Bloggers Note: Some of my sources use the terms innovation, innovator, creativity and “outside-the-box” thinkers interchangeably. I will do the same in this blog.
“Innovation can be defined as coming up with ideas that bring value to your customers and then bringing those ideas to life.” says Robert Tucker, author of Driving Growth through Innovation. Sounds like the type of employee that every company would want to not only find but hire. Before you run off in search of your next Thomas Edison read on.
The October issue of INC. Guidebook offers up some good advice regarding finding innovators. I have creatively added my outside-the-box thoughts to the points that were made.
- Decide which kind of creativity counts – Hiring for creativity starts with deciding how much of it you can tolerate. Many companies find it difficult to integrate true outside-the-box thinkers, true innovators.
- Breadth of Creativity vs. Depth of Creativity – Understand the difference between the two. Breadth of creativity is ad agency, IDEO, Disney Imangineers whereas depth of creativity is looking for better ways, process improvements within one’s own job or department that when implemented add value to your customers.
- Market your company to Attract Innovators – This starts with your web site, your career page or portal, job descriptions and the use of social media including Facebook, Twitter, employee testimonials on YouTube. Marketing to creative types does not exclude those candidates who are not creative. If anything it might attract a better quality of non-innovators.
- Recruit from nontraditional sources – Realize that expertise can be acquired, creativity can not. If you are looking for outside-the –box thinkers then think outside the box!
- Look for Career Adapters – Most companies would shy away from candidates who took a year off to trek the Appalachian Trail; who went to work for a non-profit for little or no salary; who provided elder care for a dying relative. Look for experience, adaptability, passion, fortitude not just a certain number of years with a certain skill set.
- Know how creative they are – It starts well before the interview. Whether or not your marketing efforts attracted a creative candidate, how they manage to get noticed by your company is the first clue to how innovative they may be. Did they respond in a non-traditional manner, was there contact with the company different than most other candidates? In the interview, were they able to handle the behavior based questions with more than rehearsed answers? Could they think on their feet when faced with puzzle type or what animal would you be type questions?
- Build a Creative Culture – If you currently employ some innovators you want to keep them. If you are just looking to hire some creative types you want to make sure that they want to join your company and stay with you. Culture is everything. Building and maintaining a creative, innovative culture requires that the work inspires them, the compensation is more than financial incentives and the environment that they work in is a happy one that doesn’t squash their creativity.
A final thought, companies that innovate are often more successful than those that maintain a status quo. In order to innovate, you need to hire some creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers. And in order to hire these types your company needs to have a culture of creativity, of innovation.
So, what comes first the chicken or the egg, the creative culture or the innovative employee?
For me, I am now off in search of another box that I can think outside of.