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Halting the IT Talent Recycling Game

Halting the IT Talent Recycling Game

Jan 22, 2017

A Gartner recently published research article cited the resource crunch as the largest issue facing CIOs. The research pointed to talent as the biggest roadblock to successfully achieving objectives. In short, this is true. As I have worked with CIOs around the globe, I have seen this as the dominant issue. In situations where a model would have helped them pursue a goal, the CIO often had to stand down from implementing it because the team was not ready for it. In short, IT, not the business, can often be the CIO’s most significant inhibitor to success.

TechBuzzKill.com wanted to expand the conversation expressed in the article. The article did well to note what to look for and why it is needed, but it fell short on where and how. Thus, TechBuzzKill.com seeks to fill in the gaps.

How

In key positions, CIOs and IT leaders should implement the practice of interviewing one candidate per job with an unconventional background. The computerweekly article rightly noted that diverse backgrounds can make the difference in changing culture. It noted CIOs and IT are making the “recycling” mistake again and again. CIOs can only break this trend by implementing a practice by policy.

This has worked in other situations. The NFL is a perfect example. In 2002, after the hasty firings of Dennis Green and Tony Dungy, many civil rights advocates voiced concern about how quickly these minority coaches were terminated in comparison to the patience shown to white coaches. Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, suggested a rule that required teams to interview one minority candidate when there was an opening. The results have been significant. Prior to the “Rooney rule” only 6% of NFL coaches were African American. This jumped to 22% in a short time. In 2017, there will be eight minority head coaches, which is 25% of the league.

CIOs can implement a similar policy.  CIOs should work with HR to define the standard requirements as usual, but they can also work with HR to have an outlier description. So, include the must haves and nice to haves, and then include a category called outlier. In doing this, the CIO and all of IT will be breaking the recycling trend, and slowly introduce new talent in a structured way.

Where

In a recent article published on LinkedIn, a study noted that by 2020, 23% of B2B sales positions will be obsolete (approximately 1 million). Of the remaining positions, the article noted that these people will need to be expert in their field, consultant level professionals to be successful.

This growing group of sales professionals are a great pool of talent.  They know technology and IT, and have associated with IT professionals for years. In addition, the computerweekly article noted, “As business models change, so must we. We need to be able to cross-fertilise ideas, learn and borrow from different sectors and be more flexible in our teams to deliver innovatively around complex challenges….”.

Technology professionals who have sales experience in their background fit this description well. In their sales experience, they have honed the abilities to bring new ideas forward, to navigate politics, to handle difficult situations while retaining relationship, and innovate within status quo situations. Of course, the IT leader needs to ensure they know enough to make informed decisions, but all in all this a great source of new talent.

Another source of new talent for IT is the business. As business agility becomes a must-have in organizations, the melding of business and IT has become more common. Additionally, many business units have IT expertise in their ranks because of the cloud and outsource buying decisions that have increased over the past several years. This knowledge of the business and their buying trends is invaluable to an IT department. As such, it is another great source for IT to stop the recycling of the same old talent.

There is no doubt that the industry is changing. The world is going through another change similar to the Industrial Age and Information Age. Therefore it is incumbent upon IT to adapt to the change. New talent is a great way to do this!

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