want to introduce a new
concept — ‘talent hacking’. I define this as the creative application of technology and data to the problem of building new teams.
I’m trying to coin this phrase in part to highlight how we’ve bizarrely neglected the ‘people’ part of the startup stack. We’ve seen methodological revolutions in how we build technology, manage products and do marketing in recent years. But the processes involved in hiring and managing people seem to have barely changed at all.
It’s time to change that by learning from what’s working in other parts of the startup movement and applying it to the people bit.
I’m calling this ‘talent hacking’, and this article is my first attempt to bring together some of these ideas in one place.
Why talent hackers?
First, a confession. I’ve shamelessly stolen the ‘talent hacker’ idea from the ‘growth hacking’ movement.
Growth hacking emerged a few years ago to define the hybrid technical / marketing role within internet startups that was focused on quick growth in user numbers. This enabled startup people who weren’t marketers to understand and embrace the most important aspects of that field — the need to quickly grow your audience, and from there your business.
As a stripped-down form of early-stage marketing, growth hacking puts an extra emphasis on metrics, especially the cost to acquire a customer. It then combines this with an aggressive use of technology, as well as a ‘no holds barred’ approach to opening up new channels.
Implicit in the concept is that growth hacking is simultaneously everyone’s responsibility in a company and also an individual specialism: the whole firm should be concerned with growth, but some people should be given free reign to hack totally new channels.
The time has come for a similar revolution in the recruitment and HR departments of early stage companies.