Two rats roaming your credit union

“Oh, you’re maze smart.” Apparently not, I was too slow. Damn! Being an introvert and spending several days a month in airplanes is not a good mix. I typically grab my Bose earbuds before my seatmate can utter the first hello. The older gentleman in the aisle seat caught me.

Maze smart? The flight to San Francisco was not short but my earbuds stayed in my pocket. The gentleman was obviously too seasoned to be throwing around slang terms so I knew it wasn’t short for “amazingly smart.” As we discussed hiring practices, he described the YMC process perfectly. But this was the first time I had heard an actual name for this practice.

Maze smart and Maze Dull” was a groundbreaking experiment by Robert Tryon of UC Berkeley. Rats were selected based on their performance on a standard maze activity before being interbred to produce the best and worst rat populations in completing maze tasks. The bright rats could navigate the maze without any real problem whereas the dull rats would find the entire experiment near impossible to complete.

The idea intrigued me. As I began more research to see how it applied to organizations, I found an interview with Brian Walker, CEO of Herman Miller. When asked what his biggest win has been in the last decade of leading the furniture giant, Walker said “Our ability to attract a new generation of creative talent. Our creative team includes researchers, engineers, brand designers, experience designers, marketing people, and our industrial design partners. I think our creative capital is as strong as it has been in my 25 years with Herman Miller.”

If asked what the biggest win at your credit union has been in the last decade, would you be able to make the same claim? The majority of credit unions could not. How has Walker accomplished a feat talked about by many brands, but never successfully accomplished? “I’m always looking for folks who are “maze bright.” To me, that means they’re curious and willing to try new things and confident they can find their way. They have often tried something that didn’t work out as they had planned, but, in the end, they found a way to solve the problem.”

When hiring at YMC, the awards on your wall or diplomas you hold are not our primary considerations. We want to know if you’re passionate about the same things we are. Can you do the job? Can you challenge our team and our clients to think differently about the why and how of what we do?

I challenge you and your credit union to think differently about your next hire. Hire for passion, the desire to learn, and the compulsion to grow—then teach them the rest. Find team members who will challenge the status quo and take calculated risks. Their actions will lead to success or valuable learning opportunities.

Find the maze smart rat and hire them fast. Leave the maze dull rats for the next guy.

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: Details