mentioned above) proves talent is still very much in demand.

Using Russ Drinker’s approach, your concern shouldn’t be about how much talent there is left out there. How you make the most of what you already use, should be.


Different studies have demonstrated that engaged employees perform better than disengaged ones [6, 7] Atop of having a direct impact on a company’s revenues growth. [8] However, the most recent studies show that (since 2011) an average of 70% of US workers consider themselves disengaged at work [9]. This proportion rises to 80%, worldwide. [10] Showing that many managers waste more than they make the most of the amount of talent they already have at hand every day; their employees.

How do you get your own employees to engage a little more then? Asking them “How can I help you simplify your work and make things more efficient for this to happen?” is a good starter. Because one key reason employees engage at work is when they feel cared about. Offering to help and then act accordingly just does that: showing you care.


Interestingly, the day we start getting more of something we thought was limited, the impression of going short on it slowly disappears. Facts usually support such disappearance.

It all starts with the angle you choose to look at a problem from.

When you consider your own team, what practices, processes or tech have you put in place to make the most of your employees’ talent lately?

Signature PF