Culture of Experts

Piston

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 web-labyrinth, we will split an organization’s internal position into four groups. They are as follows:

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 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.

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 are establishment-oriented, they are more measurable and predictable from a management perspective. The skills are very transferable and the work produced can usually be measured against industry standards. These positions are not the focus of this web-labyrinth, however, much of the information can be applied.

3

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

This web-labyrinth is intended for this group as well as HR professionals. It does not, however, focus on this group.

4

Unconventional positions:
Unstructured
Complex
Creativity-driven
Strategy-dependent
Project-oriented
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 web-labyrinth. 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.

How does this 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 perspective. 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.

Group #4 can also describe any position that can expand beyond traditional parameters when filled with a skilled worker who has the ability to:
• Work within an unstructured environment
• Adapt to complex situations
• Be flexible
• Strategize
• Move quickly to activity
• Commit to large projects
• Have long-term focus
• Work within environments that have limited guidance or processes
• Create an individual work-process where company-process does not exist
• Elevate and follow curiosity

• Self-train
• Self-learn
• Self-start
• Invent
• Find relevant information through the use of the internet as a tool
• Overcome obstacles
• Change directions
• Create ideas
• Test ideas
• Recognize failure as part of the work-process
• Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
• Eventually … find mastery

Possible?
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.

They are not always obvious, but there are complex obstacles within every organizational department. Find positions that use structured, repetitive, task-oriented, company-process-driven work to work-around obstacles when they should be using unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent, project-oriented work to face and overcome obstacles.

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 relevant information.
• Video conferencing and unified communications to improve communication.
• Online training resources to ingest training and provide training.
• Easy-to-use website publishing tools to improve communication.

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 a Culture of Experts, 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.

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 salesperson’s operational company-process can redirect the customer to the technical support department, the salesperson calms the customer down and sells them an inexpensive software plug-in that allows compatibility with all files.

Individual work-process will be explained thoroughly within the next module.

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.

What about AI robots? Won’t they eventually affect the way in which these groups are divided? Yes, AI will replace many unskilled and midskilled positions. Fortunately, there is time to make appropriate changes. Transitioning group #1 workers into group #4 positions is a viable plan and theme within a Culture of Experts.

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 web-labyrinth 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. Modules #1 through #10 have these questions in blue boxes, below, and at the bottom of each module. 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 web-labyrinth includes Culture of Experts Interview Questions. These interview questions can help company leadership and HR professionals hire Unconventional Experts. Modules #1 through #9 have these questions in green boxes, below, and at the bottom of each module. 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 web-labyrinth, 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 program by Human Castle Executive Search. For expert recruitment visit us at www.humancastle.com or call (716)222-3535.

Please proceed to module #2: Expert Characteristics

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