EppsNet Archive: Business

Two Mediocrities Are Not Better Than One

23 Jun 2014 /

Effective executives rarely suffer from the delusion that two mediocrities achieve as much as one good man. They have learned that, as a rule, two mediocrities achieve even less than one mediocrity — they just get in each other’s way.

— Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

Know Why the Meeting Was Called

1 Jun 2014 /

People call business meetings for seven reasons, so plan accordingly:

  1. To get you to decide something. (Probably useful to you.)
  2. To hone their own ideas. (Maybe useful to you.)
  3. To convey information. (Probably not useful; ask for a document instead)
  4. To test out a presentation. (Probably not useful unless it’s your boss.)
  5. To accomplish group writing. (Never useful to anybody.)
  6. To prove their own importance. (Never useful to anybody.)
  7. To fulfill a process step. (Never useful to anybody.)

The Surprising Benefits of Nonconformity

28 Mar 2014 /

New research finds that under certain circumstances, people wearing unconventional attire are perceived as having higher status and greater competence.


Topics for 2014

31 Dec 2013 /

In 2014, I hope some sage business illuminato will gather his wits and take a stab at defining the difference between “management” and “leadership.”

Long overdue . . .


Six Drucker Questions that Simplify a Complex Age

10 Nov 2013 /
Peter Drucker dies at 95

Peter Drucker

Via Harvard Business Review.

My personal favorite is “What would happen if this were not done at all?”


Steve Denning: Outsourcing is the most short-sighted business decision in history

Posted by on 2 Jan 2013

How to Lose Your Job : A Fictional Memoir (Part I)

4 Sep 2012 /

Because of the huge productivity differences between good programmers and bad programmers — 10x? 28x? More? — my biggest leverage point as a development manager is my ability to hire people.

At my last job, we had an HR Director named Lucy. In every one of our annual Employee Satisfaction Surveys, Lucy’s group had the lowest scores in the entire organization. Nobody liked or respected her.

She was, however, close with the CEO, which made that irrelevant.

Clowns

Lucy’s friend Kathy Slauson runs the Slauson and Slauson recruiting agency, so that’s where we got our programming candidates, who were mostly terrible.

The Slauson agency doesn’t specialize in IT candidates, although they do have a “technical recruiter,” who unfortunately knows nothing about technology.

They don’t bring candidates in for in-person interviews. They take whatever candidates give them in the form of a résumé and they pass the résumés along to clients like me in hopes of being paid a fee.

  1. Candidates send résumés to Slauson.
  2. Slauson sends them to me.

What value does this add over candidates sending résumés directly to me? None.

Slauson doesn’t qualify candidates. They don’t map abilities and skills against the requirements of a position. They add no value to the process, and I had to screen all the résumés myself, the same as if I’d just bought them from a job board.

When I saw that Slauson was just going to throw résumés at me, I asked them to please add a short write-up, indicating why they thought each candidate was a good fit for the job.

What I got was write-ups like “Candidate is good with Technology X,” where Technology X is something I indicated as a job requirement.

When I asked “How did you assess that the candidate is good with Technology X?” they would tell me “We asked him.” Or “It’s on his résumé.”

In other words, “Candidate is good with Technology X” meant “Candidate states that he’s good with Technology X. Unverified.”

 

(If you’re wondering at this point why an HR department would funnel good money to a recruiting agency for doing nothing, go back and reread the part where I mention that Kathy Slauson is a personal friend of Lucy the HR Director.)

 
Money to burn

I said earlier that Slauson has a “technical recruiter.” She was in the office one afternoon and handed me a résumé.

“He doesn’t look like an ASP.NET programmer,” I said after looking it over, “which is what we’re looking for. For example, I don’t see any C# experience.”

“It’s right here,” she said, pointing at the résumé where it said this: C++.

If you’re not a programmer, you might say, well, easy mistake to make. C# (pronounced C-sharp, like a musical note) and C++ (pronounced C-plus-plus) are both programming languages containing the letter C followed by one or more symbols.

But whereas C# is the primary programming language for web development on the Microsoft platform, C++ is a lower-level language used for system development. Nobody does web development in C++.

Not surprisingly, a high percentage of Slauson’s candidates bit the dust in the initial phone screen with me, because the phone screen was their first encounter with someone whose programming knowledge was non-zero and could possibly tell a good programmer from a bad programmer.

