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Feb 16, 2012
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

I am not #SourceCon. We all are.

As someone who has been in sourcing for nearly a decade now, I’ve watched the function ebb and flow through recessions and boom times. When I first started sourcing back in 2002, it was a boom time for sourcing. Everyone was excited about it and wanted a sourcer to add to their team. Around 2007, things started getting a little tight and by 2008 sourcing was one of those job functions to be cut first from company budgets because “it wasn’t a necessary function” to keep a company going. Now, sourcing is making another comeback — everyone wants to learn about sourcing; everyone wants the “secret sauce” for finding every single candidate in existence.

The problem with this is that there is no one “secret sauce” — yes, there are specific potions that will help in different industries, but when you boil it down to the basics, the “secret sauce” comes from community cohesion. And this can come in the form of your recruiting team which consists of recruiters, sourcers, and HR folks, or the sourcing community from which you can learn techniques, yes, but more importantly, from which you can learn the thought processes behind the magic of sourcing.

The whole collective effort of the community is greater than the sum of its individual parts. You — we — are all #SourceCon.

Sourcing and the Functioning of the Human Body

Every component of a sourcing community serves an important function. Think of it like your human body — while the brain is the control center, without a neck to hold up the head, the brain could not send signals to the rest of the body. Without a beating heart, the brain could not function. Without lungs, oxygen could not circulate in the blood. The human body operates in sync with all its moving parts to create the most amazing machine on the planet. I find the sourcing “body to be equally as amazing.

Within the body of sourcing, you have those who function as the “brain” — ones who bring to light thought processes that others might not have considered. You have “eyes” who look for new and wonderful things, and “mouths” who have the gift of sharing knowledge in an understandable manner.

You have those who are the true “heartbeat” of the body and those who bring life-giving oxygen to the community — the ones who uplift and keep the body moving forward by delivering essential nutrition to the rest of the body. Without these individuals, the body would starve.

You have the “hands” of the body who write and the “legs” and “feet” who move the body forward. You have the “bones” and the “muscles” who offer structural support and strength to keep the body upright.

You see where I am going with this — no matter what function you serve within the body, there is an importance to it for the survival of the body.

Sometimes, different parts serve multiple functions or change functions from time to time. And sometimes, parts are either temporarily unable to or stop functioning, and others kick in to keep the body going. It’s all a beautifully choreographed production that keeps the whole machine functioning and thriving.

This is how I see this community, and why I believe we are all #SourceCon.


For those of you who were privileged to attend SourceCon in Atlanta last week, I believe you got a first-hand glimpse at the sourcing body. Atlanta is where everything started and the community there thrives on sharing and learning from one another. There are lots of other communities around the world that offer a similar atmosphere to the one in Atlanta, but there is something special about that one. And the conference was a reflection of this spirit of community and sum-of-all-parts.

No one presentation delivered all the answers. But put together, they delivered a package that, if applied, can help you reach new levels in your sourcing practices. Sourcing is not a one-size-fits-all function, and those who attend learning events expecting to be served up secrets on a silver platter are in for a rude awakening. To receive the total value from an event, one must observe all parts and see how they work in harmony with one another. Attend sessions that are outside of your comfort zone; sit with people you don’t know; open your mind to a new concept and see how it has worked for others. Actively seek learning experiences; they are everywhere.

The Blind Men and the Elephant

There is an old Asian Indian tale of six blind men who wanted to know what an elephant looked like. One day, an elephant was in their village so they all went and touched the elephant in different parts.

“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.

“Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.

“Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk.

“It is like a big hand fan,” said the fourth man who touched the ear.

“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly.

“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk.

They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. A wise man passing by stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.” “Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

Open Your Eyes and Minds

While the story is told to teach tolerance for all viewpoints, I also see it as a lesson on understanding the whole by comprehending all of the parts. The blind men did not explore the whole elephant and instead only relied on what they themselves knew by touch. They also did not trust in the discoveries made by the others. By only touching on or learning about one part or topic, you receive limited information about the entire object or concept. When it comes to sourcing, if you only seek to learn about mobile, or telephone, or leadership, or metrics, or automation, you narrow your understanding of sourcing as a whole.

Holistic Learning and Functioning

What we strive to do with SourceCon — both the website and the events — is to provide you with a wide variety of “touch” points from which to understand sourcing as a whole function. And by involving all the “moving parts” of the sourcing body, we are more able to accomplish this. By sharing information from the perspective of the newest member of the sourcing community, we allow you to see sourcing through a fresh set of eyes. By publishing works from industry veterans, we provide you with opportunities to learn from years and decades of firsthand experience. By inviting leaders who were practitioners, and practitioners who are working toward becoming leaders, you have the chance to see change in action and listen to people who are cutting new paths in the sourcing function. And by providing perspective from a variety of resources, tools, and ways to use them, you get to put all of these things together in a manner that will best serve your organization’s unique needs.

The Secret Ingredient

Here’s the only secret I will share with you: you must put forth the effort to determine what your needs are. No one can tell you what you need — you must educate yourself and determine that on your own. That’s why I am not a fan of the concept of “secret sauce” — if anyone has watched Kung Fu Panda, you know what the “secret ingredient” is…

Mr. Ping: The secret ingredient is… nothing!
Po: Huh?
Mr. Ping: You heard me. Nothing! There is no secret ingredient.
Po: Wait, wait… it’s just plain old noodle soup? You don’t add some kind of special sauce or something?
Mr. Ping: Don’t have to. To make something special you just have to believe it’s special.

To make something special, you simply have to believe that it’s special. To put this in sourcing terms, to make something work, you have to believe it will work. And you have to find what will work uniquely for your organization.

Never Stop Pushing the Limits

Though this is my last article as the Editor of SourceCon, I will never, ever stop pushing all of you to think differently about sourcing. Approaching sourcing the same old way will yield you the same old results.Trying new things will bring new possibilities your way; some won’t work, but many new methods will. Don’t ever be afraid to try a new direction for fear of failure. Failing is what great people and great organizations do best — they simply learn from those failures, adjust, and continue to press forward.

You will be surprised at how much further you can go by just pushing your body beyond what you believe its limitations are. Pushing the limits hurts — but the long-term benefits of doing so are increased health, endurance, and overall appearance. And my belief is that by pushing the sourcing body beyond what it feels it is capable of at the moment will surprise the rest of the recruiting world — and far beyond. Get the “body” working in harmony and see what awesome new thing your sourcing team, and the sourcing community as a whole, will be capable of.

Happy Sourcing — and see you in the trenches!

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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