Ashish was interviewing Daniel for the post of operations head in their fledgling e-commerce business. Ashish had summarized the job requirements as: understanding of end-to-end processes related to discovery (of and by customer) , narrowing down requirements, comparison & evaluation of alternatives, order placement, shipping, delivery and support. Other processes related to supply chain performance also needed careful shepherding. The operations head must also be comfortable with using e-commerce platform’s control panel with a bit of insight into its capabilities and limitations.
While it was relatively easy to assess Daniel’s knowledge of the above, Ashish knew that willingness to jump into detail, drilling down to key actions and directing right people to act swiftly were the key ingredients for success of their new company. Therefore, he announced a break interval in the interview session. During the break Ashish thought about his chief concern and about how would he address it after the break.
Recognizing talent does take some efforts
When Daniel returned Ashish asked him, “Please tell me, have you led any delivery process breakthrough project? If yes, can you tell me something about it?”
Daniel’s answer disappointed him. Daniel said, “No, unfortunately”. Daniel too was unhappy. But he continued” I never led such a project. But I got a chance to do work on improving delivery process of a retail chain where I worked. We used to have many complaints of stock-outs and irate customers used to call us often confounding our call desk people. Since no one was doing anything, I gathered data, talked to some of my colleagues to determine root causes behind the delays. I found that one of the root cause was that order confirmation would take unpredictable amount of time due to some system interlocks. This was in my area. So I discussed the issue and allowed that some interlocks can be suspended to allow checks in parallel. This was approved and implemented quickly. We could see major gains in delivery cycle times. ”
Ashish could see that Daniel was excited and proud as he talked. He was passionate. He had no experience heading operations yet. But he clearly had taken on a challenge. He had gone into details. He had identified root causes and solution to at least one of them by talking to his colleagues. He also got the solution implemented.
After the interview, Ashish sat down thinking about Daniel as the potential operation head in his company with two obvious shortcomings : He had brick and mortar experience but not e-commerce. He had not led as an operations head.
What do you think Ashish should have done? Did Daniel have the required talent?