Animals can teach us about ourselves. So, what can dogs teach us about developing talent? An article in Sierra called “Conservation Dogs Sniff Out Endangered Species” gave two answers to this question:
- Dogs very ill-suited in one context can thrive in another.
- Training these dogs requires a higher quality trainer.
The Poop On What Can Dogs Teach Us
The dogs in this article belong to a program called the Conservation Canines or CK9 for short. Conservationists use them to find endangered species. CK9 dogs find them by sniffing out their poop.
CK9 is making use of dogs’ keen sense of smell, 10,000 times that of humans’. That means they can smell “mouse droppings the size of a grain of rice in an area the size of a football field.” They can smell the poop from larger animals even if it’s buried deep in snow.
Training Unwanted Pets
Yet, one attribute makes CK9 dogs different from those at such places as airports. It’s that they make lousy pets. Their energy level is way too high. Owners can’t stand them. In short, CK9 dogs are often the unwanted ones. They tap that energy to run all over the landscapes.
Training these dogs requires just as much stamina. That makes training trainers tougher than training the dogs. That’s because most dog training is aimed at making dogs very obedient.
With CK9 dogs, too much obedience makes them useless. It’s their wildness that gives them the energy to run all over to find poop. As a result, “only about 20 percent to 25 percent of prospective handlers make it through training.”
What Can Dogs Teach Us?
Returning to the two answers above as to what dogs can teach us about developing talent, we find it’s easy to discount:
- The talents of an applicant if the firm sees no use for them
- The need for managers who can develop a wide array of employees
Thus, such employers are likely to complain they can’t find talent. In reality though, they:
- Aren’t innovative enough to see how those talents can help
- Don’t have the skilled management to develop them
These deficiencies make their recruiting and hiring less efficient and more costly. Moreover, their turnover of those they do hire increases. Together, they reinforce each other. That yields spiraling pressure to drive costs up even further. This avoidance of work costs them.
In effect then, the answer to “what can dogs teach us about developing talent” is that it’s a test of a firm’s problem solving capabilities.