Barcamp review: Fishing for talents

One truly innovative approach to the creative industries support we found during our research was the idea to actively go “fishing for talents” instead of waiting for them to come by and ask for support during set office hours in a typical business center environment.

One good example is the incubator “The creative plot” in Lund, Sweden, which is working closely with the city’s cultural department and attentively checks all applications for cultural funding whether they also contain real business potential. Upon finding a promising candidate, these are approached with the suggestion of turning their project into a real business instead of applying for public funding.
Another approach was an idea brought forward by the Copenhagen Creative Task force, who planned to open mobile consulting containers for creative talents and artists across town in the areas where these people live and work.

Consequently, this interesting approach had its place on our list of the barcamp’s workshop topics and one workshop hosted by Dirk Kiefer, centered around the question of “should we scout talents or should we wait for them?”

Fishing for talents

© by Marie Jacobi (www.visualrecording.de)

From the public sector’s point of view there have to be pre-structural approaches (= reaching out to talents before they make their way to the official consulting entities) to find talents as well as approaches to keep these talents. In order to help smaller start-ups and entrepreneurs there should be less rules and regulations keeping the talents at a distance. One way of rephrasing the session’s question could be by changing it from “fishing” for talents to stop blocking them.

In smaller groups, the participants worked on the questions: How to find talented people and incentivize them to start their own business?

But where are the talented people, how and where can they be found?
Talents can be resistant and hard to find. As one participant stated: “Without resistance it would not be talent“.
One assumption was that many talented people probably have “proper jobs”, because these offer security and the possibility to gain professional experience (as a precondition for starting an own company). Good “tools” to detect them are networking events. 

Other possible places are internet forums and communities like dribbble, github, reddit or kickstarter. But one can also find people offline and in person at co-working spaces, startup weekends, bootcamps or pre-incubators.
The most important task is the recognition of talents, especially „hidden“ talents, as those are usually the ones who need most help.
Traditional arts education often only focusses on raising a few stars while the rest are mostly neglected as “failures”. These are the ones who should be taken care of. The career service of the University of Fine Arts Berlin explicitely helps the “secondary talents” (see below)

How to incentivize them to start their own businesses?
The main task for “keepin the talents” is to develop support which becomes effective after the talents have been found. This support can have many shapes: tutoring, coaching, consulting, mentoring. From the public sector’s point of view, (e.g. university) students should have the possibility to talk about their ideas and to receive professional feedback by a coach or mentor. Companies should set up an innovative management in order to attract and keep talents, e.g. not focus (too much) on degrees. The real question might be “what needs to be changed in society to attract and keep talents?”

Summary
All in all, the workshop group came to the conclusion that

  • talents need to be found, attracted and kept,
  • there are several pools where to find talents (physically and virtually)
  • the focus should be on the „hidden“, “secondary talents” because they are the ones who need help,
  • there should be more help in terms of coaching, tutoring, consulting,
  • in order to provide the most effective support there should be a change of management in companies (e.g. over thinking working rules, barriers) and universities (e.g. not only supporting the stars but also the “secondary talents”), but probably in society in general.

Further links:
University of the Arts, Berlin (UdK) Career center: http://www.udk-berlin.de/sites/digimedial/content/index_ger.html
Creative plot, Lund: http://thecreativeplot.se/en/
Copenhagen creative task force: http://www.cities-creativity.org/wordpress/2012/09/copenhagen-creative-task-force/