An impossible question to answer. A mouth-watering project to help us answer it.

Impossible Qs

We love tackling “impossible questions” here at Talent Hacks. You know, the kind where if you were to ask 100 people, you’d probably get 100 different answers. We like these questions, because they allow us to push ourselves and our knowledge into new and exciting territories.

Yep, you guessed it, we’re all nerds here. Always discussing this and that, and drilling into topics to the nth degree, trying to push each other to think beyond personal constraints and boundaries. Nerds.

This time around, the impossible question we had on our plate (pun intended!), was “How do people agree on what the best cheeseburger is?”. Interesting, right? And delicious. This is how the Burger Assessment Project (BurP) was born. But let me take you back a bit.

"Walking the talk" while eating burgers

We were about to deliver a live (virtual) workshop as part of a HiPo Accelerator Academy for one of our clients. The topic: Behavioral evaluation & Interviewing. We would be going deep into observing, understanding, and evaluating behaviors to determine person-job fit. Exploring the required structure for standardizing the evaluation process. Duration: 4 half-day sessions.

We decided to take this opportunity, to put the very concepts and skills we would be teaching our professionals, to the test. How? By creating the structure needed, for us to assess and identify the best cheeseburger. To prove to our professionals that we “walk the talk”. We would make a video of the experience and send it to them. Why not burgers? After all, a structured evaluation process should also work for burgers, right? And also, we had to eat.

The challenge was set.

“How do you evaluate a burger, so that a group of people (us) reach a consensus about which burger (out of four brands, in this case) is the best one?”

Here’s what we did.

  • 4 assessors: Each one of us was an assessor. We all knew the concepts of behavioral evaluation, so we were good to go (no assessor training needed). Our aim for this challenge: achieve inter-rater reliability; each assessor’s scores should be consistent with everyone else’s scores.
  • 4 burgers (x4): We had our workshops over four days. So, we arranged for a different burger to be delivered to us every day. Burger A on day 1, burger B on day 2, like that.
  • External helper: We needed a helper (not an assessor) to handle the logistics for us. Randomly order one brand of burger per day. Remove all branding and packaging. And plate it for us. Also, the orders placed should be unfamiliar brands to the helper too. Why all this fuss? To minimize/eliminate any possible bias we might have.
  • Evaluation criteria & scoring sheet: We discussed and debated on the dimensions that would constitute a good burger. Remember, we’re nerds. Lengthy discussions that left us salivating and hungry. But, we all had to agree on the evaluation criteria. So, we ended up with four categories (competencies): Ingredients, Cook, Flavor, and Build. And under each category? A variety of dimensions to ensure the category would be assessed thoroughly. Also, a scoring mechanism to allow us to assess each dimension. A 1-6 scale (which forced us to assess either on the negative or on the positive; no middle/safe ground) with the extreme ends described in detail.

All of this, to ensure we standardized the evaluation process.

It was purely business

After each half-day workshop, we would sit down and eat our burger of the day. No talking. No nods or facial expressions. No “nom nom” sounds. It was a matter of each assessor examining, consuming, and then evaluating the burger on the scoring sheet. After eating, no talk about the burger or the assessment. Next day, same process. 4 days in total. Pure clinical assessment.

On the fourth day, after the final burger, we had a consensus meeting to go over all our scores. And wouldn’t you know it? We all agreed on which one was the best cheeseburger. Mission accomplished. The professionals we were training? They got the point we set out to make!

Needless to say, though, burgers were no longer on our order list, for at least the next month!

And the real victim here? The Director of Mood, our office dog, Jessy.

Watch the video we created and shared with our professionals: The BurP Project video.

P.S. Another impossible question had been answered. Done. What’s next? We’ll think of something. If you have any ideas, feel free to drop us a line.