Talent Acquisition Engagement


  • User research for candidates undergoing the interview process
  • Workshop facilitation and management with talent team
  • Design thinking course work development


After the acquisition of AppDynamics by Cisco, our talent acquisition teams were thrown into a state of disarray. Amidst migrations to new systems and offer structures, team departures and re-organizations, there were dozens of pain points to solve and little direction for how to solve them.

As a member of the Innovation Labs, we were a team dedicated to implementing design thinking methodologies across the company. We had engaged a few orgs, including the talent acquisition team, to help establish direction and goals along a framework that was developed in house and informed by other design thinking methodologies.

Initial Workshop

At the outset, we originally wanted to engage employees with a fairly straightforward workshop: problem statement creation to ideation to hypothesis creation & experimentation. We called this workshop the Think Factory. However, after a few initial engagements, we realized that there was a general lack of context around the problems themselves. For example, while working with our talent teams in optimizing their recruiting process, we realized there wasn't even much of a process to even optimize.

A card sorting activity from our initial workshops.

Expanding the Framework

We decided to evolve the workshop to a more extensive consultancy framework. Within this framework we would take the teams through rigorous context setting before even tackling problem statements. This involved extensive research of the specific domain as well as user research with people on the ground.

The AppDynamics design thinking curriculum is a culmination of inspiration from other various frameworks.

The Engagement

The first half of the engagement involved a heavy research arm:

  • Benchmark industry wide recruiting statistics and compared them with our own company.
  • Conduct internal interviews between both recruiters and candidates and come up with a service map / user journey map.
  • Crafted a series of read-outs synthesizing the research and to help put all stakeholders on the same page.

Most of my responsibilities fell in the second bullet point. I worked with our Principal Researcher to help set high level research goals, created a research script, and conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 20 candidates. We then synthesized all the interviews into a candidate journey map and a high level insights presentation.

Each of 19 interviews were documented into a journey map like above.
Aggregation of the general candidate journey based on our research.
Service map workshop activity.

Follow Up

Following the initial engagement and research read out, the team needed to align on a problem statement. We held a dot-voting activity and was able to come away with two key areas that were agreed priorities for the team: Diversity & Inclusion and Data Collection.

Problem area dot-vote activity.

With an aligned problem statement we moved into the ideation phase. From there, we generated a backlog of experiments that would guide the team with measurable KPIs and inform them of next steps as they moved through each experiment.

Conclusion & Next Steps

With experiments currently underway, we realized that these high touch engagements, though valuable, were highly unscalable. In order to continue driving momentum we needed ordinary people around the organization to be a champion of adopting these frameworks and best practices.

The months following this engagement will be focused on developing an Innovation Champion program that will train participants to be ambassadors of this methodology. The hope is that these Innovation Champions will be able to continue to manage experiment backlogs and report back progress on the problem areas identified. As a result, we can continue to seed design thinking mindsets across the company while continuing to be a nimble and lean organization.

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