I was a fan of the Flintstones as a kid. It was a good natured show. Fred always did something stupid. He’d rope Barney into it. And they eventually emerged with the love of their adoring wives still intact. Simple stories for a simpler time.
But the best thing about the show was the Stone Age technology. Animals played a huge role in Bedrock. There were all kinds of “modern” tools such as stork record players, mini elephant vacuums, and a parrot intercom. I thought about the parrot intercom this weekend while reading a career blog on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141018151445-67161594-starting-your-career-tell-me-about-yourself?trk=nus-cha-roll-art-title). The writer is a career counselor at a small master’s level college in Pennsylvania whose total enrollment is less than our College of Business. In his blog he talked about how he talks to employers and their recruiters to see what’s important to them, then goes back and spreads that wisdom to students. Sounds normal. Not much different than what goes on all over campus, eh? What’s so bad about that you cranky old bald grum-miester???
Well, the bad thing is, it reminds me a lot of Mr. Slate’s parrot intercom on the Flintstones. Mr. Slate would say something, the parrot would fly out of the box, land in the secretary’s box, repeat what Mr. Slate said, and then the secretary would relay that to someone else. Usually Fred. The comedy would ensue when the parrot, fed up with flying back and forth, told them to go pound sand and talk to each other. In other words, if you have an expert (Mr. Slate) and that person needs to tell someone (Fred) something, then isn’t it better to just have them talk to each other without an intermediary?
We think so. That’s why we now have professionals with recruiting and HR experience working in our Office of Professional Development helping students with things like making career plans, coming up with action items, reviewing resumes, and understanding how people find jobs these days. They are the experts. They’ve posted jobs in applicant tracking systems, on job boards, and in LinkedIn. They’ve reviewed applicant resumes to find candidates. They’ve interviewed candidates to find hires. They know how things work because they were the ones doing it. No one is telling them good and bad answers to, “Tell me about yourself.” They’ve heard good and bad answers to that question (and know that it’s probably not a very good question!)
Change in higher education usually happens at a glacial pace. Species evolve faster than universities give up antiquated processes. On the other hand, companies in the private sector are forced by the market and their competition to adapt their tools, technologies and processes on an ongoing basis. We embraced this approach and realized we were employing people who essentially told students what classes to take and in what order. Why? Because the curriculum was confusing and had too many choices. By streamlining the curriculum, our faculty have freed those resources so we could commit them to focusing on something more productive; helping students secure jobs! Like the parrot in the Flintstones (or a career “counselor” who’s never actually hired anyone) it’s better to make changes that eliminate the need for the low value service, and focus your resources on services that actually result in good outcomes.
Because in the end you have to ask, are you offering a service that people need. Or are you creating a need in search of a service?