Creative Thinking Time provides Competitive Advantage

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I had no less than three conversations last week with various people on the topic of carving out dedicated ‘thinking’ time to develop competitive advantage within your organisation.


My first conversation was with a client talking about the fact that she takes herself away for the day just to allow for a new perspective on things, identify what she needs to focus on and then spends some serious time looking at how and what she needs to deliver across the business.

The second conversation was with a friend that owns a coaching and talent insights business around the fact that not having that time to think means that her ability to create new ideas, solve problems and make things better that are already in existence, was a difficult place to be.

The third conversation was with one of my own General Managers, and was me expressing how thankful I am that I have a team around me and above me that not only allow me time to think, create and explore but it’s encouraged, supported and developed.

This opportunity means that I get to deep dive into my years of experience, take the best of what I’ve learnt and merge it with the future vision of sourcing, attraction and technology and create something new.   What is new is our ability to differentiate to deliver competitive advantage and to work in a fluid environment that ensures the reengineering continues to the benefit of our clients.

You don’t always need best practice when your strategy evolves beyond it.

“Carving out time to think strategically, create with purpose and explore what could be, will be the difference between doing something average and the opportunity to define something great.”

It’s interesting, that many organisation don’t see the value of this time or understand why they would consider allowing their staff the space to create.

We’ve heard that Google dedicates a day a week for their employees to brainstorm ideas, test out next theories and spend time building concepts, products and strategies which has benefited their organisation greatly both when it come to engagement as well as new product and therefore bottom line impact.   Ebay also do this, where they get their staff to head into different departments, listen to customer calls and work on new ideas that they think could improve the way the organisation works.

So today I want to apply what I’ll label ‘Think Tanking’, or the dedicated time to think, create and explore when it comes to sourcing and attraction.

There are 3 sourcing gurus that stand out to me – Glen Cathey, Johnny Campbell and Irina Shamaeva.  They look at sourcing from many different angels, from boolean and open web to social recruiting and search on the likes of Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to name a few.  The blog posts, vlogs and webinars that they run are exploratory.  It’s through ongoing search, trial and error that they come up with the right search strings, it’s through ongoing testing online when technologies change and algorithms morph, that they then share those changes with us.    This would, without a doubt take time, patience and a way of thinking that forces them to constantly be evolving their skills and how the tricks and tools that they share with us now work.     The ‘what if’ question is a big one.

What if it looked different?

What if the candidates I’m looking for are using these tools and platforms in a different way?

What if the way that I’m searching isn’t working and I need to try something else?

Having a clear understanding of what needs to be developed and what needs to evolve is key to ensuring targeted outcomes are achieved.  I’m not suggesting for a minute that random thinking time is provided with no end goal in mind.  When I’m taking time out, there is a very clear goal to improve something specific or look at how we can create something that will impact our clients in the right to assist with a targeted problem.  Like anything, sometimes you need limitations to allow your creativity to develop in a focus way.

What are your key sourcing challenges?

Where are you spending more money on recruitment that could be decreased if you could find X candidates?

What are your hard to find candidates looking for?

Building the right profiles and taking the time to do this can help with creating new and unique attraction strategies.  Remember, when you’re limited to focusing on your target audience then your ability to come up with the RIGHT targeted and creative message works so much better.

As an organisation, if you are not allowing your sourcing consultants time to think, create and evolve then your ability to stay ahead of the curve will deteriorate and potentially your competitive advantage through the decrease of procuring top talent as well.

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