Why the Department of Defense is Taking a Skills-based Approach to Talent Discovery

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Today’s episode offers quite an inspirational and educational show for listeners! Guest Craig Robbins discusses fascinating practices from a new perspective—from someone directly involved with the US Military and Department of Defense. After a brief introduction to Craig’s past that brings him to his current two full-time jobs, Craig jumps into the conversation. 

Jason asks Craig to set straight how the Department of Defense and Military are structured and what digital transformation looks like in an organization like this, as it is the largest employer in the world. Learn how an organization that can be slow to make change due to the vast number of people, policy, legislation, and budget slows down agility and innovation, but that they can be more focused on modernization and innovation today than ever! Why? He says it’s necessary to compete in today’s market; the relationships between employees and employers have shifted and require greater agility to compete. Listen to how the digital transformation fits into the transformation of talent management.

Shifting the conversation, our hosts ask Craig to give more information about the dynamics of the military and how the different components work together—active duty, reserve, and national guard. After walking through the various parts, Craig shares his journey of getting to where he is today. While he didn’t plan for this industry, he decided to step up and answer the call to serve. After a freak accident pivoting his momentum to a different route, Craig’s resilience led him to be able to be deployed eventually. Next, learn about the organization he helped set up a program for those transitioning from military to the civilian workforce and how it launched him into HR tech and services. Finally, Craig touches on the importance of hiring based on what a person can bring—potential—in moving an organization forward; his focus is on modernization, talent acquisition, and management. 

Moving on to talk about a critical program called Gig Eagle, Craig discusses how this is transforming HR tech to accommodate people who don’t fit nicely into the traditional pre-made buckets. The issue of talent discovery is a big problem in the army due to the data not being captured. Learn about this talent management system and how tech and civilian skill sets that were virtually unseeable before are starting to cut across department lines. Capturing someone’s free agent skills is difficult, but Craig has taken this to an exponential degree. In trying to figure out all the things that go along with it, Craig shares how this can get political and challenging. Still, progress can be made with an underlying goal to enable flexibility and agility! Analytics are helping to solve the crucial data issue of quality and quantity.

Stepping back, Craig looks at the bigger picture of rethinking the way people look at work and the team members on their team—transforming the culture at large will break down barriers and create the economy they want. To drive digital transformation, technology, policies, and incentives are necessary. Learn what leveraging free agent skills is all about and how the Department of Defense seeks to enable critical mission success.

As the episode wraps up, our hosts ask if these concepts apply to the private sector. Listen to Craig’s answer and fill in the “why” behind these models. Improving the employee experience can be painful, but we need people to have better experiences. Everyone is starting to do things that do not fit the older, traditional molds handed down to us. So this conversation has growing importance!


Connect with Craig Robbins.

Learn more about Gig Eagle.

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