Culture of Experts


Module #1

Unconventional Positions

Before we take a look at the talent side of Culture of Experts, we will set a foundational perspective by looking at the positions that they might fill. For the purpose of this program, we will split an organization’s internal position into four groups. They are as follows:

Position type 1

Unskilled-to-midskilled (non-expert) positions:
• Structured
• Repetitive
• Task-oriented
• Company-process-driven
Within these roles, the average person, without advanced training, can learn and become fully functional within a relatively short period of time. For the most part, these positions are repetitive. Where change is present, it will be manageable change, within the context of the roles. There is not a lot of formal governance from government agencies or educational institutions to manage the requirements for these roles, however, there are strong safety requirements from both government and labor organizations. Positions that typically fit into this group are food preparation, cashier, clerk, administrative, delivery, janitorial and assembly line positions.

It is important to note that the people who work within these roles are among the most conscientious and hardest workers. Their contributions are extremely important to the organizations that employ them and the economy as a whole.

Position type 2

Traditional Establishment Expert-level positions:
These are historically established roles, best represented by professional-level positions and skilled trades. For these roles, there is a high-level of formal governance through government agencies, colleges, universities, trade schools, trade unions, apprenticeship programs, accreditation bodies and certification or licensing organizations. 

• Professional positions that most obviously fit into this group are CPA, engineer, doctor and lawyer positions.
• Less specific expert-level positions might be included within blanket titles: Accounting professional, technical professional, medical professional, marketing professional, HR professional, place-college-degree-here professional.
• All skilled trades positions fit into this group: Electrician, plumber, pipefitter, ironworker, machinist, maintenance mechanic, carpenter, etc…
• Many government and industry regulated sales positions fit into this group: Insurance agent, real estate agent and financial advisor positions are just a few examples.

Because these positions have a rich history, they are more measurable and predictable. The skills are very transferable and achievements can usually be measured against industry standards.

Position type 3

Leadership expert positions:
These are roles that are held by supervisors, managers, directors, VPs, Presidents and CxOs.

Company leadership, hiring managers, HR professionals and corporate trainers are encouraged to use the information within this program to help hire and develop experts, aspiring experts and potential experts. Although, this program is intended for this group, it does not focus on this group.

Position type 4

Unconventional positions:
Positions that do not fit into groups #1, #2 or #3
Positions that fit into groups #1, #2 or #3, however, company leadership assigns them to this group as part of a greater strategy

Group #4 is the focal point for this program. For these positions, it will be easier to look at the most desirable attributes an employee might have, rather than the definition of the roles themselves. See below.

Group #4 can also describe any position that can expand beyond traditional parameters when filled with a skilled worker who has the ability to:

• Be curious
• Move quickly to activity
• Gain relevant information
• Use the internet as a tool
• Discover possibilities
• Strategize
• Commit to large projects
• Self-train
• Self-learn
• Self-start
• Create ideas
• Realize ideas
• Test ideas
• Recognize failure as part of the work-process
• Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
• Work within unstructured environments
• Adapt to complex situations
• Invent
• Be flexible
• Work within environments that have limited guidance or processes
• Create an individual work-process where company-process does not exist
• Overcome obstacles
• Change directions
• Repeat success
• Achieve
• Master

How can four groups help?
The above groups separate expert-level positions and non-expert-level positions. This is something that the white collar, blue collar designations do not accomplish. Furthermore, they include the type of work that needs to be completed, from four different perspectives. Group #4, unconventional positions, is unique because it covers expert-level work that is not typically completed by professionals, skilled trades workers or leadership experts.

On this page, we have created a group for unconventional positions and made a list of abilities that can drive such positions. At first glance, this may seem far-fetched, however, most people who study these four groups should be able to name at least one expert whom they know, personally or professionally, who has advanced their career beyond a group #1, #2 or #3 position and achieved success within a group #4 unconventional position.

Unconventional positions – when there is a tough nut to crack
Almost all sales positions are unconventional positions, including Traditional Establishment Expert sales positions that fit into group #2. This is because there is a constant need to overcome obstacles. Salespeople are always making adjustments to their strategy. If a specific strategy works, without hesitation, they will try it again. If the results are predictable, measurable and repeatable, they have cracked the tough nut. They will standardize on a method and continue to use it until it stops working.

Sales departments have all types of obstacles, but there is one huge built-in obstacle that shadows all others. This is the sales gap between sales goals and actual sales. Most of the small obstacles within a sales department will fall under this huge umbrella and sales departments that constantly overcome small obstacles have a better chance of hitting their sales goals.

All departments within an organization have complex obstacles. They may or may not be obvious, but they exist. Facing complex obstacles usually requires unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent, project-oriented work. A disconnect can happen when complex obstacles are faced with structured, repetitive, task-oriented, company-process-driven work. Understanding the differences is key to success.

