There are some positions that will probably not change, in terms of who gets certain titles. The CFO is a great example. If you look at LinkedIn for CFOs, many of them have been a CFO at five, or even ten companies. That makes sense, because the skills to manage a balance sheet, and have a management team stick to a financial plan, and in the case of public companies be able to talk to Wall Street in their own language – those are very durable skills in an era where business is changing so fast.
But this article about the current Ford CEO highlights the fact that smart companies are not as worried about whether someone has had a certain title before, or even whether they have worked in their industry (remember Alan Mulally – former CEO of Boeing that became CEO of Ford ?).
This is the era we are in right now. On a spectrum of Smart, Smarter, Smartest, the Smartest companies are looking less in the rearview mirror and more forward looking about where their industry is going and what matters today, and what will matter tomorrow. The Ford article is a great example because historically a car was transportation where the most important things were either mileage (Ford Taurus), the number of seats in the vehicle (Ford Transit), or how flashy it looked (Ford Mustang). Today, the Customer Experience matters to many customers, and that means the technology in the car – from navigation to maintenance warnings and simple pairing with the playlist on a smart mobile device to the comfort of the seat in the car (enter why someone with a background in furniture was selected to be Ford’s CEO.
This is significant because so many organizations and their HR departments look for “obvious” matches for hiring – and not just executive hires. The trick for most industries – where change is so fast and prevalent where Customer Experience is a key success metric like never before, is to know what to look for – and what to ignore. In many cases, the top candidates of yesteryear, are the “thanks, but no thanks” candidates of today. The Smartest companies have figured this out, and that is already a competitive differentiator for them.
The action item for companies that are automating filtration of resumes submitted online for roles, through places like LinkedIn, is to change the way they write job descriptions – and that means taking a look at where things are today and where they are headed and being honest about the kind of person that will help them get to where they need to get. Jack Calhoun is a very smart executive in Boston who talks about the way companies not paying attention can “drift” away from what differentiates them and what drives their key performance indicators, and one day they essentially wake up to this fact and have no idea how they got so far away from their core and have no real sense of how to course correct, That’s still true today.
The basic takeaway from this is that if an old fashioned manufacturing company like Ford can make this sort of pivot – so can you – and you had better do it fast because your competition is likely already on this rethink path. Focusing on Customer Experience and knowing how and when to break down, or cut across traditional organizational/departmental silos are the two biggest things companies need to do right now, and those are at the heart of what separates companies on the Smart, Smarter, Smartest spectrum.