Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Yes, Dear. Let's organize and develop.

Two bits of wisdom in HR, courtesy of Softerware's Nathan Relles and Google's People Operations:

First, the single most revealing question to ask an interviewee?  Ask them to tell you about your company.

Nathan believes (and I agree) that hiring is like a marriage.  This is very much the process and analogy that Ricardo Semler uses, too.  Think of it as an engagement.

My two cents: The best employees are already borderline fanatics about your company and will be bright enough to teach you something new about your company before you hire them.  You should also judge a person by their past performance and ability to understand the current situation, not by their ability to create strong positive feelings (although that's important, too).

Second, Google's People Operations mentions their philosophy on their webpage.  "Find them, grow them, and keep them". Yes!  Yet for some reason, traditional companies seem to under-emphasize Organizational Development (grow & keep).  I am fighting to convince RMS to commit significant resources to 'grow'.

I have been listening to a lot of Elon Musk podcasts in the car recently.  His Oxford talk goes in to particularly juicy detail over his concept of first principles - which I sheepishly admit I got a bit wrong. The good news is that my interpretation, combined with his, is enormously powerful!

I interpreted first principles rather simply: Find the most basic rules about the nature of things and then derive from them to meet the needs of a complex situation. This is how physicists work.  I am sure this is intuitive to Elon, and he has learned to apply this in his business, but I wonder if he has a core life's philosophy.

It's funny how obsessed I am with people as opposed to other natural forms. I am guilty of anthrpocentrism in spite of my pledge of Deep Ecology and biocentrism.  But then again, people do seem to be where the action is these days - at least in terms of the most prominent threats to the future of the planet.  But we could be the most responsible stewards of this planet as well.  Just read Ishmael.

Anyway, the bottom line is I try to find philosophical first principles about people - simple tools for negotiating life with humans such as thinking of ideas as memes, extrapolating from that that all people are inherently 'good' that is, they are all trying to advocate for the survival of their genetic code.  Unfortunately, sometimes that gets a bit haywire with such a complex piece of genetic machinery as a person, occasionally with disastrous results.  But for the most part it appears evolution has done an amazing job of weeding out destructive forces such that even the most twisted individuals are often actually very sick. And you try to help sick people, you don't hate them.

Pick your least favorite person, living or dead.  If you'd been given the same genetics, at the same time, expressed the same way, gone through the same experiences in the same environment, you'd basically be that person - you'd make decisions just how they do. So there's only this narrow margin of becoming exposed to new things beyond one's control, absorbing that experience or information, and changing your own course because of it. That's why creating social structures, 'situations' which are designed to optimize human experience, is so important.  You need the set people up to succeed.

And I try to do that using first principles.

Elon is thinking a bit more about technology when he talks about first principles.  He's literally applying the laws of physics to the technology to see 'back of the envelope' what the growth potential of his technology is.  If it can outperform a mainstream technology by a significant margin (usually a multiple of some key efficiency indicator, sometimes orders of magnitude) then he figures it will eventually be profitable.  (Space X was a crazy folkloric gamble, but I'm guessing he had backup plans.) For example, he could see the opportunity to improve battery technology, and figure that eventually electric cars could be cheaper to run than gas ones if the energy density goes up and cost goes down.

And one of my core challenges I grapple with in first principles of people is that idea of how to influence people. Maybe I'll post more on that later.  Gotta get to work!


Saturday, April 18, 2015

In our urgency to break it all down into buckets,
do we create artificial dichotomies?
Maybe it's all more of a stream than a bucket,
then all we need is flow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Time is on my side, she said.

There's this quote: "Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone."

I don't get this game we play.
I find I play anyway.
I thought I was behaving,
moving on more righteously,
learning from my mistakes.
but I cannot speak in planes like you.
my words are butcher's hammers.

Your name slipped out over a long flight,
now it crops up time and again.
In the strangest irony, it isn't you, but you
as a tool. Maybe you believed I saw you that way.
Part of my collection.

So anyway the wonder gnawed at me and I took the practice back up.

More than anything, I valued your soul.
A friend, bright kindred, you made the cosmic ocean less large, more bright,
 a spot of light to reference beside me.
But it hurt to see the light go out after us two lights danced in the current together so well.

The hell do I know about it anyway. The dolphins can go bleed on the rocks with you, and I have reclaimed the north country without needing to shovel coal out of my stomach anymore, where once we're butterflies. Im still angry.

But certain things, like mention of outer space, or the VA benefit, or piles of leaves. Like you said, we will always carry a piece of each other. We will always leave a mark.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Temporal Childhood

I remember
when the year 2k 
seemed so far away.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Happiness post

This is a happiness post,
to welcome in a new year.
Malhalo, and hooray!
And more-so, a mantra -

my love song to friends,
fellow travelers of the ether
so your legs may be less weary
and smiles might light upon your faces.

Welcome and be well.

(I also felt the need to offset the tone of my previous post, which is unintentionally dark, because I was vaguely trying to send a message.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Moving On

I guess I am hoping it's not necessary, since somehow it has proven to physically take a ridiculous amount of time.

I guess my highest hope is that i might learn to better express myself, multiplying that part of me which shines brightest and yet often proves the most alienating.

And maybe if i have mantra for my values, these things will come easier for me, not tearing my heart in so many directions.

I do feel trapped, still. Even after keeping my travels mostly solitary, Chester is going to feel claustrophobic.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Serendipity in Work and Sport



What are the odds that a business model and a game design theory could fit perfectly into each other?

Check this out...

A colleague recently shared The Ashridge model with me. She's got an MBA from a good school in the UK, worked for a number of notable medical device companies, so I'm not certain where she picked it up.  The Ashridge model was developed as a research project on 42 notable companies and their mission statements.  You can learn all about it here. The model is intended to drive company success by helping define a mission.


As soon as I saw this the words "Meaning" and "Optimism" resonated in my head.  

So, I'd like to share Jane McGonigal's research on gamification and game design, which you can learn more about here. She identified four characteristics of a good game:

Blissful Productivity – we stay determined and work on a task even if the goal is far off
Urgent Optimism – we keep going even if we fail (80% of the time)
Social Fabric – working with others forms relationships (cooperation with strangers, friends, & family)
Epic Meaning – desire to do something that matters, be a hero, be of service, be involved with a goal

...which I think are valuable for a company as well. It seems to interestingly echo the Ashridge Model.  Watch the magic happen:

Pretty cool, no?