Sunday, May 02, 2010


Enterprise Architecture: Recognizing Top Talent

I previously blogged on Enterprises suck at hiring top talent and wanted to continue the conversation with a few additional insights...

The vast majority of the time when my phone rings and it is a recruiter on the other end, they usually make multiple mistakes in assessing the worth of talent. For example, on my resume I include the fact that I used to write the Ask Doctor Java column for Java Developers Journal which means that recruiters who use keyword searching alone will contact me. What they haven't considered is the fact that my resume also clearly indicates that I am an Enterprise Architect and have been so for the last ten years where logic may indicate that I am probably somewhat higher up the food chain.

Some recruiters never bother to find out if the position truly requires top talent or whether they require someone with mediocre skills. Let's face it, some jobs will never be of interest to those who are truly talented and it is in the employers best interest to know if their work is exciting or boring in the grand scheme of things.

As I have previously stated, an enterprise needs to manage top talent regardless if they are an employee or work for one of your outsourcing firms in India. I frequently observe a scenario exhibited by many IT executives that goes beyond blissful ignorance. Many think that the opportunity for a new generation in India to be gainfully employed in ways that their parents could have only dreamt of is the opportunity to outsource suboptimal work. Reality states that if you are a motivated individual anywhere on the planet and have the opportunity to work on building new software for say Microsoft, Oracle, etc or even developing applications for Wall Street that require pushing the envelope, why would you think someone should be grateful for the opportunity to work o a forty-year old COBOL application?

Staff turnover in India is very high and just like the American generation that preceeded them, they aren't job hopping to solely chase money but want interesting work. No matter how you spin it, if your industry isn't as interesting as another vertical then you may be doomed to finding mediocre talent. If you combine this with outdated technologies can you expect nothing but turbulence in your offshore staff?

If the world is global then you have to acknowledge that outsourcing requires more than just rate arbitrage, but also requires gaining the hearts and minds of those spread throughout the planet. Ask yourself why your recruiting thinking is so local in nature?

Have you ever considered the fact that you may already have top talent within your enterprise but have blinders on? The funny thing about top talent in traditional enterprises is that they usually are beatdown to mediocrity and may not show up on the annual review process as high performers but yet everyone has the utmost respect for their ability to deliver and think outside the box.

Let's say you were lucky enough to have James Gosling, Martin Fowler, Grady Booch and Joel Spolsky on your staff. Above and beyond the job description would you know how to leverage their talent? Would you ask James Gosling to explain the merits of Java Generics to a CIO who would immediately beat him down for being too technical? Would you ask Grady Booch to take charge of all the documentation writing since he is really good at drawing UML? Would you ask Joel Spolsky to work with your arduous software release process since he knows a little bit about building software?

If you are reading this and don't appreciate the silliness, then you are more than likely part of the problem. Recognizing the best and brightest within IT is your job and this emphatically proves that you may not be worthy of your role...

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