Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Along Came A Spider

I'm told that a spider intuitively knows the different vibrations of prey in its web. This means it will quickly pounce and secure a feed that happens into its web, but wont waste its energy on a leaf or rain or wind that might set the web a shaking.
This in essence is model recruitment.
And by that I mean most recruiters or headhunters are pretty good and not employing leaves and sticks, but one of my most pressing challanges I have come across is inspirin not just people to throw in their lot with me, but the right people to throw in their lot.
For me recruiting is a specialised form of performance management, specialised because the act of employing someone shoudl integrate them, or graft them straight into the existing development plan essentially they start with direction the same as the existing employee base does each day.
The specialisation is in doing a good development plan by inferring the data one collects as a matter of course with the existing employee base.
And that means pouncing on people with the right development potential and not wasting energy on dud prospects, people with limited and/or the wrong kind of growth potential for the organisation.

But one may say touche tohm you dickbrain, is the energy really wasted if you learn the vibrations through spending the energy on dud employees.
And I guess that would be were the second functional element of the spiders system comes in.
Stricktly speaking the answer is 'no' I do believe people have an intuitively good sense to judge things such as disingenuosness (that's gotta be the word of the day) or untrustworthiness or bullshit. So so long as interviewing a dud prospect doesn't result often in hiring a dud prospect i'd be happy.
The other side of the spiders system is the web itself. If you think about it the spider positions itself at the crossroads of the web the central transmission point. This creates the efficiency of hunting using a net (that transmits feedback) but it is essentially a preprepared tool. The Spider expends energy to create it, then is rewarded by the greater efficiency, so spending energy sending out 'feelers' or transmission lines, building a web that not only catches prey but allows for effective notification...
...do you hear what I'm saying? the web's functionality isn't that it is large, that's not the true efficiency gain, it's function is that it communicates rapidly whether the cooking is good so to speak. The spider sits in the right place, usually the middle of the web and then its reach and accuracy skyrocket.
That is the natural recruiting model. Both reach and accuracy, maximising opportunity whilst minimising risk.

The trick is where a spider seems to innately understand its objectives, recruiting is more abstract, a fly is a commodity, one fly is much the same as another. A recruiter for a call centre might for example work this way, it is looking for people with hands, and voices. Rather simple criteria, so picking up that vibration off the transmission lines is pretty simple.
Someone say looking for a designer with an ability to empathise with the target market is going to make our recruiter spider's job that much harder. Because it then needs to pick up a specific combination of these abstract ideas to make the hire.
Then the next day it has to look for something different.
My solution:

Most companies start with the position for which they are hiring and then look for someone who fits.
I think I would want to start with a person I want to hire then create/modify/select the position that best suits them.
And throughout such a process the risk of expending energy devising a development plan is reduced.
Once again we are dealing with a relatieve commodity, but this time it is talented people

I guess from here the next logical thing to actually nut out and create is the performance development process, which would tie recruiting and outplacement together nightly. Then I'll have my flowing rockpool to relax in.

Space = Time

One of the first things I noticed once I stopped working is the space. Not just that I am no longer in an office in front of a computer most of the day (well now I am) but that my headspace has expanded a lot. There are no nagging issues I have jumping around my head late at night and popping in anxiously when I wake up.
I think my 'stress' level was always that buzzing healthy level when working, as I always felt capable of doing whatever it was that was bugging me. But now it is something else. Almost the only thing I worry about is my pack, do I have to move it today, what do I need from it, is it safe to leave here? etc.
I house is pretty hard to steal, a pack is, and the psychological difference between having your life in a house and having it in a pack is significant.
I haven't thus far been in the situation of sitting up at night with a handgun watching for thieves until dawn but it could happen.
Overall the Japanese are trustworthy though, I'm sure I could leave my pack in the middle of the shopping mall and some polite fuckers would tape off the area until I came to claim it.
So really that's the only trivial concern I really have day-to-day and when resolved I have none. But if there is a simple truth about this state of being it is this:

