Creativity via a co-lab and sitting with a “messy” process

7 Jun

So today has been a great day. I was invited to a HR collaboration session based on design thinking, to talk about what is needed in the University of Melbourne recruitment process.

It was so much fun engaging with other people who actively want to talk about change. Everyone in the room was a volunteer who wanted to be there. The engagement levels were subsequently high and the appetite for trying different processes was good. A huge shoutout to Kerry Callenbach for initiating this process and pushing through initial concerns to get us to try something where we didn’t have complete understanding/control. I’m part of a leadership training group that Kerry is coordinating, and participants have been pushing and pushing for strategic level work projects to engage in with our training; so this was an opportunity Kerry created for the group.

How people responded to the design process was interesting. It was new for most, explained very much on the run, and (in the words of a Twitter conversation the other day) the process was a little “messy”. I liked that I am now able to sit with the messiness and try it out, felt freeing by the end, although unclear at the start. Other participants were less able to engage if the process was unknown to them, and started to disengage. Neither reaction is right/wrong but I felt pleased that some recent conversations/reading I have done has opened me up to coping with messiness more, and that I subsequently got more out of this session, than I would have if I had felt it was a known process where I was more on automatic pilot.

One of the topics that arose was how many people felt that selection criteria could be restrictive, and that open conversations and gut feel about people worked better in recruiting the applicants who would go on to best fit the work culture. I have a very strong reaction to people making “gut feel” choices and usually start ranting about bias and prejudices. Being open to messiness and multiple ways of approaching conversations allowed me to make some of my points in this session AND also to listen to why others believed so strongly in their view. I learnt that many see diversity in the workplace as different to cultural fit; that they agreed with my points about hiring a diverse workforce, they believed their focus on instinct helps find applicants with the same workplace values and alignment, and who are thus more likely to be able to contribute in the workforce on similar value lines. This led me to think this might even render prejudices against diversity less likely to arise from work based conflicts.

We did the first two steps of the Stanford 5 step process:


The best bit was hearing directly from customers. We had some very brave (still on probation) newly hired staff who came and talked through their recent recruitment experience. They were very candid and there were some horror stories in there, and also some more general frustrations. It reminded me that now I am not on a service desk i only infrequently hear the direct customer voice; also it reminded me of the difference in what someone will say to you in the customer interaction, as opposed to what they will say to you thinking back in an event, in a space where they feel free to say anything.

So a high energy day for me. Hope everyone else had a great day. 

Please put up some blogs about what engages you in your workplace, or in the comments here. 

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2 Responses to “Creativity via a co-lab and sitting with a “messy” process”

  1. graemeo28 June 8, 2017 at 6:21 am #

    Because my place of work performed so low on the QILT https://www.qilt.edu.au/ our emphasis is all about how to make the student experience better. Sort of like you though I am away from service desk and only interact with post graduate students and staff where as the student experience emphasis is undergraduate. Current flavour of the moment is “telling out story” and elevator pitches to emphasize what we do and how we make a difference in a brief and direct way to anyone who will listen be it an internal or external client/colleague/contact.

    • Ruth Baxter June 8, 2017 at 8:37 am #

      The new focus on telling business stories is interesting. I’ve seen stories proposed as more impactful than facts, and I understand the emotional connection, but wonder why we can’t combine both styles of selling so that evidence based decision making is supported.

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