One leading North American industrial company looking to embark on a tech-enabled transformation prioritized bringing in a chief digital officer (CDO) who had credibility among technologists. The company hired a CDO who previously had led businesses at major technology companies and was able to attract three leading product managers and designers from similar organizations. The company used these new hires—who were intimately familiar with rapid, user-centric design—to signal its commitment to world-class digital development. The company then directed its recruitment efforts to people from large technology companies and well-regarded design agencies. Using this approach, the organization built its product and design team from zero to 30 people in less than a year.
Acquiring companies for their talent
Large organizations might decide to acquire a smaller company—usually a start-up—for access to its technology workforce. This approach risks igniting culture clashes between the larger acquiring company and the more nimble start-up. Companies can mitigate this risk by having rotating teams from the acquiring company interact with the start-up team, exposing the new employees to company culture while the acquiring organization learns from the new talent, including absorbing the start-up’s more agile approach to work.
Hiring technology talent can be challenging for industrial companies because strong candidates may not have conventional résumés, use mainstream career sites, or even be seeking new employment. To overcome these hurdles, companies should seek out technology talent in the in-person and digital communities where technologists spend time. Companies must either retrain or hire recruiters who have the technical fluency required to speak to candidates to promote the opportunities within the companies and evaluate candidate fit. It can be even more effective to enlist top technical talent already in the organization to recruit other technologists.
Organizations can also partner with technology-services vendors, including agencies, to fill short-term gaps in their ranks. Engaging with a diverse array of vendors for short-term technology talent needs can help companies discover technologists they may want to hire as full-time employees.
Reshaping career paths
After technology talent is on board, companies often find that traditional career paths are not relevant to the new hires. For instance, technologists are often more motivated by work on complex problems or prestigious projects than by the rewards of becoming managers.
To effectively manage technologists in accordance with their motivations, companies must develop clearer criteria to identify high performers and low performers, ensure that managers are equipped to give technical feedback, and prioritize individual development. For instance, performance-management criteria may emphasize the principles of successful technology organizations—customer understanding, knowledge sharing, collaboration, and innovation. Incentives should be a balance of compensation and opportunities to work on challenging problems. To facilitate on-the-the-job learning and productivity, feedback should be delivered as close to real time as possible. Building the capabilities of both technologist and nontechnologist employees is also a critical part of tech-enabled transformations.
To maximize the impact of tech-enabled transformations, an organization’s culture also needs to adapt to support it. Our research shows that a healthy culture in any organization starts with several core practices: role and strategic clarity, competitive insights, and personal ownership.
Several additional practices become especially important in tech-enabled transformations. Specifically, entire organizations—not just technologists—must have a clear view of their end users’ needs, overcome organizational silos, and embrace risk and experimentation. These may seem like best practices for any organization, but they are crucial to fulfilling the potential of tech-enabled transformations.
To focus on end-user needs, a company must give its entire organization the independence and resources needed to understand and respond to end users’ needs and wants. Fulfilling this mission might involve importing ideas and practices from outside the organization. Before developing its own products, for example, one industrial company looks for examples of solutions to similar problems. The product team learned from a leading agriculture company’s development of a digital marketplace, which was similar to one the team was considering for its products.
Consistent with the spirit of continuous learning, organizations must also defeat silo mentalities so that knowledge is shared throughout the organization and communication is continuous and candid. One industrial company set up “digital factories” of multiple teams whose members came from design, engineering, finance, risk, legal, and every other function required to rapidly design, build, test, and launch a product.
Executives seeking to lead technologically strong industrial companies effectively also need to embrace risk and experimentation, because their organizations likely have never before completed a tech-enabled transformation. Leaders can support such an environment by fostering team harmony, mutual support, and genuine caring about the each other’s welfare. Leaders can also empower employees by communicating that they trust and value their expertise and by consulting with them and delegating projects to employee teams. Finally, leaders and organizations can create a safe place for teams to experiment by identifying and mitigating anticipated risks and responding rapidly—and nonpunitively when possible—to unexpected problems as they arise.
For example, the digital product team at one industrial company was two months into building a new product when it discovered that it lacked a market fit for the product. Instead of pushing the team to proceed along its original path, withdrawing funding, or otherwise acting punitively, leaders promptly began to explore next steps with the team. Team members were assigned to a new solution and were even able to appropriate some of the features they had already developed.
As a partial result of an environment characterized by a focus on problem solving, flexibility, and psychological safety, employees might develop new ideas and business-improvement initiatives of their own. Such intrinsic drive is a boon to organizations, and leaders should recognize and reward employee-led innovation.
Building the talent and culture required to activate the benefits of tech-enabled transformations requires a fundamental change in whom industrials recruit, how they recruit, and how the recruits do the work. In parallel, companies need to shift their cultures to focus on the end user, collaborate across silos, and foster experimentation. These modifications are critical for attracting and retaining the digital talent it takes for an industrial company to launch and sustain a tech-enabled transformation and to thrive.
Texto tomado de:
Doucette, R., & Parsons, J. (2020b, octubre 16). The importance of talent and culture in tech-enabled transformations. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/advanced-electronics/our-insights/the-importance-of-talent-and-culture-in-tech-enabled-transformations#