Introducing the Role of the Digital Centaur

Emids as a thought partner is laser focused on digital transformation and the digital journeys of our clients and partners. During organizational transformation, leaders must consider the human side of the journey to position their teams and solutions to compete successfully in the new digital paradigm.

Emids has studied the concept of Humanology, where the human should be at the forefront of digital innovation in our industry. In our experience, an organizations’ Digital Maturity should include a focus on people resources and not on technology alone.

How do organizations address today’s need to retain the valuable people assets and talent required to navigate successfully through the pathways of digital transformation and digital competitiveness? Successful organizations are learning to balance technology and humanness. Emids offers an introduction to Digital Centaurs courtesy of our partners at FPOV.


While many are familiar with the term “centaur” from our study of Greek mythology, how many of us would be able to describe a “Digital Centaur” and describe where the terminology originated? To help bring some understanding to the term we need to step back in time when U.S. Military Forces observed they could not improve the standards of soldiers and pilots they produced despite the best of trainings. After an extensive deep dive, they concluded the only way to improve the quality of soldiers and pilots was by enhancing them with technology, and they invented this concept called the ‘Digital Centaur’. We were first introduced to the notion of a Digital Centaur by our friends at FPOV who have agreed to let us share this interesting concept with you.


A Digital Centaur is a human who has been enhanced and augmented with digital tools and is able to perform at a higher level than their peers because of the enhancement. The Digital Centaur balances the mastery of technology with advanced human maturity into a powerfully integrated ability to make progress wherever they place their focus.

What distinguishes a digital centaur from others?

While everyone can use digital tools, a centaur has found a way to optimize its use. Centaurs are incessant learners who are always on the hunt for new and innovative technology they can harness. They do not shy away from tools others may consider too complex or daunting to understand. They constantly question how new innovations will impact the work of others and provide new efficiencies in solving real world problems.

Centaurs continually look for personal and organizational improvement. They do not allow themselves to become stuck in a routine or a “This is how we have always done it” mentality. They see pathways to assist others in the organization embrace opportunities for improvement and they are skillful in the art of change management.

Centaurs find a healthy balance with technology. While they use digital tools effectively, they do not become overwhelmed by them and are able to properly function in non-digital environments, and in physical personal interactions with others.

Characteristics of a digital centaur - Emids

Human-centered approach

Future digital tools must be developed by people who understand human behavior. We cannot only consider the digital aspects of becoming a centaur. A minimization of what it means to be a human will lead to devastating consequences for our team members and our species. It will lead to increased burnout, adverse mental health conditions, and more. We, as an organization, can commit to helping our team members navigate the effects of becoming a centaur, both positive and negative.

A greater focus on digital wellness could include increased training on employee mental health. Organizations may periodically bring in experts to talk to the staff about digital well-being and how to have healthy digital interactions.

Organizations need to consider mental health resources within the organization, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), to help strengthen employee mental well-being. Embracing the importance of mental wellbeing and incorporating whole person health into a program of wellness can lead to a reduction in anxiety and improve learning readiness.

Organizations may consider some of the following:

  • Formulating rules of engagement at the office for digital interactions, and may include when meetings can be scheduled and for how long. This may include regulations on the length of meetings and guidelines on potential meeting, and communication rhythms and platforms.
  • Implementing “no-meeting” or “no email” black out times to allow team members to “detox” from digital interaction and help increase times of concentration instead of interruption.
  • Enforcing mandatory paid time off that team members must use and encourage them to use that time to recharge and increase mental well-being.

Organizations may consider helping team members, who are remote, separate their workspace from their living space. In a physical office, they may consider creating an inviting area where devices are not welcome, so team members can find a place where they are not constantly connected.

Building a centaur-model training program

Organizations must commit to developing a program to help team members understand what it means to be a centaur and how becoming one will increase their value within the organization, and within society. Successful program development will create a “Pathway to Centaurship.” This facilitates the team members’ navigation of the process of becoming centaurs. These programs are committed to guiding team members as effectively as possible on the journey of becoming a centaur, and they endeavor to build the appropriate culture and recognition to help centaurs thrive within the organization.

