Losing Track Of How Your System Works

The ability to automate, dig deep, pre-sort, evaluate, chew, swallow, and spit out decisions without really understanding the implications or assumptions hard-wired in the set-up can be a rather large problem. A recent Wall Street Journal article by David Wessel about the use (overuse?) of software to screen job candidates got me to thinking about the costs of overly picky employment systems. What’s the problem with that?  So concerned with weeding out false positives, false negatives are likely going through the roof.  False postives cost a firm money in lost productivity and the cost of replacing a failed hire. I worry more about false negatives. What’s the cost of a false negative? The opportunity cost of not hiring someone who would have been stellar. Non-conformists, radical thinkers, creative types often don’t fit the jobs they excel in, but often are exactly the kind of thinking that invigorates corporate process. Applicants … Continue reading

Leadership on a Cliff

What was a harrowing descent had just become worse, the steep scree slope ended in a cliff of unknown dimensions. We had all bought into our guide’s decision to take the short-cut. Down was bad. Now we had to go back up. (from events recounted below…) Leadership fascinates me. Of course, recommended flavors and real life often don’t seem to line up as neatly as rah-rah management guides try to make us believe. While it would be nice to think that every successful conclusion was due to good leadership and every failure was due to bad, the lessons tend to be individualistic, full of false positives and negatives. Often the ability of followers to succeed in spite of leadership inanities is a more fascinating process question. That’s why it was refreshing to see that the 8 management points (and 3 pitfalls) put forward by Google appeared to be good common … Continue reading

Sustainable Business: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

I just clicked ‘checkout’ for a few pounds of Dean’s Beans. Haven’t tried them before, but wanted to after hearing Dean Cycon, CEO of Dean’s Beans and author of Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee, speak tonight at Indiana University. “I don’t believe social justice is a formula, I believe it is a process.” Passionate and positive, he shared his ideas on how socially responsible business practice and respect for quality of life can help change the world. Sustainable business is all the rage, but efforts at many companies seem to get holed up in the marketing department or as purely charitable exercises. I asked Dean if he thought large organizations could change over to the sustainable thinking his company emulates: “For a pre-existing large scale organization it’s hard because people are already in there looking for profit. […] However, when a corporation starts out and says these are … Continue reading

Flying With A Good Idea

Who here hasn’t at least once dreamt while speeding down an interstate in whatever jalopy the fates put in your hands that you were, just for a moment, flying? Ok, maybe it’s just us guys. Or am I the only one who kept track of exactly where that special bump in the country road would provide a moment of lift? A key component of creativity is recognizing when an idea that is working in one place might have application in another. (Like when Wilber twisted the tube box) This came to mind while watching Leo Laporte interview Ford CEO Alan Mulally at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Mulally came to Ford from Boeing where he helped design the first digital cockpit on the 767 and a number of aircraft after that. At the time some wondered what an ‘avionics guy’ would be able to do for the … Continue reading