Most critically, star players need to be protected from organisational 'rain' (stifling rules and corporate politics). Bosses at drugs company Genentech (owned by Roche) protected top scientists from shareholder disquiet when the company was spending $800 million per year on research with nothing to show for it.
The result was that a new drug was eventually approved and launched (after it had failed earlier clinical trials), and achieved sales of $1.13 billion in 2005. Clever people need to be governed by rules, but these should be simple and widely accepted.
Successful companies hedge their bets on smart people. In the drugs sector, some managers encourage scientists from different parts of their organisation to experiment in contrasting ways to find the formula for a new drug. Good leaders also help clever people to accept failure and let them pursue private projects.
Leading clever people
Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones
Harvard Business Review, March 2007