Growing Business

How to hire outside your expertise

Recruiting for new roles is doubly tricky when they’re so technical that you don’t actually know what good looks like, as Attest’s Jeremy King discovered.

If you’re a seasoned marketer, it shouldn’t be too tough to hire another marketer. But what if you’re looking to hire a software programmer for the first time, or a management accountant? This is a challenge many growing businesses face, especially when it regards highly technical expertise beyond the management team’s ken.

Jeremy King founded intelligence platform Attest after a career as a McKinsey strategy consultant. Despite having very limited exposure to technical engineering or sales, he knew he’d have to find the right people with the right skills if his high growth technology business was to thrive.

“When it came to hiring for Attest, the gaps in my own experience made it tricky to know even how to approach hiring some of these highly technical roles. For example, your very first tech hires materially impact the future of your company, because the choices these people make can take you down many different paths – but you don’t or can’t even know what the ‘right’ choices look like.

“I tried to talk to people who’d made similar decisions before, to understand the trade-offs they considered at the time and the real consequences that followed. Find people who have a clear hypothesis of what the right answer is. Even if you think they’re completely wrong, you can uncover consistent themes and wild concepts that can help you make the right choice.

“We chose hiring processes that were more lengthy and deliberate than most. This actively slowed us down, particularly with engineering hires where we chose people (and therefore technical architectures) that build for maximum scale, rather than taking the easy routes or rushing into production.

“Because of those decisions we made two years ago, we’re now able to do amazing things. For example, it takes minutes to add a new language to our customer intelligence platform, even Arabic which reads from right to left – a potentially major issue unless you built the platform to have flexibility.

“Think about every aspect of the hire and the role, from the core skills needed, to how they fit into your current culture. See the whole tree of implied choices, not just the immediately visible branches.

“If you create the opportunity for candidates to show what they’d actually do, and teach you what it implies, and they’re already helping you conquer the aspects and opportunities that you didn’t understand, that’s probably a positive signal that the person is the right the hire for you.”

Original story from Management Today.

Fail well

Fail well: How to handle business mistakes

Looking at how companies deal with mistakes is like staring deep into their souls. Corporations that emphasise culture seem to take failure in their stride, while everyone else falls flat on their faces. Suppose your employee was trying to do something great, and instead failed. What if that mistake cost you money or a client account? How would your organisation deal with that? Assuming you cringed at this scenario, here are 10 ways you could handle mistakes positively – and suck a lot less.

1. We’ve got your back

One of the gleaming examples of how to deal with failure comes from Southwest Airlines. When I interviewed Southwest’s director of people Shari Perez-Conaway and VP of people Julie Weber on my radio show, they revealed a startling party line on the issue. If employees truly believe they are doing what is best for the customer and slip up, the airline has their backs. Southwest will retrain or coach staff – not punish them – toward better solutions.

2. Culture of learning

Does your company view mistakes as part of the learning process? Or are they weapons of shame and grounds for demotion or dismissal? Leverage a perception shift by accepting that to err is human and necessary to growth and improvement. Being prepared for mistakes helps companies face the inevitable. It leads to flexible and creative thinking, sometimes prompting breakthroughs and successes that would otherwise never have happened. Making mistakes should be tied to learning, not shaming.

3. Mistakes vs errors

When formulating policy on failure, it is important to distinguish between mistakes and errors. Mistakes, as in the Southwest Airlines example, are about trying to do something good or awesome and not quite making it. New, bold, or innovative acts are risky but can pay off with practice. Errors, on the other hand, are dumb moves that should be caught, fixed, and not repeated. If a clerk keeps miscalculating payroll time and again, that employee might need to go.

Read more here.


WH Smith: Bad carpets, good business

Though much maligned, WHSmith has found a way of making the best of a bad situation.

There’s an established narrative of corporate decline and fall: incumbent grows bloated and stale; innovative, ambitious new competitors seduce its customers, leaving it overstretched; losses mount, debt piles up, talent departs, death spiral ensues.

WHSmith stands as a curious exception to this pattern. It long ago lost its place in customers’ hearts. Overpriced and understaffed, its stores have become a byword for shabby un-chic – overpriced, understaffed and adorned with disastrous, tattered carpets that seem to have a life of their own.

Yet every year, WHSmith seems to reports rising profits and rising dividends, largely because of a near-miraculous ability to find new costs to cut. Methuselah-like, it just refuses to die.

