The LAB: Innovating a Recruiting Process with Subtraction (October 2008)

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The LAB: Innovating a Recruiting Process with Subtraction (October 2008)

Do systematic methods of innovation work on services and processes? This may be the most common question from corporate executives who want to learn innovation methods. This month's LAB will focus on a familiar corporate process: employee recruiting. The tool we'll use is Subtraction. To use Subtraction, we make a list of the components. With a process or service, the components are simply the steps to deliver the process or service. We remove a step one at a time to create the Virtual Product/Process. Working backwards with Function Follows Form, we innovate what the potential value or benefits would be without the component. What would the new process do? Who would use it? Why would they use it?

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Do systematic methods of innovation work on services and processes?  This may be the most common question from corporate executives who want to learn innovation methods.  This month's LAB will focus on a familiar corporate process: employee recruiting.  The tool we'll use is Subtraction.  

To use Subtraction, we make a list of the components. With a process or service, the components are simply the steps to deliver the process or service. We remove a step one at a time to create the Virtual Product/Process.  Working backwards with Function Follows Form, we innovate what the potential value or benefits would be without the component.  What would the new process do?  Who would use it?  Why would they use it?  What benefits emerge?

Here is a recruiting process map of a well-known software company:

   Recruiting

Here are four Virtual Products I created with Subtraction.  For each, I offer potential innovations and the benefits they might deliver:

1.  REMOVE INTERVIEWSThe recruiting process would not allow interviews of candidatesBenefit: hiring managers now have to rely on less subjective data such resumes and references.  They would have to rely on objective data such as job testing or personality testing.  Another benefit is candidates are shielded from interviewers who are less gifted at selling the benefits of working at the company.  They would have to rely on standard information provided by HR, thus avoiding negative or misleading information about the company.

2.  REMOVE JOB POSTINGSThe recruiting process would have NO jobs posted anywhere even though many openings might exist.  Benefit:  There would be more job applicants because they could not self-screen or self-eliminate from not seeing jobs that fit them.  The company's message would be "open door": if you need a job, apply.  We'll find one that fits you.  This also might encourage hiring managers to be more creative about the people they consider for a job, perhaps seeking certain personality types or cognitive skills over experience.  Another benefit is the company avoids contingency recruiters who take job postings without the company's approval and try to fill them for a commission.  

3.  REMOVE SCHEDULE AND PLAN INTERVIEWThe candidates have to find a way to get an interview without the benefit of the company's HR department setting it up for them.  Benefit:  This is more efficient as it cuts out the "middle man."  Another benefit is it becomes a way to test how assertive and personable the candidate is setting up their own interviews.  It helps them establish a rapport with the hiring manager before the interview takes place.

4.  REMOVE HIRING:  (You were just WAITING for that one!)  The recruiting process has all the traditional steps except the final one – hiring.  Benefit:  This allows a company to keep a pulse on the available talent pool  without the cost incurred from adding staff (a lot of companies actually do this). Another benefit is it reduces time, money, and the effort involved in negotiating salary, benefits, etc.  Also, it helps the company test its recruiting process to determine the effectiveness and accuracy of its interviewers and techniques.  The problem, of course, is how do we actually get the candidate on board?  This is where the REPLACEMENT function comes in handy in using this tool.  We can replace the function but not with the original component.  So what would replace hiring (in the traditional sense)?  Perhaps contracting.  Perhaps a third party does the hiring.  Or perhaps the candidates have to follow a process and guidelines to hire themselves on board.  Self-hiring?  That's novel.