Toward a New Mind-Machine Partnership for Creative Talent Search, Discovery and Validation

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The Need for Faster and Smarter


Creative teams find themselves up against an evolving set of challenges which require a new mindset. The increasing pace of the creative industry has meant that teams need to work not just faster but smarter. Change is ever present. New platforms emerge and evolve and time frames are ever more fluid. As a result, creative teams need embrace the multi-layered nature of every project all while maintaining a commitment to quality.

Because of this layered approach, discovering, validating and commissioning the right team for every job is essential. 

We live in a world which contains the technology to help deliver and process more and more data, but the tech is nothing without the right minds to process and evaluate it. All of the above is in essence what 180 Amsterdam's, Chief Production Officer, Marloes Van Den Berg had to say recently. She also, specifically, made this rather timely comment:

“When we put radical collaboration at the heart of what we do, we are ready to give up control or ‘ownership’ for the good of the idea, and that’s a new and, for some, scary place to be.”


Marloes Van Den Berg, Chief Production Officer, 180 Amsterdam,

Sept 2021


The Power of Vertical Search


Economist George Akerlof in his 1970 paper “The Market for ‘Lemons’ ” showed that that markets could suffer greatly because of the existence of “lemons” - apparently decent products or services that had problems. Sellers know which ones are lemons but most buyers don’t.

This insight was so counterintuitive and radical at the time that his paper - related specifically to used cars - was repeatedly rejected from the top journals in economics, but Akerlof was right about the critical importance of information asymmetries and ultimately he was recognized with a Nobel prize for this work. 

There is a gap in the B2B search market. The gap exists, in part, by the design of Google’s search algorithm, which ranks websites based primarily on the importance of links, but also because it's so broad and therefore more likely to be seen as generic than deeply focused. 

Using Google you’ll find some of the most popular creative source websites, but not the majority of creatives found on those platforms. More importantly, results might not provide the right type of source, such as Upwork or Fiverr (often times with paid for exposure), where the commitment is to price rather than quality.

Curation Zone fills this gap by using vertical search to index the content of creative source platforms which helps support unique workflows, provides domain expertise and better removes the creative lemons.

The amount of digital exhaust has increased drastically over the last few years. The emergence of Behance, Vimeo and others have decreased the barrier to entry for creatives on the web. Having a profile on a source platform is one thing, but getting found is another. 

Creatives must invest in website tools and resources and consistently optimize content beyond the source platforms, they appear on. Not to mention, the time it takes to accumulate SEO authority. Currently for most creatives, this looks like a tall order.

Curation Zone's creative talent vertical search eliminates these barriers, enabling the discovery and evaluation of over 8 million creatives worldwide, whichever source platforms they appear on. It's sole purpose is to make the processing and comparison of millions of creative talent profiles possible, and once algorithmically curated, the most appropriate selections are searchable in just a click or two, by role and more.


Arming the HiPPO


There is a serious problem with our cognitive abilities when making decisions: we have no way of knowing when our fast, instinctive and emotional, System 1 brain, is working well, and when it isn’t. We have lousy insight about our own intuition.

We don’t know whether the quick judgment or decision we reached is accurate or has been polluted by one or more of our many biases. The rational calculations of technology driven System 2 processes such as Curation Zone’s creative talent discovery algorithms, can however, be easily evaluated, but as leading psychologist Daniel Kahneman points out, System 1 really can’t - least of all by ourselves. 



In 2006, Avinash Kaushik and Ronny Kohavi, two data analysis experts created the acronym HiPPO (highest-paid person’s opinion) to summarise the dominant decision-making style at most companies. Even when the decisions are not made by the highest-paid people, they’re often based on opinions, judgments, gut, and System 1 thinking. This approach frequently doesn’t work well, and HiPPOs too often destroy value without the assistance of technology driven System 2. 



Machines Take the Calculations and Probabilities, Humans Take the Initiative


After years of recruitment process indifferences, Google adopted a hiring methodology in which all interviewers used structured interviews and asked largely the same questions, and, as they explained, “We then score the interview with a consistent rubric. A concise hiring rubric . . . distills messy, vague, and complicated work situations down to measurable, comparable results.”

You’ll see a clear line between the great and the average when setting the rules in a clear and concise way. We spent 9 months talking with over 80 creative commissioning agents, before deciding on the criteria for our hiring rubric algorithm. The outcome is a system built by collaboration, based on criteria that help make the process of hiring - freelance and permanent - creative talent efficient; such as being able to methodically compare like for like; not an easy task when creative source platforms are set up in such diametrically opposed ways.



In 1984, the political scientist Philip Tetlock and his colleagues started undertaking a decades-long project to assess the accuracy of predictions. In a test involving more than 82,000 forecasts, Tetlock found that “humanity barely bests a chimp” throwing darts at the possible outcomes. 


Tetlock also found that some people, whom he calls “super forecasters,” really are able to consistently generate forecasts more accurately than chance would predict. They tend to take in information from many sources and, perhaps more important, show an ability to adopt multiple viewpoints when looking at a situation.


Biases Need not Dominate


In case after case, when a technology model can be created and tested, it tends to perform as well as, or better than, human experts making similar decisions. 

