Why not being a hybrid?

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Hybrids are omnipresent, and we love many things in the form of hybrids: the increased economy ofrom gas/electric hybrid cars, the wide repertoire of flavors in wine from cross-pollination of grapes, to the vitality and longevity of our too cute non-pure-bred canine companions called mutts. And guess what, talent hybrids are gaining popularity too, especially under the current technological development climate where we are flirting with robots or more likely algorithms, which may one day take over many jobs.

As humans, we are skilled in finding solutions, and all you need is a “solution” which is slightly better than the existing solutions, to be successful. Many of these “solutions” come from hybridization of idea, of teams, of companies…Which form of “hybridization” should one take, really depends on your personal learning style and your company’s inherent ability in implementing new approaches and openness to disruption.

Let’s start with you.  A successful career comes about because of “left brain” + “right brain” abilities, experience, and competencies.  Each of the two hemispheres in the human brain are designed for different skill sets. The left brain is the center for our logic and analytical thoughts, whereas the right brain is the center for creativity and intuition. The automation-proof jobs are mostly in the categories that require your right brain be as well-skilled as your left, and by us upping the antes to reach this level of competency, hopefully it better our chances not being ruled by robots.

But how do we develop these extra skills? We have all heard for years how teaching children music and art is important, but what about now that you are full grown? If you are already a top-notch sale professional, perhaps getting insight into the functioning of the docks or air freight operations or spending a little time noticing the flow of work in procurement, will offer new ways of seeing things.  Different functions in a company often contain people with similar thinking styles.  We are not saying change your inherent style, we are saying notice others styles and imagine thinking in ways which are different than yours.  You may come up with some very different solutions to your “opportunities.”  And if you have spent you career in finance, how about asking for some “ride-along” time with sales or products colleagues to widen your world view and get in some of the emotion-charged situations that make won and lost deals so exciting. To get the hybridization right, I think that the most important prerequisite for the individual is to have a good “nose” – meaning, understanding (through seeing, sensing, cross-referencing with peer members, or simply being a vivid reader) which other function(s) would compliment your existing role, and subsequently helping to create an edge in your profile so that your dream job is within reach, and it also allows you to command a premium.

For companies, it is helpful to realistically think about how flexible and agile a company is and how can you in some small way increase that openness?  All change evokes some level of fear, so start with things that are so small that they can’t fail, it will go a long way to setting aside resistance or excuses to explore possible opportunities.  How could you encourage someone from another function to spend a little time understanding the work you our your department does, as a way to help them keep an eye out for how they might make life easier and overall, the company more effective.

The more I read about the value of these hybrid approaches, the more I see parallels with the qualities in successful entrepreneurs.  They are often functioning in uncharted markets, which requires a bit of every kind of “spices” to make the “dish=business” not only successful but sustainable. Ultimately, what really matters is having your eyes open and mind open to possibilities and that often requires hybrid of new and old ideas, cross functional perspective…

Job hybridization (needing multiple skills) usually happens as you climb higher up in the professional ladder; however, it doesn’t hurt to start early, or now, regardless of your role. Looking beyond your department, what is that one small thing you can notice, consider, do, or advise a co-worker on, that would give you more visibility on your company’s opportunities for success?

Care to share?  As always I am fascinated by the creativity and professionalism of the people I work with.  If this article helps you think of “one small step” you can take, I would love it if you shared.