Did you know the inspiration for the N95 Mask was a molded bra cup?  That is where today’s Lessons Found start.

Sara Little Turnbull was an unlikely candidate to become one of the nation’s top industrial designers.  With a flair for interior design, Sara Little (her preferred professional name) was an editor at House Beautiful magazine before forming her own company in 1958.  At about the same time, she wrote an article, “Forgetting The Little Woman”, in which she took major manufacturers to task for ignoring end users when designing products.  And the corporate giants of the time took notice.  That is how she found herself in front of 3M’s all male executive team suggesting the molded bra cup.  Soon after, she was caring for ill family members when she noticed how medical staff were constantly adjusting their fabric masks.  That was her inspiration for transforming this molded bra cup design into a mask which eventually became the foundation for the N95 mask we all know today.

Had Sara Little applied, 3M would never have hired her as an industrial designer.  And, given this was the 1950s, they certainly would not have sought her out.  This is a Lesson Found.   We limit our pool of potential candidates when job postings only reflect our preconceived vision of who we see filling that position.  For example, I recently saw a posting for a job that required a specific minimum college GPA.  While intellectual prowess is crucial for most jobs, so is creativity which is not necessarily captured in a high GPA.  (This position required both.) Ironically, our vision for the ideal candidate also usually neglects the cultural match with our organization.   A job posting should emphasize the company’s culture otherwise it will attract candidates who won’t last long or, even worse, disrupt operations.

“Interviewing” is the second Lesson Found from Sara Little’s story.  Based on its definition, “interview” implies a one-sided conversation solely to elicit information from the job candidate.  There are other means to evaluate the candidate’s fit for both the position and the organization.  An interactive conversation yields a more reliable assessment than strictly asking the candidate about skills and past experiences.  Even though she was not interviewing for a position, Sarah Little’s presentation to 3M offers another alternative.  Candidates can be asked to pitch solutions to an organizational challenge or opportunity.  This and the subsequent discussion provide a realistic view of how the candidate will fit into your workplace.

Interested in learning how other CEOs and Business Owners attract the best job candidates for their organizations?  Contact me to learn how you can become part of a peer advisory team where hiring and other topics critical to your business are discussed. Call (717-439-6254) or email (mark@strategicbizgroup.com) me to schedule a 10-minute phone call to learn more.

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you with this weekly series of “Business Lessons Found”.
Did you recently receive the gift of a Business Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business? I would love to hear about it. Comment below or send me an email to let me know.