Feb 20, 2008

Everyone is replaceable?

Maybe, but in the new economy, there are certain differences. Alex blogs on the ReadWriteWeb:

For a startup, two months is an eternity, but even for large companies two months is a long time. Today, people need to be replaced real-time - one is out and the next one is in full-speed, day one. This is difficult, particularly because of the incredible amount of information that we end up processing daily.

Increasingly, modern business is becoming a complex, distributed information processing system. The nodes of this system are employees, tirelessly passing bits around to each other, crunching and filtering with the goal to compute, to gain competitive advantage, and to help the business survive.

The problem is that unlike factories or boxes in the computing cloud, employees in the modern company are not identical. Each one knows a unique piece of the information puzzle that makes a company tick. Two weeks is not enough to do the transition and two months is way to long to waste training up the new guy. This is why the old adage that everyone is replaceable may need some re-thinking.

Recently, my insurance broker switched companies. He quickly contacted me, offered an attractive new package, and then drove 1.5 hours from his office to my home to sign the papers. His commission would not want warrant the trip, but he was smart to make the investment of his time because he won me as a client. On the other hand, the cost of losing a talented employee for his old company just increased - they also lost a client, and I am sure I was not the only one.

Although my insurance agent lives in the technical world, he is part of new breed of folks that I call the digital elite. He uses Facebook to keep in touch with his friends, he was savvy enough to look up my company on the web, and he knows all the cool financial web sites. In other words, he is on top of what's going on. He knows all about the speed of information in our world. And this makes him a serious and important player, of the type that is really hard to replace.

As organizations become smaller and focused around the talents their employees bring in, we're going to see a lot of employee-organization branding together. Specially the "superstar" employees (a rainmaker in consulting organization, for example)

Yes, a lot of things are going to change, subtly but slowly :-) HR and management groups must be aware and open to these changes, specially in the small creative hotshops.