What I'm reading at the moment: Mavericks at Work

I thought I would post what I am reading at the moment, seeing as I suggested last post that I havn’t read the Craig Hassed book yet.

I’m currently reading Mavericks at Work: Why the most original minds in business win. The title is okay, if not a little wanky. But, the content is quite good. It is written by William Taylor and Polly LaBarre. Taylor, of course, is a cofounder of Fast Company and the founding editor, whilst LaBarre was a journalist for the funky business mag. As you can imagine – the content is very similar to the magazine, which is fantastic. Imagine some of the magazines best articles and themes, extrapolated and then discussed in more detail. It’s an excellent read so far.


One turn of phrase I would like to share, is the Rule of Crappy people. World Vision is looking for people right now, and as always, are looking for the best, so my head has been in the space of thinking ‘who might fit that role?’ Apparently, Starbucks came up with an idea where their staff carry with them a card with a free coffee on it and a private number, patched straight through to a Starbucks Talent Seeker, that they can give out to someone random they think has the Starbucks quality. Be it a great checkout chick or storeperson. Starbucks Big Cheifs rightly claim that they have 10.000 employees that are everywhere, and often better at recognising what it takes to be a Starbucks employee than most. The card allows people to call, get noticed, and then get tracked by Starbucks – there may not be a position yet, but the company ackmowledges that keeping in touch allows them to offer positions to talent first, instead of advertising. Cirque De Soliel has a beefed-up (scientific term) tracking system, which logs a database of 30,000 potential circus people. Each one is kept in touch with personally, and constantly invited to audition for different, specifically tailored roles.


A dream of mine, would be to see organisations such as World Vision act the same way. At the moment, there is a clear want to ‘follow a transparent’ process – which I completly understand and appluad. But, I think the process falls down because it only kicks into action when there is a need to fill a gap. People line up and volunteer at WV for years, just trying to get in to work for a company they have a real passion for. And, there are a number of incredibly talented people plying their trade here that will have very switched on friends and networks. Yet, there is no ‘Starbucks Card.’

Here is what I would do, putting on my ‘Head of People’ hat.

1) Create a role within the HR team dedicated to building a talent list, compiled from people either employed now/days gone of World Vision.

2) Create a Starbucks card type system, encouraging people to pass on to people who are ‘World Vision like.’ These people get direct access to te position created above.

3) Start a HR Blog, displaying all the positions WVA is currently trying to fill. This blog, moderated by the person created in #1, will answer questions about the roles, as well as questions about the org, and how people should best apply. This allows them to ENGAGE with people, rather than hope people carry out the incredibly arcane and transaction action of ‘sending in a resume.’ (Resume’s, and job-recruitment in general, have not changed since the days of the typewriter. Yes, we now have seek.com (hear me shudder), but that has only changed the method by which people submit their resumes. The game has not substantially changed in 50 years. sigh.

4) Ask new employees to provide details of their favourite co-workers from their past employees. This is a touch personal, but if you recruit talent, chances are they had a few kindred spirits wherever they came from. Get the logged, sign them up to the RSS for the job-blog, and then start havign conversations with them.

5) People share – this one, I’m claiming as my own. Non-profits, especially, lose good people to corporates because they can’t match the 1) diversity of work people get in larger, commercial companies and 2) the salaries. Yet, the skill set of the NGO class are highly relevant to todays commercial and corporate world (building grass-root networks, building campaigns, being entrepreneurial with small budgets and big objectives, creating communities and advocacy for a cause.) We shoudl staff share. Why, oh why, can’t Big Corp X share a FTE position with Big NGO Y? Telstra and WVA, share a marketing star??? The shared learning would be enormous, and the person in the position would develop a kick-arse skill set.

Just some thoughts – what are yours? How would you keep talent around? Anythign wrong with #1 thru 5?

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