Job titles for problem solvers

I saw this question come up on a forum.  mocking ferris Beyond the judging and mocking from several who said every job is about solving problems, this question triggered a thought process in my head about hiring.

interviewYou have the standard questions you can ask.

  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you came up with a new approach to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you faced a significant obstacle to succeeding with an important work project or activity.

With I am sure 101 or more other versions.  101

I like to warm up with one or two of these and then work back to this specifically when hiring roles that will directly impact business optimization with this scenario.scenario

At one of your previous roles, you are given unlimited funds for technology, education, people – employees and contractors, whatever you can spend money on, but only 90 days to solve what you believe would be a huge impacting business issue.

What would have been that business issue?

How would you have gone about creating a new solution?

I have gotten everything from downright confusion of what I wanted confusionto boundless excitement about what they would do.  excitement

The one thing I noticed is this got some candidates who were not very verbose to open up as they sat back, looked up and you could see them envisioning what they are about to start explaining to you.

Yes, ever job has some problem solving part of it.  But, in today’s IT roles they are ALL about problem solving.  Not just the how to squeeze more disk space or performance out of legacy equipment.  But how to deliver more value to the business whether that be through improving profit on process optimization or creating a new revenue generating service for your clients.

new

 

CIO and report roles changing, of course

This article had a fantastic sentence about IT roles.     

“They need greater political skills to deal with senior-level executives who may feel threatened by global business processes.”

I could not agree more.  The CIO and his IT group will be matrixes deep into the organization as IoT, analytics, cloud services along with new mobility optimize legacy processes and create brand new services.

This will create threats.  Optimizing a process by removing inefficiencies may also eliminate control points that line of business executives and managers are not happy to give up or the downsizing of their staff that might be no longer needed.

I recall a manager who over a period of 3 years lost 20 people in their 80 person department in 3 office locations.  When I was hired in the 3rd year, the finance person was explaining to me how my budget got hit for the amount of space my division used in all the buildings globally.    Asking for a breakdown by department for the past 3 years, I noticed that this same department’s salary and other expenses reduced significantly each year, but not their overhead expense or the stated office space utilized.

In speaking to the manager he explained that he had been there for 20 years and they would reduce staff and then 3 – 4 years later add them back in.  If you gave up the space, it would take another 3 – 4 years to get the additional space, so you held on to it. Use it as a storage area, move a contractor over to the desk, stop sharing for different shifts – anything to keep the space.

Oh did I open up can of angry cobras (worms are just wiggly, not mean).  Finance went through each area and found globally almost all departments guilty of the same.

I am sure that still happens today and what IT evolves into will only run up against this more and more.

IT is already a matrix.  Per a prior blog, each line of business area has that tech savvy person or persons.  Marketing has those web and/or analytics hot shots.  Finance has their excel guru’s who became analytics gurus.  Operations application gurus and everyone is becoming cloud based services gurus.

You have to work across all of them.  But, that is merely about application upgrades, new services or changes to the same.  They still see that as changing what IT does.

Now IoT, analytics, cloud and mobile technology can impact the business operations by changing them radically.  Thing Uber and taxis along with retail stores vs Amazon mobile app.  What will happen with self driving cars.

The issue is that protective nature over the status quo.  First you will hear IoT is unproven, analytics is too hard and cloud does not save you money.

 

Hmph.

This is where Harry Truman make some sense.   

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.  

Align your proposal with their specific concerns (illogical as they may be).

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Make it their idea, give up ALL the credit when it is seeking approval for this GREAT business strategy idea and most of it when you are successful.