The Innovation Engine

Three Types of People to Hire Today


“Culture starts with the right people, and culture eats strategy for breakfast.” —Often attributed to Peter Drucker

Last month we pointed to “Three Types of People to Fire Immediately.” The feedback has been fascinating. Many took great personal offense at the column, while others found it spot-on.

We wrote that article, and this one, for one simple reason: We want to highlight the types of mindsets that allow companies to consistently introduce new products and services successfully—and those that cause them to fail.

Please note that we do not work in the staffing or efficiency business; this is not a sequel to Office Space. Our interest is purely centered on working with teams that know how to support one another as they go about creating and launching industry-changing ideas. To achieve this kind of success, hire the following three types of people:

1. The Challenging Coach
“This is not your best work, and I believe you know it. I know you are better than this and I am going to help you get there.”

Many of us have had a great coach. If you have, you’ll remember times when you thought your tank was empty, that you’d delivered your all. But your coach saw even more potential in you, and made you believe in yourself, guiding you to a better outcome, maybe even to becoming a better person.

The challenging coach forces you to take the chances you may not take on your own. He can evoke the will to create in others. He sees possibility in you and helps you see it, too. Perhaps most important, he helps the team see the value in failing forward because he knows each small failure is an opportunity for learning. The challenging coach will help you find your best position but won’t let you fool yourself if you’re in the wrong one. Ironically, companies with leaders who know how to challenge and coach may have a higher turnover as teammates realize they have more potential elsewhere. The difference is that people leave smiling and energized instead of feeling jilted and diminished.

If you want a great coach, look for people who have had one. Ask business acquaintances and associates to share stories about their best coaches and what they learned from them. One last thing: You don’t have to occupy the top spot on your team in order to qualify as a challenging coach or to expect more out of the team … but you do have to speak up.

(A note to our most memorable coaches: Thanks for the push. Thanks for expecting more. We know that meant you care. We get it now.)

2. The Entrepreneur
“You know, with all these people occupying Wall Street, I bet you could sell a heck of a lot of hats, umbrellas, and hot dogs out here! Hey, who owns the language ‘Occupy Wall Street’? or ‘We are the 99%’? I am going to trademark it and sell T-shirts!”

The entrepreneurial mindset is naturally attracted to capitalism and loves solving challenges, the tougher the better. The entrepreneurial mindset leads to creation. It reveals opportunities where others see problems. Show us someone with an entrepreneurial mindset and we’ll show you a person who feels completely in control of his or her choices and the outcome.

Oprah Winfrey recalls how her grandmother told the young Oprah that she was going to have to learn how to do laundry and hang clothes. That was simply a woman’s fate. Oprah took that comment as a challenge to change her own history, to make life different from her grandma’s. Even as a child, Oprah chose to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset.

To find people with entrepreneurial mindsets, look for individuals who have consistently taken on new challenges and can speak with enthusiasm about what they learned. Some may have run their own businesses; others may have launched businesses or initiatives within existing businesses. Again, you’re looking for the ones who saw opportunity where others perceived a roadblock or threat.

3. Your Opposite
“There is harmony in the tension of opposites, as in the case of the bow and lyre.” —Heraclitus

Who is the yin to your yang? Who is the left brain to your right? In our experience, the most innovative companies and the most enlightened leaders have found a balance. If your company is full of divergent idea monkeys, you’ll have no shortage of big ideas, but you may never get anything done. On the other hand, if you surround yourself only with convergent, highly analytic thinkers, you’ll run out of ideas. Walt had Roy Disney and Paul Allen had Bill Gates. Who keeps you in balance?

You want these three kinds of people on your team—not the victims, non-believers, or know-it-alls. If the latter three won’t change their mindsets, they can take their anti-innovative outlooks elsewhere.

Maddock_viton_new
Maddock is chief executive, and Vitón is president, of Maddock Douglas, an innovation consultancy that specializes in inventing and launching new products, services, and businesses. Maddock and Viton are the authors of Free the Idea Monkey (ISB Publishing, 2012), and Maddock is the author of Brand New: Solving the Innovation Paradox—How Great Brands Invent and Launch New Products, Services, and Business Models (Wiley, 2011).

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