We live in the Disruptive Age. Things are changing at a faster and faster clip. The changes are increasingly disruptive. And there is no end in sight.
It’s important that you hire people who have both the attributes and the skills you need now. And it’s critical that you remember that you are hiring the people who are going to serve your clients. But it’s more important that you hire people for “runway.”
Runway is the idea that there is a long stretch of pavement in front of the person and that they are going to get better and better over time. They’re going to pick up speed and take off. Runway means that the person you are hiring may not have all of the experience they need right now, but that they have the right attributes and the capacity to grow.
Runway is more critical than ever. The future promises only one thing: uncertainty. The new challenges we face are going to make the old challenges look like a walk in the park. You’re hiring someone to grow into those challenges with you.
You want to hire someone devoted to personal and professional growth. You want them to refuse dogmatic beliefs and to challenge the status quo. You want someone who believe that they can make things better, and that every challenge will eventually be overcome with a lot of initiative and resourcefulness. You want someone unsentimental about tradition and always willing to learn and apply something new when and where it makes sense.
You hire for runway.
What Runway Isn’t
Runway has nothing whatsoever to do with age. Nothing.
My friend Gerhard is not exactly a spring chicken. But you’d never know how old Gerhard is by looking at him or by examining his beliefs or his behaviors. He’s one of the youngest people I know because he is extremely open to changing his beliefs, he is the epitome of a life long learner, and he is unsentimental when it comes to change. He’s more web-savvy and more tech-savvy than most people half his age. Gerhard has a lot of runway, which explains a lot about why he is so successful.
You are better off hiring someone with the right attributes and runway than you are someone with experience.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.