In conceptual work, the sky’s the limit. A superstar may generate $50 million in value while the average employee brings in a meager $50 thousand.
Several things are going on here. For one, rates of production are no longer limited by physical factors. A bricklayer can only lay so many bricks per hour before his heart gives out. There’s no such limit on ideas. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, thought up Google when they were in graduate school; it was a $100 billion idea.
In today’s complex world, small events often make giant impacts. A popular example is “the butterfly effect.” A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, and the reverberation helps create a tornado in Texas.
Back to Google. They have found that a great hire, a super-engineer, will generate two hundred times the value of her middle-of-the-road peer. Recalling the butterfly effect, let’s call the super-engineer a “butterfly person.”
What proportion of your organization’s development resources should be invested in butterfly people?