Sunday, September 12, 2010

Business Week: "Stop Hiring Leaders from Your Industry"

In their Business Week piece, "Why Innovation Is Beginner's Luck", G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón write that companies emphasizing industry experience in their hiring practices do not, as a general rule, innovate well.

On a related note, I've written before that industry experience is a poor substitute for the ability to learn markets. And don't forget Buckingham and Coffman's observation that the best managers hire for talent, not for experience.

If you are hiring for innovation, the first bit of advice from Maddock and Vitón is:
"Stop hiring leaders from your industry. Ask recruiters to look for a specific problem-solving ability instead of industry experience. Find leaders who have created the results you want in a unique way. For example, if you are faced with disintermediation issues—and all service companies are—look for experts who have tackled disintermediation. It's likely better that they know nothing about sump pumps or whatever your business is, because it will enable them to solve your problem and challenge your paradigms. Beginner's luck."
For executives looking to hire product managers and designers, I think this advice is particularly important.

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