The Uncanny Valley: Race & Meritocracy in Tech
Will Gossin
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Action Oriented Workflows, meritocracy built bottom up.

A recent article by Will Gossin had this very prescient quote:

In the knowledge-economy, reliable performance evaluations became insanely difficult. Among tech companies, Google’s People Ops team has been working very hard on this. And I know there will be HR consultants who say they can do it. But I challenge them to show how much variance in performance they can explain. More specifically: How certain are they that any of the hundreds of candidates who were passed over could not have outperformed the candidate they did hire? Imagine the kind of data we would need to claim that. Right now, it’s impossible. And without it, a true meritocracy will elude us.
So if organizations can’t use objective evaluation, how do they make hiring decisions? I believe that all job applications and interviews can best be described as an act of storytelling.

I think that focusing the question of diversity and objective evaluations of employee or worker capability on storytelling is a key insight. In my work of the last dozen years discovering and building the Action Oriented Workflow (AOW) paradigm and of the last couple of years identifying a key vertical industry to redesign using the paradigm in the form of a change to recruiting. Storytelling or rather identifying the story that a given employer is looking for has been the key.

Currently, organizations employ teams of usually over taxed HR workers to engage a candidate soup of people who present their availability for employment in several ways. The standard fair find out of a companies job availability from job posting boards and cold calls from direct hire recruiters, more crafty job seekers go directly to company pages and take time to upload their resumes and fire off opening letters and others find ways to identify key people in the organization and directly contact them. All these approaches are means of getting through the barrier of communication that blocks a candidate from a potential hiring manager before even the relaying of a story of interest can be described.

It is in this latter task though that the challenge multiplies. Hiring managers are usually too busy to evaluate deeply the true ability of a given candidate, they are also prone to use subjective evaluations to rule out or in people based on apparent personality schisms that may exist between them but that may not exist should the employee be hired and set as part of a team of fellow employees. This is where the problem with most hiring lies I posit.

Currently I am building a startup called WorkNetz that leverages the previously mentioned AOW technology to solve this problem by uniquely capturing the technical and cultural fit requirements of the organization by sampling the storytelling patterns of not just the hiring manager but of all the employees of a company. This would then be used as a template to enable efficient query of any candidate without the time consuming and often sequential process of existing HR hiring processes. I call this new direct form of hiring crowd vetting.

Moreover it enables an automated refinement of the evaluation criteria for any given candidate that is distilled from a holistic analysis of as many of the organizations candidates as possible. The statement by Will :

Imagine the kind of data we would need to claim that. Right now, it’s impossible. And without it, a true meritocracy will elude us.

:is answered by this technique. The gathering of the detailed information of a companies culture as assessed by its employees directly enables vetting of candidates and eliminates the waste and efficiency of traditional processes…more over the storytelling is implicit in the filtering process that candidates engage when they vet themselves into an organization rather than be shoe horned into an organization via the careful shaping that would otherwise be done either by third party recruiters purportedly working on their behalf or if they are lucky to get an audience with a hiring manager or key player, their own gumption.

The proper sampling of a companies DNA in this way allows a much more accurate assessment of fitness between candidates and the organization while reducing dramatically the work load of hiring departments *even as the company scales*, in fact with such a system…scaling is good for more efficient hiring as more of the company wide culture is sampled into the evaluation process.

Further, having access to the vetting data allows a new way of stream lining the physical interviews that eventually result once the crowd vetting process is complete. The particular individuals involved in providing cultural and technical test criteria can be called into the process based on determination of their availability via other means. As well the team or departmental levels can provide constraints on the individuals roped into the interview process. Not only would the system first signal to the outside world the need for a candidate by advertising new roles but it will also critically sub sample the pool of employees on the vetting side of the equation who would be more likely to properly evaluate the need of a given candidate once initial vetting criteria have been achieved, thus turning face to face interviews into little more than sanity checking exercises followed by the deliver of an offer.

On the organizations side, The novel AOW algorithm enables this process of cultural and technical DNA sampling to engage in a distributed and collaborative fashion that distributes the work load otherwise required on the part of HR alone while also providing incentives for participation to those employees who participate. The birth of a better meritocracy during the hiring process, one that his shaped to the fitness needs of the organization necessarily naturally emerges from this process on both sides of the transaction. The candidates vetting themselves into the organization are maximally randomized across gender, ethnicity, national origin and fitness in technical and cultural needs and the existing employees engaging in the crowd question process are also sorted based on their engagement of the process achieving a hiring nirvana not yet seen.

The recruiting service is still under construction but an idea of the much bigger problem that the Action Oriented Paradigm was invented to solve of :

Holistically, Surfacing, Metering,
Routing and Committing all your
business actions.

can be understood by viewing this online presentation.

The focus on recruiting is only the low hanging fruit on the tree of possibility that WorkNetz is set to harvest. The addition of autonomous work routing capabilities allows a new type of business process discovery, sampling and refinement to happen with minimal human input in the construction of the workflows. WorkNetz will thus serve as a critical stop gap to the haphazard application of automation to the needs of industry absent an embrace of the potential of the rising sea of knowledge workers looking to efficiently dispense their skills and maximize their inherent value. Meritocracy metered and delivered being the end goal for all vertical industries, Uber for everything.

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