2012 Series 001 – What is Meritocracy?

I think this is among the chief value of an ever growing, ever relevant organization.

Meritocracy pushes people to outdo themselves through productivity and innovation. But with the wrong application, it can also lead people to a sense of resignation and futility.

Due to it’s value, should we start with a definition?



1. a society governed by people selected according to merit

2. a ruling or influential class of educated or able people

Wikipedia add an interesting comment on meritocracy:

“Supporters of meritocracies do not necessarily agree on the nature of “merit”, however they tend to agree that “merit” itself should be a primary consideration during evaluation.”

In light of the above definitions, there are at least 2 aspects of meritocracy that needs to be understood and shared:

1. What are the general nature or criteria merit will be applied throughout the organization? Will we even need a general organization wide merit criteria? Or do we think our organization is so diverse, a general criteria of merit will be so ambitious and ambiguous, it become useless.

2. Certain things are unfortunately are given at birth, e.g. intelligence. How do find and include merit criteria that our people can control? And help our talent to focus and believe that merit is an open game for everyone with the motivation to grow? For an Organization where talent feels constrained, that they cannot make a difference, either for the company, their career, or themselves, is in danger of dealing with apathy.


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