Talent Summit – Margaret Heffernan

If you had the pleasure of seeing Margaret Heffernan at Talent Summit you are going to realise this piece will not do her justice, but here are some of our take-aways none the less….

The Value of Coffee Breaks

Margaret referenced a study that cordoned off 2 sections of a company – one side had coffee breaks together, the other did not. The team who had the coffee breaks together significantly outperformed the ones who did not in revenue terms. The collaboration of that team led to huge gains…..


Hackathons really work – getting a multi disciplined team together to solve a business problem works – but you need to check rank/titles/hierarchy at the door, the best idea has to win irrespective of who it comes from.

Getting people to volunteer, especially for hackathons as above, really work better than hand picked people for similar teams.


As a leader you should help people, don’t just give them the answer!

There are still lots of hierarchial organisations, are you in one? Do your employees feel afraid of failure or ambitious to succeed; engaged or trapped? The culture of obedience still is prominent. You need to trust people BUT be trustworthy.

Empowering people works: Margaret mentioned a study where nurses were given one clear instruction (objective) “Do the right thing” – it resulted in a 40% reduction in cost of care (mainly due to 40% quicker recovery times by the patients). Don’t get in your people’s way!

Forced ranking performance models do not work – there is no data to suggest they do or support that they do.

*check out the Super Chickens TED Talk*

Massive performance efficiencies or productivity boost can be achieved by what Margaret described as “Quiet Time” – this is effectively times during the day where we don’t interrupt our colleagues (that’s you too leaders!). There is rarely anything so time sensitive that immediate action is required.

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