Building a digital workforce

Organizations have not focused on training team members on new digital tools after they are implemented, often omitting the training on the basic digital tasks required for success. Training can no longer be viewed as optional and must cross pollenate from IT to business domains.

Advanced training
must be considered for team members on new digital tools with learning incentives designed to acknowledge the skillset, and the new knowledge across the organization. Opportunities providing “micro-learning”, which is learning developed in smaller pieces, through multiple channels of learning, helps when large time commitments are not feasible. Continuing education and training must be intentional and not merely an afterthought designed to “check a box.”

Building new models for recruiting centaur talent

Attracting talent is certainly a challenge in the market today and likely will be for the near future. Today’s candidates seek more than salary and perks, they seek self-fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment with the daily contributions they make to their clients and firms. What will it take to recruit and retain the future Digital Centaurs?

Organizations will strive to hire people with the skills and desire to become Centaurs

They should drive this by considering talent with non-traditional skills, such as video game expertise, or those with proven entrepreneurial or content creation skills such as successful podcasters and bloggers.

HR and leadership teams will not limit themselves to the traditional when hiring talent

Organizations need to be proactive in building a pipeline toward potential talent. This could include partnering with universities and colleges to develop a technology internship program or building relationships with professors who can help locate rising stars to employ.

Organizations will work to improve the interviewing process

Interviewing styles and questions will need to reflect the centaur-first mentality more adequately. This includes incorporating technology, business challenges, and gamification into the interviewing process to examine the centaur skills of potential hires more accurately.

Organizations will strive to improve the onboarding process

Onboarding processes should accommodate new learning styles to acclimate new centaur hires more quickly and effectively. This might include the creation of a meticulous 100-day onboarding plan.

Organizations will develop a Digital Employee Persona Model

Develop specific digital journeys that help each persona type grow toward becoming a centaur or increase their digital skills.

Organizations will build a library of content

Design the content to help with the onboarding process, including videos to introduce new hires to the organization and its leadership, persona cards that showcase team members’ skills, and visual digital backbone blueprints that help people understand the organization’s processes and systems.

Organizations will work to create more gamified onboarding processes

Playing to the talents and learning styles of centaurs expose new hires to more components and people within the organization, not just those that they will be directly involved with on a day-to-day basis.

Incentivize innovation generation

  • Organizations should strive to compensate team members based not on traditional processes and business models, but on their proven ability to drive innovation that will carry the organization into the future.
  • They should consider rewarding those who can use their digital skills as a centaur to strengthen the organization and help us gain competitive advantage in our industry.
  • They may also consider providing learning incentives so that team members understand the benefit of investing their time and energy in increasing their digital IQ and improving their digital skills. These incentives could include increased pay, promotion, or recognition within the organization.

Creating a centaur development roadmap

A centaur development roadmap is much like organizations have traditionally used to design leadership programs. However, a centaur development roadmap is focused on digital skills and crosses departments throughout the organization. This cross-departmental training will help people have different experiences across IT and the business. It will help team members experience different perspectives and roles across the organization. Non-linear career development will help team members become more versatile and increase their value to the organization.

A centaur development roadmap may also require creating a senior role within the organization that can act as a bridge between technology and the business. This person will have the responsibility of working with department leaders to fully utilize the technology provided to them and would be measured by his or her ability to pull value from the technology. Leaders need to consider creating a “Mentaur Program” within the organization. This program would pair centaur citizens and centaur leaders as mentors to newly hired potential centaurs.

What’s in it for your organization?

While digital transformation is defined as the effective use of the organization’s technology and solutions, successful transformation involves much more. At the core of digital transformation, we must become more human, not less.

The notion that “technology is the solution for everything” in an organization, is narrow minded. Technology cannot fix human connections and community, customer engagement and personalization. Without human-centric-thinking people, there is no innovation, no strategy, no connections with customers. People may forget about how cool the gadget was but they’ll remember how supported and understood the person made them feel.

If your organization would like to discuss the impact of designing a program to embrace and adopt the Digital Centaur program please reach out for more information on how Emids can help. Our Digital Maturity Assessment provides insight to your level of Digital Maturity in contrast to your competitors, which can be the single most significant factor in your long-term success.

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