This brave new - electronic - world of business calls for a new breed of HR professional with a new set of skills. Here's our guide to the qualities that will set you apart as a top manager
Last summer, when the sudden explosion of the dot.com economy first grabbed the nation's attention, management consultants began to remark on a newly paranoid client base. So quickly did the established ground begin to shift in virtually every industry sector that bewildered, frightened senior managers began to approach the consultancies in droves, desperately trying to find out how they should respond.
Most did not get the shift to e-commerce at all. "Companies are still coming to us with the old model in mind. They want a go-faster version of the old style," says Andersen Consulting partner Paul Cantwell. "We are still trying to impose the new on the old. It took us 20 years after the invention of the internal combustion engine before we stopped building horseless carriages and began designing cars which exploited the engine."
Nearly a year on, few HR professionals will be unaware of the sort of person needed to drive through these changes. The hunt for business savvy, entrepreneurially-minded "silver bullet" managers - capable of bringing strategic aims to bear quickly in the middle echelons of organisations - has never been so aggressively pursued.
Companies are prepared to pay a premium for these thrusting middle-rankers, with the result that strange things are happening to the prevailing status quo. There is already evidence that some "new wave" managers can command more than junior board members when it comes to remuneration, and they are certainly exerting far more influence on the future shape of the organisation.
The network generation
What is the typical mindset of this desirable new breed? According to thinkers such as US business strategist and change agent Don Tapscott, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the sort of agile, flexible cultures we have seen adopted in some of the more successful new operations emerging. He has dubbed it the network generation - N-Gen - mentality.
"The N-Gen mind is ideally suited for wealth creation in the new economy. This generation is exceptionally curious, self-reliant, contrarian. It is smart, focused, able to adapt, high in self-esteem and has a global orientation. It will create huge p