Performance is related to the local group

I have always shunned the idea of hiring people only from the top institutions at my workplace. The reason for that was my observation; that there were people from many relatively not so top institutions ending up top performers at the organization compared to their peers from top ones. This was not an one off observation, I had been observing this year on year that recruits from top institutions and not so top institutions were many at times on par with each other and there were few exceptions on either sides.

My school was a very competitive place to study, scoring in the 90s out 100 just meant that you are in the 50th percentile. It was getting increasingly tough as grades went higher and people were merely looking to outscore each other without gaining deep understanding of the subjects studied. Parent’s pressure on the ranking meant students had no choice but to play in the rat race getting stressed out and not learning much except scoring marks. There was a shuffle of groups happened after grade 8 and that was a breather in my school life, the competition eased out and it was so easy to be at the 75th percentile. This sudden ease of pressure made me learn subjects like science and maths with greater depth in understanding without worrying about optimizing learning only from the exam point of view. I could see that depth of understanding eventually helping me at my college and work place and I feel the positive effects of that even now. Had I been in the ultra competitive environment, I would have given up on learning.

I stumbled on the talk by Malcolm Gladwell which had rekindled my memories while I kept nodding at many his points in the talk.

Top institutions always gets the brightest of the minds, there is no doubt in that. But increasingly these institutions are getting competitive that people in the lower percentile in these places may face too daunting a task to accomplish something even though they were the best among their their peers in the country. It will favour the ‘smart gets more smarter’ culture. So as mentioned in the talk it will be better if we recruit the toppers from multiple other institutions rather than focussing on getting talent from top institutions. This may apply to organizations which forms A-teams as well.