Summary of Forget the Pecking Order at Work

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Individual high-performing employees are overrated, according to five-time CEO Margaret Heffernan, who denounces workplace superstars in favor of collaborative teams. In this candid, fresh oration, Heffernan calls for the end of “management by talent contest.” getAbstract believes employees will certainly concur with Heffernan’s timely, contrarian message and suggests that employers and executives take note, too.

About the Speaker

Margaret Heffernan is the former CEO of five companies, including ZineZone and the author of Willful Blindness.



To investigate whether he could increase the productivity of a flock of chickens, evolutionary biologist William Muir bred the most productive chickens in his flock for six successive generations. Yet the resulting “superflock” of high achievers didn’t outperform the average control flock. Rather, the superchickens pecked their competitors to death, leaving only three survivors. Meanwhile, the control flock was happy and plump, and it produced eggs at the normal rate. The analogy to workplaces is immediately apparent. Many companies follow the superchicken business model: They hire brilliant people who thrive on competition and personal success. Frequently, the results are “aggression, dysfunction and waste.” Researchers at MIT found that

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    N. V. 5 months ago
    i completely agree with Margaret Heffeman when she argued about Today's issues which required varied inputs & energy of many people' not just superchicjens"
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    L. .. 3 years ago
    Great conference about social capital.
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    A. M. 5 years ago
    I completely agree with Margaret Heffeman when she argued "Today’s problems need the varied input and energy of many people, not just superchickens"