Five Scenarios IX: Opportunities

Mar 11, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Spring 2010 conference-logoI’m looking forward to the conversation in San Diego at ERE. (There’s still time to register if you hurry). With any luck, we’ll do something really interesting. I hope that the articles to date will provide a framework for discussion and brainstorming. The session is at 3:15 on Wednesday the 17th. I’m interested in seeing how long it can go.

My presentation will take about 6 or 7 minutes. The rest is conversation. I’m of the opinion that this sort of thing is better done by conversation than a presumptuous lecture.

We’ve covered a broad range of topics in the series to date: Geopolitics, Demographics, Automation, Health Systems, Infrastructure, and Performance Management as a Lifestyle. It’s been a whirlwind tour through a range of possibilities. The idea behind scenario planning is stretching your mind to the point that you can see opportunities and vulnerabilities that you can’t discover otherwise.

As if to underline the energy price scenario ($200 oil), crude prices have moved up about 15% in the past month. Soon the rest of the country will be enjoying $3 gasoline like we have in California. Even so, the point of scenarios is not a crisp set of forecasts. The idea is to get at the underlying structure of possibility.

Here’s the real headline. Disruption is coming to a recruiting operation near you. And, soon.

(Disruption happens when industries are overturned by a new way of looking at things. We’ve been undergoing waves of disruption while reconsidering recruiting in the light of slower growth and regionalization. It’s likely that fundamental definitions of quality, success, performance, and delivery are going to change. One great example of recruiting disruption is the ARMY’s video game that was originally used as a recruiting tool. Nowadays, it is a part of the soldier life cycle. The recruiting tool becomes the training tool. That’s a whole new way of managing human capital.)

At the turn of the 20th Century (say, 1905), most people worked on farms. Cars and airplanes were unusual. Communications meant snail mail. Some cities had big companies but they were not the norm. Recruiting then, as it is now in the vast majority of cases, involved word of mouth and “referrals” (meaning the willingness to vouch for someone) As organizations flatten and relationships between them and the people who work for them evolve, several things are going to be really important:

  • Knowing exactly what you want to have done is the most cost-effective way to get it done. This means more planning.
  • Sensors will be everywhere generating amazing insight into work, customers, markets, and organizations.
  • Human resources will be increasingly called to task for navel-gazing at the expense of operations (see the ARMY video game for 21st Century HR)
  • More and more people will work for smaller and smaller companies.
  • Recruiting will have to spread beyond relationships that involve W2s. Recruiting is talent acquisition, not employee acquisition.

New techniques, ideas, and approaches will take root in emerging industries and fail in the dying industries. The very way that a company uses its people will become the thing that discriminates companies of one era and another.

The point of the conversation in San Diego is to see if we can figure out some of the possibilities and threats. Here’s how to prepare:

–Read the rest of the series to be prepared for the conversation:

–Make notes about the things that grab you in the material.

–Pick a scenario and list three things you would do in that scenario.

–Make a list of three questions you’d ask about the other scenarios.

–If you can only do one thing, try to identify the one scenario that would make your approach to recruiting fail.

See you in San Diego. (The following week, I’ll summarize the conversation.)

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.