It is "bizarre, aberrant nonsense" to expect talent to grow on trees, and perceived talent shortages often reflect a shortage of imagination on the part of management.
So said John Sumser of HRxAnalysts in a track he lead at this week's TRULondon unconference in London.
For the first part of my report on this debate - in which these themes were explored in detail - see: #TruLondon 2012 (1): Does talent grow on trees?
As with yesterday's post, what follows are some of my notes on what Sumser said this rich and wide-ranging discussion.
I'd love to get your take on the issues raised here. Please do get in touch!
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Here, we look in detail at one way to overcome the shortage of imagination that Sumser explored:
- How HR can and should use technology to tap into and unlock a latent supply of prime technical talent and ability in a subset of Generation Y: "The video game generation."
Sumser placed HR in a historical perspetive: The job of employers in the industrial era was to design work. Tasks were no longer seasonal, as had been the case in the previous era.
Over the past century, management has effectively abdicated its responsibilities.
The next phase is for management fully and effectively to incorporate leading-edge technologies into the workplace.
By harnessing HR technology, HR can play a key role in this, and in unlocking a vast talent resource that is right under its nose.
Generation Y offers a huge, untapped resource of technical ability
Sumser took up the theme (explored in yesterday's post) that too many employers (and therefore too many recruiters) place too much emphasis on qualifications.
He argued that many people from Generation Y can offer a huge, untapped resource of technical ability that is not covered by any qualification.
Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule suggests that mastery of a given discipline is attained only after 10,000 hours of practice.
Sumser argus that there is "a cohort of people born in 1980" and after who will have clocked up 10,000 hours-plus of computer gaming experience by the time they reach 21.
But the 10,000 hours expended by this "video game generation" need not be viewed as an idle waste of time.
Through gaming, the "video game generation" has effectively built up a wealth of skills that are of great potential value to organisations, but which are uniformly discounted by employers as they are not recognised by formal qualifications.
Gaming can help build a wealth of workplace-relevant skills, including:
- Pursuing hard tasks through to completion.
- Discerning rules of systems that are not immediately apparent.
- Development through (and despite) progressive failure.
- Self correction.
Agile HR tech is key to integrating the 'video game generation' in the workplace
Employers need to recognise these skills and tap into them.
Agile technology is the most interesting response to the challenge of integrating the "video game generation" into the workplace, in Sumser's view.
Click here for a definition of agile software development and here for an interesting article on "agile HR."
In the US, the use of agile technology is spreading from the web development world into all facets of the organisation, enabling rapid response and fast feedback.
This is the first step to harvesting the huge resource of talent offered by the "video game generation."
But for this to happen, the attitudes of many HR professionals need to change.
As Sumser puts it:
If you want to find resistance to agile design in HR, go ask a 40 year old HR person." But it's a different story if you ask a 30 year old HR professional.
- #TruLondon 2012 (1): Does talent grow on trees?
- #TRULondon 2012 (2): How #HRtech can unlock the potential of 'the video game generation'
- #TruLondon 2012 (1): Does talent grow on trees? The first part of my account of TRULondon 2012.
- #HRTechConf 2012: XpertHR's social media overview HR technology issues are explored in detail in our coverage of this month's HR Technology Conference, which was held in Chicago.
- TruLondon Find out more about TruLondon.
- HR, What's on Your Mind? Watch a video of a talk with China Gorman and John Sumser at TRULondon 2012 moderated by Mervyn Dinnen.
- Fact or Fiction: Do Modern leaders really need to manage the generation gap? Watch a video of a great TRULondon session that I sat in on, which featured China Gorman.
- Heather Bussing's TRU London gallery Check out Heather Bussing's photographs from TRULondon on 23 October 2012.
- TRULondon 2010: Where HR, recruitment and social media meet
My account of TRULondon 2010.