Spreadsheet Innovators Beware

What irks me (when I am in an irksome mood) is how many resumes are all about “proposed this, proposed that, gathered all this data and showed that, took the data and sliced it in some clever new way, etc.” I am not downplaying these people’s accomplishments, and they might as well have proposed great alternatives or highlighted gross inefficiencies in the way their employer ran their business. Yet as a hiring manager and a casual browser of resumes on LinkedIn, I am not impressed by new insights – I am impressed by insights that bring change.

Were these spreadsheet innovations the end in itself or did they drive tangible product or process innovation? Did the business change as a result of these discoveries and proposals and how? Was the person successfully able to convert their findings and knowledge into action, whether their own or someone else’s, and what change did that action bring?

I see a tremendous gap between showing something is true, convincing your superiors/stakeholders/yourself to fully accept the arguments, and actually affecting change. The latter is the hardest, and even if you’ve done it successfullyI feel like it’s somehow undersold and underexposed among the list of utterly bland accomplishments of chasing insights and churning out proposals.

The ability and a proven track record of bridging the gap between investigation and innovation is a sought after asset that is prized regardless of organization’s size. It should be, in any case. For small companies and startups (down to “one man show”) this translates to the ability to pluck yourself out of perpetual information gathering mode (all in the name of market research, mind you) and to get things done. For large corporations such a track record marks a person capable of getting buy-in from typically inert stakeholders and successfully shepherding proposals through the muck of bureaucracy.

All things considered I wish to see fewer spreadsheet innovator resumes. I venture a guess that other employers would feel the same way.

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One response to “Spreadsheet Innovators Beware

  1. Corporations and Governments are full of such people. As a startup guy you should know better than to look for people coming from such places. Look for people who have brains – they are connected with you through someone you already know and trust.

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