By Brian McKay
The last few years have involved a job search that has resulted in NADA. An attempt to use years of skills and an advanced degree has been fruitless. Why? The Term "qualified" has taken on a new meaning in most companies. It involves very specific skill sets and years of exact experience in the industry at hand. Cultural fit has become an often espoused term. It could be killing businesses.
A narrow definition can be great at times and very detrimental at others. It is great when picking out a suit because a good fit is necessary. Fast food needs to have a narrow definition so it tastes the same at every McDonald’s. A narrow definition of employees though leaves a business stagnant.
What businesses often need is the Dirty Dozen. If you haven’t seen this movie, do. It is just awesome.
The Dirty Dozen was compromised of a diverse set of skills and approaches that ended up complimenting each other with the result of pulling off an impossible mission. Those military vagabonds challenged each other. It was creative tension for the good of the group and the mission.
The most impacted part of a business with narrow definitions is in management. Diverse approaches create a probe and learn approach that might not happen otherwise with exact clones. As small changes are explored in different ways and communicated, new best practices are created and refined. There could be a much better way of doing things that will never be found if everyone behaves exactly the same. A small amount of rebellion coupled with diverse experiences can be the best thing that ever happened to a company.
Here is another way to think of it. Had challenges not been made to the status quo in society and politics, where would we be now? It is the rebel that has always moved things forward. Your Founding Fathers were a diverse set of rebels (Adams couldn't stand Franklin) that drank beer in pubs while discussing new ideas. Look at where that got us.
Large companies lose market share to nimble market disruptors because size often creates HR professionals that have no idea what to look for other than an exact set of qualifications dictated by management. The automated resume scanners look for certain key words and only certain key words.
The same companies will say they want people that “think outside of the box”, while the startups are hiring people that correctly assess that the box never existed to begin with. Thus, the startup is probing and learning while the behemoth is stagnant and slowly falling behind. The startups have their own Dirty Dozen that pull off the impossible against the regimented corporations and take them down. This would explain why only three original Dow Jones Industrial Component companies still exist.
HR is necessary with size obviously, but middle size and larger companies can empower their HR professionals to look beyond a narrow point of view. The HR professionals haven’t done the job they are looking to fill, but there are ways to facilitate new definitions. As has been mentioned by zenruption before, honesty and dispensing of propaganda within a company is key. Allowing managers to think independently in order to guide HR in what might be a more diverse set of skills that could be employed, opens doors to new hires that will facilitate probing and learning.
Executives need to communicate that the company will not be filled with “yes men” and that HR is encouraged to look for people that can take on new challenges without having to display such a specific skill set. A quick learner can integrate into the position almost as quickly as someone with experience and potentially create more value on down the road, being that they are a new set of eyes on old problems.
The Dirty Dozen were successful in an extremely complex challenge. Instead of using a like minded focus group to respond to new challenges, ask yourself, “How does my company get its own Dirty Dozen?”
Discuss and zenrupt
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Brian McKay has his MBA from Boise State University. He often watches Ghandi and Patton as contrasts in management styles. Yeah, he is nerdy like that. Maybe that explains his extremely convoluted resume.