Putting Lipstick on a Pig and Calling It Innovation

Hundreds of leaders in the staffing and recruiting industry heard panelists and speakers talk about “innovative” ideas last week at the Executive Forum in San Diego.

In a number of instances, what was said was no different than putting lipstick on a pig and saying she’s a contender for Miss Universe. The reality is that many so called innovations are nothing more than old ideas regurgitated in a different way.

This observation is not a criticism of the event, which was outstanding, or the ideas that were shared, as many were prudent or even incredibly wise.

Leaders benefit from reminders of what works, which I refer to as sustainable practices, and methods that stand out for their ability to improve the way work is done, which are true best practices.

Labeling something as innovative, when it’s not, is careless, at best, and reckless when those hearing it blindly use it, thinking they’re about to reinvent the wheel.

Why does this happen? Innovation in staffing and recruiting isn’t easy, especially since everyone has access to the same product. The day we gain the ability to manufacture cyborg temps, contractors, and direct hire candidates will be the day when true ease of innovation begins.

So, do you just give up on innovation or just fake it by applying a bit more lipstick to the pig? Of course not. Innovation not only exists, it’s flourishing at companies that apply theInnovation Equation:

Good or Great 
PLUS Irresistible Value 
MINUS Labor and Complexity 
EQUALS Sustainable Innovation

True innovation entails starting with an aspect of your business that customers see as good or great, not what is sub-par or out of your wheelhouse. Next, you find a way to add value they find irresistible while also reducing your labor intensity and process complexity. Do that, and you’ve transformed what many people see as a business that’s hard or even impossible to innovate.

What’s this look like on the street? Recent examples include a client I advised to add value that prompted procurement in three different companies to enthusiastically choose to spend lots more money. Another was a service innovation a global client that guarantees customers they’ll want to hire the first person presented every single time (I call this the One and Done Promise and it’s been kept 79 out of 80 times in just the past few months).

Reminders of sound business practices are great and should be talked about often. But these should never be treated as innovation. Doing so risks complacency and lulls people into be satisfied with kissing the pig.

Views: 588

Comment by Rchilli Parser on March 26, 2014 at 2:18am

Thats a very thought provoking article and one must wonder; Are they paying for something new which adds value or its the same redundant piece in a new box. A key take-away for technology buyers. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on March 26, 2014 at 1:51pm

"Innovation" is merely one of many buzzwords marketers and sellers use for their wares...

Comment by Jerry Albright on March 27, 2014 at 10:59am

Care to show at least one example of actual innovation in our industry?

Comment by Amy McDonald on March 28, 2014 at 10:40am

I can't agree with your views more. As someone that has spent a great deal of time in search of the next great innovation to recruiting, I usually find that it is more of an "upgrade" to a core tenant than a true innovation. Maybe we add some technology, or a spin on the vocabulary, but it all circles back to the very basics that never seem to change. Won't keep me from trying to find something really new to add, but the challenge is a great one.Nice article. I enjoyed this, Mr. Wintrip.

Comment by Martin H.Snyder on April 1, 2014 at 3:44pm

Hey that's no way to talk about Bullhorn's new UI !


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