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Posted by on in Accountability
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Hiring Decision The “Agile Man” or the Specialist

What managers need/want – what we typically end up hiring

Today’s world is full of uncertainty and change. Customers are embolden by the information age and as a result have become more and more demanding. We live in a global economy where competition flourishes. Governments likewise have become more intrusive through the increased use of regulations to control behavior.   In other words, change is all around us. It is constant, unceasing and ever accelerating.  This is the world that managers and leaders face. They must be able to cope with such change. The cry has been to find individuals who are agile and adaptive, who can readily cope with constant and unabating change, are not threatened by trying new things and new ways to do business. Thus, one would think that individuals who have operated  in multiple functional areas and in different types of work would be in high demand by hiring managers and  recruiters. The quest for the “agile man” should stand-out as the real solution to today’s work related challenges.

Instead, many companies have taken advantage of the bad economy to limit their search to the highly specialized individual. All of sudden, it is possible to find a marketing executive with more than 15 years experience  in a given market segment, e.g., medical devices or some other similar product line. Rather than settle on “the best athlete” irrespective of their technical background, many companies arbitrary limit their search to the highly technical specialist. Such a strategy may be good for short-term results; especially in a troubled business area. Over the long-haul, however, this approach will not take the company to the next higher level of performance. The only viable solution is to focus hiring efforts on the broad  range of work that occurs at a given organizational layer.  Most companies make their profits in front-line sales and service organizations that are an  integral part of a larger business unit structure. Business Units involve the integration of a broad array of skills and functions, e.g., marketing sales, operations, product development, HR, Finance, etc. Effectively running a business unit would benefit from the BU leader having had a broad range of background experiences.


Specialists are good in certain situations. They are not so good in building effective “cross functional” teams and organizational units. In these situations, the “agile man” is likely to be much better. This is the real challenge facing today’s hiring manager. At ODI we encourage our clients to hire the individual who has the “capacity” to handle work at a given organizational layer, not necessarily the one with the most experience or “hit the ground running skill sets”. We know  the work of the role will change over time, that is the essence of change. Why not hire someone with a track record of adaptability and agility? An individual who has proven that he/she can add new skill sets, quickly.  We want you to find the ”best all around  athlete”  not the highly skilled, but limited specialist. 



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Guest Monday, 24 June 2024





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