Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Something about Innovation

Have you ever wondered how innovation first begins? Does it actually have a starting point? I would offer the idea that it does. Innovation begins when we mix experiences with other experiences. Like combining different colors of paint, the moment the colors touch each other a new color is introduced. So, the next obvious question is how do we mix different experiences in order to create something new?

When I was working with one of my mentors a few years back she introduced me to the idea of something called the third quarter phenomenon. It’s the idea that when a group of people get together for a given period of time their interactions become significantly visible during the third quarter. Her research suggests that the greater the difference in experiences the greater are the chances that the third quarter phenomenon will be more significantly influenced. When we apply this theory to innovation we could essentially improve our opportunity to increase innovative ideas.

For example, let’s imagine that we assemble two groups of people (team Alpha and team Omega). We decide that team Alpha is going to be comprised of people from similar backgrounds, education, and social experiences. We then decide that team Omega will be comprised of people from completely different backgrounds, different education, and different social experiences. Just to make communication a little easier we agree that both teams speak English as their common language. Let’s also agree that each team will be given the same amount of time to complete a task that is similar in all aspects. As the teams begin planning their strategy to complete the task team Alpha takes off like a rabbit racing the turtle as they lead the race to complete the assigned task. However, team Omega is off to a slow start as they struggle to understand each other’s communication styles.

As you might expect, team Alpha is able to anticipate each of their team member’s actions because they seem to almost intuitively know what the other is about to do. Because of their ability to understand each other at the start of the project, they are able to find quick solutions that will help them complete their task. On the other hand, team Omega struggles with understanding their teammates. Although they understand their exchange of words, they experience a hard time understanding the unspoken meanings behind each of their teammate’s expressions. Team Omega is forced to pay more attention to understanding each other’s perspectives which results in slowing down their efforts. 

However, research has shown that as both teams approach the third quarter time of their task, team Alpha begins to make errors in judgement, assumptions, and individual conclusions. Team Alpha begins to break down in frustration and motivation slows as the fear of failure begins to take hold. On the other side, team Omega has worked out their communication styles, learned to understand each other’s underlying meanings, and they work at combining their experiences in order to compromise solutions to complete the task at hand. They began to pull ahead of team Alpha, as team Omega’s communication continues to improve.

So where did the innovation take place? I would suggest that the innovative opportunity took place when team Omega began understanding how to communicate effective and then offering solutions to solve the assigned task. During their exchange of ideas influenced by their unique life experiences and the need to clearly explain and communicate their ideas to their teammates, team Omega was able to combine their experiences (the paint) and develop innovative solutions (the new color) that would lead them to completing their task.

When you’re looking to be more innovative I recommend that you seek out others who have different points of view. Then, when working toward a common goal, be open to combining different experiences to find a solution.

Author: Dr. Eduardo Diaz, helping you exceed expectations.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Networking is also Social

Recently I hosted a Technology Luncheon event in Sacramento ( www.meetup.com/technology-leaders/ ). It was geared at connecting technical talent with other IT professionals, creating opportunity to share insight and knowledge, and having a good time. As with all events, the opportunity to network and connect with the right person at the right time is always a possibility. This is exactly what transpired.

There were several hiring managers at the event. Everyone had an opportunity to interact with them, but the conversations didn't end there. After the event the hiring managers pulled me aside and brought up several names of those that sparked their curiosity. We discussed their presentation, their expressed interests and areas of opportunity. We essentially compared notes from an informal interview perspective. In the end there were several IT professionals that became the center of conversation for upcoming projects and even other IT professionals who could benefit from being connected to other recruiters that we collaborate with on an ongoing basis.

Yes, it's true that not all networking opportunities show immediate benefit, but all of them have a benefit one way or another. For example, this event may lead to career opportunities for many of the people who attended the event. For others it could help them improve their presentation (i.e. Ability to respond to future informal questions). These type of networking events could also lead to new leads and new networks that could open up areas of opportunity never considered.

Attending networking events is a way of getting your name out there. It's a way of opening doors of opportunity and letting others know that you're willing and ready. It might not always be immediately apparent of the value that networking brings to the table, but if you stop and evaluate your interactions, act on what is available, and pursue your goals, the value will present itself.

Author: Dr. Eduardo Diaz, helping you exceed expectations.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Tech Resume Needs More

IMG_5634You may have heard the idea that a resume needs to fit on one page. That may have been true back in the day and for other industries, but the tech industry follows a different set of requirements. A technology resume should include as much information as needed to describe your skill sets. I’m not suggesting that you write a book about your qualifications, although that could be a best seller, but I am suggesting that you provide enough information to share your technology strengths. This information could include the highlights of projects that you’ve worked on or examples of solutions that you used to increase efficiency.

For example, maybe you worked as a consultant or as a volunteer donating your time to help a small business get off the ground. In your resume you could highlight the project that you worked on using three or four details (bullet points) that describe your contributions. These details could help to demonstrate your passion and commitment to technology advancement. Yes, it’s important to be concise when listing your bullet points in a resume, but it’s equally important to list examples of how you contributed to a project.

