Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Will you hire a BCom architect?

Hiring a BCom: I was talking to a business leader at one of the large MNCs in Bangalore. The topic was challenges and approaches in moving up the value chain. He mentioned our fixation on educational qualification as one of the challenges. Apparently, the organization was trying to hire for an architect position and one of the suitable candidate was only BCom. The person did very well in all aspects of the interview. However, managers and existing architects were unwilling to consider him for the position. Many must have done MTechs from prestigious institutions. Hiring a BCom as a peer may suddenly make their efforts to get into these institutions and slogging during their engineering days appear futile.

Fixation on educational qualification: I lost interest in degrees and formal education, in general, quite some time back. But then I don’t talk about it much as I get back a response, “It is ok for you to think like this as you have a BTech from IIT and a PhD from a US university.” Well, I understand that formal education has a role to play in the whole game. For one, it certainly tells you about certain analytical and problem solving ability when one goes through engineering education. Moreover, cast system among various courses (engineering, pure science, commerce, arts) is very strong in our society. However, I feel that we give far too much importance to it. Moreover, we use it as a crutch to shrug off responsibility in actually probing competence deeply.

Social learning: Social learning theory takes an interesting stand. It says that in a social system (such as an organization or a community of architects etc) competence is historically and socially defined. Knowing, therefore, is a matter of displaying competences defined in social communities. So it is not important whether you know something or not. What is important is whether you can articulate it in language understandable by the community to which you wish to belong. Of course, you can’t articulate something unless you understand it. But then we know in how many interviews you really get probed deeply. Degrees make it easy to assume that you speak the same language as the rest and hence you are competent. No wonder diversity is a rarity in organizations.

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