Attracting and Enabling Innovation

“Am I hiring the right people?”

This question may not be as appropriate now that the hiring market has drastically shifted over the past few years. Looking at the US job market, there are approximately 1.7 jobs per 1 person, creating robust competition for companies that are hiring.

So instead, you should be asking, “Am I hiring and enabling the right people?”

First, let’s assess potential employees with appealing resumes, exemplifying one or more career hot streaks. Then we’ll continue into how you can create an environment for your employees to have a career hot streak (or more) at your company.

Career Hot Streaks – To Hire, Or Not?

Career hot streaks, a recently coined term by Dashun Wang and his colleagues, are a trending discussion point. But how should you consider this topic when hiring for your company? And how do career hot streaks influence the employees you already have?

After working with some of the best startups and Fortune 500’s, I have seen hiring people with career hot streaks both, positively and negatively impact a company.

Take note that hiring people who have already had a period of productivity means they might never have one again.[1] They may be set in their ways and have old answers to new questions. Those with narrow skill sets and mindsets might flourish in some roles but might not be the best staff or produce the real innovation you are hoping for. Take caution when considering a potential employee that might be too restricted for the position.

However, it’s not just an employee’s responsibility to perform at the highest level. Employers need to create an environment that will enable hot streaks, and I’ve found there are three significant contributing factors to cultivating innovation within a company.

So what are the three elements that will motivate and foster a person’s first, second, or third period of productivity?

Companies too often restrict people into very narrow jobs, allowing for little to no personal development or curiosity. This is counterproductive, as Jeff Bezos has mentioned:

“Wandering is an essential counterbalance to efficiency. You need to employ both. The outsized discoveries—the “non-linear” ones—are highly likely to require wandering.” – Jeff Bezos

To make great advances, it’s important not to fall in love with an idea, solution, or outcome, but rather, fall in love with the problem.

“The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest market opportunities.” – Peter Diamandis

As mentioned above, in order to foster a person’s first, second, or third period of productivity, encourage them to go wide and explore many lines of business.

By allowing your people the freedom to expand their scope of work and look outside of the company for solutions, you’re supporting them to expand their professional contacts and connections. Greater networks will lead to better opportunities and growth for them and the company. This allows people to go broad, learn from experts, and be audacious, all while enhancing and broadening their skill sets.

Exploration is essential for innovation at any size company. Offering this option to wander and be unrestrictive in a position at your company will attract those who are endlessly curious and life-long learners. These people are true innovators that ultimately have the potential to drastically change your company and, likely, the entire world.

Cross-Functional Collaboration

We highly recommend encouraging your people to work on cross-function problem-solving teams by providing a clear path on how to achieve this within your company, as we do in our ExO Sprints.

“I loved the transparent, open, and safe working environment that enabled us to be our true selves. The sprint stripped us off position levels, seniority, extreme formalities, giving us nothing but an extreme passion to focus on what mattered: understanding our customers’ problems and building up a potential solution in a collaborative and accretive approach.” – Michel Yanagiya, Siemens Energy, ExO Sprint Participant

In order for your employees to expand their reach, it’s important that your organization emphasizes a collaborative culture. Fostering cross-functional collaboration within companies will:

When employees with differentiating expertise, perspectives, and experiences collaborate, creativity will naturally develop and grow when it’s practiced as a group.

Allowing space for idea generation across all departments of your organization will allow for easy detection of needed improvements and generate ideation across all value and revenue streams.

The true innovation that surfaces from this way of working will likely never surface if you continue to have your employees work in siloed teams.

Revisit Your Massive Transformative Purpose

Have your employees revisit or create a new Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP).

Take ample time to reflect on these 5 questions:

You can create more than one MTP! Strive to create different versions for yourself, your team, your projects, and your company.

Once you are satisfied, look at the linkages between each. There is no better way to decide how to accelerate within a project or job.

Click here for a fillable MTP worksheet to get started.

Create Opportunities for Employees

Recognize and appreciate the talent that your potential employees have to offer.

Everyone is looking for that special hire that’s going to create waves throughout their company. Those with career hot streaks might be the answer, as long as they strike you as lifelong learners that will be open to running a business in a new way. On the other hand, steer away from those that seem to know it all and have a “business as usual” attitude.

You should also look to hire people who have already studied many opportunities and might be ready to crystallize their knowledge into a period of productivity.

Finally, look for potential employees that show signs of continuous curiosity. They may know countless tools and platforms or specialize in various frameworks or techniques. They are the ones that are excited to learn new methodologies with an open mindset.

But what’s the true, long-term solution to generate innovation and productivity throughout your business continuously? What’s going to attract raw talent to your company? How do you get the right people to even apply to your organization?

Create a culture of wandering and cross-functional collaboration that are aligned with the company’s MTP.

Looking to instill these elements into your company? Learn more about our ExO Sprint.