Restoring american competitiveness, and the hunt for vital talent
A wonderful article in Harvard Business Review on ‘Restoring American Competitiveness,’ heard yesterday in their podcast. I almost drove off the road as I read this, as it speaks to the state of american companies in heavy manufacturing and exports, and the talent these firms need to stay competitive with firms abroad (China/Germany).
The author, Gary Pisano, depicts the state of affairs for these firms:
Companies offshore manufacturing to another country
Research and development radically decouples from manufacturing, thereby dulling the synergistic relationship between ideas, prototype, and production
Production management positions vanish
Students in universities halt plans to study production engineering, manufacturing management and other technical industrial disciplines
Firms starve for talent in boom times, lacking a pipeline of proven talent in schools
Does this sound familiar?
Pisano described the conundrum facing major employer Rolls Royce, in their sophisticated jet engine and mechanics divisions. This firm has been profiled in this blog before, for their effort in spreading the word about their opportunities to college students, to encourage as much excellent talent to meet their expanding base of operations.
Here’s what I find interesting: the strategy that companies use to grow and remain competitive are usually hidden behind the corporate veil; but investors, as well as attendees at the various career fairs, ultimately learn what makes these companies tick. It’s always at a career event or a campus visit that big firms get to inspire young people with the vision of what it is to work at marquee firms.
But what Pisano is saying, is that therein lies the problem: distributing word that a firm is growing, and has great opportunities for young people, is continuously challenging. Communicating the value of the work at any company is difficult for everyone apart from the few well-known brand name players. For everyone else, students do not possess a rich impression of their corporate culture. Companies need to work hard to do this…
How we get from here to there
For companies, we believe that it should be easy, and somewhat instantaneous to communicate the value of their experience to students. Young people live in a digital environment, and live online for hours at a time in their college years (and beyond). What we see is the need for companies to reach the young players, while they are impressionable and seeking opportunities and relationships — on their terms. The fact is, students need an easy, intuitive way to reach the companies, as well.
For companies to remain competitive, they must spend wisely on their recruiting efforts, and come away from the time spent with graduates who will power an expanding corporate effort. This is high-stakes ball they must play, with long-lasting effects on their trajectory.
If the problem of improving the state of information between firms and students — creating better asymmetry, if you will — then this problem can be addressed through the use of existing social media. But we hope that users will find our solution particularly well-tuned to this exact purpose. We believe that our process will enable companies to develop a deep pool of talent that will ultimately result in a better working culture, where the people who are the best prepared for their specific interests, are available on the most intimate terms to come aboard.