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Artificial Intelligence Eats Special K For Breakfast

Authored by: Managing Partners Roger Pearman and Robert Eichinger

Mainstream Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in its infancy. Pundits believe it is going to be a disruptive change that will impact almost everyone. This might be true. We shall see.

One thing it is certainly going to impact is talent management, particularly recruiting and hiring, staffing, and leadership development.

Success in the workplace is due to having the right KSAs – Knowledge, Skills and Attributes. KSAs are built from life, exposures, experiences, and education and provide a picture of the whole self as you bring them to work with you to work each day! This means that aligning KSAs with one’s position drives success.

Most importantly, research has shown there are three sets of KSAs in any organization.  Set One is for individual contributors – doing the work.  Set Two is for team leads, supervisors or managers – building a team and coordinating the people, plus a little bit of doing some of the work.  Set Three is for leaders – directing the organization. 

KSAs in Detail

Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes, are the three essential components that are often used to evaluate an individual’s qualifications for a specific job or task. They provide a comprehensive framework for assessing an individual’s capabilities and potential for success in a particular role. Let’s explore each component in detail:


Knowledge refers to the understanding and information that a person possesses in a specific field or subject matter or context. It encompasses factual knowledge, concepts, principles, theories, and procedures that are relevant to the job. Knowledge can be acquired through education, training, and experience. For example, an engineer should have knowledge of engineering principles, while a programmer should possess knowledge of programming languages and algorithms.


Skills are practical abilities or proficiencies that enable an individual to perform specific tasks or activities effectively. They are developed through practice, training, and hands-on experience and can be categorized into two types:

  1. Hard Skills: Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that are often quantifiable and measurable. These skills are directly related to a person’s job and can be acquired through education, certifications, or practical training. Examples of hard skills include programming, data analysis, project management, accounting, and graphic design.
  2. Soft Skills: Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills or personal qualities, are non-technical skills that relate to how an individual interacts and collaborates with others. They involve communication, problem-solving, leadership, adaptability, teamwork, time management, and emotional intelligence. Soft skills are essential for effective communication, building relationships, and navigating various work environments and situations.


Attributes, sometimes referred to as personal qualities or characteristics, represent inherent traits or qualities that individuals possess. They are often partly innate or deeply ingrained and are not easily acquired or learned. These qualities play a vital role in determining an individual’s behavior, attitude, and approach to work. Examples include integrity, creativity, resilience, attention to detail, adaptability, initiative, and self-motivation. Attributes are important as they influence how individuals handle challenges, work with others, and contribute to the overall organizational culture.

Employers and recruiters often consider a combination of knowledge, skills, and attributes when evaluating candidates for a job or assessing an individual’s potential for advancement within an organization. By understanding and assessing these three components, employers can make more informed decisions about hiring, training, staffing and professional development opportunities. Likewise, individuals can identify areas for improvement and focus on developing the necessary KSAs to excel in their chosen fields and progress in their career.

Where does Artificial Intelligence (AI) fit in?

Out of knowledge, skills, and attributes, knowledge will be the most directly impacted by AI. The resume contains evidence of what knowledge you have had up to now, from jobs, certifications, trips, exposures, degrees, and the like.  Artificial intelligence, among other things, represents knowledge that has been programmed and packaged.

Knowledge transfer started around the campfire listening to the stories of the elders.  Things they experienced and learned along their life path-their lessons of life and work.

Formal education came next–twelve to sixteen or more years of knowledge transfer and skill development, with some impact on attributes.

Then we had the encyclopedia containing all known knowledge (of importance) in 26 volumes. There was a time when many households had them on the shelf. Many of us can remember “looking something up”.

Then we had the internet and especially Wikipedia—important collections of knowledge curated by users and experts. We have digital access to knowledge and to almost anyone in the world. YouTube can teach us how to do or fix anything.

Now we have an AI infant – growing bigger by the day. What does it eat?  K.

Special K – The Artificial Intelligence Breakfast of Choice

By scraping and using all digital information available to it, AI can produce answers (Knowledge, or K) on almost everything.

Knowledge to the curious, resourceful and learning agile is now available and easy to access. To the resourceful and computer literate careerist, you can accelerate your exposures and experiences to gain information.  

For hiring, it means that K becomes less important. New employees can partner with a bot and learn on the fly. It means more flexible staffing and placement. It means needing less experience. So, for the knowledge scavengers, it’s an exciting tool. 

Need a good definition of listening skills?  You are one second away.  Ten tips to develop listening skills? One more second. How to evaluate an applicant’s listening skills? Questions to ask and things to look for/ Again, answers in seconds.

Knowledge has gotten more affordable and is now available to more people. 

AI can help build Skills. It will publish a ten-point development plan for most any skill.  

There will be AI coaches, such as Your Career Architect included in our Career Blueprint tool. There will be a bot therapist to help develop attribution effectiveness.

But AI’s biggest impact will be on K. Because AI eats (Special) K for breakfast every second, so you don’t have to.

Bot, tell me all about the Taj Mahal and show me pictures of every room.  It’s close to as good as being there.

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