DESIGNER CASTING AGENCY: we are looking for design talents!

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Group 9: Simon van der Jagt, Yuri Knopper, Stephanie Woudstra

 

What Need Do We Fulfill?
The problem we are solving is that it is really difficult to hire the designer that is perfect for your firm. We identify three current possibilities for hiring designers. First, the traditional unemployment agencies can be used for finding and hiring designers. The problem here is that the people who do the actual match making at the unemployment agencies have a background in human resource management, not in design. Design is often seen as a singular skill, when in practise, a service designer has a different skill set than a product designer. These are key nuances that are important in the match making process.

Secondly, an employer might cut out the middle men and place a job advert himself. However, now the firm faces the same problem as the unemployment agency has. They have no background in design and find it hard to differentiate the different types of designers. Everyone has a good looking portfolio after all.

Third, there are fast moving firms who are using new platforms such as Odesk.com and 99designs.com. These platforms offer a wide range of design capabilities, however the employer is left alone to do the picking. How can a human resource manager know which designer is good and which one is not? Perhaps more importantly, how do they know there is a personal fit between that designer and their firm? Are they team players, are they leaders etcetera. Even the newer platforms leave gigantic gaps in the designer hiring process.

Finally, there is the stereotype that designers face. If you are a professional football player this does not say that much about your skill set, a goalkeeper for example has a very different skill set than that of a striker. This metaphor shows a problem in the design community as well. Design is not singular, it is a term that encompasses a broad set of skills. The understanding of this is vital to hire the right people for the right company.

 

Value Proposition
Due to our intuition(Calabretta,2013) and analytical capabilities, we as strategic designers with a neutralview(Liedtka,2014), can create a standardized profile of other designers based on their capabilities and personality, in order to find the appropriate applicant for our business clients to make the right match.

 

Process Overview
The image below shows the entire process. It all starts with two needs, on the one-hand there is the talent, meaning the different types of designers, they are looking for employers. The employers are in need of designers that fit their business perfectly. We interview the employers in order create a profile of their ideal designer in terms of design skills and on a personal level.

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The designers are assessed on their design capabilities. We, as strategic designers, rate them on different design capabilities. Their portfolio is used as the basis for this assessment. Furthermore the designers take an extensive personality test. We then visualize their profile a match them with the company. The process ends with a meeting between the by us chosen best matches, maximum of three,  and the employer. In this final personal meeting the employer decides who they have the best connection with. Who ever he ends up hiring, all of them will be a great match on both design skills as personality.

 

Who are we helping?
During an initial interview with the design company we create an emotional profile, just as we do with applicants. We do this to create the right match between both the applicant and the design company, on an emotional level. In our opinion this is very important, besides the task description the company provides, since we think it is important that the applicant on a personal level fits the company culture in the first place. We do this by interviewing the design company, thus not by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, since this is more on an individual level which shows fundamental personality traits.

Besides the emotional profile we will make a skill profile of the design company’s vacancy. This is going to happen by interviewing the company on the skill description of the vacancy. In this way we take the design company by the hand in order to find the most suitable applicant for their needs. Therefore we use the same different design skills as distinguished earlier.

caffeine-casting5aThere are two types of applicants we initially serve: people who are looking for internships and freelancers. Both are working/studying in the design field and have the need to find a job for a certain period of time. They differ in background, expertise, experience, interest, personality and therefore have different needs.

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Our applicant process
We identify three key parts of hiring a designer. First, the applicant needs to have the right personality type for what the firm is looking. All applicants will make the Myers-Briggs type indicator(Myers, 1962). This test helps defining to what personality type someone belongs. This test  is based on four indicators which help defining to what personality type someone belongs. The four indicators are: extravert of introvert, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judgment or perception (McCaully, 1974). Different personality types work best with different corporate cultures and types of jobs.

 

Different personality types work best with different corporate cultures and types of jobs.

Furthermore, we will define the different skills each designer has. We distinguish the following design skills; product design, engineering, service design, strategic design and graphic design. We will define and value each designers skills on these items, based on their portfolio.

caffeine-casting2aOur company process
During an initial interview with the design company we create an emotional profile, similar as we do with applicants. We do this to create the right match between both the applicant and the design company, on an emotional level. In our opinion this is very important ,we think it is important that the applicant fits on a personal level with the company culture. Furthermore, for some jobs someone who would more dominant and prone to leadership is needed, and for others an pure teamworker is desired. Personality and fit are key for any succesful employee/employer collaboration. We do this by interviewing the design company, thus not by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, since this is more on an individual level. The interview addresses what the company stands for, their believes and corporate culture, and what personality they are looking for in their new employee.