Life needs a context

Also expressed as the devil finds work for idol hands, so I'm not really surprised to see me dedicating 4-5 hours a day to working on ideas for consulting, for my organisation I plan to start and my own personal development, more or less how I want to work in the future.
But still there is plenty of space.
I think there's a danger in not deliniating a life into work and leisure, public and private etc but I think those lines should definitely be dotted, because a life in context is still one big system, a fool would believe that one's private life does not effect their public one and vice versa.
So for me this informal state of 'working' when I want is necessary both for my sanity and as practice for easing back into gainful entreprenurial employment.
So part of all this space I have is dedicated to rebuilding my body, running every morning (which is fucking hard) meditating daily, learning a bit of language, sightseeing (but seeing people is one of the best sights to see) and also sitting down and trying to nut out the various problems and challenges of a start up.
The space I have is more in terms of time, and time affords choice I was reading up on Nuero Linguistic Programming as one such step on my musha shugyo and came across this handy insight in an online crash course:

nlp presupposition 8 - context of behaviour
You need to evaluate your behaviour in terms of what you are capable of becoming. You need to strive to become all that you are capable of being.

And I think that is exactly what my journey is all about right now.
I can't imagine spending all the time I have afforded myself to pure 'tourist' activities, it would seem a suspension of life, like I am floating in the ether achieving nothing, just experiencing things without thought and reflection.
Going to 'tourist attractions' such as castles and gardens though does provide insight into architecture and planning and geometry as part of the sentient relationship to space.
Also from my last month at Honda dwelling in process map land, it was interesting to see the einsteinian concept of Space = Time represented so perfectly. The aim of a process map is to simplify a process as much as possible. A complicated process map, takes up a lot of space and usually this follows that the process itself usually takes up a lot of time.
If you cut down the process, it simplifies it, presumably making the process more efficient by eliminating choices or sentient effort that may result in redundancies or errors.
But such simplification in the broader sense enhances choice, because when liberated from a complicated process, we are presented with more choices as to what to do with our time.
It creates the kind of Space I have now.
I remember thinking that working for a company is the act of selling my time.
As a supplier of time in the market place it is surprising given the amount of buyers how little choice the package comes in. Namely its 40 hours a week or bust.
Yet when you achieve efficiencies I think their suddenly are two choices one are presented with.

To use the Space/time saving to contribute more value


To use the Space/time saving to reduce ones working hours.

I think at different junctures I would like to make different choices, but because of the restrictive bundling of how much time I have to sell, I am really forced to constantly make choice one, or if I'm being bad, opt out for boredom.
Same same, now that I'm travelling, boredom will be my biggest enemy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hey Miki you're so fine

美咲 aka Miki, aka Miki so lah, aka pretty cake, aka Misaki Shinanibobbles remains one of my favorite people. Whilst being unfortunate to lose her as a partner, I am fortunate to have the opportunity of meeting her twice, once in Australia as a student bum and here in Japan as a working retail assistant.
When she broke up with me, I underreacted probably, but that's because I saw it coming a mile off in the unrealistic attempt to accomodate impossible working hours and geographical distance. Also I was flooded with fond memories.
What really deserves to be said though, that of all my relationships, this one was the best. I mean nobody fills my so easily with Joy as misaki, and for the duration of our relationship I think I learnt a real lesson about actively living my life rather than living in anticipation of a better tomorrow.
Some balance has to be struck though, I have often made tomorrow much easier for me today.
but deferred happiness is a tragic syndrome of our times, most peoples careers being the ultimate manifestation of it. It for me makes it more tragic that Misaki has chosen a nose to the ground hard working life ahead of one of kicking in Australia having fun, but to be fair I can't imagine what she'd do career wise, or what I could offer to keep her challenged and occupied. But still even now she is irrepressably charming and retains the ability to make me laugh.
A classic girl, through and through. The day is for enjoying today.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One thought follows another

