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There is a small Steve Jobs in any of us - How can people discover him?

The idea focuses on the creation of an enterprise that represents a point of contact between schools, businesses, and self-development programs, whose mission it is to help young people understand their own strengths, companies to understand their future workforces based on changing generations, and schools to take on active role in this exchange of knowledge to match the right job with the right person.

Photo of Tino Elgner

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Take a moment and reflect on all the great business leaders that you consider have left their marks one this world. This could be a Steve Jobs, this could be a Mark Zuckerberg this could be a Bill Moggridge or a Warren Buffet or a Peter Drucker. Now, why do you think these individuals were able to do what they accomplished?
My assumption is that these leaders found exactly what they loved and what they were good at. This match enabled them, with the right support, to focus on using their abilities to increase the value they were able to create exponentially, which consequently has led to new employment opportunities for others. The assumption does not imply that this particular degree of impact or value created is achievable by anybody. However, it does argue that when using people´s strengths correctly and giving them the right support, they can achieve great things in their personal realms of what is possible.

The idea itself includes notions that are part of both, the Rethink Learning and the Rethink Recruiting mission. However, before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s look at the following story to set the stage for “the problems” (if you dont have time, you can skip to " to sum up):

It is May 2013; after 10 months, Dave and Maria are about to graduate from their Master in Management program from a prestigious Business School. Both of them chose an accelerated program immediately after the completion of their Bachelor Degree because they thought that a strengthened academic background would help them to appear more attractive to all the high salary positions out there in the job market. Thus, after almost 6 years in college they finally feel ready for the working world; their hopes and dreams are as high as their student debt.

However, there is one problem! When sitting down and thinking about what companies and jobs they would like to work in and might be suitable for, both look at each other with blank stares. Of course they attended all the classes from their Career Management Center and even participated in private workshops with topics on “Future Leadership Styles,” “What Companies are REALLY looking for in a Candidate” and “How to write effective and attention-grabbing Cover Letters and Resumes,” but they are still unable to figure out why specifically their profiles would be attractive to the few local and international companies at which they are looking.

All the sudden Maria pauses and asks: “Dave, do you actually know how many different companies there are in the world in the field that you want to work in?” Dave looks at her, shrugs his shoulders, scratches his forehead and replies: “Nope; …but I feel like I should!” With a gesture of agreement Maria nods and adds: “And if I am honest, I don’t even know much about the ones that I do think I know of.” Both continue this spiel until they give up and decide to continue the next day, not knowing that their friend James just got fired from his first job on the grounds of being not a fit for the company culture, and 27 year old employee-of-the-month Suzanne just resigned because in the end her job was not what she expected it would be. If Maria and Dave would have only known; they might have had more food for thought regarding their discussion of what they truly learned during their 6 years of college…

Learning plays a significant role in developing both soft and hard skills in preparation for 21st century jobs - a statement whose true nature nobody can deny. However, even when skills are acquired through experiences or formal education, as it might have been the case with Maria and Dave, the jungle of job opportunities is still tough to understand based on the lack of knowledge that people have when looking at the companies for whose jobs they are applying. Though, this is only one side of the coin; the second one focuses on the assumption that people often don’t even know themselves – their strengths and weaknesses, what they like and what they don’t like - with regards to the value that they can create for a company, even though they might know a little bit about it; this appears to be reason for why some of the simplest interview questions are the some of the toughest ones:
  • Tell me about yourself!
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

Furthermore, a third problem arises on the horizon that might explain what happened to Suzanne and James in the story: generational differences (Generation X and Generation Y for example). Many companies these days appear to be facing problems in adapting their in the past established and “perfected” company structures to future workforces, based on the lack of knowledge regarding for example question such as:
  • What motivates different generations?
  • In what work environments are different generations able to create the most value?
  • What do we need to do to innovate our own company structures in connection with generational differences? 

A fact that plays well into this problem is that top-management is often synonymous for “a lot older” – a reason many times for the enlarged gap between one and other generations, and thus the different paradigms of thought. In the end, someone like Suzanne in the previous story might not have resigned from her job, if only her Management truly knew what actually motivated her and what she was all about from a human-centric perspective.

To sum up:
  1.  Problem: People don’t know much about companies despite their formal education! 
  2. Problem: People don’t know much about themselves in connection with the needs of companies despite their formal education…or about themselves in general! 
  3. Problem: Companies need to adapt their structures to adapt to generational differences in the workforce. 

Thus, if we define “learning” in the realms of “gathering knowledge,” there is a true knowledge gab between and among both parties in question, despite an existing system of educational institutions that took Dave and Maria about  18 years to complete, when taking High School into consideration. To close this knowledge gab effectively is the goal of the following idea, as it is believed that once this type of knowledge is achieved different types of recruitment processes are feasible based on a human centric approach.

