Improvement often means letting go

I remember my first car.  It was over 10 years old when I bought it and had just about 200 000km on the clock.  Not much to look at – and admittedly not much to drive in either – but it was my first car and it served its purpose growing up in a small town.  It took me from A to B, sometimes with a lot of effort.  Sometimes it did not get me to B at all.

The many times it failed me I took it to our trusted mechanic, who was expected to perform miracles to my pride and joy.  I did not have much money to pay him, so he had to become very clever with his solutions.  Almost always he would surprise me with some imaginative fix that barely got my car going again but, hey, at least he got it going.

The problem is that even when the car was “fixed”, it did not perform as well as other cars.  The regular breakdowns also become rather expensive.  So after 2 years of loyal service, it became quite clear:  Keeping the car – my first car – did not make sense anymore.  It did not perform as well as required and it became clear that a new car would be a far cheaper alternative option.   Giving up that piece of scrap was not easy, I had got used to its idiosyncrasies, but getting a new car that performed better and would cost me less in the long run simply made more sense.

I spend a lot of time discussing the future of Recruitment & HR with Business Executives and sometimes these discussions make me think of that first car of mine.  Many HR Departments continue to patch up outdated recruitment methods with an ever-changing selection of solutions, whilst expecting improved results. In the same way that I counted on my mechanic to come up with ingenious solutions to fix my car, they come up with ingenious solutions to solve their recruitment problems.  Like me and my old car, they do not see that spending more and more money on redundant and costly recruitment options as a short term ‘fix’ will not yield competitive results in the long run.

Yes, it might be difficult to give up the familiar ways of recruitment – just like giving up your first car. But if emotion is put aside, we realize that doing something faster and cheaper often means using new tools.


*Although this article was written using examples in the Human Resources sector, it can be easily applied to any other sector.  In management, one cannot keep on improving while clinging to the old.  You have to let go before you can become better.  

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