July 15

We all stand to benefit from an examination of a nascent field of study that is coming to academic maturity known as the Science of Team Science (SciTS).  An evolving trend (SciTS) is being adopted not only in the halls of our leading institutions of scientific research like NIH’s National Cancer Institute but could serve to improve how we address a critical success factor for any organization seeking to improve collaboration. I find myself standing at the cross section of the field of marketing communications and talent management, as many in the industry are experiencing a great awakening in terms of the value of data, predictive analytics, and the customer journey. Many like to view it as entering the loyalty loop in regards to the full candidate lifecycle for recruitment communications and retention and those organizations that can engage passive and active talent into a Community of Innovation or Community of Practice and retain institutional knowledge will fare better than those who don’t. Mobile does this and even Google Think are talking about this new battleground.

Source: Micro-moments the new battleground for brands.

In real life as in our online personas, those “micro-moments* that encompass the digital exhaust that make up the metrics and analytics which speak just as much to engagement as they do to the processes involved in employer brand management raise some interesting parallels in medical research today. Well just as the action and embodiment of any organizations’ view or approach to define itself within an ecosystem is the identification with an employer brand, which should articulate the values and culture of an organization; the relationship of the individual to that organization serves to cement our views and informs the choices we make to stay or to exit the ecosystem as an indicator of retention. Just as we can identity with the mission it is increasing more important that we deal with the threats of radical change to that environment by say disruptive innovation, or a toxic culture, or even a shift in the perceptions of brand value or equity in those required skill sets of the people with whom make up our workforce at a high level and in front of us the way we work effectively with those in our immediate surroundings to solve problems, deliver value or care in regards to talent management. Disruptive innovation, or how we manage a change in an organizational setting or even within a team setting is a trait know as Organizational Ambidexterity.

While moderating an event for the International Association of Latino Public Administration Executives in Washington DC I had an opportunity to participate in a leadership development workshop as part of the program. From this two day event there was one presentation that I found particularly interesting, relevant and most intellectually enjoyable. It revolved around the notion of the Interdisciplinary Mentor or I Mentor, as detailed in a book by NIH scientist and Associate Director of Scientific Diversity, Dr. Ofelia Olivero entitled Interdisciplinary Mentoring In Science available on Amazon.

Interdisciplinary Mentoring in Science: Strategies for Success is a practical and engaging resource on interdisciplinary mentoring in all fields of science. This book outlines what successful mentoring is, what it is not and how these important concepts relate to scientists today.

My curiosity piqued given so much talk of millennial trends and sustaining innovation amidst the barrage of mid-year white papers, info-graphics, symposiums and conferences that keep touting employee engagement and collaboration as something new, now commoditized inside the beltway by system integrators, accounting firms, good government policy groups, as well as non-profit and professional associations groups. Success strategies shared with not only colleagues in her own organization of researchers seeking a cure for cancer, a calling I found quite compelling as a metaphor for my own industry given the resistance to change and adoption of relevant new diagnostic and measurement tools that abound by upstarts and even my own firm a 40 year old employer brand consultancy.

I found it helpful, in my own given field as the notion of reliance on paid media is going the way of the dinosaur. For those in my field just take a look at Growthverseto discern just how rapidly our landscape is shifting away from the traditional and even digital models. This interactive info-graphic by the Growthverse which was built for marketers, by marketers, with input from more than 100 CMOs serves to showcase and explore 600* marketing technology companies (and growing) Source:

In the rapidly evolving and ever changing field of public health, in my own industry which bridges the gap of talent management and marketing communications through Software as a Service, cloud computing, predictive analytics, database marketing platforms and emerging ROI tools- theses changes have become not unlike the changes in some other fields like medicine, health care or information technology in that advances in Usability, design, mobile, wearables, IoT with the computational power and technology behind it now – from any basic review of the literature circulating should serve to codify our awareness and approach to progress through the implementation of meaningful and lasting change made better in the “How we work”, and how we transfer that tacit knowledge, or build upon the body of knowledge which ultimately will require forming teams across disciplines, sectors, occupational categories and even governments to enable those outstanding Interdisciplinary Mentors the ability to drive the diffusion of innovation to optimal affect, and see change take root at least in our respective peach tree dishes of experiential learning. e.g. How IBM uses workforce science, analytics and collaboration tools to build its Smarter Workforce serves as a great example in the image below or you can just click here for the full report. 

Mentors and team leaders need to have an understanding of how having the right tools, the right mix of labor and forecasting models for the roles and responsibilities as well as the mix of personalities will all need to combine together in harmony with deadlines, deliverables for meeting milestones in order to deliver an end product on time and on budget. That end product could be a strategy, a solution, a brand or even a new careers website or outreach program which ultimately is not unlike the ability to generate a diagnosis, prognosis, treatment or cure.

In both cases the outcome of an employer brand or for that matter finding a cure for cancer is based on our ability to provide a catalyst or positive impact to address a threat or problem. Technology will not be the solution but the effective application of it which will ultimately either serve to make grow and lead change in a continuous learning mode, darwinism aside mentoring will be essential for a return to the full health or wellness or profitability of an organism or organizations’ human capital.

