Mining Your Lower Ranks for Future Executives

Forrest ChristianManaging Leave a Comment

Why is this such a new thought to people? One of the best places to find cheap high-potentials without all of the baggage of an MBA (CEOs who are MBA substantially underperform CEOs who rose through the ranks by a substantial margin) is under you nose. Well, actually it’s under you in the organisational chart.

If I were a manager, I’d be raiding the lower ranks of my meanest internal competitors for staff. I’d hire his most qualified arrogant bastards and initially give them “punishment” jobs, with the private communication of what I really wanted them to do. This would let me get them into my organization without having to worry about threatening the other manager. My enemy would be enthusiastic about gettting rid of these people whom he had been trying to get to quit. I would then promote them to the proper position, “bungee them down” to the next lower level (from Mark Van Clieaf) to learn the ropes, at the same time getting them some solid coaching to overcome the nasty learned habits that they had to develop in order to survive “Working In The Crawl Space”, my new metaphor for working in a job that is below your capability.

This is especially true if you are hiring for Strategic, executive level positions. These folks are very hard to find.

I’m such a genious that James Nelson (Ohio State) and Deb Armstrong (U. Ark) are studying how to find future software designers and architects from lower ranks. They’re missing out on the necessary step of understandinghow CIP plays a part in this, so I’ll trump them. But their work is fascinating. They published that wonderful “Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks” article in Communications of the ACM about retraining mainframers to Object Oriented Programming (OOP).

There is always a sever shortage of high-potential talent. You’re stupid (read: “you’re a moron”) if you don’t go mine your lower ranks.

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