Managing James Bond
I’m writing this while much fuss is being made about the release of Skyfall, the latest Bond film. It will no doubt be successful and include action, cars, gadgets, villains and of course the character of James Bond. It made me wonder though how James Bond was ever recruited and managed into the (fictional) secret service and the wider implications this has for the (fictional) HR department.
In any recruitment process it is critical to ensure that the people match the organisation’s culture and the competencies of the role. Using the current (non-fictional) MI5 self selection questionnaire for an intelligence officer the service requires time and personal management, an appreciation of authority with an understanding of the individual’s own authority to act, empathy and collaboration with colleagues, discretion and sensitivity, information management and analysis and appreciation of diversity. The antics and approach of the employee James Bond portrays someone who does not display these competencies and his behaviour has a limited appreciation of authority. Furthermore, he is rarely seen to be analysing information appropriately and there is little evidence of teamwork all of which suggests his skillset and fit may not be appropriate to the organisation.
This disparity of competency and behaviour can lead to an unacceptable level of people risk. The 007 role includes a ‘license to kill’ and with such authority there must be governance and regulation to manage this. In other industries there is an increased appreciation for organisational management of people risk so for example, bankers do not subject their bank to potentially crippling investment and share dealing, whereas the public sector is bound by regulation and audit ranging from financial profiles to child protection. The approach required is at both a strategic and systemic level and starts with the identification of risk and what the organisation is prepared to accept. For (fictional) MI6 one of the people risk areas for consideration might be the authority or license to kill. Once all the risks have been identified the organisation needs to determine what is acceptable so using the license to kill risk the actual preference might be a license to injure. The next stage is managing the risk which may include mandatory training. Fictional MI5 demonstrate some governance in this area with Q’s explanation of gadgets that can prove to be harmful, although there appears to be room for improvement of the training techniques and appropriate updates.
Finally, the organisational management needs to be complemented by effective line management adhering to the organisation’s people risk strategy. It is noted that James Bond’s line manager is prepared to discipline and arrest him suggesting effective line management.
Given the concerns, organisational requirements and impact to entertainment it’s probably best that movie makers create movies and HR reduces people risk!