Too often, we continue to rely on human judgment when machines can do better. Getting algorithms to make the initial decisions, in a CONSISTENT and EASILY comparable way, then allowing human minds to make the final decision has been proven to be a very effective partnership.


Curation Zone Redefines Creative Talent Discovery


You can access billions of bits of creative talent data, which have been normalised and structured by using a precise hiring rubric


Search talent profiles from over 16 creative source platforms, plus LinkedIn data in, one search - 8m profiles scored and indexed, globally 


Save any search results, and revisit at any time


With built in asset management, team collaboration, sharing and a key feedback loop; it's the only efficient way to start any search for creative talent



Combinatorial Innovation


As the possibilities of new technologies increase, they compound upon each other to realise new previously impossible tools, which combine several new technologies. Combinatorial innovation is fast and when it’s leveraged by the power of the depth of creative source platforms, the results are transformative.

Opening up the talent present on these popular creative source platforms provides enormous benefits. Most fundamentally, it brings a greater volume and variety of contributions, skills, and ideas than an internal team, ever could muster - or be expected to evaluate any other way - how else could you search 16 source platforms in one go?

This platform of platforms becomes very influential because of the choices it makes about curating content; profiles, collaborations, engagement, awards won and so, while maintaining a fundamental rule of openness - being regularly updated, it's never closed to new creative talent. 

Enabling a broader and improved talent search, discovery and validation process.



As the mathematician and author John Allen Paulos observed, “The Internet is the world’s largest library. It’s just that all the books are on the floor.”


And large collections of knowledge, such as creative source platforms, are valuable because people should be able to consult them easily, and so become more informed. 


The uncontrolled nature of this creative crowd brings with it a difficult problem, however. It can be hard to find what you’re looking for in an ocean of unstructured information, fed by countless free-flowing rivers of contribution that never meet.


Curation Zone solve this search conundrum by algorithmically curating all of the source platform creative talent profiles - presenting a much edited shorter list by role, sector, medium, territory and expertise to the commissioning agent in a ranked index, from over 8m creative profiles, across all platforms.



Organisational Dysfunctions are Real Things


New knowledge is being created constantly in almost all disciplines, and that knowledge can be slow to enter the heart of organisations. If the creative innovators, researchers, and problem solvers working within the core have not worked hard to keep their skills up to date, the crowd will easily be able to out manoeuvre and out think them.

The creative crowd is so valuable, in large part, because it’s massively marginal: it contains huge numbers of people who are some combination of smart, experienced, full of ideas and motivated, and can be quite far away - geographically, intellectually, and/or culturally - from any organisation’s core.

Outsourcing, offshoring, freelancing, in-housing and other aspects of “unbundling the organisation” have increased substantially in recent years as digital technologies have improved and diffused. It’s pretty clear that a large movement is under way to take much of the work that used to be done within the single hierarchy of organisations and move it to the "open" market.

But without ways of processing and understanding the data related to this vast creative crowd of talent, the task is one that will likely bring limited reward - word of mouth is no longer going to cut it as THE WAY to discover talent, in a world where data processing technologies enable a much broader and more effective approach.



The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter maintained that smaller, younger, more entrepreneurial firms - companies that had no interest in maintaining the status quo - were more likely to come up with truly novel ways of doing things than large corporations.


MIT’s Eric von Hippel, highlighted the large role that “lead users” play in coming up with innovations in many domains. They are pioneers who deal with problems in a specific area for which there is no solution on the market.


“There is a better way,” to discover, innovate and solve creative problems by utilising the vast array of creative freelance talent available right now - but first you’ll need to understand what they can bring, in a structured way.



Information Asymmetrics


Recommendations can be ineffectual without a great degree of trust. Curation Zone's three tiered creative talent curation process gives added value to search results:

Source Platform Curation - how do they rank, who do they commend, reward, show highly in their search and do other members engage with?

Algorithmic Curation - equalise unstructured platform data - across 16 source platforms - to enable like for like comparison. A mind-blowing 190,000 roles had to be mapped into 140 searchable roles.

User Curation and feedback - who do users prefer, like, share, engage with, commission and what searches are most important?


How do you overcome severe information asymmetries? The economists Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok highlight online user reviews of platforms as examples of a broad reduction in information asymmetries. Airbnb CEO and cofounder Joe Gebbia refers to this system of peer reviews and ratings as “design for trust” and highlights another of its benefits: it can help us overcome our personal biases. 


Platforms succeed at capturing and creating value in part because they reduce information asymmetries that previously kept some beneficial transactions from happening.


Creative Collaboration


With the help of Graph Networks that evaluate creative TALENT based on their connections, collaborations, content engagement and brand & agency relationships, we are better placed to process complex interactions. The results of which are key drivers of our hiring rubric algorithms effectiveness.

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Recalibrating the Culture of Creative Talent Discovery


The need to not just understand, but to empathise and connect with people is more relevant than ever. We are focused on leveraging the very best of human intelligence with advanced technologies to help make those connections more effective.

Machine Learning, AI, is a fast developing field. As a collective we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible. Thus the pace of change is faster than expected due to this compounding effect. This is the cusp of a phase change in our approach to our way of working. Adopting technologies as part of the process for previously human-centric creative talent discovery tasks, absolutely requires embracing previously unimaginable ways of delivering solutions.

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