Swarm Vision Innovation Talent Blog

How to hire for the innovation age

Posted by Suzan Briganti on Jun 14, 2018 4:17:26 PM
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Large companies are being disrupted by the pace of change. Innovation has become an imperative for their survival. But most large companies were designed to deliver steady, incremental returns. How can organizations like your company transform themselves to deliver high growth and longevity through innovation?

A new report on The State of Innovation found that 83% of large companies feel they are at risk of disruption. Not surprisingly, 78% of their portfolios are invested in incremental changes. No wonder that since the year 2000, over 50% of the Fortune 500 has fallen off the Fortune list!

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Hiring in the Innovation Age

We are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The pace of change will not be linear. It will be exponential. We call this “the Innovation Age.”

But the way companies hire workers has not really changed that much since the First Industrial Revolution. Back in the early days of mass production, companies sought workers who followed establish procedures, could tolerate a lot of repetition, strict oversight of their work, and were respectful of authority. Made sense at the time.

But today, companies need to hire for very different skills. Today companies need workers who can thrive in uncertainty, learn continuously, have a growth mindset, grit, the ability to synthesize from disparate sources, and constantly create the new.

"46% of new hires fail in the first 18 months, and 89% of the failure is due to intrinsics, not functional skills."  - HR.com 

Companies Need to Hire for Very Different Skills Today

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We find that companies know how to hire for defined functional skills, like manufacturing, accounting or compliance. But when it comes to identifying traits needed to thrive in the Innovation Age, companies really don’t know how to do that.

Consider this: Until the year 1900, human knowledge used to double every century. The “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours. With knowledge changing this fast, we can’t just hire workers for their subject matter knowledge. We need workers who can create, share and leverage new knowledge at high speed. In the future, teams will not be measured by their production efficiency, but by their innovation output.

"In the future, teams will not be measured by their production
efficiency, but by their innovation output."

In this innovation age, where a totally different kind of skill set is needed, Swarm asked a pretty interesting research question: “Can we predict the business outcomes from innovation based on who is involved?” After several years of intensive international research, we answered the question, with a resounding “Yes!”

It turns out that eight skill clusters are highly correlated with business results from innovation. Results such as profitability, hyper-growth, international or global expansion, top-quadrant analyst ratings, loyal, repeat customers, acquisition and IPO. Here are the eight innovation skill clusters and their 26 components:

The Eight Innovation Skills that Drive Growth

8 Skills

Individuals with high Swarm scores achieve 3 times the business results as those with low scores. We see the same kind of results from teams, and entire companies. The simplest way to transform your workforce to thrive in the future is to fill open positions with more innovators. Swarm lets you do this, easily and scalably.

As always, please let me know what you think!

Topics: talent acquisition, recruitment, transformation, innovation research, innovation talent, innovation teams, Innovation