Find out more here.


Stop treating communications as an afterthought

Companies too often make decisions without thinking about what their real impact will be. Public announcements become lessons in damaging their own brand rather than protecting and building it. The damage is done because communications are not fully considered.

Just take the recent example of the ‘Singhbury’s’ vs ‘Morrisinghs’.

A decision made by Sainsbury’s to protect its name and brand by threatening legal action against the owner of the local shop featured in media across the world. It is not that the decision was ‘wrong’ but it was communicated in a way that made the company look distant and heavy-handed. Morrisons, on the other hand, grabbed the media opportunity with both hands and welcomed the shopkeepers ‘good taste’.

The situation for Sainsbury’s was only protected from further damage as the shopkeeper said he understood their position. If he had been more damning then the reputational impact would have been even worse.

But time and again decisions made by one part of an organisation, many apparently sensible, have an adverse impact. Instead of thinking about communications from the outset, the relevant teams are only used when it comes to sorting out the mess. The ‘communications team’ then has to become the ‘crisis communications team’ trying to get the company out of a hole of its own digging.

Read more at here.

Jenny Sjollema

4th Dimension Sport Challenge Month

Over the last few weeks, the 4th Dimension team has completed their latest sporting challenges. Practicing what they preach!

Peter Copsey, Co-Director and Founder at 4th Dimension, has beaten his personal best at the Hackney half marathon by completing it in 2 hours and 4 minutes”.

Peter said, “Thanks to my good friend Rob, (to my right), not only did he get me to a new time, but also with enough energy left to make the beer tent. Sub 2hr challenge next year”.

Tony Copsey, Co-Director and Founder at 4th Dimension, has smashed his target of completing the Mallorca 312 He achieved a finish time of 6 hours and 50 minutes.

Tony said, “Delighted to have finished the course this year, following last year’s major crash in the rain, great support from the Brookman’s Park CC!’)

Tony Copsey

Jenny Sjollema, 4th Dimension’s Executive Assistant, completed a gruelling Maldon Mud Race.

Jenny said, “It was my second year to have completed the world famous mud race, and I was chuffed to have knocked 7 minutes off of my previous time, completing it in just 12 minutes”.

Jenny Sjollema

Our newest team member, Pete Bleeze, out Health & Safety consultant completed the Great East Swim in 29 minutes, coming 8th in his age group.

Peter Bleeze

Later this year, Peter will complete the Kokoda Trail,, Tony is planning another cycle challenge this year and Jenny is going to do the Blackwater Triathlon.

If you would like to know more about how 4th Dimension combine lessons from sport and business excellence go to our website on


The Real Problem With Productivity Is Measuring It

The impact of a Google or Waze isn’t factored into productivity data. It should be.

When it comes to productivity, only two things are undebatable: that the official rate of U.S. productivity growth has stalled since at least 2007, having started to slow before then, and that there is no consensus about why or what to do about it. There is, additionally, some broad consensus that without stronger productivity growth going forward, standards of living for the vast majority of Americans will not improve appreciably, which is likely to fuel the current wave of populist discontent.

One explanation, however, is increasingly popular even as it faces considerable skepticism among economists and policymakers: that the problem is less about productivity than about our inability to measure the effect of the digital and now data revolution that has redefined the American economy. In short, there is a growing chasm between what our economic system is and what our numbers are capable of measuring.

Read more here.

Hire CTO

How to hire a top-notch CTO for a small business

‘Soon, every business will be a technology business,’ to quote a thousand conference speakers and interviewees from the past 10 years. If you’re building a business that’s got a key technology element or are keen to transform your existing company into one that’s more digitally competent then you might be thinking of hiring a CTO.

Don’t expect it to be easy. Demand for people with a CTO’s unique cocktail of technological and business skills is soaring so you can expect a long and exhausting search before finding the perfect candidate. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

Do you really need a CTO?

CTOs have many functions, but what they certainly aren’t is a glorified head of IT. If you’re looking for someone to simply run your computer network, choose which iMacs to buy for the office and deal with staff tech problems then you’re not looking for a CTO. They’re also more than a chief developer to look after the team working on your app. Somebody who takes a CTO role will be expecting to have a say in the strategic direction your company is taking and how technology can help you get there, not just what kit you buy.

Read more at Management Today