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The Concept of "Good Enough" and Your Talent Strategy: Who's the Customer?

I love the smell of wavering in the morning.  You know the type of wavering I'm talking about - the type of hiring manager wavering that wonders aloud if the candidate is "too qualified" and "too upwardly mobile" to plug into a spot in question at your company.  The argument goes a little something like this: "Let's don't overshoot our needs with this position, because I don't want to be filling this job again in 11 months because we've promoted this gal on to the next position."

Good grief, Charlie Brown.  I'm usually a proponent of getting the maddest set of skills you can for anyFlip position, but before I go off on a rant, let's explore the point of the hiring manager in question.  Rather than focus on their perspective of the hiring manager, however, I'm going to explore the business case for not over-hiring.  I've never seen a better pitch (related to the topic, not a direct connection) for not over-hiring than this article at Wired, which explores the business concept of "good enough":

"The Flip's (Flip Mino, small pocket video camera, which is how we tape FOTv) success stunned the industry, but it shouldn't have. It's just the latest triumph of what might be called Good Enough tech. Cheap, fast, simple tools are suddenly everywhere. We get our breaking news from blogs, we make spotty long-distance calls on Skype, we watch video on small computer screens rather than TVs, and more and more of us are carrying around dinky, low-power netbook computers that are just good enough to meet our surfing and emailing needs. The low end has never been riding higher.

So what happened? Well, in short, technology happened. The world has sped up, become more connected and a whole lot busier. As a result, what consumers want from the products and services they buy is fundamentally changing. We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect. These changes run so deep and wide, they're actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as "high-quality."  And it's happening everywhere. As more sectors connect to the digital world, from medicine to the military, they too are seeing the rise of Good Enough tools like the Flip. Suddenly what seemed perfect is anything but, and products that appear mediocre at first glance are often the perfect fit.

To some, it looks like the crapification of everything. But it's really an improvement. And businesses need to get used to it, because the Good Enough revolution has only just begun."

If you haven't seen this article, you need to go read it now.  The idea of "good enough" should make you ponder the tools you use and the time you spend working on certain things.  And yes, the concept of "good enough" applies to people as well.  Do you really need the MBA on your support desk?  Shouldn't we rightfully be worried that they're going to run at the first job offer that better matches their five year plan of world domination with their MBA?

Of course you should worry about that.  It's enough to make you trade the MBA that you can afford for the safe bet on your support desk - the normal grad with a bachelors, or maybe the sharp kid from the community college, both of whom can do the job.

But to truly get your head around the concept of over-hiring, you have to first determine who the customer is in this situation.  Is it:

A. The hiring manager - you're trying to fill the position and he's your customer.  He wants good enough and nothing more.

B. The customers of your business - what type of service are they going to get from each candidate?

C. The company - who is reliant on the overall talent pool to innovate, get smarter and nimbly move people around to meet the needs of the business.

"Good enough" is the answer if you believe the customer is "A".  Don't over-hire and the hiring manager in question is happy and calm.  However, if you believe the customer is a combination of all three, including your company, the definition of good enough changes. RADICALLY.  Suddenly, good enough means that the candidate not only has the ability to do the job in question and keep customers happy, but he/she needs to be promotable at least one, if not two, rungs up the ladder once they get a bit of experience under their belt.

Which is why hiring managers need infuencers around them.  That's you, right?

It's also why in the realm of "good enough", your company doesn't need a Flip Ultra when it comes to talent in entry-level spots, it needs the Flip Mino HD.  Still convenient, but higher quality.


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