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CNN has published this article on just another twist in the “talent battle” that does not exist.  Read the article and the comments.

If you cannot hire people in this economy, in any economy, I don’t know if I’d trust you with watering plants or raking leaves. This is not just sad, this is a sheer disgrace for the woman in the  picture and, as a result, for the organization she works for. Bad publicity and I wouldn’t want her to be a part of my organization.

This is a great example of how awful hiring practices can be and a reason for massive underemployment.

Link to the article

Based on my recent article.

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Jack has been with the company for almost ten years. On a Thursday afternoon, he was called to the HR, where he was informed that his services were no longer required. Not that he’d done anything wrong, but the economy is tough, you know. A security guard was called to escort him to the door like if he were a convict. His personal effects would be couriered to him later.

Elsewhere, a company’s new CEO reduced the middle maangement layer by half, sending some 120 employees home. Here is how it looked from inside: a phone in a cubicle rings.  After a 30-second conversation, its owner stands up and makes his or her way to the HR, never to return. The whole organization is terrorized for days. No explanation follows.

Yet some other place, every Friday at 3pm for about a year, names are called over a PA. Their holders are to report to a meeting room. Everyone knows that they are gone. This goes on for a year. Morale is at its worst.

Here is my advice to you if you are considering taking a job offer or are assessing the state of the HR department within the organization. Before looking at their promotional materials, policies or initiatives, look to understand how they go about letting people go. That’s the basic litmus test.

It is not easy to find a good tradesman, such as a plumber or an electrician. Really good ones seem to be booked up for months if not years and I was wondering, well, how long exactly does it take to develop that kind of a track record.

There is a roofer operating in the area where I live who I will call David here. When I asked another local tradesman if he could recommend anyone who is the best roofer around, he said that David is by far the best and probably the most expensive, however I’d have to get in line because he is booked solid for many months.

Apparently, he has a dozen guys working for him and they can strip and relay any roof faster and better than anyone around. They have the best tools on the market, some of which are customized. They take on complex and problem roofs that others don’t want to touch. Once the project is finished, the site is left spotless. Roofer

David is widely respected among other tradesmen who readily recommend his services, like it happened in my case.

David is 25 and has been in business for just about 5 years.

In organizations, we need to judge and reward people by the results they produce, not by their age, seniority, certifications, years on the job (doing the same thing all over again) or how carefully they fill out their time sheets or how much time they spend in the office.

In life, results is the only thing that matters. Seriously.

In my recent article, I suggested that you shouldn’t be hiring via recruiters or even getting your own HR to write a job advertisement.


Here is a good example, sent to me by someone in Toronto, Canada. It is from an advertisement on

“Strong work ethic (40-50 hour week)”

 Apparently, it is now measured in hours. Who writes these things?

UPDATE – August 12, 2009 – Someone posted a question on the Organizational Development group page in LinkedIn, asking how to quantify integrity.


I share 30 concrete (and sometimes controversial) ideas on building a winning team that can be implemented right away in this article published by

Link to the article

There are a few things that I am yet to discover in business world:
– an organization which does not call itself a “dynamic environment”
– a strategically valuable HR department
– true diversity in an organization which makes diversity its “strategic priority”
– “talent shortage” (yet there is dire shortage of people capable of spotting and hiring talent)

Good read. I like Malcolm’s style, his curiosity and the gift of looking at ordinary things from an unexpected angle. I have seen him speak several times and he is incredibly intelligent, quick and witty.

In Outliers, Gladwell asserts that success cannot be directly attributed to raw innate talent and it is often a function of hard work and sheer luck. This is not a new argument but he goes a little bit further and says that you need to put in 10,000 hours to become good at anything.

For years, I have been critical of the current hiring practices (see this, for instance) with their propensity to concentrate on irrelevant metrics rather than on the true evaluation of the candidate’s abilitities and attitude. This is not surprising given that hiring decisions  are firmly in the hands of the least paid and least knowledgeable people. Hiring the right person is difficult. Hiring someone based on acronyms and certifications is not and can be easily operationalized.

I wonder if Gladwell’s assertion about the requisite 10,000 hours will be  taken by the HR people as a confirmation for their modus operandi, looking for candidates with an arbitrarily set number of years of experience in this or that, which such a bad indicator of a person’s value. Guy Kawasaki would never get hired at Apple, as an example, in the hands of those who administer hiring today.

Does it mean that Gladwell’s assertion is wrong?

I don’t think so, and here is why:

  • he talks about very high levels of proficiency in complex activities. It does not take 10,000 hours to become good in a new programming language or learn to drive a truck well.
  • 10,000 hours in his definition is 10,000 hours of thoughtful practicing, hard work, analyzing mistakes, correcting them and moving on – not 10,000 hours merely sitting in a cubicle.
  • we acquire knowledge from a variety of sources – someone growing up in a family of boaters will know a whole lot about boats by the time they are 12, without having a shred of “working experience”

I am pretty certain that Outliers will be cited by HR professionals to support their methods … I am also sure not many of them will read it.

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