Agencies telling me that they are unique and innovative annoys me. Let me qualify that. Most agencies tell me about their innovation and uniqueness. However they fall to water when I ask how? I get the “Yeah, we’re unique. We do things differently” (and I’m thinking, “sure you’re unique… Just like everyone else.” ) And innovation? What an abused term. There are not a lot of agencies that I have seen that seriously show this. I ask every time. I’m yet to be wowed.
Seriously, “Innovation” is, according to Wikipedia “Innovation is the development of new customer value through solutions that meet new needs, unarticulated needs, or old customer and market needs in new ways.”
The Key word to me here is NEW. I’ve seen too many things popping up in the Recruitment sphere as “Innovative” which are seriously just re-hashes or pure rip off’s of things others have done before. You may not think we notice, but we do. Especially Recruitment and Social media junkies such as myself. Seek’s upcoming offering (which I will write about this week), whilst potentially disruptive, is just a rip off version of what LinkedIn is.
I really think it is however really tough for Agencies to be innovative. Why? I hear being shouted. It sounds silly, when I type it out loud, especially when you look at some of the Recruitment blogosphere pundits and how they talk about what they are trying. Here is my reasoning.
Innovation is not an agencies core business. Innovation may help them do their business, but it is not core business. Their core business is talking to clients, finding the candidates, placing the candidates and invoicing. Definitely invoicing. Innovation is all well and good, however if you are not invoicing, no one’s going to care. Innovation is a risk and in today’s market, risks are tough to justify. Because the very nature of a risk, is that it could work or it could fall flat on its face. People are a little too nervous for that at the moment.
I was part of a company that went down that path. I was really excited at where we started, the vision we held, the promise we saw, the people on board, the infrastructure in place. We spent a lot of time gazing into the future. It was a great idea and vision. Sadly, it seemed that only we saw it. We had to switch gears to survive as a business, and get back to the business of helping clients find talent.
So, if agencies, can be really innovative, I’d really love to see it. Prove me wrong.