I was lucky enough to spend 3 days at the Paralympics in London a few weeks ago. it was an inspiring and humbling experience that I will remember forever, not least because the stadium is about 10 minutes away from where I went to School, and I had an office opposite the station in the dark old days. I wanted to write about what I took away from being there, but not in a gushy or clichéd way. I’m not one for what recruiting and HR can learn from the Paralympics type blogger. There are many blogs like that you can read on the topic.
The big thing for me, apart from the fantastic sporting spectacle was the fantastic ways in which technology was used in virtually every event to solve very real physical challenges, from prosthetic legs through to the one-armed Canadian archer who had a custom-made device on the top of his shoulder that enabled him to stretch the bow-string, aim and fire with his chin.
What I took away from this is the many ways technology and imagination can make things better. It is about moving the mind-set from believing opportunity to change and improve is limited by barriers, or because there are barriers, and considering how can we fix the problem? Forget what is the normal way of doing things, look at the problems and figure out the solutions enabled by technology.With attitude and technology we can fix anything by looking at the task and what needs to happen, and bridging the gap between the problem and the solution with clever technology.
I think this has important implications for work when considering the issues of disability and employability. My experience as a recruiter is that the reality of employing anyone who doesn’t fit the normal employee mode has been around quotas and legality. Employers have looked at reasons why people can’t do a job, and consider what could be done with technology to solve any work place difficulties. The interesting conversation coming from the athletes was how the difference with this Paralympics was that they were compared as athletes rather than those guys in wheelchairs having a day out. The supporters were able to see beyond their disability and see them as supreme athletes. Wouldn’t it be a real legacy if we could compare potential employees in the same way, as candidates for a job to be judged equally? The miracle of technology and innovation means that with a little imagination we can solve any physical barriers that might be in the way. If it works in sport, why not the rest of life, particularly work?