Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Quick Lesson in Egocentrism

I have the same knee jerk thought upon hearing of one of my fellow humans doing or saying something that is down right inappropriate. "Tonight we've arrested two suspects in the burglery of an 80 year old woman," or "Breaking news... police are asking for tips on what seems to be a car jacking of the local meals on wheels van." I am not sure what you are thinking after reading those two headlines, but my thoughts don't immediately go out to the victim, but rather the mom of the perp. Unless she's Ma Beagle she's dissapointed, crushed and wondering where she went wrong. Instead of her kiddo thinking of the consequences of his decision on the lives of other's, his mind was missile locked on his own selfish desires. This mentality transcends illegal behaviour and often times rests comfortably in the minds of many job seekers and employers. I will give you an example of both just to be fair.

It's decision time and you have two companies after you. After careful consideration you decide on Company A because of its onsite gym facilities knowing good and well you will more than likely never set foot in there. Instead of contacting Company B to tell them of your decision to "bulk up" you proceed to screen the company's call. You get that dip in your stomach when you see the familiar number and instead of taking it like a (insert gender) you SCREEN it. Of course time will erase that sinking in your stomach mostly because the company will stop calling, but I assure you, there's a dissapointed recruiter who is blaming themself and it could have been avoided had you owned up to your decision.

Fresh from a meeting with the heads of your departments you sit down to an email from a persistent candidate who desperately wants to know their status. You just had the VP of Finance tell you straight up they were no longer being considered because of their lack of experience but you hesitate to respond. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news so you wait days to respond an avoid the difficulty of telling someone no. What you may not realize is every day you wait is another day this financial analyst is picking apart every comment and conclusion they made in the interview. It's also feasible they are following the behavior of the candidate in the above scenario and screening the calls of less desirable Company B because they are waiting to hear from you.

Kind of like the old chicken and the egg delima. Who tipped the first dominoe in the bad communication train... the recruiter or the candidate? Finger pointing obviously gets people no where so the solution I believe is to simply act in a manner that would make your momma proud. Candidates, if you have an interview scheduled, don't cancel the day of. I am an avid believer in not slamming doors before you atleast walk through the threshold and an even bigger believer in being an individual of your word. Companies, follow Midas's favorite rule and treat these candidate appropriately. Perhaps if everyone considered the time and feelings of all parties potentially effected the whole recruiting process might be just a little more productive. Well that's my sappy idea anyway...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


BY FAR my favorite game at the arcade is pop a shot. The adrenaline of racing the clock, the challenge of a constantly moving rim and backboard, the feeling of accomplishment when tickets pour out of the machine, or the competitive nature in me that erupts when I get only a couple of tickets and quickly anty up for the next go. It's ironic that this scenario is appealing to me, yet I am completely deflated in a work environment when I encounter a task that is a moving target.

Employees face this challenge in every industry. IT project managers who work tirelessly to get a team cohesive and briefed and BAM "Mr/Ms PM, we have reevaluated and it's in our best interested to dissolve your team and go another way" or the Advertising Exec who pours their heart and soul into a campaign only to have it squashed at the last minute. After writing those two scenarios I am immediately mad for these fictional characters and have already have thoughts of what I would say in that situation. But why? Is it this so different than pop a shot? Why don't I immediately think "I can't wait to go back to the the drawing board and anty up my resources and knowledge and see if I can't win them over!"

I think it all lies in expectations. I know what is about to happen when I step up with a tiny rubber basketball in my hands and wait for the countdown to expire before I start firing. In work for some reason we have this unrealistic expectation that people are going to have ideas and opinions and keep them... FOREVER. It's like asking a child what they want in line at McDonalds and getting frustrated because at first they wanted the hamburger, but now it's chicken nuggets, but right before you order they scream "ice cream." Now granted in that situation I would not set myself up for frustration by asking a child's opinion, but in the work environment we don't have that luxury. We are forced to listen and adapt to the higher ups if we want to remain employed. There is of course the option of "chunking it all and starting your own think tank."

My advice to myself and of course any of you reading that share my frustration is to alter your expectations a bit. Acknowledge people and situations change and make your success about the experience and not necessarily the end result. After all more than likely I go back to pop a shot not because I win, but because I like basketball.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I spent the good part of yesterday at Innotech here in Austin as an attendee and have great things to report on my end. I thoroughly enjoyed my first session from Ciber on implementing SOA geared toward CEO's and executives. I scanned the room and realized I was probably the only person listening who could sing the lyrics to an entire N'Sync song. Originally I attended for the sole purpose of honoring my registration with them, for a free pass to the conference, but obligation definitely turned into a great learning opportunity.

The speaker, Dr. Khalid Mansour, did a wonderful job of presenting and certainly said a handful of things that added significantly to my understanding of Service Oriented Architecture. What struck a chord with me however wasn't his explanation of coupling, or reuse, or the importance of data, but rather his sidebar on the importance of a cohesive team during every phase from planning the roadmap to implementing the best practices. I got excited because that is precisely where I come in and have the potential to make a contribution to a service that is proven to add significant value to a business.

There was a time when I had the naive misconception that recruiting was a matter of matching skill sets to a well written job description. There are definitely industries that support this emphasis on sourcing, but as Dr. Mansour stated, successful SOA project aren't solely about finding candidates who know the language, database, or middleware the project requires. What is the stick in the spokes of this cut and dry method you ask? I would argue complacency. There is a world full of really smart people who simply walk around going through the motions without a passion or pursuit in the world. These candidates are excellent fits for certain positions that rely heavily on consistency and predictability, but from what I have gathered, that isn't the nature of SOA projects.

I think where the harmony comes is when each teammate respects the fervor of the person sitting next to them. They may not agree 100%, but they know their colleague has given serious consideration to what is coming out of their mouth, so odds are they're going to listen and respond back with equally thought provoking material. I definitely am still learning tips on determining early on who these people are by the questions I ask. Ideally I would love to get to the point where I can have a conversation with a candidate who may not be a perfect fit for the requirement I am working on, but can consistently direct them to companies, industries, and teams where they will thrive. In the mean time, I look forward to any insight into what I can do now to lay the ground work to get there.