Are you looking to build another stagecoach or a car?

In the late 19th century Cobb & Co was making stagecoaches and transporting and connecting people across Australia. They were growing and when it came time to recruit it is fair to assume they were looking for people that knew how to build stagecoaches and could show that they had experience in woodwork and building coaches.

However, by 1911 the company went into receivership and in 1924 the last horse drawn coach service ran.

Cobb & Co’s operations were eventually superseded by the expansion of the railway network and the arrival of the automobile. It is safe to assume that one of the reasons they stopped their service was they were recruiting people who could build stagecoaches and not people who had the skills and ability to see and build the next stage of people transport being the car.

Fast forward a century and have things changed?

Do we still recruit people for the jobs we are currently doing or do we look to the future and try to predict or see how our companies and industries are changing and recruit people that have the skills and abilities our companies will need as we move forward.

The good news is when we look around us we can see examples of companies recruiting people for what they think is their next stage of growth.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recruited Angela Ahrendts who was the CEO of fashion brand Burberry to run Apple’s online and offline retailing. Cook managed to convince Ahrendts to leave one of the top paid CEO jobs in the UK that positively dripped with cachet for a non CEO position running retail stores and websites. Indeed, as one commentator said, “There’s nothing fashionable about the technical, financial and interface aspects of operating a web-based store.”

We can assume Tim Cook understood that for Apple to continue to grow it’s retailing business it needed to recruit someone with a particular set of skills and capabilities that it didn’t have internally.

National Rugby League looks to banking

When the National Rugby League went looking for a new CEO in 2012 they didn’t look for someone who had run a Rugby League operation, or someone who worked within Rugby League. In fact they didn’t even look for someone with a sporting background. They chose Dave Smith who had a banking background and really had little knowledge of the game.

What the National Rugby League did know is that they needed to find someone with a particular set of skills, transferable skills, not someone who could show that they could do the job because they could show a history of doing a similar role.

It is by no means easy to predict the future but those companies that can clearly articulate the skills and capabilities that they will need in the future have a much better chance of recruiting the right people to ensure they evolve as the world around them changes. The very best ones will actually move ahead of the pack.

If you would like to know more about recruiting for future skills and capabilities please contact me

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