Why IQ and EQ aren’t enough: Unlocking the power of grandomastery for comprehensive talent evaluation.

Witness the transformative application of 'grandomastery' in HR practices, revolutionizing talent evaluation through randomization of tasks.

The article delves into the transformative application of ‘grandomastery,’ a method based on the randomization of tasks, designed for talent evaluation within HR practices. Rooted in bisociation, this emerging technique reshapes conventional interviews, assessing creativity and cognitive skills across diverse realms of HR, spanning from talent acquisition to learning and development.

As an Academic Director of an international language school for the past decade, I have a multifaceted role that encompasses more than overseeing our lively summer school program. My additional responsibility is the recruitment of new English instructors, occasionally taking over the local HR specialist. Our language center is not a conventional one; we specialize in “edutainment”; apart from teaching, my fellow colleagues act as captivating performers. The goal of our company is not to simply convey information, it is to ignite a love for language and inspire curiosity. In short, our company does not just instruct languages; we create lasting bonds with them.  This attitude influences our hiring process as well, drawing people who are not only outstanding educators but also enchanting entertainers.

It should be noted that dutainment-based models inspire professionals in other various fields. This inspiration comes with the necessity of acquiring and applying advanced storytelling techniques, which concurrently leads to the rapid development of educational organizations that teach this craft and the skill of captivating storytellers. 

Our company is not an exception, as we maintain an open mind towards non-mainstream training and HR programs. This creative atmosphere motivated me to rethink my traditional interview technique, especially for summer ESL teacher candidates. Personally, I had always been discouraged by standard interview questions due to their dullness, tediousness, and weariness. Candidate exhaustion, which was also noticeable during such interviews, indicated the need for a shift, prompting me to adopt a more interactive and off-beat talent evaluation method. This is when a colleague enlightened me about a novel method called ‘grandomastery,’ a fusion of ‘grand’ and ‘random mastery’, that is, mastering any randomly generated tasks no matter how appallingly irrelevant they are. A typical grandomastery-based set for talent acquisition consists of a sequence of random tasks, with each task category having multiple random sets, creating a vast collection with, without overestating it, billions of items. As a result, in the part of interviews that evaluates candidates’ creative skills, higher order thinking skills (HOTS), grandomastery method presents a suitable fit due to its serendipitous randomness and interactivity, experienced by both the candidate and the interviewer. As the academic director, I’ve started to see the value of this technique in assessing soft competencies of our teachers, who are mostly native speakers. Needless to say, being a native speaker doesn’t guarantee language proficiency. Instances of ‘natives’ struggling to express themselves in writing or articulate ideas coherently during open house lessons are painfully familiar to my colleagues and me.

Yet, I have to admit that at first I was reluctant to adopt grandomastery, feeling somewhat nervous about adding a factor of randomness for both sides of the interview. On one hand, I’ve always appreciated having control over the material shown to candidates, while on the other hand, the usual job interview, with its subject-object relation, where I, as the interviewer, played the subject part and the interviewee turned into the humble object, led either side to eventual exhaustion. Hence, acknowledging the need for efficient interviews, I have become gradually aware that a paradigm change to a subject-subject mode was essential, leaving behind the traditional subject-object pattern. It was only during the interviews enhanced by grandomastery activities that I realized the extent to which my skill in anticipating exceptionally unique responses had previously depended on comparing this candidate’s answers with others. This shift towards unbiased evaluations enabled me to effectively distance myself from any previous preconceptions in the talent acquisition process. 

From a critical standpoint, a lot has to be investigated into the assessment criteria of grandomastery task completion, since the parameters haven’t yet been described in a single framework. One of them may be referred to as “ingenuity”, which might as well measure the candidate’s ability to forge meaningful connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. The success in completing such tasks is determined by the extent of imaginative leaps, often referred to as “degrees of far-fetchedness.” 

Encountering novel challenges during the live task randomization cycle, I unconsciously embraced the candidate’s perspective, as we were both introduced to unprecedented tasks. This shift allowed me to assess responses based on my personal experience, without relying on comparisons. The tasks presented in the screenshots, which I incorporated into a series of job interviews for managerial positions, were sourced from an open-access platform grandomastery.com.

In terms of the methodology behind grandomastery, it is claimed, based on prompt search requests, to be rooted in bisociation, a concept coined by Arthur Koestler. The 20th-century philosopher’s ideas, notably in his book “The Act of Creation,” presented the importance of overlapping science, humor, and art in design thinking, converging diverse knowledge planes, not a singular realm. With the aid of grandomastery platforms, the impact of such “aha!” or “Eureka” moments is intensified by the entirely random nature of tasks. Completing these tasks requires a multifaceted synthesis, blending elements that may appear incompatible through advanced abstract reasoning. Candidates are required to demonstrate advanced literacy, articulate communication, elevated diction, and mastery of contextualized language.

I was amused to discover that my colleagues occasionally use such platforms for activities like conversation clubs. Some choose grandomastery sessions over pub quizzes at social events, finding the usual format boring. This choice may reflect a generational gap, as general knowledge quizzes with correct answers are not equally valued by all age groups. Storytelling, with its spontaneity and creativity, appeals to some colleagues, particularly in our marketing department, who see it as a vital skill for fun rivalry, similar to playing darts or participating in drinking games.

I have to admit that platforms utilizing the grandomastery technique have indeed become a preferred activity at our pub gatherings, specifically the Random PowerPoint Presentation or the so-called Blind PowerPoint presentation activities. Participants receive a random topic and have to build a coherent presentation by turning over completely randomized slides from a collection of hundreds of thousands. This brings much laughter, making it a regular part of our corporate agenda. Possibly the most satisfying and gratifying aspect about grandomastery activities is the lack of clear-cut solutions; rather than conventional quizzes with right or wrong answers, we relish the joy of storytelling and linking seemingly unrelated ideas.

Regarding my role as an educator-entertainer, I’ve also applied this method with senior students in master classes and discussion clubs. Tasks that are novel for both trainers and trainees prevent burnout, fostering unity through shared challenges among educators and students. 

The creative content generated during grandomastery sessions carries importance. It gets preserved, curated, and shared across different grandomastery platforms that are openly available to everyone.Notably, creators of these platforms actively promote student engagement, urging them to share their perspectives and responses through social networks such as Reddit and LinkedIn.

Grandomastery, in its essence, might well fit the category of Integrative Thinking Design training. It may also be argued that the method goes beyond bisociation, adopting synectics, a departure from conventional brainstorming. What is almost certainly clear is that it involves combining seemingly disparate elements, challenging perceptions of their compatibility. The use of the notorious defamiliarization technique proves instrumental, prompting an initial exploration of an unfamiliar concept, eventually revealing its interconnectedness.

In the broader context, this idea harmonizes with the fact of our interconnected society, stating that everything inherently links. Grandomastery surfaces as both a method and a growing trend, underscoring the universal reality that interconnectedness is ubiquitous across all industries and spheres of life. Whether in edutainment, talent acquisition or pastime, it exists as an intrinsic element, comparable to logic and rationalism.

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Alexander Popov

Alexander Popov is a TESOL certified English educator with a Master’s degree in Language Teaching Methods and eighteen years of experience. He serves as the lead instructional designer and academic director at a language center for Advanced and Proficient English learners. Alexander has worked as a corporate trainer for notable companies, including Yandex, Jet Brains, Paulig, and AcademConsult. His achievements include the HundrED Showcase Award, Educational Influencer Award, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Award, and ESL Treasures Award.