I had an interesting discussion with my three kids over the holidays. All three of them are in important positions with high technology companies – two work in digital advertising and one is a senior manager of cybersecurity for a large technology company. All three are what I would call early adopters of technology – if there is a new gadget they buy it and use it quickly until the next new gadget comes along – and all three hire or train people on a regular basis. In fact, one of them has to do a lot of immediate hiring and training of new people and the other one is an expert on certain types of digital selling and his management team wants him to spread his knowledge throughout the organization.
I asked these two how they went about their hiring, training and knowledge sharing. Unfortunately, the processes they described are what I would consider to be very old school, traditional and not every effective. I told the one doing the hiring that statistics showed that he would be fortunate to get a good hire 40 percent of the time using his current approach. I told the one spreading the sales content that statistics showed that he would spend a lot of time and get no better than about 10 percent transmission rate. All agreed that the data I shared was accurate.
They all have a general understanding of what Cerebyte does in terms of knowledge transfer, although there appeared to be a feeling that it was simply “dad lecturing them on science and that I don’t know about current technologies” but that’s to be expected. I went on to explain some of the newest scientific insights that have led to vastly more effective and less costly (in every sense of the word) technologies for hiring, ramping-up new hires and spreading expert knowledge. Not surprisingly, they all gave me a blank stare followed by them saying why their situations prevented them from using these new approaches. These are all the same excuses we get at Cerebyte from organizations about why they don’t want to examine and change the way they hire, train and improve employee performance.
I asked them why they were so quick to adopt a new gadget but not a new technology for these basic management functions. And, again, I got a blank look – though the third one jumped in and told the others they were crazy to be so “old world.”
What emerged in the discussion was that the idea of doing these functions faster and more effectively in any circumstances was simply incomprehensible to them. Hiring is always done the way it has been done and transferring knowledge to people is always done the way it has been done – and they literally could not envision doing it differently.
My belief is that people are skeptical of these types of methodologies since they are less tangible than an electronic gadget. Furthermore, these concepts — human attitudes and behaviors — are much less understood by most people and that few people actually understand how or why these practices work. What this tells me is that, in the absence of particular reasons for becoming knowledgeable, most people are perfectly content with their ignorance.
In sharp contrast, the next day I had a meeting with someone who is a senior manager in healthcare who has been the leader of change and performance improvement initiatives for years. As we discussed leadership, performance improvement and change in organizations, she made a key statement that my kids don’t really seem to understand.
She said, “Everything in an organization and about improving an organization is about humans. Nothing gets better if you don’t understand people’s essential humanity and lead from that perspective.”
My kids love technology but don’t understand that science about understanding us as humans has progressed nearly as much as the new gadgets and has led to new technology too. This certainly isn’t as sexy as a new gadget but probably is more important. Are you resistant to the emerging technology of human development?