Innovation and OPM…
September 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm #111469
Back in 2003 I was introduced to a small company based in Arlington (Roslyn), VA who developed a solution they wanted us to integrate into QuickHire as a value added feature and competitive “game changer”. The company was a group of PhD mathematicians whose primary business was to develop products for DARPA (http://www.darpa.mil).
DARPA is an R&D organization within DoD that provides funding via Grants to private enterprise to come up with really cool stuff for our nation’s defense. This particular company specialized in Missile Defense using Bayesian Networks (named after Thomas Bayes – 18th century cleric). Bayesian networks have been around for a while and essentially take in variables to calculate probability.
Fast forward over 200 years and this group in Roslyn is knee deep predicting where a missile is going to be based on where it’s been. All by using Bayesian Networks in real time.
However, at some point, the company’s management started to see where their technologies could be used in the field of recruiting and staffing. Using Bayesian Networks they put their sites on predicting the quality of candidate resumes by matching them with the content on position descriptions. Keying off information of where the person had been (schools, companies), past roles, hobbies, interests and references were taken into account. It wasn’t an exact science (resumes are terribly flawed), but the goal was to create a high probability of candidate success.
How cool would that be? Drop in a PD and run it against tens of thousands of resumes and presto you have a short list of highly qualified candidates ready for next steps. Or compare multiple PDs against millions of resumes. Of course that was 2003 and those sorts of tools and technology are commonplace today, right?
There were a few other applications envisioned like hooking the Bayesian Network into the QuickHire Question Engine and predicting applicant quality based on a combination of their answers, resumes and narrative responses, yada, yada, yada. The point being that here was a group initially focused on missile defense technology that saw potential in innovating how government agencies recruit and staff better talent.
We never integrated their technology as there was no real business case for it. QuickHire is a self assessment tool based on a series of antiquated federal requirements and regulations. QuickHire was (still is) forced to play to the level of its competition (USA Staffing) and hasn’t innovated a whole lot since being acquired by Monster. In retrospect, this was a missed opportunity.
Government agencies have some of the largest workforces in the world and hence some of the biggest HR (or HC) challenges to be found. But what they don’t have are the new innovations, visions, ideas, etc to help them do their jobs better, faster, smarter.
Instead of competing with the private sector, OPM should create a Center for HR Innovation. An initiative (like DARPA) where they provide Grant funding to private enterprise for researching and developing cool HR stuff (yes HR can be cool too) with the goal of solving the HR challenges of our government and potentially the world.
When you think of all the things we use today like the Internet, GPS, Microwave ovens, etc. I bet most of them got their start from some research grant in DoD.
Just off the top of my head and I can name a dozen or so ways in which to innovate LinkedIn, Google and a few other popular technologies to tackle federal recruiting, staffing, succession planning issues, etc. But that’s because I know of these technologies even though I use them for other purposes.
Imagine unlocking the potential of dozens of companies and hundreds of brilliant minds to solve the problems our government faces in recruiting and staffing and the rest of HR.
Now that’s worth investing in!
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