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How to find the time and guts to innovate

Working for Cammio gets me in touch with many passionate HR-professionals every day. Whether it is on an event, on the phone, during a product demo, or at whichever occasion, I cannot help explaining the added value of video recruitment. This means that I must have informed hundreds of experts over the years and I can honestly say that nobody ever did not like the idea. This does not, however, mean that every organisation I’ve spoken to is currently using the platform. It is of course of the utmost importance to critically analyse the possible implementation of any tool that changes the status quo. Nevertheless, many organisations miss out on timesaving innovations, because of a lack of time. A paradox that is perfectly illustrated in the cartoon below.

too busy to innovate?
(Qframe, 2019)

Jeffrey Baumgartner recognises this contradiction and explains that the lack of time to innovate is initially caused by prioritisation. In this situation, employees allocate all the time they have to day to day routine work, which leaves them no room to look for opportunities to optimise this. You are probably familiar with this phenomenon as well. Think for example about the following situation: You have heard about a promising solution, say a video interviewing tool, but in order to implement this, you would need to compare different providers, evaluate this internally, win support from management and, finally, schedule time for a proper onboarding. Although this can be an interesting journey, you are too busy scanning CV’s, reading cover letters, scheduling interviews, trying to get a hold of candidates and so on. Chances are high you decide to focus on these repetitive tasks instead, I would too.

If you, yet, would only have the time to actually research, test and consider innovative solutions, you would eventually win so much more than the time invested to get there. Thomas Oppong, founding editor at AllTopStartups, underscores that this requires a structural change in (time) management, as he says: “Stop expecting quick wins, instead, start building structures and systems that will enable your business to succeed over the long term. Innovation is an important driver of progress, give it the right time it deserves.” An example he gives is setting aside a Friday afternoon or a full day on a regular basis to spend on innovative solutions. Managers should not at all be afraid that this freedom to periodically step away from routine tasks would lead to anarchy. Instead, freedom is a great motivator, Oppong (2016) explains.

So, is the lack of time the only barrier to adopt timesaving innovative solutions? Unfortunately not. There is one more hurdle to overcome: Fear. According to Holly Green, CEO and Managing Director of The Human Factor, many companies restrain from implementing innovative solutions, because they are over afraid. She explains that this is a shortcoming of the human brain, in which the tendency to hold on to the past does not fit in today’s hyper-paced business environment. Apart from this, our minds are programmed to avoid pain rather than to seek reward. This made total sense in the vulnerable caveman days, but again limits us to operate effectively in our current business environment.

Fortunately, Green developed a methodology to overcome the unjustified fear to innovate. It starts by identifying what it is that you are exactly afraid of. This, among others, includes seeing if this is supported by hard data, or whether it is based on assumptions. In the second step, you ask yourself a seriesof ‘what if?’ questions. ‘What if I first look at best practices at other organisations and follow their example?’, for instance. Next, in step three, you expose your ideas to others. Discuss both what attracts and what scares you, look for data to support both arguments and find out to what extent your colleagues or other professionals agree. Lastly, the trick is to consider which of your current problems would actually be solved by implementing the innovative tool, instead of focusing on the (unknown) novelty it brings as well.

Going back to the example of a video recruitment tool, you could say: We would reduce the number of mismatches, because we can get a completer image of the candidate, for instance. Of course, video interviewing (and its artificial intelligence) gives you much more. To overcome the fear, however, it helps to look at concrete problems you currently experience (mismatches) and how these would be solved. In this step, it can also help to look at individual components that the change brings, in order to see whether you have already benefitted from these. Have you, for example, already done Skype calls in the past for efficiency reasons? Or do you try to use structured interviews, in order to better compare candidates? Such familiarity effectively reduces the fear for the unknown.

So, if you want to stop wasting your time on repetitive tasks and benefit from solutions designed to make your job easier, allow yourself to see what’s out there. Block one afternoon in your agenda every month to spend on innovation. Found something promising? But is it a bit too high tech for you? Then follow the methodology described above and, who knows, your job might become a lot more meaningful and fun.

Has this article inspired you to look into video recruitment during your next innovation session? This buyer’s guide will lead your way:

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