Open Innovation Applied to Talent Acquisition

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Henry Chesbrough does a nice job in this video segmenting the 5 Paths to Open Innovation, based on his 2003 book of the same name.

But how to apply to a corporate Talent Acquisition Organization or a Talent Acqusition Service Provider…hmmm.

As you conduct this exercise, you need to really open up your mind as to how you can innovate your business. Realize that these your ideas have to be feasible for your organization order to execute. Use the feasibility project management analysis tool that we provide to help you understand how far away you are from installing some of these ideas.
  1. The Fortress – these are the ideas that you’re going to build internally. Really should tap into who you’re trusted stakeholders are inside your business to help you understand how to innovate. This may not only include your direct talent acquisition team, but don’t forget about your internal customers who trust you, and human resource personnel around those customers who also have given you credibility. However sometimes we forget about the other people in the organization that we should be tapping on. Don’t forget to look to the sales organization, research and development, technology, or just very smart or innovative people who exist in your business. Bring them into discussions on how to innovate and how to advance your service and product offering to your clients.
  2. Open Sourcing – you’re going to develop ideas that may not be feasible for your organization, but they may still be very good ideas. You need to find trusted external partners that you can bat ideas around with. Have regular engagement with colleagues that do not work in your organization, and they don’t even have to work in your industry. They are having some of the same thoughts and ideas that you may be having and you should literally have non-disclosures signed and have the ability to discuss openly ideas that your talent acquisition organization has with their talent acquisition organization and vice versa.
  3. External Ideas and Collaboration – there are lots of service providers that are willing to talk with you and help you understand what you can do to innovate. However, many are focused on their product model. That is fine. However go beyond just working with your vendors, and start working with academics. Start working with chief executives or general managers of other companies. Start working with consultants or at least go to places where innovation can spark because of the speech or a lecture. The concept is to ferret out what could be done that is beyond the scope of your current internal organization and to see if that can be done to extend service or make a better service for your customers either now or later.
  4. Bridging Gaps – as talent acquisition organizations, we typically do not provide specific or new technology. Usually they are purchased. Same goes for certain types of human capital services, like background check services. If you have a roadmap or a vision of where you want your talent acquisition organization to go, start identifying the places where you have gaps currently because of your current resources. Start going into the marketplace and look for technologies or service providers to bridge that gap to that vision even if that means not having a long-term relationship with them. What this does is help you understand the competencies and the mechanics that you will need in order to have those gaps bridge with internal resources longer-term and whether or not that’s feasible.
  5. Spin Out and Spin In – there are ideas that you want to execute because you think they may be beneficial to your business. But that will take some experimentation and some time. I recommend think can about having a subgroup within your business and coming up with the charter for that project or that experiment. Get it funded separately, do not have it part of your overall budget. Have other members of your internal organization to be part of it and watch it, but don’t necessarily make it part of the standard service offering that your talent organization has. This is slightly different than a pilot. Pilots typically pull from the current budget that you have and they are designed to see if you’re going to expand. This is not quite that. You want to separate this from the core value of your business. In the event that this group then gets some good traction and during that time they have had free reign to develop those processes, you can then bring those processes or tools that they have developed back inside your talent acquisition organization for wider use.

Being social vs. finding on social

I am riding the train from Atlantic City to the office in Philadelphia. I am observing a bunch of teens using their phones to text, take photos, and so on. A typical scene for a train on a summer day.

Of course I turn my thoughts to work, and wonder how these kids will somehow interact with their employers in a social medium. One of my thoughts focuses on how people share work experiences with friends, and how often that happens. In my little social world, it doesn’t happen much actually, especially with close friends. Occasionally they toss up seething on Facebook associated with work, and it’s usually something they are proud of, but not that often. Certainly not a large share of their posts. In fact, of thousands of people that I know via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, I really don’t know much about what they do, how they work, or if they like their work….at least not specifically.

I know one friend from high school teaches for University of Phoenix, and I know she enjoys teaching, but I have no idea if she likes the company. Another works CNN, and he follows amazing stories on site, but I don’t know what he does specifically, or what his boss is like. Conversely, a third friend is always posting about her work, the people she finds for leadership development programs at BASF, and how much fun she is having.

All three use FB frequently, and post personal and professional stuff. But only one really talks about work in a way that helps me peer into the organization. Which brings me back to the kids on the train and my point.

Maybe it’s more important for recruiters and leaders to find people who are naturally social about work. You really can’t buy that type of publicity, and it’s so valuable. So what if somebody “likes” a page or “retweets” something. Personally, I am more likely to pay attention to something more real, like a check in plus a comment. It’s amazing how people check in at a Starbucks during the 30 minutes they are getting a latte, but they don’t check in for work.

Imagine if you had a sales team that was social about their work experience daily versus not at all. Do you think it would effect sales? Tough to tell, but I think probably. No about a manager who always talks about his/her team vs. one who never does, and then that manager turns to social media for candidates. I bet the social leader who talks about work has an easier time.

Maybe we need to start asking a different set of questions during interviews. Rather than asking “do you use social media” we need to ask “how do you inform our friends about your work using social media?”

May make for a very different work force with different productivity.