I've been thinking a lot about value creation and creating a link with the customer. I think it's because I've been reading this really great book from the 1990's called Lean Thinking. It is a great book and applies to recruiting in ways that are highly relevant but not readily apparent. Now, I know there is a whole new iteration of TQM/Six Sigma/Lean/Whatever the Next New Thing of This Decade Is but applying these principles to an HR value stream has the potential for huge returns.
I can trace a large portion of my success as a recruiting leader of large corporate recruiting departments to Hedgehogs. Or, more specifically, to the idea of a Hedgehog Concept. My team at Starbucks I'm sure got tired of me talking about hedgehogs. I actually have bought little stuffed hedgehogs for everyone on any of my teams, for the last 5 years of my career, because I believe the idea is paramount to driving organizational success. So I guess I'm a Hedgehog Zealot.
The principle is simple, but it seems like so many organizations get it wrong. I think it's rooted in human nature to get it wrong and overthink things based on faulty assumptions. The idea of a Hedgehog Concept is to really understand, in foundational terms, how doing X drives the economic engine of the organization (or the customer). This is where a lot of HR departments go awry. For talent acquisition departments, it is really clear that we drive the economic engine of the company by delivering the best talent, for the lowest cost, in the shortest amount of time. It is really that simple.
But what inevitably happens is organizational inefficiency sets in (like a cancer) because people make decisions based on faulty assumptions, which creates huge waste in the talent supply chain. Pretty soon people have completely lost track of how they drive the economic engine of the company, and productivity is replaced by activity, much of which creates no economic value. Having a very clear Hedgehog Concept helps prevent this.
One key to driving organizational success is distilling the Hedgehog Concept down to the level of each member on the team, so that their efforts in turn map only to organizational value creation, and not to ancillary activities. In many ways, this is the differentiator between top talent and average talent: top talent can always see the hedgehog concept in any pursuit, and they are able to strip away the unnecessary activities and focus on the value creation. That's why they get more done than their counterparts to the left on the bell curve.
Spending time doing a deep dive to understand value creation for the customer is one of the most productive things you can do when defining strategic direction.