In continuing
our overview
of Robert
Ideas That Work
, let’s talk about people. 

“Driving out variation
makes sense when organizations do proven things in proven ways that still
work…When innovation is the goal, however, organizations need variations in
what people do, think about, and produce.”

We also need variation in
who we hire! 

Weird Idea 1: Hire “Slow Learners” (of the
Organizational Code)

The organizational code is
“…assumptions about why things are supposed to be done in certain ways…shared
norms…” If you want innovation, you need
varied perspectives and ideas. If you
want variation you need to hire people that aren’t eager to assimilate.

An interesting point
raised is that slow learners may have symbiotic relationships with “fast
learners” who can “…protect and insulate them, and who can translate and
promote their ideas.” 

Weird Idea 1.5: Hire People Who Make You
Uncomfortable, Even Those You Dislike

“…another way to find a
few useful misfits who will ignore and reject the organizational code.” 

Weird Idea 2: Hire People (You Probably) Don’t Need
“…they sometimes produced
useful new products or ways of working that people who had the “right” skills
never would have dreamed up.”

Hire the people with
skills you might need.  

Sutton refers to
innovative people and companies as packrats “…collecting ideas, people, and
things they don’t seem to have any immediate use for, but they can’t bring
themselves to forget or discard.”

This makes perfect
sense. If most innovation involves
combining existing ideas or elements in new ways, then you need to keep collecting people and ideas to have the raw materials to innovate! 

Weird Idea 3: Use Job Interviews to Get Ideas, Not
to Screen Candidates

It’s very difficult to
pick the right candidate for a job based on the classic “tell me your strengths
and weaknesses and your biggest accomplishment” job interview.

What if we used interviews
as our opportunities to “rent” someone’s brain? What if we gave them problems we can’t solve or are having difficulty
managing? What would they do? Why?

Wouldn’t this give us an
opportunity to get to know the candidate better and, regardless of whether a
job is offered and subsequently accepted, gain a fresh perspective? 

Once we have the right
people, we’ll need to provide the right environment – more about that tomorrow!