What Can Clay Pots Teach Us About Recruiting Operations?

 

I recently read an interesting story that was quoted from the book Art and Fear, by Derek Sivers. The story goes as follows:

The ceramics teacher announced he was dividing his class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right graded solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality," however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.

Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

I love this story because there are many lessons that can be gleaned.  Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Practice makes perfect
  2. If you wait for perfection you will never ship anything
  3. Quantity does not always sacrifice quality

So what lesson can we draw upon for Recruiting Operations?

Experiment more!

Over the last 30 years I have seen many Talent Acquisition functions focus too heavily on finding best practices. The end result is a whole lot of doing the same thing. I am not saying we should abandon any tried and true methods or the foundational aspects of recruiting.

However, in a world of increasing distractions and what seems to be dwindling bandwidths, we should always carve out some time or resources to try something new and different. Whether it's with sourcing channels, process improvements, or technology selections, it is important to take some risks and iterate.

Over the last few decades the industry standards for time to hire, quality of hire, and cost per hire have not really moved much. I often see companies spend so much time planning and justifying initiatives to try and address these factors, as if they were trying to make the perfect clay pot.

The opportunity for TA Leaders to experiment has never been better. We are in the midst of a technology revolution that is as significant as the introduction of the web in the late 90's.

Instead of "analysis paralysis" on the ROI of everything, it's time to convince our organizations that we need to break a few clay pots!

Anybody break any pots lately?

Responses

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LC
Innovation success without first some failure is luck. Success is driven from our pride in failure.
EN
Well said Larry - that is probably the best definition of luck I have heard. I used to think "why fail if you don't have to?" What I have realized is that it's not necessarily about failing on purpose. It's about overcoming the fear of failure, taking risks, and then recognizing when you have failed and learn from it.