Do You Have the Knack?

There is a narrative that says that the dawn of the 21st century has brought significant changes to our structures of work and economics. I won’t dispute that, but I’ll also say, the old way of doing things is still firmly entrenched and pushing against the status quo requires considerable effort and savvy. Even then, swimming upstream is hard.

Social media regularly serves as the 21st century’s equivalent of snake oil. Broad claims about the “new frontier” often reveal, when you look beneath the veneer that The Who were right; “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Not always, but often enough to know that things still are oriented to a certain way of conducting business.

LinkedIn runs articles and blog posts each day from various “thought leaders.” Like this article.

It’s the story of Knack, a hot startup that’s been garnering a boatload of attention. It’s founder and CEO, Guy Halfteck, believes that HR and employee selection has been flawed. You think?

What his new company does is build app-based video games that allow a better read on who you are and consequently, a possible better fit for a job. Designed by a team of neuroscientists, psychologists, and data scientists, Knack claims their tools better assess human potential.

One of Knack’s video apps, their Wasabi Waiter video game.

According to Halfteck,  play one of them for just 20 minutes, and you’ll generate several megabytes of data, exponentially more than what’s collected by the SAT or a personality test. This should be met with excitement, I guess.

This is the intersection of Big Data and HR; of course, you’ll have to sell one half of the equation, an industry staffed by dinosaurs and risk-averse administrators, on a new concept. Based on my experience, I’m not holding my breath. Then again, if a CEO suddenly got excited and told the HR director to move in this direction, then it could happen.

Still, there’s a lot invested in our antiquated higher education system and its high-priced bonanza of selling degrees and four-year college options to students willing to take on greater and greater amounts of debt for a piece of paper that may, or may not lead to a job offering a worthy return on the investment. The matrix that sorts this and the host of players selling consulting services and the national SHRM culture, all have a vested interest in things staying just the way they are.

Pushing back against that Leviathan is one Herculean task.

3 thoughts on “Do You Have the Knack?

  1. OK, I know it gets “old” to hear me say “well, I don’t have a Tee Vee,” but are you BLEEPING kidding me? I’m going to apply for a job and have to play a video game for the hiring party to know whether I’m a good fit? Bring on the collapse now because, brother, I don’t want to work at a company like that. What in God’s name would such a company produce? APPS? IDIOTS? I have seen it all now. I’m going to go and kiss my Big Corporation monitor now, because, thankfully, my employer hasn’t stooped to this level of humiliating potential employees.

    • @JAB
      It gets crazier all the time, doesn’t it? Back in the day, when the Worumbo, or Pejepscot needed someone, word of mouth brought someone to the mill the next morning. Often, the personnel manager (maybe back in 1951, when The Carnival King graduated, they didn’t even have personnel managers?) handed you a one-page application and you started work that day, after filling it out.

      Today, we have employers crying they can’t find employees, perpetual chatter of there being a “skills gap,” leaders of the state proposing importing 65,000 people to Maine because of our aging population, and now, hiring “experts” are proposing video games to prime the pump and find candidates. Sounds like a comedy skit, but instead, it’s all the people with advance degrees can come up with.

      I continue to preach, “move forward by going backwards.”

  2. Oh, but can’t you just see the school guidance counselor digging this? More “science” in the service of pigeonholing and assigning one’s place.

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