We live in an age when the vocabulary of our social and business trends implies more than just terminology; it’s a definition of the whole ethos in which we live. New jargons and acronyms not only capture a certain phenomenon, but also point to the direction in which things are headed. It could be the way we live, do business, work, commute, form social relationships, relax, get entertained and refer to just about any other aspect of our life .
The term ‘Plug and Play’ (P&P) has been in existence for many years now. And although its origin is steeped in a technology context, its relevance as a working model is being recognized only now. In fact the term ‘Plug and Play’ now connotes to anything that’s convenient, adaptable, easy to manage, agile and possibly cost effective too.
Gene Raymondi, the Founder and CEO of ENI (Employee Network Inc) and a seasoned HR professional with over three decades of experience, while writing in workforce.com, points to a plug and play stereo system to drive home the point. He narrates his childhood experience of stumbling into the many benefits of a plug and play, horizontally integrated system, in the context of his all-inclusive console stereo system. The said stereo system, despite being solid and designed as an all in one vertically integrated unit, was rendered useless when its amplifier broke. Later, he recounts, his parents bought him a new stereo system with separate components, which, although it lacked the sound quality he expected, served his purpose by being easy to manage. He later bought an excellent set of speakers which he added to the system and thus completed his music listening experience. Moral of the story: A lighter system with a plug and play platform that is horizontally integrated offers multiple benefits when compared to an all in one system that carries a heavier baggage of multiple components.
So what has this got to do with enterprise management? Well, it might seem like a stretch to take the analogy of a plug and play stereo system and apply it to business and leadership. But if you look at the way our business eco-system has evolved, the plug and play model has indeed been a catalyst. To start with, how did this term come about? Well, we all know that it began in computing as a reference to any device that enables an operating system to integrate internal and external components without the need for system configuration or user intervention. When applied to a business, it means on-boarding a set of collaborators to work on a ready-made business platform. More recently the government announced the scheme of plug and play to accelerate key investment proposals. This means the availability of ready infrastructure and utilities to get an industry project going. So from technology and business to a larger context involving the whole economy, the plug and play model has emerged as a viable option to deliver speed and efficiency.
Now when it comes to HR practices involving C Level managers across board, the P&P model might again be the way forward. This is especially true for start-ups stretched too thin to be able to hire senior professionals on a full time basis. The concept basically means ‘CoHiring’ a senior professional, who is free to engage with other non-competing businesses.
Here the plug and play model works both ways — for a senior professional, there is enough flexibility with a system in place to enable him or her work efficiently without the baggage of full time commitment, while for the organization there is access to expertise without being saddled by the cost of hiring a full-time employee. Since the professional is free to offer his or her services to other non-competing organizations, there is also the benefit of cross domain exposure that an enterprise can leverage to its benefit.
An organization can CoHire C level managers through agencies that specialize in this, and here again the principles of horizontal integration comes into play. By outsourcing C level hiring to a trusted partner company, and making it another independent component, the organization can avoid carrying the heavy baggage of HR processes and costs associated with it.
As industry experts point out, the horizontally integrated plug-and-play model is a smart way of adapting to market conditions, especially when it comes to people. As Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” This means hiring smart people who are free and independent enough to tell us what to do, and that means smart people who are CoHired.