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Daimler Trucks CIO seeks to hire 'Edisons' and 'Einsteins'

It's no secret that building a skilled workforce capable of delivering IT services to the business has become a pain point for CIOs. But rather than scouring the earth for programmers or statisticians -- or that elusive (and expensive) data scientist -- why not take a page out of Dieter Haban's book?

In this SearchCIO video interview, the Daimler Trucks North America CIO said he doesn't look for particular IT skills when he considers hiring new candidates; instead, the German native searches for "Einsteins" and "Edisons." Einsteins think outside the box, experiment and dream up new ideas; Edisons take those dreams and build it. According to Haban, IT needs both roles, and CIOs need to create an environment that allows both types of talented people to thrive.

Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski caught up with Haban at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, where he was honored as one of five finalists for the 2014 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award, and had a chance to discuss why Edisons and Einsteins are vital IT roles for businesses today.

What kind of skills are you looking to invest in?

Dieter Haban: There's not a particular technology skill. I like to look at people and ask, 'How can you help me transform the business?' You need two types of people: People who know what they do; they like to try to perfect a system. We rely on them in, say, the data center. They are people who are very solid; they perfect the process. I call them the Edisons.

The Edisons?

Haban: Yes. Then you have the Einsteins. And you need a few Einsteins. The Einsteins are those people who are the visionaries that have ideas, that think outside of the box. They're hard to control; you have to know them. You need both, and this has nothing to do with intelligence. It has to do with different creativities and skill sets. I like both of them.

Is it harder finding an Einstein or an Edison?

Haban: It's hard to find both, because most of the people are kind of in the middle. So the Einsteins -- let's say it this way: The Einsteins are harder to find, but you know exactly when you find an Einstein.

I'll tell you one example, I have a guy in my office; he has 15,000 apps on his iPad. I say, 'How do you organize 15,000 apps and what were you doing with it?' He says, 'Well, I organize it this way and that way, I find themes here and -- look at this new app I have here.' And then he shows the app and I say, 'Oh, looks cool, what is it doing?' And he says, 'I don't know yet, but it looks good.'

So these are the people you need and you talk to and they're fun to talk to and they bring in ideas. Then you have to have the Edisons that make it happen.

Let us know what you think of the story; email Nicole Laskowski, senior news writer, or find her on Twitter @TT_Nicole.

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CIO Innovator profiles: Industry groundbreakers, great IT leaders
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Which IT role is hard to fill for you organization: the Einsteins or Edisons?

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