Besides the emotional profile we will make a skill profile of the design company’s vacancy. This is going to happen by interviewing the company on the skill description of the vacancy. In this way we take the design company by the hand in order to find the most suitable applicant for their needs. Therefore we use the same design skills as discussed during the applicant process earlier.caffeine-casting3a

Process results
The image below shows an outcome of the tool. It shows a clear match on both design skills as on personality type. A final conversation between the two will determine whether the employer will actually hire Emilio, however we can confidently recommend them to our client.

Match-2.0

 

Long term value
By creating profiles of as well companies as applicants we can produce a large database of valuable insights on the stakeholders within the design industry. By carefully storing all this delicate information, we create a database for upcoming requests from companies and applicants as well, in order to react fast on requests. Since we are one of the first design casting agencies of its kind, this can become a major advantage relating to starting design casting agencies, who want to compete with us in this market. And this database is only growing bigger and bigger!

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Capabilities of strategic designers in human resources – Discussion
New platforms such as Odesk.com and 99designs.com have fueled the rise of design freelancers of non-western countries. Furthermore, the economic stagnation of the past years has lead to a greater need for flexible labor that do not bring long term financial burdens. During the last decade the amount of design freelancers has grown by close to 20% (designtalkboard.com, 2014).

More short term contracts lead to an higher frequency of going through the hiring process for human resource departments. However, as stated before, these human resource departments lack the skill sets to adequately judge design.

In other creative strategies a similar approach to ours is taken. In film and music industries it are people from within the industry itself who do the hiring. They are trained professionals in their fields and are therefore the most qualified to assess job applicants. In these fields they do not play the role of an unemployment agency, instead they are seen as a casting agency. A premium service that values the quality of applicants. For us strategic designers, we are particularly valuable within this process for hiring designers. Our background gives us a strong intuition(Calaberetta, 2013) in what good design is. However, we have also developed a sense for business. We translate design capabilities in to business propositions by giving meaning to technology(Verganti,2009). It are these capabilities that make strategic designers uniquely well suited to do fulfill these human resource positions, since they can value the quality of the designers and can assess it’s business usefulness for the hiring firm.

 

Next steps in developing the design casting agency proposition
We have studied the topic of design HR and we have developed a tool that will greatly increase the efficiency of the designer hiring process. However, more work still need to be done in order to put this tool in practise. As the scope of this project has been the development of the tool itself, some more practical issues remain to be further explored. As a starting we define a few key area’s that could be further studied.

First, this tool functions entirely on a large and rich network of companies and designers. Building up this agency will need a tailor made strategy that focusses not only on the HR management, but also on the expansion of the network itself. Collaborations with existing digital platforms such as Odesk.com and 99designs.com could be considered here. Furthermore, another important point is the after sales process. After the client has hired the applicant provided by us we need to stay in touch and keep them warm for future business. Customer retention will be a vital part of the growth of a casting agency network and therefore a strategy for this is in order. Finally, this tool is built upon theory but it lacks practical experience. More iterations for this tool are needed that are based on concrete experiences of the use of this designer casting method. Any input on this method from engaged readers is much appreciated.

 

Who we are?
We are a group of enthusiastic strategic designer, are you interested in more on this? Don’t hesitate to look us up on LinkedIn.

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Refrences
Calabretta, G., Gemser, G., Wijnberg, N., & Hekkert, P. (2013). The Role of Design Consultants in Innovation Strategy Decision-making

Liedtka, J. (2014). Perspective: Linking Design Thinking with Innovation Outcomes through Cognitive Bias Reduction. Journal of Product Innovation Management

McCaulley, M. H. (1974). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Teaching-Learning Process

Myers, I. B. (1962). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Manual (1962)

Verganti, R. (2009). Design driven innovation. Boston, MA, US: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation

http://www.designtalkboard.com/news-archive/USA-design-industry.php , visited on 12-06-2014

 

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