The Idea

Although the following is not the best way of representing the framework of the general idea, I think it sums it up in an understandable way using a law governed approach:
Improved knowledge about oneself +
(Improved knowledge about companies + Improved knowledge about applicants) =
Improved chances to give the right job to the right people
--> Improved value creation by using people´s strengths correctly
--> Commitment through loving one´s job
--> Innovation by wanting to improve one´s job
-->Creation of new employment opportunities based on innovation

Tackling Problem 1
To improve the knowledge about oneself, “teaching” needs to achieve a new balance in which “facts” are not the main factors of one´s education, but also the degree of which an individual understands one´s own strengths and capabilities to be the most productive part of society one can be in one´s own way. Maria and Dave had the opportunity to go to school for about 18 years – arguably enough time, to have helped them to somewhat find themselves, only if somebody would have asked them earlier on already to “ Tell me about yourself and your strengths and your weaknesses.There are many private educational programs already in existence that concentrate on this issue, like some of the ideas of this challenge do. 

Tackling Problems 2 and 3
To improve the knowledge that young people have about companies and that companies have about the future workforce, businesses need to pursue a more active presents in the education. Classes or workshops spearheaded by company-specific HR professionals or management itself are needed that treat the company in question, as a subject that can be taught. In other words, like we teach how governments work, biological process occur and mathematical formulas can be solved, classes might need to be taught on how actual companies function, starting from company history, major problems, breakthroughs, company culture and current developments among others*. This way, one can make sure that young people truly understand what certain companies are about and what personal skills they can use to add value, as this type of interaction goes beyond doing their own research after they might have graduated from high school, college or graduate school. This can be applied to to multinational companies as well as local and national businesses. Similar practices are already in existence and many ideas that are part of this challenge are focused on it.
*Although the degree of transparency might be an obstacle, companies will gain a deeper understanding of how their future workforce thinks and acts through simple straight forward interaction with them. This knowledge will allow companies to better understand generational differences and thus, enable them to adapt their company structures accordingly in their own ways and through their own reasoning.
As a consequence, if one looks at Problems 1,2 & 3, one might think tha solutions are already in existence; and one is correct. However, the point is that although several initiatives are already solving these three problems, as single entities they have not been able to create a standard that is scalable and thus, a standard that can be applied on a national or even global scale.

Thus, what might be needed is an intermediary that helps businesses, self-development programs, and formal educational institutions implement these particular "ideas" in a uniform way through specializing its value proposition on exactly that, with the goal of getting the right job to the right people through mutually increased knowledge about themselves and each other. Implementing a "centrally managed" point of contact that connects the dots of helping people understand their true potentials and helping businesses learn about their future workforce by taking an active role in teaching them about their companies, might truly have an impact in terms of closing this particular knowledge gap with the goal to get the right job to the right person and let the Steve Jobs´in us do what they do best. 

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I would simply be very interested in discussing this idea to get to know other people´s opinions and share some knowledge.

The idea emerged from:

  • An individual

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • I'm more throwing the idea out there to inspire potential implementers


Join the conversation:

Photo of priyanka botny

Let's say, I belong to the Gen "Y" and I am passionate to pursue my goals but invariably I have to make a living by working for someone else and I get irritated when I get a -ve feedback irrespective of my work. What do you think about this? Is it attitude or a need?

Also I would appreciate your feedback :

Will this be a suitable match for Gen Ys to make relevant job matches depending on their routine tasks?

Photo of Tino Elgner

Hi Priyanka, thank you very much for your post; and what a beautiful name you have. I will have to think about your comment for a bit before I can get back to you if you don't mind to order my thoughts in regards to what I think is the difference between a need and an attitude. Ill try to respond asap. Thanks so much, T

Photo of Tino Elgner

Priyanka, I have thought a bit about your question, but could you give me a bit more info on how you define an "attitude" and a "need" because to me there are two different things which is why it makes it difficult for me to understand your question.

Photo of priyanka botny

Thank you. My name means "lovable numbers" in Sanskrit. I love math to some extent but love the number base rather than numbers itself.

Well, attitude can be both -ve and +ve what I mean here is that building a +ve attitude takes time as we are influenced by various factors and lack the know-how the do's and don'ts. That is "attitude" support in my dictionary.
Secondly, "need" is "pain-point" - say I badly need things, like a job to survive but I hate doing my job because I simply don't like it. But I like something else like blogging (for ex) and my job for survival is a computer-desk job and btw I am an Engineer.

Now, attitude is sometimes involuntary as I get it from the work situation and the need is something I must put my head down at my workplace to simply continue my work as it is for survival. That is the difference. Now, I do not know if Steve Jobs is the exact characteristic person I am looking for in myself, except for the fact that we share the same birthdays, every year. How can I manage work, need, attitude and still identify the characteristic in me.
Hope this clarifies. Shoot more questions if at all you need more.

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