Recruiting and training programs, to be truly successful, must have a clear purpose with well-defined objectives. This is very difficult to do. In the book Change to Strange, author Daniel M. Cable writes about just how difficult it can be to define your organization’s true priorities, the ones that you will be fanatical about in the execution of the organization’s business, and then building your workforce architecture around that “strange” picture.
For an example of the lessons taught in Change to Strange, have a look at this speech by Randy Nelson, dean of Pixar University, the company’s recruiting and training arm. Mr. Nelson is inspiring, to say the least. From his presentation, it’s clear to me that Pixar “gets it.” As in, really gets it. I am very impressed.
The video is about 10 minutes long (worth every second of your time). As Fast Company describes the HR theory Nelson advocates:
Mostly, it’s about hiring ultra-nerds with good communication skills. To wit: You want people who have become exceptional at a tiny discipline, no matter how obscure or dorky, since it’s that compulsion to truly master something that predicts how they’ll handle a new task. (Wannabe Pixar employees: Don’t bury your unicycle or juggling skills on your resume.) Another idea is looking for people who have failed and overcome—as Nelson puts it, “The core skill of innovators is error recovery not failure avoidance,” which is key if you’re asking someone to solve a never-before-solved problem. But perhaps the squishiest trait is the ability to make others around you better, through communication and camaraderie.
This, I believe, is the HR Gold Standard in action.