I was thinking today about the difficult business situation of letting someone go. It sparked off a few thoughts that I distractingly tried to pursue all at once, and then I thought, here is a good place to straighten them out.
I forget how it originated, I think it was me wondering how to approach explaining the power versus relationship matrix which hinges a lot on having an understanding of the abstract concept called power.
Power is something I've thought about long and hard because I think it is something important to understand, and once understood it becomes empowerment, because power as far as I have experienced is given usually and not taken, albeit it can be given under strong persuasion it is usually vested by someone to someone else because they believe it to be their best option.
But I don't want to go too deep. Recently Rod showed me in one of his training courses a simple 2x2x1 matrix of power versus relationships, to give one a little background. (the one refers to one dimension or namely one exchange, say an employment relationship, uncomplicated by other relationships such as personal ones) and really on the balance of things their will between two people be one relationship that defines the power structure between them all the time. One would be foolish to exploit there power in the context of their advantage, say being a rip off mechanic to a customer who is also the financial advisor at other times you are relying on to maximise your wealth. Although it does happen.
Anyway that sort of complication is what can cloud up the simple matrix whose outcomes follow:
1. Low Power-Low Relationship = Lose-Lose
2. Low Power-High Relationship = Lose-Win
3. High Power-Low Relationship = Win-Lose
4. High Power-High Relationship = Win-Win

I don't want to go into the detail here accept to say such a tool is useful for negotiation and such to access the value of a relationship and/or the headspace you are in. Although asking yourself the question: 'Is my power high?' could potentially be misleading.
In Intro to organisational behaviour, the last subject they taught was potentially one of the most interesting, infact the course material was itself really interesting but the course delivery at RMIT being student driven was usually ill-prepared, undisciplined and highly variable. But the subject matter touched briefly on some of the different forms of power to list a few:
Legitimate power, Expert power, Social power, Physical power etc.
Someone is always likely to be the sum of various components of these, I think legitimate power can sometimes be a bit of a trap, namely because it can lead to you using your authority that when derived from legitimate power (a position and title) is a limited resource, a bank account if you will with a certain amount of credit and if your subordinates don't percieve a return on the use of said authority the credit dries up. Yet most people aspire to such legitimate power, if anything from my observation its a handicap to developing Social (or informal) power. Usually legitimate power is attractive because the mechanism of giving power is more rigid, the givers of the power are inclined to do so freely in recognition of its contribution to running the organisational machine.
Anyway I was thinking about this because I was thinking of the matrix in the original context it was taught to me, a sales context (in the more broader negotiation sense not just cold transactions) and Rod pointed out (that my limited experience confirms) that most sales techniques and courses focus on the Win-Lose High Power-Low Relationship as being the ideal.
This is a great way though to churn customers and alienate your customer base, namely use up your resources the first time, then try and plunder more. A win-win mentality I was taught in Uni (and not subsequently in my sales jobs) under the moniker of "Consultative Selling" that is you determine a clients needs and then see if you can mutually benefit from the transaction. If not you would actually direct that person to a competitor, knowing that the precedent you have set with the customer will make you a preferred sales consultant in the future.
Anyway for some reason this got me thinking about the organisation I endeavor to build, I want it to be very much an intellectual commons, that is its practices and intelligences, operational procedures and so fourth are as open and accessible as wikipedia, and where do you draw the line.
I surveyed some friends of mine early on in the conceptualisation of my organisation and asked the question: 'in dealing with problem employees how would you go about it' or some such shit. Both responded it shouldn't come to that, but by and by being open and honest with them.
I do regard feedback, honest feedback as a gift, an dishonest feedback namely being encouraging when thinking otherwise as one of the worst traps an organisation can set for itself.
But I firmly believe there is also a too hard pile, of employees if you will, that simply don't have the growth potential to justify giving any more chances, getting the right poeple on the bus and the wrong people off.
It is a basic opportunity cost question, is there someone else I could sit in your seat, pay your wage and get more value out of? And in that situation I am a firm believer in laying someone off. That is taking into account the full picture (long term, short term, training costs, knowledge loss costs, payout costs etc.) and I also realise with that question the answer for anyone, always is probably yes, so some degree of realism is needed as well to keep that philosophy from becoming the misguided corporate chainsaw.
But to get to the point of the subject, I would like to be open and honest, and I think there is a lot to be said, and a lot of times I have dropped the ball on this front, of getting the stakeholders involved as soon as possible.
The destructive forms of communication are indirect and passive, because you aren't raising an issue with a person who may have the power to change it, and I think maybe too many employees get the chop or have their career growth impeded because of managers evaluating through an indirect channel (discussing employees amongst other managers/top upwards assesment) or passive (not sharing their opinion with anyone but acting on it in key decisions).
The other two are assertive and aggressive, both of these are sufficiently direct to do something with. Employees are usually more guilty of indirect or passive communication than their managers as legitimate power positions usually have some structured feedback method, and providing feedback top down is usually encouraged.
So in dealing with a troubled employee I gotta say I'd be inclined to bring them in as a stakeholder the moment I start having concerns, and then discussing the concerns with them, and asking the person for solutions. Then the onus is on them, I'd also be inclined to say opinions being facts in themselves, excuses are not necessarily as persuasive a form of communication to hear as behaviour is, the clearest and loudest form of communication there is.
And of course built around power sharing, if nothing else feedback is the most basic form of power sharing, it is saying: 'I want you to be involved in this decision'
And like that my approach changed, and it fits with my overall vision of a participative organisation without compromising my value of maintaining the best employee base as possible.
And axing an employee I guess is the logical output of someone making excuses, or more to the point communicating the wrong message in behaviour. Next I think I'll tackle recruitment.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

