Where Talent Acquisition, General Patraeus, Sourcing, and "The Surge" Intersect . . .

Talent Acquisition departments, particularly those that have a segmented Soucing function (parent-child relationship), may stand to benefit from the briefing of General Petraeus to Congress today regarding progress in Iraq, notably the "Surge". Why? Because an underlying issue that confounds Talent Acquisition is the same elephant in the room that all Statisticians (and literally at the very moment I write this post, Congress members on Capitol Hill) must consider: Correlation vs. Causation.

If you don't know what that means, and/or don't have time to click the link above to see what Wikidpedia has to say, here's the skinny in a nutshell: It's pretty easy to find 'positive correlations' between different things, but that doesn't mean one causes the other. For example, you could probably positively correlate the average temperatue in the Northern Hemisphere to how many times the Recruiting Animal screams on his show each Wednesday . . . but that doesn't mean one causes the other. Here's a better example: Hurricane Katrina was a catastrophic event due to its heavy winds and rain . . . but did the hurricane itself cause the levees to break, which led to the flooding? . . . better stated, did Hurricane Katrina cause what the Insurance Risk Mgmt Firm, RMS, listed as "The 2005 Great New Orleans Flood"? (Sidenote: If you have a couple minutes to burn, check out how RMS's press release calling the flooding "The 2005 Great New Orleans Flood" on 9/2/2005 was a pre-emptive strike against homeowners' who planned to battle the 'flood exclusion' provision in their homeowners insurance policy . . . )

Getting back on point, this is why I bring this up -- Much like how the media and politicians view the "Surge" as simply 'working or not working' in Iraq, Talent Acquisition functions are too quick to say that "Sourcing is working" or "Sourcing is not working". Instead of focusing on desired outcomes and asking the key question, "Why?", I all too often hear a blanket statement of broken-out Sourcing working or not working. For example, instead of simply saying that "Sourcing is not working", ask the tough question that so many business people so often forget: "Why?" Here's a hint that ties into LG & Associate's value proposition: If you're implementing Sourcing 1.0 (Sourcing as Name Generation), then you're bound to fail before you even start . . . but I'll leave that alone for the time being.

To the contrary, if "Sourcing is working", still ask "Why?" !!! Again, let me repeat that: If Sourcing is working, ask yourself "Why?", and then ask every member on your team to answer the same question. As we work to help clients implement our SSF (Strategic Sourcing Framework), I'll be the first to tell you: You just might be surprised. To take a page from an early mentor of mine and one of the best marketing minds in the game today, Sergio Zyman (involuntarily, I might add), business people often see something working and then attribute it to their own stroke of brilliance, "Yeah, I knew that would work", at which point they pop their collar and look in the nearest mirror to fix their eyebrows. But here's the real deal: Sometimes things work for unexpected reasons -- reasons that don't always meet the eye. Going back to square one, look beyond correlation and push to find causation.

Consider asking "Why?" . . . Ask your team members the same . . . Don't forget the concept of Correlation vs. Causation . . . And watch the performance of your Sourcing function soar! :)

Joshua Letourneau
Mg Director, SSF (Strategic Sourcing Framework) Implementation
LG & Associates Search / Talent Strategy
BLOG: http://www.lgexec.typepad.com/

Views: 48

Comment by Dave Mendoza on April 8, 2008 at 7:21pm
great post Josh
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on April 8, 2008 at 7:39pm
Thanks, Dave - appreciate that (truly). Good to connect with you - we've never met, but I hear a lot of great things :) And I'm the last to hear anything normally (because I just don't know that many people outside of clients), so that means you're doing some awesome things. Keep it up :)
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on April 10, 2008 at 9:58pm
I'm probably too dumb to know any answers :) but I'm sure we can find them together. What questions do you mean? :)

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