Hire Talent and Ability NOT a Skillset
Nearly every company has a similar hiring process:
Post an open position with a description of the role
List a bunch of job requirements and skills
Filter all applications through human resources
Once a resume lands in the inbox of human resources it is usually filtered against a set of listed skills and so forth. Sadly, this is also probably one of the biggest stifling factors in innovation at most companies. Innovation doesn't know a skill set, rank, salary range or even a particular college degree. Innovations requires two things: talent and ability. Most companies hire a skill set but never look for straight up talent or ability.
Nearly every person who reads this has probably been a victim of this practice. How many times have you found what you thought might be a dream job, but didn't have an exact match to the skill set. You said to yourself, "If they would just let me show them what I can do!" Sadly, this has happened to me many times in my career.
If they would just let me show them what I can do!
However, I wanted to tell a story where a company didn't do this, but instead looked for talent and ability over a skill set match.
Many years ago, a major technology company hired a bench technician. This bench technician had just finished a 2 year vocational school, and was placed into a test lab. In the test lab he worked with a piece of equipment called an oscilloscope. I won't get into deep technical details, but an oscilloscope has a definitive purpose: test and display voltage signals as waveforms, visual representations of the variation of voltage over time. (Not exactly something that stimulates the imagination!)
During a lull at work, the technician had an idea. He made a modification to the oscilloscope at his workbench. Within a short while, he had the oscilloscope up and running tuned into a television station. Yes, he was watching television on his oscilloscope! (Quite the innovation!)
The manager manger of the test lab used to perform a practice called, "walking the shop floor." Where he would make rounds to assess what was going on with his team. He noticed a small commotion at the technician's workbench. Within a few moments, the manager realized what the technician had done.
"Come with me young man", the manager said to the technician.
The young technician, barely 20 years old, got up from his desk. He was quickly under the assumption that he was about to be fired. The manager escorted the young technician to his office.
"Have a seat", the manager said. The manager cleared his throat for a moment and followed up, "Did you come up with that idea all by yourself?" The technician nodded. "How did you come to figure it out?" The technician scribbled on a yellow legal pad all the principles he had applied and the resulting schematic.
The manager got up. He motioned for the young technician to follow. As they were walking the hallway the manager said, "You are far too smart for that job. We need to put you in a role better suited to your ability." And within that moment the technician's life changed.
You are too smart for that job. We need to put you in a role better suited to your ability.
The company put the young technician on a path to becoming a full fledged engineer. They paid for his night school education at a major university. After a few years of showing his talent, the technician was promoted again. He showed leadership potential. The company put him into management school. The technician worked his way up the ranks, managing departments, and eventually ending up in the prestigious R & D department. He contributed many innovations to this company before retiring.
However, had the company just looked at his skill set, and left him at his workbench, they would have deprived themselves of an employee with nearly unlimited potential, and the capacity to innovate.
About Mark Ross
Mark holds multiple industry patents. He is currently the technical director at an iGaming company based out of Las Vegas. He is the author of books, technical whitepapers, and an accomplished film director as well. Linked In.