There are stages of growing pains for big corporations as they learn to invest in design and innovation, and one of the first is figuring out how to invest in the right talent. Just last year, we worked with a recruitment client who had this very same issue as their biggest roadblock. This corporation had worked with an award-winning consultancy firm that delivered a very expensive bright, shiny innovation deck to the corporate heads. There was a great deal of pomp and circumstance involved in the presentation of this stunning proposal and after months of developing this fantastic idea, the consultancy’s contract was up, and they packed up and left.
The corporation attempted to implement the brilliant lofty idea they were presented. It came with a “manual”, a set of step by step set of instructions designed to help them implement this concept so, in theory, implementation should have been straightforward as can be. The reality, however, was a far cry from straightforward. Despite following the instructions to a tee, it simply wasn’t working the way they needed it to. They then tried – and failed – to get the firm to come back to launch and implement their amazing idea. When that didn’t work, the corporation decided to try plan B and began scrambling to train someone in-house to tackle this huge undertaking.
Meanwhile, that stunning deck remained prominently displayed...as a mere idea. The corporation had handed the project over to their design team who poured over it and tried as best as they could to execute the idea. Finally, they admitted that it just wasn’t the right project for anyone they had in-house, and they began their recruitment search for that crucial missing piece in the puzzle.
As we began working with them, I noticed their next big roadblock: they didn’t know who they were looking for. A few people on the hiring team were so stuck on the idea that the person they needed had to meet every item on the corporation’s checklist of qualifications, that they had to have come from the exact same background, the same space, and have worked on projects of the exact same scope. It was this limiting belief system that was preventing them from exploring all the possibilities of bringing in someone who could leverage their own unique experiences and introduce a fresh new perspective.
Slowly but surely, we convinced the corporation to take off the blinders and begin truly exploring their options. I’ve seen situations like this all too often, where recruitment clients spend inordinate amounts of time focussing on the wrong issues and ultimately end up hiring the wrong person. All it takes is one bad apple to spoil the barrel; that concept is true of most things in life, without the exception of recruitment. You understand that great design is paramount to the success of any corporation which is why it’s so easy to get stuck on the concept of hiring that one, perfect designer – but the recruitment process is about more than just finding the right talent. It’s about building the right team.
20 years ago, Design was a mere aesthetic add-on used to beautify branding and create clever marketing campaigns. Today, it’s gone from an add-on to a strategical necessity. With the world of design constantly evolving, it’s tricky to navigate all the new terminologies and expertise. Much like doctors, designers now have countless unique specializations and skill sets that add far more than just aesthetic value, but with every business trying desperately to be the next Apple, Uber, or Tesla, big corporation’s understanding of design remains stunted in that dated idea of what design was.
The worst thing you can do for your business is to hire the wrong person because a team is only as strong as its weakest player after all. Don’t let your business be the place where good ideas go to die.