Thursday, December 14, 2006

First, Become a Tipping Point Maverick To Be Great In a Flat World

I’ve been a big business-book reader of late, learning how to Break the Rules, then go from Good To Great, why the World Is Flat, and how Tipping Points create epidemics. Each of these books have been fascinating reads, and all have implications on talent acquisition. I was even inspired to write an article on ERE this summer while reading one of these books.

In my new role, I am consumed by the need for us to A) differentiate ourselves, and B) achieve greatness in our recruiting capabilities. Earlier this year at the ERExpo in San Diego, I saw Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company Magazine, speak about what great organizations did to differentiate themselves from the competition and succeed in markets where everyone else was failing. Much of what he spoke about that morning has stuck with me, so much so that today I finally went out and bought his newest book, ‘Mavericks at Work’.

My new employer has significant competitive challenges when it comes to talent acquisition in our industry. To succeed, I need to know what our competition is doing, not to model and replicate, but to exceed and differentiate. It’s not going to be reasonable for us to build similar talent acquisition models to compete, so we need to find other ways.

Over lunch, I read the introduction to ‘Mavericks’ and a couple quotes hit me right away as being a dead-on match for how we need to think and operate moving forward, including:
“You can’t do big things as a competitor if you’re content with doing things
only a little better than the competition”
“The strong take from the weak”, according to Hall-of-Fame basketball coach Pete Carril, “but the smart take from the strong”.
We are just getting started here. To attract, engage and hire great talent in our industry, we need to find smart ways to do recruit much better than the competition with the resources we have available. The good news is that we have a great employment value proposition, we have clear differentiators, we are growth oriented, we are focused on being the best in our market-niche, and we are open-minded. So the proper mindset appears to be in place. I’m excited about where this might lead, so stay tuned for more on what will come from us as we build for the future. More on the book as well. Can't wait to read more!

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At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Eric Kenney said...


You should add "The Long Tail" by Chris Anderson to your reading list. While it's mostly focused on the distribution of niche products, I think there are several parallels you can make with recruiting, specifically online. The internet is the most incredible tool you can use to connect people - whether it's a buyer to a niche product or a recruiter to a candidate with a very unique skill. What most people forget is that the Internet is a baby, and that the coolest technology is yet to come!


At 8:32 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to check it out. Oh, and I think you're right about that 'Internet' thing ;-)

At 12:41 PM, Blogger BWM said...

Hey Ben -

I just read your post and was at the same talk by Bill Taylor in San Diego. I thoroughly enjoyed his keynote and it sounds like it made a significant impression on you as well.

I went up to Bill afterward and asked him his thoughts on innovation in the workplace as it relates to workplace flexibility including telecommuting, flextime, etc.

He immediately agreed that this is an area of potential innovation that is not being significantly tapped. He then paused and mentioned the impact that a wholescale shift could have on a company's standing with Wall Street.

I recently read's Sept 25 2006 article on Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) and wonder where it will all lead.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Ben Mullins
Recruiting Manager

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Welcome Ben, the more Ben's here, the better ;-)

In 'Mavericks' Bill talks alot about Open Source, and it's role in innovation. The example he used in SD was opening up the gold mine search to Geologists around the world. I was just reading last night about Innocentive (, an organization that is matching Corporate R&D with scientists around the world to help solve their critical problems. I found this in itself to be incredibly innovative, something that could and should have major implications for the future of our workforce and how innovation is addressed.

Bill's innovation Mavericks make the very important point that you are limiting your capabilities as an organization if you are limiting yourself to the talent you can attract and employ. The most innovative organizations out there today are reaching out to the world to help solve their problems. Absolutely facinating.


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