As metaphor given the obvious parallels from an organizational development or managerial perspective I would hope one can begin to see how the two notions ofinterdisciplinary mentoring and technology can intersectwhich even in my own organization’s leadership ranks the philosophy behind the re-branding of hodes is one that ascribes to and has adopted a practice that is known as a management style of keiretsu – defined as keiretsu (系列, lit. system, series, grouping of enterprises, order of succession) is a set of companies with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. It is a type of informal business group.The keiretsu maintained dominance over the Japanese economy for the last half of the 20th century. Source:

The need to enable strategic partnerships, foster diversity and inclusion driven by needs due to increased threats should serve to show us all how we must work to evolve our understanding of Diversity and Inclusion as a mission critical core competency. This topic which was recently studied by the Central Intelligence Agency in a research study by Vernon E. Jordan and discussed here by a former client the Chief Diversity Officer from Weyerhaeuser and staunch advocate for the National Urban League Effenus Henderson. He provides a link to the study but mentions    in his post the need to “develop and foster a diverse and inclusive leadership environment that our values require and that our mission demands”.

I would add to that, that not only do we need to be thinking about leadership development but mentoring or grooming talent for STEM development; as to me that is the new buzz word for diversity and inclusion these days. The platforms and opportunities both in real life and online are there for today’s millennial as well as the talent acquisition community but now more than ever is the time for us to drive for meaningful change. The landscape has changed and winners will adapt, which was the take away for me in the New York Times article recently shared with me via twitter entitled Can an Algorithm Hire Better Than a Human?  I would assert no it cannot although some recruiters may be able to source or assess talent at an exponentially much faster rate or target them more frequently with content and banner ads where and when they consume content.

We get so caught up in the technical aspects, and we begin to think that the platform is the solution but so often we forget that the system is only as good as the parts that make up that ecosystem. Programmatic media buying is just the beginning, butultimately the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. So understanding our target audiences and engaging with the right content at the right time is just as important as how we think about recognition and reward structures to foster greater collaboration.

How we look at building interdisciplinary approaches to mentoring and formation of effective teams will work to address what ails our internal organizations.  

Just as the fields of talent management and marketing communications are coming full circle to address the full candidate lifecycle in new ways that are obviously about blending the best of both a high-touch as well as high-tech approach, through merging the online and the offline to foster more meaningful connections that strike the balance or at least is perceived as a more authentic and relatable approach; mentoring is where the science is pointing to in my opinion.

Validating a few simple truths what do mentors need to have to be effective?
For those that basic truths that are hard to ignore and seem to be a common sense approach with a thread that is running throughout much of the debate related to talent management as well as technology adoption and sustainability. In our daily lives researchers have shown that even in our most intimate long lasting relationships there are two key traits that signal building blocks for successful long lasting relationships and those traits are kindness and generosity.

Even IBM is and Watson are getting into the act of understanding personality traitsand in looking at this tool through the lens as it relates to fostering mentors and collaboration with an examination of one’s own writing style, taking the first 180 words of the declaration of independence one can begin to see those Jeffersonian qualities traits come through in comparison to most of the people that have taken the survey, try it for yourself here to get a closer look.


“The Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more.”

Removing unconscious biases in our attitudes and language, and even in job descriptions to some extent is moving us to foster a more harmonious cultural and work environment. This will mean building your talent ecosystem with new skill sets, multi-generational members, each with unique attributes and personality quirks coming together across multiple disciplines, working across silos and cutting through the red tape that we hope will unbind us as we seek to drive the solution to that common cause. Employer Branding or medical research both seek to do this in one  way or another but in each field, a managerial strategy that has emerged over the past two decades, while researches not unlike CEO’s seek to strike the balance as the evidence suggests is collaboration, and in the latest PWC survey data the jury may still be out in terms of what is more important to the C Suite.
Strategic thinking and problem solving ? Talent or emerging tech ?

So much has been written of late on the need for STEM to address talent shortages around mission critical occupations. But so little on the importance of mentoring. There is no question that diversity and inclusion will serve to drive innovation to garner the byproduct of collaboration.

For a fantastic example of living the employer brand and the desire to collaborate for good growth as it relates to attracting talent or sparking a community of innovation look at this brief video from DuPont, a refocus on the human element. 


Source: DuPont and the Global Collaboratory – this great little video speaks to the desire, not just for the millennial, but GenX cuspers like myself as to what are some of those brand attributes that appeal to new entrants to the workforce and how can mentors serve as the depiction or embodiment of those key characteristics or traits within our own corporate cultures. Granted we must all try to embrace those tools that can help us on our way if we want to be successful at mentoring or learning. When we rally for a common cause, corporate social responsibility, or even talent attraction campaign or a cure for cancer. It begins with setting aside our id and ego, and working to collaborate and drive for innovation.

Join us as we explore these topics and more on July 28th at 11:30 am EST for a complimentary webinar with Dr. Ofelia Olivero of the National Cancer Institute, you just might be surprised about what new tools you may find or be able to add to your toolbox. I hope you will reach out if you would like to attend our live mind mapping session or for updates follow me on twitter @JohnBersentes

John Bersentes is an Area Vice President at hodes a findly company, views expressed are my own.  #SCiTS, #Mentoring, #Collaboration

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