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Spark the Change: Unleashing People’s Talent

MMS Founder

Article originally posted on InfoQ. Visit InfoQ

Make curiosity our priority, fundamentally question how and when work should happen, enable fragmentation with technology to become a task-based society, maximize the possibility of authentic human connection in recruiting, ask questions to spark the change, and look for ways to integrate refugees into the workforce: These are some of the conclusions and suggestions to unleash people’s talent.

Spark the Change Paris 2018 was held in in Paris, France, on June 26. InfoQ is covering this event with articles, summaries and Q&As. This article summarizes the talks on unleashing people’s talent.

Nadia Laurinci, CEO at Laurinci Speakers, gave a talk about seeking the company of progressive people.

At the center of any change is a human being, Laurinci stated. She discussed the skills that can help us to spark change and foster innovation, where she referred to the HBR article The 5 Skills That Innovative Leaders Have in Common. One skill stands out, said Laurinci, and that is curiosity.

Curiosity is the desire to want to know more. To know about the world, how things work, out what is possible, about ourselves. It’s an engine of progress from the beginning of time, argued Laurinci.

We have to make curiosity our priority, said Laurinci, make time for curiosity and activate our curious brain. She said that Google made curiosity an essential part of their hiring process, as they look for persistence and curiosity in their candidates.

Curiosity is available to all of us, all it takes is a mindshift, argued Laurinci. She suggested to follow the spark of curiosity

Olivier Picard, manager, southern EMEA large enterprise sales at Slack, spoke about why change is inevitable and how people can work together.

People are spending a lot of time finding the right information, said Picard. Slack helps by putting apps and platforms together so that you can find information quickly and easily.

The “now generation” wants to work as a team. The traditional methods are simply not working, argued Picard. We have to fundamentally question about how and when work should happen, he said.

Kary Bheemaiah, head of research at U change, explored how technology drives fragmentation and discussed the impact it has on the future of work.

Technology starts off as being something very specialized, for a specific purpose or issue, said Bheemaiah. Next it gets diversified, addressing problems that it was not originally designed for. When it’s used in more diverse situations or different kinds of problems it becomes ubiquitous, something that can be used more generally. Next it enters socialization; something that we use in our communication and transfer of information. The final stage is complexity.

Earlier InfoQ interviewed Bheemaiah about how technology is impacting the future of work through fragmentation:

What we are seeing is that the fragmentation effect of technology is creating fragmented business models which can be leveraged by individuals. The Collectivist Ethic of the 19th century is being replaced by a form of Rugged Individualism as we can now use the tools that we have created via tech fragmentation to create value independently or in combination with a small group of people.

It also means that we have to update our entire comprehension of what it is to do a “job”. It is my belief that as we get more fragmentation, we will become a task-based society and not a job-based one.

Artificial intelligence is reducing the cost of prediction. As they become cheaper, predictions will get us closer to the value, argued Bheemaiah.

Charles Chantala, director of enterprise and agency sales at Indeed, spoke about the human side of hiring.

Chantala provided four ideas for a more human candidate experience:

1: If we build real community in our companies

2: If we respond to candidates as if they are our most important customer

3: If we let recruiters be advocates for talent

4: If we maximize the chance of authentic human connection in our recruiting process

Our eyes are meant to gather information but also to connect with people, said Chantala. Eye contact drives powerful chemical reactions. The strongest workplaces are marked by human connection. The number one reason to stay in the job is colleague relationships, argued Chantala.

Chantala stated how he manages the people that he works with: “I’m not here to set rules and guidelines for people, I am here to set goals and leave it up to the people to choose how to achieve them.”

We have to design recruiting processes that maximize the possibility of authentic human connection and put greater weight on character attributes and try out the human fit when determining who to hire, suggested Chantala. He gave examples how this can be done: invite candidates to internal hackathons or ship it days, ask them to join a team event or meeting, or show people around the office and watch what happens.

Recruiters should be advocates for talent, argued Chantala. They should explain everything about the job to candidates, the details, evaluation criteria, what to expect and what not, before the interview, to make sure that candidates are well prepared.

Alon Rozen, dean and professor of innovation & management at École des Ponts Business School, gave a talk titled “What? is the Meaning of Life”.

He started his talk by discussing questions. Questions help us in the liking process and in the learning process, Rozen said.They are behind all the progress that we made in history, he argued. But most adults have an answer mindset, not a question mindset. “How did we as adult loose the ability to ask the questions?”, he asked the audience.

There are many kinds of questions. There are questions in disguise, like, “are you really going to wear this?” or rhetorical questions which are used to make a point. Such questions are not intended to get an answer.

Rozen discussed how to make questions shorter. He started with, “what do you think?”. A shorter version is, “what if?”, even shorter is, “what?”. Going back to “what is the meaning of life?”, Rozen argued that it is seeking the answers; something which you can do by questioning “what?”.

We should inspire future leaders to ask the questions that inspire change, said Rozen. He ended his talk by asking, “what questions will you start asking to spark the change?”

Marianne Syed, executive director of Positive Planet, a charity that helps people empower themselves through entrepreneurship projects around the world, gave the final talk at Spark the Change Paris. She spoke about integrating refugees into the workforce.

Germany has taken on the vast majority of immigrants and refugees, Syed said. For the first time in 10 years the economic growth of Germany increased, thanks to refugees, argued Syed.

Refugees can train and help other refugees, Syed said. She started The Odyssey project which aims to promote refugees empowering themselves, using storytelling as a powerful antidote to xenophobia. The project shares stories about the contributions that refugees bring to our societies.

Syed closed her talk by asking the audience what they will do to make their company more inclusive.

Two earlier articles on InfoQ from Spark the Change Paris summarized talks on sparkling disruptions and building tomorrow’s company.

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