According to Kathy Slauson, that was totally unacceptable. She thought that because she had an in with the HR department, we should be hiring every candidate she sent over, qualified or not, and paying her for the privilege, which is the way it worked before I arrived on the scene and screwed up the process.

Money and whiskey

She was always very polite to me in person, assuring me that she was doing her best to improve the quality of candidates, but behind the scenes, she was telling Lucy the HR Director that I shouldn’t be allowed to interview candidates anymore.

(That information was never supposed to reach me but it did.)

Think about that: we had a recruiter telling our HR Director that a manager shouldn’t be allowed to interview their candidates. (The fact that I no longer work there tells you which side of the issue Lucy came down on.)

Kathy also told Lucy that the candidates I was rejecting were perfectly good candidates because after I turned them down, they were being hired at other companies.

Imagine that!

Of course they were being hired at other companies. They were being hired by companies with lower hiring standards for programmers. The best thing that could happen with some of those candidates is for them to be hired by competing organizations.

Do you think Amazon or Google worry that candidates they turn down get hired somewhere else?

(No, I wasn’t trying to match hiring standards with Amazon or Google. I’m just saying that it wasn’t my goal to be the employer of last resort, or to be able to say, “If we don’t hire ’em, nobody’s gonna hire ’em!”)

Everyone I hired was an order of magnitude improvement over the people they replaced.

I like to work with talented people. I’m not trying to get rich and I don’t have a career path. I’m trying to learn and get better and contribute to my profession.

If you give me a job where I’m responsible for hiring people, I’m going to hire the best people available, and decline to be force-fed unqualified candidates by a friend of the HR Director.

To be continued . . .


It’s a Seller’s Job Market in IT Right Now, Especially for Agile

31 Aug 2012 /

I recently concluded a 3-month job search. As part of my networking, I met a number of unemployed people in other fields who were having trouble not only getting jobs, but even getting interviews.

I talked to a lot of people and averaged about an interview a day, including phone interviews, mostly for development manager jobs. For every development manager job, there are multiple development jobs, so if you’re a developer, your situation is even better than mine was.

I live in Southern California, but the demand is not just local. I had multiple contacts from companies outside the SoCal area that can’t find qualified candidates.

I’ve been working again for over two months, I no longer have an active résumé on job boards, and I still get emails and calls every day from recruiters all over the country.

Agile and Scrum are in demand

West to Chicago, East to Toledo

The situation with Agile and Scrum right now seems to be that a lot of people are putting it on their résumé but most of them are bluffing.

One hiring manager told me that he’d talked to three dozen candidates who claimed to know Scrum and only one (me) who actually knew it.

Another hiring manager asked me to describe the Scrum process, beginning with a product owner with an idea through the end of the first sprint. It’s a basic question, and when I finished, he thanked me for my answer. “You’d be surprised how many people I ask that question and the answer is a yard sale.”

Actually, you’d be surprised how little I’d be surprised by that.

One recruiter contacted me about a 3-month Scrum Master contract in Toledo, Ohio. A glance at my résumé will tell you that I’ve never worked outside Southern California, so on a list of people likely to take a 3-month contract in Toledo, Ohio, my name would be far, far from the top, but the difficulty of finding a qualified candidate to fill that job is such that the recruiter contacted me anyway.

If you really know Agile and/or Scrum right now, it’s a seller’s market.


Rand Paul at the RNC

31 Aug 2012 /

Highlights

When I heard the current president say, “You didn’t build that,” I was first insulted, then I was angered, and then I was saddened that anyone in our country, much less the president of the United States, believes that roads create business success and not the other way around.

Anyone who is so fundamentally misunderstanding of American greatness is uniquely unqualified to lead this great nation.

 

In Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Tang family owns The Great American Doughnut Shop. Their family fled war-torn Cambodia to come to this country. My kids and I love doughnuts, so we go there frequently. The Tangs work long hours. Mrs. Tang told us they work through the night to make the doughnuts. The Tang family have become valedictorians and National Merit Scholars. The Tangs from Cambodia are an American success story, so Mr. President, don’t go telling the Tang family that they didn’t build that.