Consider the following example; yesterday I was searching for candidates who have experience with the build and release of software applications using XL Deploy. I was shifting through over 50 resumes that were sourced a short time earlier. The resumes were identified using a keyword search that matched the minimum requirements. Essentially, I was at the next stage of reviewing each resume for specifics that would highlight additional details and insight about each candidate’s knowledge with build and release. Specifically, I was looking for something related to how they used automation processes with past projects. In a matter of minutes I was able to identify 10 resumes that provided enough details that would require further inquiry (schedule an interview). This suggests that the other 40 resumes did not have enough details to move them forward to the next stage in the interview process.

When you share details in your resume about how you apply your tech knowledge in a given situation or project, you are providing insight about how you have the ability to identify opportunities and provide solutions. What might seem like a simple example to you could be a perfect illustration for a recruiter to read. There’s no need to include examples of code, but there is a need to share three or four details that highlight what you did on each of the projects that you worked on.

Author: Dr. Eduardo Diaz, helping you exceed expectations.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Know your Audience

It's been said many times by those in sales, marketing, and other professional fields that you need to know your audience. Knowing your audience is like knowing your friends. You know the music they like, the movies they watch and their favorite foods and they probably know yours. It's a symbiotic relationship where each of you complement each other in some way. It's what makes hanging out together worthwhile.

The idea of knowing your audience can also be extended to finding you the perfect job. You should know the work that you like to do, the projects that you like to work on, and the type of colleagues that make going to work feel great! Knowing the things that you enjoy doing at work can also add to the fuel that inspires you and could help lift your confidence. This in turn could help you convey a positive message during an interview process because your tone of voice will naturally convey interest in the company. However, knowing yourself is only one side of the equation. Do you know the recruiters who will be interviewing you? Do you know the hiring manager? Do you know the culture of the company that you're planning to join?

Getting to know recruiters is just like getting to know a new friend. For the most part, recruiters appreciate a couple of introductory questions from candidates as a way of getting to know each other. Just keep in mind that the process is geared at identifying a candidate who meets the needs of a job requisition, so keep the greetings to something as simple as "How are you doing today?" or "Are you working on a lot of requisitions this week?". The important thing is to relate to recruiters like you would relate to someone you'd want to know. Just remember to keep it professional.
This is also true of hiring managers. Getting to know something about the hiring manager's work expectations could help you understand the work environment while at the same time when you ask questions this could help the hiring manager understand your passion to learn more about the organization. For example, you could ask "What do you expect from your team?" or "What are some of the challenges that the organization is currently facing?". I would recommend that you place yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and imagine the questions that you would want your employees to ask if you were interviewing them.

As for understanding the culture of the company, I would suggest that you do some research about the company before sending out your resume and scheduling that first interview. What are your interests in working for the organization? Do you agree with the company's mission and vision statement? Can you see yourself supporting the growth of the company for the next five or ten years?

Author: Dr. Eduardo Diaz, helping you exceed expectations.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Future of Identifying Top Talent

IMG_4423Identifying top talent is more than just matching keywords in a resume to an outlined job description. There's more to a candidate's ability to respond to text book or engineered interview questions. The challenge for recruiters is knowing how to identify talent beyond the skill sets that we can see and finding "other" skill sets that we cannot see. Identifying top talent is a process that usually takes several months of on the job observation. It is for this reason that top talent evaluation doesn't end after a candidate is offered the job. As many of us know, the evaluation continues into the employment probationary period. During this time, a candidate's performance is measured by their ability to do the job, exceed tasks, and exceed expectations. However, this process is not only expensive for the organization, but it often doesn't consider or properly measure the larger organizational influence. The future of how recruiters are able to identify top talent will need to consider how talent can influence the organization as a whole.

Candidates impact more than just their own job assignments or scope of work. They impact the entire team and organization. They influence their coworkers, the customers and the work environment. Introducing a new member to a team is like introducing a new family member to the entire family. A new member's actions, attitude, behavior, and performance will not only require investment from everyone, but it will influence everyone's actions and involvement. In an organization, this influence will go all the way up to the CEO and all the way down to the bottom line.

So the real question is, how do recruiters identify talent that will have the greatest positive impact on all aspects of the organization? The answer is very simple, but the process is very complicated and in depth. Recruiters will need to be able to evaluate candidates based on scores provided by psychological assessments. New research is supporting these assessment processes. The ability to measure cause and effect that is involved in influencing organizational growth is rapidly becoming more prevalent in organizations looking to lead and capitalize on industry growth. Before we jump into the idea that this is a Myers-Briggs or another personality test, let's not get side tracked. New research and testing has only recently been discovered. These tests have been specifically designed to measure individual functional characteristics and their impact on teams. All other psychological assessments were never designed for such an endeavor.

The future of bringing these new assessment tools to the interview process is becoming necessary. It's just a matter of time before these new tools reach the mainstream of the recruiting process. The good news is that these new assessment tools will support quality candidate identification, they will support ideal career selection, and they will provide a basis for candidates to feel more confidence in knowing that their abilities to execute job requirements is not only measured on individual performance, but is truly measured on the overall team and organizational influence.

Author: Dr. Eduardo Diaz, helping you exceed expectations.