August 9th 2016. Let us begin with perhaps a shocking question: What if a company gave its employees total freedom to choose their bosses and projects they wanted to work on? A report by consulting firm Gartner mentions the case of Baidu, a Chinese web services company that gave its IT team carte blanche to tackle a specific technological challenge.
The objective was to extract all the team’s talent by letting its members think outside of rigid structures and previously determined boundaries.
The result? We’ll tell you about it at the end of the article, but we can already reveal that, in this case, controlled freedom aligned with a defined challenge and objectives yielded more than one positive surprise.
The danger of a talent crisis in the digital era
Gartner’s report is clear: “as digitization advances, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to find the talent they need to compete digitally”. Technology, because of its democratizing nature, will–in effect–reduce differences between companies, laying a foundation of equality. Thus, the people who understand the digital ecosystem and its ideas will make the difference.
According to Gartner, 2 out of 3 CIOs foresee a “talent crisis”… along with difficulties in finding qualified individuals in a technological medium. For example, the rise of big data has not been accompanied by sufficient associated profiles capable of taking full advantage of the opportunities it offers.
Also, digital business–because of its very nature–must forget about traditional ‘road maps’ inherited from the analogue world, and explore a new environment that requires cultural and organizational changes. The blurring of boundaries between industries, countries, departments, etc. as well as collaborative work and creativity, are some of the rising values in this new paradigm.
Collaborative environments in the face of new challenges
Gartner’s report highlights that top CIOs are mostly turning to co-creation and crowdsourcing processes in digital environments to ‘uncover’ existing talent in their workforce and among clients and consumers.
On the other hand, the study shows that 47% of the people responsible for technology at companies have not taken any measures to detect and make use of talent associated with this new paradigm. In this sense, the report suggests the following initiatives:
Encourage collaborative work that brings together multidisciplinary teams within the same digital environment.
Detect talent by collaborating and co-creating with external actors, from other companies.
Establish collaborative digital environments with academic institutions to solve problems and acquire young talent with technological skills.
Incorporate technology startups (“techquisitions”).
The consulting firm also made it clear that in order to attract and boost talent, isolated actions are not enough. Adopting resources like a collaborative community for talent and ideas must be accompanied by the development of a digital and dynamic corporate culture of innovation.
Most CIOs are turning to co-creation and crowdsourcing processes in digital environments to make the most of their talent
So what about Baidu, which we mentioned at the beginning of this article? Jim Wang, the person responsible for technology at the company, chose to break barriers that might inhibit the team’s talent.
The result of letting the team express itself freely was increased communication, which in turn brought about more productivity and innovation. By creating an environment that was conductive to creativity, the team’s members could contribute ideas that were “out of the box” as solutions to the technological challenges they faced.
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