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Hybrid Roles – The Future is here now. How to successfully manage technology projects and people.

So what is a hybrid role? Well a quick definition is: a role where you cross professional disciplines. Increasingly organisations are mixing specialisms and for me it’s about mixing technology with people roles.

So normally IT and Finance have merged but with many technology projects failing because of poor acceptance or adoption from people, it makes complete sense to bundle IT and HR to create an environment that understands how to respond and react to people challenges.

For example, the Public sector has always been a hybrid type of role in the more senior roles, to effectively navigate the “people impact”.

As a CIO and HRD hybrid in my last role, I understand the importance of this people impact when needing to navigate technology project implementation.

I think I am one of the first of my kind but I am confident I will not be the last. It’s how you bundle the specialisms and skill sets that become interesting. We have always believed secretly we could do other peoples jobs and increasingly that’s true. I think I just proved the point having taken on the challenge of leading in addition to the typical HR disciplines an IT team, including BI specialist, operations and projects and delivered some very innovative and successful projects. Maybe now the time has come that we must embrace the jack-of-all-trades really is the master of all?

For instance, the Gartner 2016 CMO Spend Survey indicated that an estimated 33% of marketing budgets go on technology. New Hybrid roles such as chief marketing technology officer reflect the increased bundling of the marketing and technology disciplines. Elon Musk is a further case in point.

There is something that is very loud and clear about all of this new bundling of roles. Technology wins time and time again. So next time you are doing a organisational redesign and looking at creative ways to make a new target operating model work effectively and to budget make sure you consider Hybrid roles.

We must stop being afraid to really believe that competencies can cross boundaries or we will be stuck in one area and become the dinosaurs we fear we may become.

In short, the key points for managing successful people technology projects are:


We must know what its going to look like when its finished. We should communicate this constantly.

Buy in (People Led)

Yup, of course but not just from the finance team on ROI. More importantly, from the people that will use the technology. This is about making sure everyone is involved and feels part of the change. Focus groups, key roles and input.

Design and processes (People Led)

The real key to success is making sure your processes adapt to the software and not the other way round. To do this involve the team in looking at the detail of what the software does and then get them to come up with a way to align to that.

Call the “beam me up Scottie” moments quickly. (People Led)

This is where people have over adopted the ideas behind technology so that they believe something can be done when either it cant (yet) or is at too great a cost. Everything on Star Trek is mostly now possible except for the physically transporting people in time and space through a beam. So into my office people would come describing their vision of what we should do next….

“Well you press this button and this lights up and then the room spins and and and………. “.  ( HR skills are quite useful at this point J)

That’s what I call my “beam me up Scottie” moment. That was another piece of great learning I gained from looking at a project with a different lens as CIO. Some people run away with things they have seen on sci- fi as though it’s real. They cross into some virtual reality zone. Just so you know, I was a trekie before I   joined IT so it probably was alw Want to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. ays going to be a natural fit!

You have to stop people running away with ideas or different directions that won’t move the project forward and keep them to the brief.

Put teams as well as individuals in charge of costs. (People Led)

I find that breaking down the budget responsibility as much as you can really helps. It also helps bind the team as if they spend too much they have to beg from other members of the team. There is only one pot of money and its owned by everyone. I always insist on the business case that is also often missed by those new to the project world from other disciplines. These newcomers however are the most innovative and less confined and adopt Agile project methodology naturally! So they are the must have additions to the team.

I am sure you got the common theme – People Lead. Hybrid roles will require us to humanise IT at every step of the way and HR is in prime position to do so. Once the software has been coded and programmed implementation is then all people lead, including integrations (but that’s another blog).

Companies with a technology vision understand big data and will make the changes it needs to bring it up to the level it needs to be to meet their vision. Together as a team we did a really good job in both HR and IT and as always leaving teams is the hardest skill to learn. I learned though that you never really leave people behind and have for years have LinkedIn with people as I moved round so I know most of you reading this know me very well.  This is my tribute to all the project teams I have worked with over the last few years I hope you are enjoying embracing the changes that technology is bringing to us. I for sure am.

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