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In Hiring Selection, Are We Asking the Right Questions?

Photography by Austin Distel

Photography by Austin Distel

Author: Bruce Taylor - Director | Strategic Advisory, Portman Partners

We are still at the outer edge of the Digital Transformation (DX) era, the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) or, if you prefer, Industry 4.0. Some enterprises are further in than others, but few are very deep.

When we go about the business of selecting top executives and senior management, or board members and advisors – or when investors in the Digital Infrastructure Transformation space are wishing to have advisors who understand the digitalization sea change now underway, are we sure we are hiring/appointing for not only the right knowledge and skills, but also for the right emotional intelligence and personality/behavioral competencies.

Because they have and are changing. Digital Transformation, and the Digital Infrastructure that serves it demands organizational cultural and behavioral change, not just new digital skills.

There is no one answer to this – no one-size-fits-all fix. Quite nearly everything useful about leadership and management styles as recently as a decade ago, may no longer apply to the smart, data-driving performance now a requirement.

This takes a deep, thoughtful approach – one based on the reading and discussing with peers on what the new management paradigm looks and feels like when it’s at work in any organization.

Now time for a new approach?

I was a once-upon-a-time practitioner in the dark arts of a very sophisticated talent selection, training and teaming assessment known as the Harrison Assessments. I used it for executive and team selection and coaching. It’s very sophisticated, profoundly accurate emotional intelligence measurement system for candidate selection and hiring, I am going to give some serious thought to developing a custom assessment using this tool that may be helpful in determining the right traits, trait balances and personality characteristics necessary to be successful in forming and leading successful digital transformation project initiatives and teams.

Is it time to re-think hiring selection practices? Organizations like Microsoft, Google, AWS and many others are way down the road on this. How about in your organization?

To that end, I welcome any feedback on how your organization’s HR talent selection process has evolved or is now in the process of changing to meet the brave-new-world demands of Digital Transformation. I’d love to hear what you are doing. Bruce.Taylor@PortmanPartners.com

Edge-to-cloud data center organizations faced with ensuring that the reliable, resilient digital infrastructure that enables, accelerates, supports and secures business transformative initiatives are fully in step with those driving the customer-experience-centric outer edge of the business.

I’ve gathered here a smattering of article links on the general topic of leadership; articles about the traits and characteristics now required for DX leadership. Please review, please find your own sources, please talk amongst your peers about this, and whatever you do, do not make the assumption that it hasn’t changed for your business or practice. Because one of two states exist:

  • It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. 

  • It’s happening now, but you don’t recognize it, or don’t see it affecting your business performance right now.

Meeting the challenges of the 4.0 era, finding the transformational opportunities, leading successful high-performance organizations and teams requires new skills – both hard skills from education, training and upskilling and the so-called softs skills of emotional intelligence.

Pro Tip:

All successful leaders and teams require both in balance. And the behavioral and personality traits and characteristics likely count for more in ultimate success than the hard skills. And this is where to look for business transformation success.

Whilst he may have been a controversial thinker, my dear friend the late Ken Brill, founder of the Uptime Institute and primary author of the Tier Classification System for determining data center uptime availability, had a wonderful practice for the small group that made up the Institute staff in those days: He led a weekly evening salon at his home where we discussed books that we had taken on to help us think differently on a range of topical issues. I thought it to be a wonderful exercise for “no-box” (not just “out-of-the…”) thinking.

In this time of Digital Transformation, I perhaps cannot think of a more important exercise than to think differently. An old friend John Bielengerg, is a design-thinking guru (he’d hate that, quite likely), but for the least several years he has led workshops in how to “Think Wrong” as an approach to design thinking. In Digital Transformation, there is no “right” way of thinking. And the same may be truer than we know in the era of edge-to-cloud data centers infrastructure.

Your Summer Reading List?

Here’s a quick reading list of articles, several of which I hope you may find of value.

 Gartner: Top 10 Digital Infrastructure Trends for 2019 from Gartner

CIO: 7 Skills of successful digital leaders from CIO

 InLoox: The 5 must-have skills for digital transformation from inLoox

 CMEwire: 7 Skills and Characteristics of Successful Digital Leader from CMSwire

 Forbes: 5 Leadership Traits Required for Digital Transformation from Forbes

Quickbase: 5 Characteristics of Successful Digital Transformation Leaders from Quickbase

 6 Characteristics of Digital Leadership from Digital Leaders

Bruce Armstrong Taylor

Portman Partners