The Mismatch Problem

I was watching this video of Malcolm Gladwell’s talk over the weekend and enjoyed every minute of it.  Malcolm has the uncanny ability to look at problems in new ways. He was talking about the challenges in finding the right people to hire in various professions. He calls it the “mismatch problem”   According to Malcolm, the problem exists because:

  1. Our desire for certainty in a world where uncertainty is the norm
  2. The growing complexity of every profession increases mismatch

He points out, how, in various fields from sports to teaching, metrics used to select candidates do not really reflect the reality of the changing requirements of the job.

In software we do the same. We try to measure some of the basic skills like knowledge of software development including programming, conceptual understanding, ability to solve simple problems. The true attributes, however, are more complex and are not easy to measure in a test or in a few interviews. These include the ability to work in a team, ability to learn and communicate, a healthy curiosity and a certain amount of pride in work. Our challenge is to figure out how to train our employees in these  new skills.

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