Culture of Experts
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Corporate Culture program
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When Thomas Edison was asked about the 1,000 failures that preceded the invention of the light bulb,
he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Failure: Part of the process
Within the interview process, it is a common practice for interviewers to ask candidates about the failures that they had experienced within their careers. Candidates are asked to cite a specific failure. The conversations that follow will try to determine who the candidate blames for the failure and what actions they took to to overcome the obstacles they encountered. If the candidate is quick to blame outside forces for the failure, it raises concern over their ability to take responsibility for their work. If the candidate did not take appropriate action to overcome the obstacles, their problem solving skills come into question.
When interviewing Unconventional Experts, this questioning strategy might be flawed. Unconventional Experts look at failure differently. They are intimate with failure, as it is a part of their individual work-process. They may not even label their most ambitious failures as failures, but steps within the process. Talking about failure from a 20,000 foot view will not inspire answers that reflect their true potential.
Within a Culture of Experts, interview questions pertaining to failure should be asked at a much more granular level, within the context of the Unconventional Expert work-process. Interview questions for Unconventional Experts are summarized in module #12.
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