Hiring Vs Developing Smart Creatives


When we contrast the traditional knowledge worker with the engineers and other talented people who have surrounded us at Google over the past decade, we see that our Google peers represent a quite different type of employee. (…) They are a new kind of animals, a kind we call a “smart creative” and they are the key to achieving success in the internet century.

Making money while sleeping

In 1996 when I was contemplating joining Visa in San Francisco, my friend and colleague Allen Salmassi told me that it was a good company : “they are making money while sleeping”.

Probably one of the first company basing their whole strategy on a platform and an underestimated influence to the 21st century web giants if you ask me – the chaordic management approach by CEO Dee Ward Hock included.

Strategy 1 : Hiring the best because you can afford it

Google definitely makes money while sleeping : the company still generates more than 90% of their income thanks to AdWords, a product they built in the early stages of the company. This product allows them to have a unique strategic position acquired fifteen years ago.

In all fairness, I always have had some reserves regarding their HR strategy. Hiring only PhDs and people from the best universities because the company can afford it thanks to a unique position does not really sound like an actual strategy.

Strategy 2 : Making the best out of regular people

I see far more virtue in Toyota approach, explained by this awesome quote by Fujio Cho.

“We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant systems. Our competitors get average results from brilliant people working around broken systems.”

Hiring “the best” Vs making the best out of regular people : these are two opposite stategies indeed.

Developing smart creatives

My colleague Regis Medina made a stunning talk at the Lean IT Summit 2015. His point is : the actual aim of the digital transformation is to develop your employees into smart creatives.

Most companies struggle in saturated markets, they dont have the luxury of Google unique position making money while sleeping : they cannot afford the Google HR strategy.

They have to find another way. Regis makes a terrific job explaining how. I cannot recommend you enough to spend twenty minutes to watch this talk.

Characteristics of the smart creatives

Regardless of what one may think about this Google HR strategy, How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg shed a clear light on how to identify smart creatives. A smart creative has deep technical knowledge but she also is :

  • analytically smart : comfortable with data
  • business smart,
  • competitive smart,
  • user smart : « Serving our end-users is at the heart of what we do and remains our number one priority » (Larry Page and Serguei Brin)
  • a firehose of new ideas
  • curious creative : never satisfied with the status quo
  • risky creative : not afraid to fail
  • self-directed creative : she doesn’t wait to be told
  • open creative : she collaborates
  • communicative creative : funny and expresses herself with charisma

A great checklist to identify the type of employees most 21st century companies dream of.

What is your strategy to staff your company with smart creatives ?

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