More on recruitment and talent management

GeeknRollaFollowing up on my earlier post on good things to look for in people when you are hiring – Recruit the internet-savvy – I picked up on some useful notes whilst at TechCrunch‘s GeeknRolla on recruiting into startups, which I think are useful for pretty much any organisation. I also think it’s interesting to think how public services can learn from the culture of startup businesses, including around recruitment.

The talk was by Pete Smith from Songkick, which is a service that lets you track all sorts of information about your favourite live music acts, such as upcoming concerts, videos and recordings.

Here’s the notes:

  • Hiring is a top challenge for a startup and getting it wrong can serious affect momentum
  • Always be hiring
  • Better not to hire though, rather than to compromise on talent and drive
  • Very inefficient to hire from outside your network – plan for this
  • Grow your network as it’s the best way to hire good people
  • Have a hiring roadmap, build it into other choices: buildings, perks, and the tech you use
  • Risk taking in hiring comes later in a startup’s life, not early on
  • Vet applications ruthlessly before even meeting people
  • Spend as much time growing your network as you do looking at ‘non-network’ candidates
  • Hiring devs – use coding exercises then phone interview, then tech interview, then a ‘pairing session’ (not sure what that is)
  • Everyone you hire initially is vital to establishing the culture of your startup
  • How to recover from hiring errors: make sure you leave things on a good note. Don’t let people leave under a cloud. Make decision quickly but manage the exit – don’t let it drag on. Better to leave work undone than allow the wrong people to keep going.

These thoughts chime in with some activity coming out of the IDeA with regard to talent management, recruit and workforce planning. In the current financial climate, there is a lot of talk of cuts and redundancies which has the potential to be incredibly damaging.

So, the IDeA have launched an online resource, on ‘organisational redesign‘ with some useful case studies and guidance. A thriving community of practice also exists too (with various layers of sign-up required).

I honestly believe that local authorities could make massive improvements to their efficiency and levels of service if they recruited better, and made better use of the talent they already have. I consider myself to be a great example of the failings of local government workforce management. Some of the things that are important, I think, are:

  • To get people to do a good job, they need a good job to do
  • Innovators and the enthusiastic should not be treated as troublemakers or weirdos, but be treasured and made to feel special
  • Staff should be trusted. If you genuinely can’t trust all of them, give the good ones leeway
  • Give people the tools they need to be able to do their job well
  • Value things like curiosity, generosity, cooperation and openness
  • Allow the good people in your organisation to find each other
  • Have proper systems and processes in place for inventive people to be able to suggest and progress good ideas

The IDeA are also organising an event in Birmingham on 19th May, called ‘Designing a fit for the future organisation‘. I’m going, because it sounds pretty interesting. Hope to see others there.

Mobile opportunities

GeeknRollaI had an enjoyable day yesterday at TechCrunch Europe‘s GeeknRolla event – a conference for techy startups. There was lots of discussion about what the next big thing might be (no-one really knows) and how to get funding from venture capitalists (it’s really hard).

One of the most interesting and useful sessions from my perspective was the one on mobile platforms, by Ewan McLeod of Mobile Industry Review.

Ewan really put into perspective the mobile landscape in terms of who is using what – with an emphasis on the fact that the iPhone isn’t the only platform developers should be concentrating on. Nokia, and their Symbian operating system, dominates. The problem is that it’s harder and more expensive to develop for, and doesn’t offer the great user experience that the iPhone offers.

For public services, where accessing as many people as possible is the major issue, platforms other than the fashionable ones need to be seriously considered when developing native mobile applications.

I took some rough notes during the talk, which I have reproduced below with some minor edits for spelling and tidiness. A much better written summary of the session is on TechCrunch itself, and I have embedded the slides too, which are full of goodness.

My notes

  • 4.6 billion mobile subscribers on earth (1.6 billion tvs for instance)
  • Nokia 36%, Samsung 19% of total sales
  • Smartphone OSs: Symbian 47%, RIM 20%, iPhone 14%, Windows 9%, Android 4% (last year)
  • UK – 19 million handsets sold last year
  • Only iphone and android seems to have most developer interest. Symbian etc less elegant but popular with consumers!
  • Is developing on iphone the new “buying IBM”?
  • Do a deal with a handset manufacturer – great way to get succeed. Alternatively the mobile operators.
  • Get a trad. media conglomerate onboard
  • Build on an existing brand – whatever it is, as long as it appeals to consumers
  • Advertise on admob and getjar – v popular tho there are others
  • A mention in the Times is good for 10k downloads or more
  • QT new nokia development platform
  • iPhone devleopment is easier than android.
  • Clients only ask for iphone and brands want consumers to have a great experience
  • Other platforms are more difficult and possibly expensive to develop for. User experience can be mixed. But the numbers! The numbers!