 

When you say they don’t build it, you insult each and every American who ever got up at the crack of dawn. You insult any American who ever put on overalls or a suit. You insult any American who ever studied late into the night to become a doctor or a lawyer. You insult the dishwasher, the cook, the waitress. You insult anyone who has ever dragged themselves out of bed to try — to strive for something better for themselves and their children.

 

To overcome the current crisis, we must appreciate and applaud American success. We must step forward, unabashedly and proclaim, you did build that. You earned that. You worked hard. You studied. You labored. You did build that.

And you deserve America’s undying gratitude, for you, the individual, are the engine of America’s greatness.


Great Moments in Government Regulation

23 Aug 2012 /

To paraphrase President Obama:

Look, if you’ve been unsuccessful, you didn’t get there on your own. If you were unsuccessful at opening or operating a small business, some government official along the line probably contributed to your failure. There was an overzealous civil servant somewhere who might have stood in your way with unreasonable regulations that are part of our American system of anti-business red tape that allowed you to not thrive. Taxpayers invested in roads and bridges, but you might have faced city council members who wouldn’t allow you to use them. If you’ve been forced to close a business – it’s often the case that you didn’t do that on your own. Somebody else made that business closing happen or prevented it from opening in the first place. You can thank the bureaucratic tyrants of the nanny state.


ideasspotter: 75 Startup Tools and Apps

Posted by on 23 Jul 2012

Stephen Covey, 1932-2012

19 Jul 2012 /

Stephen Covey, the author of the best-selling book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” died early Monday morning at 79 years old, according to The Associated Press.

TODAY.com

Here are the seven habits:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

One way to assess the value of advice is to ask, “Would anyone advise the opposite?” If the answer is no, then all you have are platitudes and truisms.

Let’s try it:

  1. Let Life Wash Over You Like a Big Wave
  2. Go Off Half-Cocked
  3. Proceed in a Frivolous, Undirected Manner

You get the idea.

By selling more than 25 million copies of this book, and becoming known as one of the leading business thinkers of his time, Covey revealed the vacuousness of the modern mind, although I don’t think that was his intention.

R.I.P. Stephen Covey


For Some Things, You Need a Man

2 Jul 2012 /
Lightning

80 Percent Of Lightning Strike Victims Are Male, But Why?NPR

Same reason all of your top executives are men — because we’re risk takers and we don’t run and hide under our blankies at the first sign of danger.


Answer the Phone

12 Jul 2010 /

Comic


Goldman Sachs

18 Apr 2010 /
Lights are on but is anyone there

I was shocked and dismayed –I think we all were- to learn that Goldman Sachs had been involved in whatever it was they did. I had always ranked them with unlicensed boxing promoters and taxi drivers in Cairo, as people who inspire one with absolute confidence.


Twitter: 2010-04-07

7 Apr 2010 /
Twitter
  • We are using the word 'guru' only because 'charlatan' is too long to fit into a headline. — Peter Drucker #

Twitter: 2009-11-13

13 Nov 2009 /

Twitter: 2009-09-02

2 Sep 2009 /

The Capitalists Failed Us

31 Jul 2009 /

There are some things that one just didn’t do. That’s the way I was brought up. It’s not gray; it was black and white.

Now the ethical standard seems to be if everybody else is doing it, I can do it too. Carry that over into the banking. Everybody else is doing these funny loans and having earnings grow faster, building up their margins, leveraging those margins.

The more leverage A gets, the more leverage B feels inclined to get. So the system fed on itself and drove bankers to making decisions that they, presumably, should have known better than to make.

I don’t blame government for this. I was at a meeting of CEOs, even though I haven’t been to one for quite a while, and someone asked me to sum up the morning. This was a bunch of bankers and other CEOs. They said, what do you think about all this?

I said, you know, what I’m hearing here is you’re blaming the government for allowing you to do what you should have had enough brains not to do in the first place.


Chick’s vs. Dick’s

6 Sep 2008 /

Last year, Dick’s Sporting Goods bought Chick’s Sporting Goods. According to the Orange County Register, the four Chick’s locations in Orange County, including the one in Tustin that I shop at, will all be replaced by Dick’s by the second half of 2009.

I’m not happy about this. Oh, I know there are people who like Dick’s, and there are people who are 50-50 on the matter and can go either way, but there are also a lot of people like me who really prefer Chick’s.

In fact, I’ve been doing Chick’s for so long that I don’t see how I’m ever going to get used to Dick’s.


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