Recruiting senior staff for a global knowledge organization these days is very much like casting a movie. First you need a good idea of the movie you want to make, then you need to cast it with the right talent. If you have a choice of actor profiles, in order to have a good movie, you would look for a great actor, rather than someone that necessarily has experience doing what the character does. For example, Julie Andrews did not need to have experience being a nanny to be a fantastic Mary Poppins. She is talent and she can play a variety of different parts very well – she knows how to prepare herself (go talk to some career nannies), she can learn her lines and part, she can work with the director to improve the script, she can innovate and shape her role around her own assets for maximum effect, she has chemistry with others, and she can breathe energy and life into her role – here, her job.

In a fast changing world, organizations need to be able to continually adapt to new conditions, new information and developments on the global stage. You need your senior staff to have widely applicable skills to be able to change as their roles change. Having a very specific experience base might be less important than having the skills to learn the job, the motivation to improve the context, the creativity to shape it to maximise their assets, the contacts with the subject matter experts, and the ability to work with others to get the job done well.

Need a new senior staff member? Advertise for a Julie Andrews. (After all, wouldn’t you like to work with someone who believes that, “In ev’ry job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game…”)

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