Ray Kurzweil, a leading technologist, businessman and futurist, once remarked that not only is technological capability growing at an exponential rate, but that exponential rate itself is now growing at an exponential rate. Said another way, change isn’t just happening rapidly, it’s occurring at an extra-exponential pace. Which begs the question: how can a job board – or any technology-based talent acquisition solution company for that matter – know what adjustments to make in order to survive and prosper?
Back in the day – that would be during the ancient times of 2000-2010 – technological change was measured in years. It was based on the number of transistors that could be packed onto a computer chip and was widely known by the name of the guy who first described it: Gordon Moore. Moore’s Law calibrated technology’s growth in two-year intervals – a pace that was breathtakingly rapid for an industrial economy.
Today, less than a decade later, the economy is driven by information, and Moore’s Law is viewed as a horse and buggy pace of change. The growth in technological capabilities, in general, and in talent acquisition, in particular, has accelerated to an unprecedented rate. Developments in programmatic advertising, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, bitcoin, augmented reality and other technologies are arriving not every two years, but what seems like every two months.
Staying abreast of those advances is hard enough, but perhaps even more challenging, is coming to grips with the equally dramatic and rapid changes these developments are imposing on the talent acquisition marketplace. Said another way, what does the constant arrival of new and potential disruptive capabilities for candidate sourcing and employer branding – the meat and potatoes of the job board business – mean for the future of those sites?
The Need for Warp Speed Reimagination
If Darwin’s theories are correct – if only the most adaptable species are able to continue and grow in an ever-shifting environment – job boards must now reset their vision of themselves and their role in the talent acquisition marketplace. Instead of using the industrial era model of creating a product and then adapting to market dynamics by rolling out extensions or refinements of that product over time, they must constantly reinvent themselves, adding refinements to their original product, to be sure, but also expanding beyond it to leverage the capabilities and opportunities of new technologies and products. In short, they must now see themselves as permanent “works in progress.”
Every successful job board evolves, of course, but for many, that evolution has been limited to cleaning up code, improving UIs or maybe offering a new pricing model. It’s involved steady, but relatively slow and modest adjustments. And what Kurzweil’s assessment of the rate of change means is that such a pace and scope are now the seeds of extinction.
Change is no longer enough. What’s needed now is warp speed reimagination – fundamental and continuous adjustment. And there’s the rub. Such adaptation is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Moving from one product to another or from one strategy or business model to another necessitates taking an organization from what it knows and has done successfully to something it doesn’t know and has no experience doing. It’s all too easy to make the wrong decision and move in a direction that undermines progress rather than advancing it.
So, has does one achieve warp speed reimagination safely?
Most of us are well aware of how difficult it is to stay abreast of emerging technological capabilities. No matter how cloudy our crystal balls, however, we can acquire a sense of the key vectors. We can identify and study the major movements in technology, strategy and business that could potentially reshape the environment going forward.
This competency is best described as situational awareness, and it is now the single most important factor in setting a business strategy. That’s not hyperbole, it’s fact. Those who are forever looking backward or, just as bad, those who are fixated on the present, are doomed to fail in a market driven by extra-exponential change. They will be hit by a bolt out of the blue, or worse, by a bolt they could have seen coming. They will be the victim of what happens, not its master.
Those with situational awareness, on the other hand, can see what’s ahead and condition themselves to make an educated judgment about how best to respond. They are willing and able to both see and act. That won’t guarantee they’ll make the right decisions – situational awareness doesn’t provide perfect judgment – but it does help determine what the questions are and even the range of possible answers. It gives an organization vision, and vision is the secret sauce of business success.
Food for thought,
TAprose and Job Board Journalist by Peter Weddle are brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.
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