Recruitment as Paralysis

Image: Mark Easdown (thank you)

I sometimes think LinkedIn is a paradox. It has enormous generative potential but uses only a fraction of it. What could be cutting edge exploration of ideas becomes a matching service for employers and employees through advertising revenue. It feels a little like using a Ferrari to go to the corner shop. More show than function.

Risk is a function of progress. Whether that is an idea shared or a person recruited. The safe options have evidence, either as best practice or a resumé. They are easy to validate because they are grounded in the past. So we end up hiring history, not the future.

The future is a challenge, mainly because it hasn’t happened yet, and the critical variables make it impossible to forecast. Of course, we can forecast the emergent trends, but the “butterfly’s wing” variables, the ones that turn a weather front into a storm or a storm to a calm, appear at the last minute, unannounced and unheralded.

The header image is from Mark Easdown. He related to me a story, new in detail but familiar in context about a hire he made who just didn’t fit on all the evidence. Still, he took the risk with excellent results. We can all identify similar tales in our own lives. Sometimes that will be about people we’ve hired or seen hired, but I suspect more often about ourselves. The risks we haven’t taken, either with our own careers or the careers of others. Roads not taken.

The problem with risk, of course, is that sometimes it doesn’t work out. The bigger the risk, the greater the likelihood. We like to read about it and revel in the heroine’s success or the schadenfreude of the failure, but we want guarantees when it comes to ourselves. Too often, we settle for comfortable mediocrity and blame circumstance for not being that raging success.

Now is an exciting time, and a history of success in the conditions that existed yesterday is no guarantee of success as the old world melts (in some places, literally). We find ourselves in that liminoid space before tomorrow.

It’s an old adage, but I think true today. The risk of not taking a risk is the bigger risk.

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