The Genesis Project Episode Twenty-Five

Grace had followed through on her promise to Shirley and Jim. She had given them names of some employees to interview. Jim and Shirley had wanted to capture the human perspective of the innovation transformation that Grace’s company had undergone. The first employee was Harry.

Jim and Shirley had asked for just a name and no other information on the employee. They wanted to develop an impression formed entirely through the employee’s words. They were surprised when they first met Harry whose birth name was Harriet.

“I’ve always wanted to be an engineer”, Harry explained. “The trouble was that my practical mechanical skills were not enough for me to make it through an engineering curriculum. I’m just not good at math and the theoretical stuff that is taught in engineering classes. I flunked out and got a job here as a production employee.”

“The job paid well, but I was bored and frustrated. Many of the designs given to us by the engineers were stupid or impossible. When the Why Team was launched, I started bombarding them with why questions. That’s when the engineers began to recognize my insight as to what was practical.”

“And how has that changed you?” asked Shirley.

“I feel like I can now use my brain, not just my hands. After that first why question led to a change in the design, other engineers would come to me for advice on the practical side of their designs.”

“I have to ask”, said Jim. “Do you feel like they are exploiting you?”

“Not at all. In fact, my job has now changed. You won’t believe this, but my job title is manufacturing engineer.”

“I bet that ruffled some feathers”, said Shirley.

“I think it did. I’ve been told that HR was strongly opposed to my job title since I don’t have an engineering degree. But it seems like we are changing. I guess what you can do is more important that a piece of paper that says what you should be able to do.”

“Well said”, responded Jim. “You may be interested in knowing that we are seeing that trend everywhere. Costly credentials don’t guarantee competence. As a neuroscientist, I know how pathways are formed in the brain. I would take a pathway formed by your experience any day over one that is formed by test taking abilities.”

After more questions Jim and Shirley concluded that their interview provided a wonderful story of how innovation is built from a belief in utilizing the minds of every employee no matter their credentials or job title.

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When focusing only on one’s credentials one boasts his own incompetence in his capacity for discernment of the individual.”  – Criss Jami (author, poet, philosopher, musician, entrepreneur)   

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