In the age of the internet, a tough nut to crack will often require expertise with some type of technology:
• Apps and software packages designed to increase efficiency.
• Automation technology designed to aid repetitive functions.
• Search engines to find relevant information.
• Industry online forums and other forms of social media to share information.
• Video conferencing and unified communications to improve communication.
• Online training resources to facilitate training.
• Website publishing tools to share information.

Want to discover an unconventional position? Look for a tough nut to crack.

Let’s define the word unstructured
When looking at a position, the word unstructured can mean a number of things. Within these workshops, the definition is fairly simple. If a position is structured, it has operational company-processes fully implemented, to guide all workflow. If it is unstructured, there are wide gaps in the operational company-process and the person who fills the position will need to use an individual work-process of their own creation to fill those gaps.

Individual work-process will be explained thoroughly within these workshops.

Unstructured work in motion

A software salesperson answers the phone, an angry customer is on the other end. The software that the salesperson sold the customer is not compatible with all types of files. Although, the operational company-process has salespeople redirecting customer issues to the technical support department, this salesperson addresses the matter differently. The salesperson calms the customer down and sells the customer an inexpensive software plug-in that allows compatibility with all files.

New technologies and unconventional positions

When new technologies make an impactful debut, it is certain that Traditional Establishment Experts will eventually find mastery and follow. Unfortunately, the establishment takes time and experts aren’t built in a day. It is not unusual to see new technologies fall into unconventional positions.

When does a conventional position become unconventional?

1) Unconventional positions explore opportunities
sometimes there are opportunities within a position that are not being explored. Perhaps a midskilled worker was not trained to go in a certain direction, so they chose not to. Maybe a traditional establishment professional is comfortable and does not want to stray from the core guidelines of their established practice. After all, we’re not talking about work that needs to be done; only exploration beyond the requirements of the original position. Sometimes exploration falls into unconventional positions.

2) Unconventional positions overcome obstacles
Sometimes there are complex obstacles that do not come with instructions. Workers can overcome obstacles; it is expected. However, what if the obstacle is unique? What if no one within the organization has seen it before? What if the obstacle comes from a thousand miles away from the original job description, but lands dead center? Unconventional obstacles fall into unconventional positions.

3) Unconventional positions fill voids
Sometimes within an organization, there is a need that cannot be filled by traditional means. The organization cannot simply create a work assignment or hire someone with experience filling the void. Miscellaneous work falls into unconventional positions.

4) To be announced
Sometimes unconventional means TBA, as there has not yet been a new discovery. If a new discovery does not fit into a traditional position, it will fall into an unconventional position.

An opportunity from within
Promoting people from within an organization is not an unusual practice; moving them up a preconceived ladder. But think of the impact it could have on this organization if a qualified employee were to be strategically promoted to an unconventional position.

Within a Culture of Experts, companies can identify potential Unconventional Experts who work within group #1 positions and promote them into group #4 positions. They can also modify positions to fit the individuals who fill them. Another strategy might be to purposely hire potential Unconventional Experts and use group #1 positions as a starting point for their development. In an upcoming module, we will look at mentor/protege structures, which will build on these strategies.

Corporate Culture Assessment Questions
This program includes a corporate culture assessment. This assessment allows company leadership and HR professionals to rate their own corporate culture to see if it currently reflects a Culture of Experts. Most of the modules have these questions in blue boxes at the bottom of the page, like the one below. Module #11 puts all of these boxes together in one place, so readers have the option of taking the assessment in module #11 and reverting back to each module for review.

Corporate Culture Assessment Questions
Module #1 – Unconventional Positions

1) Name one position in your company that can be called an unconventional position, fitting into group #4?
2) If you had to fill this position for one year, where would you take it, beyond its current status?

See all of the module assessment questions in module #11 

Culture of Experts Interview Questions
This program includes Culture of Experts Interview Questions. These interview questions can help company leadership and HR professionals hire Unconventional Experts. Most of the modules have these questions in green boxes at the bottom of the page, like the one below. Module #12 puts all of these boxes together in one place, so readers have the option of seeing all of the interview questions in module #12 and reverting back to each module for review.

Because Unconventional Expert candidates will understand and relate to this program, it is acceptable to show them this website before the interview and allow them ample time to find answers to the questions. Coming soon, there will be a sister website for Unconventional Expert candidates, which will not only prepare them for a Culture of Experts interview, it will provide a format where they can showcase their related characteristics and areas of expertise.

Culture of Experts Interview Questions
Module #1 – Unconventional Positions

1) Give a specific example of a time when operational company-process was not there to help you perform a task and you needed to create your own individual work-process to make the task more structured?
2) What was the most complex work that you’ve done? What made it complex and what did you do to meet the challenges?
3) Give an example of a previous position that required strong creativity?
4) Give a specific example of a time when you developed a complex strategy and executed it successfully?

See all of the module interview questions in module #12

Culture of Experts is a free talent acquisition and employee development program created by Martin Haslinger. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Please proceed to module #2: Expert Characteristics

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