What Makes a Successful Hire in Innovative Industries

December 3rd, 2009 by lewis

I’m currently hiring high-tech product managers, and my co-worker thought I might find this book helpful: Innovator’s Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work. There’s a section which discuss what makes a successful hire — in innovative industries. See below for the excerpt.
Dealt with ambiguity.
Ambiguity typifies disruptive projects. Managers who have worked in highly ambiguous situations are often well prepare for disruptive projects; those who have worked in positions where they had to remove or minimize ambiguity ruthlessly may be ill suited for disruptive circumstances.
Confidently made decisions based on pattern recognition and judgment.
Disruption requires intuition, judgment, and the ability to recognize patterns. Many core roles require managers to make decisions dispassionately based on numbers or fixed rules.
Experimented and found unanticipated customers for a product or service.
In some companies, identification of market opportunities requires meticulous planning and research. Approaches that appropriately hone in on core opportunities can completely miss disruptive opportunities. Managers must be comfortable following novel approaches to find out customers’ needs. They should have experience “living” the raw data, not delegating research to junior team members or market research firms.
Used a deep network to overcame a barrier or solve a problem.
In some organizations, success requires playing by organizational rules such as sticking to the chain of command or not seeking answers externally. Solving disruptive challenges requires the ability to network to overcome a barrier, bend rules smartly, or look outside the company for the answer.
Operated in “constrained” environments.
Managers who have operated in resource-rich environments have had the luxury of patiently following a predetermined course and carefully analyzing key unknowns. In constrained environments, managers must scramble and fumble to find success. There are more ways to obtain this school of experience that working at a cash-strapped start-up company. For example, managers who have experience in developing economies have often had to find exceptionally creative ways to solve problems.
Demonstrated a bias for action.
Many managers carefully and cautiously analyze important decisions and seek to build a deep consensus before taking action. Although this approach is extremely valuable for critical decisions that affect core operations, it can paralyze disruptive ideas. Remember, the first strategy is almost always going to be wrong. Seek managers who have moved forward even if adjustment was later required.

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