Sunday, April 27, 2008

Well, Would They?

Another question that comes up early when I am working with a new client is simple, and it causes consternation. I figure that is, in part, what I am getting paid for - to cause consternation. Here's the question: would they hire you for your job today? The charge is to be brutally honest and to give this question long, hard consideration.

I like this question because it links two really important analytical areas - you/your current skill set and the current job needs. The job is the mission of the organization, but what are the specifics of those abstract words today, at this point in time in the life of the organization?

Were we eyeball to eyeball discussing this question, here is what I would like to know, and what would be good for you to hear yourself articulate out loud:
Who hires and fires you?
As steward of your organization's mission, what needs to be done at this point in time?
Given all that you have done, what needs to be done next?
What skills does that require?
Do you have the skills and vision it takes to accomplish that?

What happens a lot of the time is that a board hires a CEO to run a mission-driven organization at a certain point in time. Current Needs joined with Best Available Applicant. After three, four, or five years, the CEO gets those original needs met. Part of the CEO's responsibilities are to keep the board informed and appraised. She has done that. What happens next is that there is a big implicit organizational what next? Two of three years of doing the same old thing, solving those original needs follow. Once this drifting starts to show up in the numbers, people take note and wonder, seems like CEO is doing so great anymore.

Part of the CEO's responsibilities is to see the organization's future. Also, he must help the board learn about the changing internal and external business environment. To do this, you must constantly be surveying the current business environment for changes and developments and ask how does this impact us? What does this new information change? What needs does this create? Most of the boards that I have served on or observed spend most of their time understanding what has been done (the past) or is planning to be done soon (the soon to be past). Few boards, being lead and directed by their CEO, survey the future and address their relevance and sustainability as a business entity. Organizations need to spend more time thinking generatively about the future. Generative thinking is imagining the future and generating ideas, questions, concerns that can then inform more of today's daily management. A real easy way to ask this is to consider how are we going to fit into the future? Look at your kids and what they say and do and love. That is the future. Bring what you see into the boardroom discussions.

A constant pulse on the changing demands of the marketplace also provides another road map, one for the CEO. Seeing what needs to be done for the future, the CEO can effectively ask am I the person to lead us there? Do I have the skills? If I don't, how quickly can I get them? What would a person applying for my job today bring that I don't have? To be relevant, you have to keep your skills current. If the board or your department head were replacing you today, would they pick your set of skills and knowledge and experience as the Best Available Applicant? Well, would they?

This has been your ten-minute reality check.

No comments: