Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

If It Ain’t Broke….There’s Probably Still a Better Way
October 5, 2007, 3:31 am
Filed under: Thoughts

I recently read a post by Carmine Coyote and one particular quote grabbed me. It was regarding making changes:

“Change is more about letting go of old ideas than finding new ones. Most of the time, people are sufficiently happy with the way things are, so they see no need to change. Life may not be perfect, but it’s good enough; the effort and uncertainty change brings look too great to be worth it. That’s why the moments when you’re open to change are precious. Miss them and your life and growth goes back on indefinite hold. Seize them and you have moments of infinite preciousness, when your mind is open to new ideas and fresh perspectives.”

I have heard from several people whom I respect that you should never let a good life get in the way of a great life. I think you could also phrase it this way:
“Never let a good idea get in the way of a great idea.”

Sometimes, a good idea runs its course but no one bothers to update it because it’s worked well so far, so why bother to change? I saw a prime example of this while traveling over the past couple of weeks. On a plane back from Portland, a quick informational video was being shown reviewing some of the technology behind air traffic control. The video mentioned that pilots used to follow large bonfires from point to point to reach their final destinations, and that now instead of fires, they use radio beacons to follow point to point. These systems date back as far as the 1920s! (for those bad with math, that is about 80 years ago) Here is some information gathered from arguing the need to update these systems:

“Much like the paths that connected the 1920s lighted beacons, today’s airways are essentially fixed routes in the skies.”
“With modern satellite based navigation, airlines have the ability to fly the optimal route from one city to another. However, this is not always possible because the ATC system still is based on the old waypoints.”
‘Past solutions to congestion problems have included building more facilities, hiring more controllers and expanding existing ATC technologies, instead of developing modern alternatives. These patchwork solutions have been only marginally effective, at a huge cost. Today, we continue to rely on most of the same technologies and procedures that were developed decades ago, and consume two billion dollars annually in maintenance costs alone.”
“To achieve the FAA of tomorrow, fundamental change is essential – and continuing with stop-gap measures will not work. We must transform our air traffic control system from a 20th century analog, ground-based architecture, to a 21st-century digital, satellite-based suite of tools that can handle the demands of America’s economy – not just in volume but also in efficiency.”

In summary – it works, but it is highly inefficient. Things must be changed in order to keep up with demand.

Here are some additional examples:

1. How do you peel a banana?
I’ll venture to guess that the Americans reading this would say, “peel down from the stem”. And you say that because that is the way you see people eating a banana. But MOST of the rest of the world peels a banana from the OTHER end. Why? Because the easiest way to open a banana is actually from the other end where the little flat tip is. All you have to do is pinch the end of the banana, and it will naturally part. Then you just pull it back, and it takes all of the strings with it, and you don’t get the mushy-squishy thing going on if you struggle with the stem side. (thanks to my friend Jeff for sharing this story with me and credit to Terri Sjodin for the written info) I’ll bet that everyone who has a banana in their house just got up to go try this!

2. Why are some counties so small?
According to a Tennessee elementary school history book, “The counties in Tennessee were formed during the ‘horse and buggy’ days. They were made small enough to enable a farmer to go the county seat, transact business, and return home in time for the feeding and milking….Had automobiles and paved roads existed way back when counties were formed, they would have certainly been bigger than they are today.”
So why, then, don’t more counties consolidate and combine resources to cut costs for taxpayers??? We have more efficient means of transportation today and more industry that doesn’t require a person to be home in time for feeding and milking livestock…

3. Why do you cut the end off the turkey before putting it into the oven?
Mom was in the kitchen cooking the turkey, when her five year-old daughter went in to watch her. After carefully basting and preparing the turkey, she cut off the end, placed it in a pan, covered it and put it in the oven. The five year old looked puzzled. “Why do you cut off the end of the turkey, Mom?” she asked. “I don’t know, honey, but I learned that from your grandmother, so why don’t you go and ask her.”
The youngster found Grandma in another room and asked her in bewilderment, “Why do we cut off the end of the turkey before we cook it, Grandma?” “Why I’m not sure, honey,” she answered, “But I learned it from Great Grandma, why don’t you go and ask her.”
The little girl found Great Grandma rocking in front of the fire place. “Great Grandma, why do Mom and Grandma both cut off the end of the turkey before they put it in the oven to cook?” Great Grandma looked up from the fire and answered slowly, “Well I’m not sure why your Mom and Grandma cut off the end of the turkey, honey, but I cut off the end of the turkey because my oven was too small.” (credit: The Center of Influence Principle)

Moral: the old way of doing things is not necessarily the best way anymore.

Let’s now apply this mentality to corporate branding and recruiting. Think about how your company currently writes job postings and/or attracts talent, how you market yourself through a resume, how you find the right people for your open positions through research. Are you using methods that worked five years ago? Or are you making an effort to stay on the cutting edge of new media and emerging technology?

Matt Martone recently wrote some great stuff on getting with the times on recruitment strategy and making the move to attracting talent with a recruiting blog strategy, not just tracking it with an ATS. (Matt, I LOVE your stuff! Thanks!) Cheezhead just wrote a great piece on how one company incorporated video into its ads and the number of applicants went up five times. Lots of high-tech companies are also taking advantage of the competitive nature of some individuals by putting on recruiting contests or becoming sponsors for tournaments, such as the ongoing challenges presented through TopCoder. On the candidate side of things, according to Adam Darowski, the blog is the new resume. So consider this: if people are now blogging their resumes and looking for jobs in that manner, don’t you think it might be wise to use that very media to reach those individuals with YOUR job opportunity or YOUR company brand? In my opinion, that’s a no-brainer.

So just because the way you recruited or branded yourself worked years ago doesn’t mean that it is still the best method today. It may very well still work, but there are probably better, more efficient means to get your message out there. Evaluate your practices, look at what others are doing, and don’t get your head so stuck in the sand that you get left in the dust wondering where have all the good ones gone? They’ve probably been snapped up by your competition.


1 Comment so far
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I loved the analogies. Great post. I truly enjoyed it.

Comment by SourcingCorner

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