天才 じゃない

Well I now have another day in Osaka thanks to my being disorganised and Miki unsurprisingly being just as hard to contact when I'm in Japan as when I'm not in Japan.
Yesterday I went to Osaka castle despite feeling all castled out. They had an exhibition on of the chief advisors to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi is Japans Abe Lincoln, despite not being particularly renowned for freeing slaves nor his honesty. But he is the rags to riches unifier of Japan. In his latter years he simply went crazy, crazy with power.
But the castle is impressive, one could imagine it being almost impregnable certainly to any forces japan could muster but maybe not to western artillary of the time.
An interesting study in the nature of power. The pains the old rulers of japan took just to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning created a nightmare security task for the staff. also just a pain in the arse, and thats just precautions such as passwords, gaurd rosters, body doubles, rotating sleeping rooms, nightingale floors etc.
Then add on top of that a castle as big as Osaka castle and you have one insecure leader. I always liked the more secure, emperors new clothes anecdote were the emperor strolls down naked in his special material that even he wont admit to not being able to see. I'd certainly want to be that free and easy as a leader, not having a security patrol and such.
But how to achieve this? I think security measures indicate that ones power is derived from depriving anothewr of it. Even democratically I imagine that 'you can't please everyone all the time' anecdote of Abe makes some security detail necessary, but at G20 the precautions there for Economic advisors would indicate that people aren't very happy with the job your doing.

セが 高い!

Finally I'm in the upper percentile of tall guys somewhere.
Anyway I'll try and get down some thoughts in the brief time I have.

In Osaka there are bicycles. Lots of them, behaving in ways one would be inclined to pull aside and give a lecture about how callous and irresponsible and faggy they are to be riding bikes in Australia. Not the straight sticking to the gutter riding on hume highway that I was doing back in Oz that would infuriate the drivers of campbellfield to the point of having to lean out their window and yell something lost in the crush of the doppler effect such as 'FAgn' or 'CUnn'.
I see cyclists here riding on roads and crossing from the left hand side of the street to the right and vice versa. on footpaths and riding into oncoming traffic. but its not worthy of conjuring up instant images of chaotic crazy asians cycling around transporting livestock in any way shape or form. the overall effect is pretty bland. and on average I see far less people thumping their horn or yelling at anyone. its all pretty calm. no helmets no nothing. its the land of do as you please when it comes to bikes.
And the streets are lined with them. No steel bike hoops sunk into concrete either, people just line them up on the street with a pissant lock to complete the deal that usually just immobolises the back seat. In shinsaibashi this is far more present than other cities of Japan I've been in.
The dark part of my mind says just pick up one of these bikes (I do miss my bike, the black stallion) and cut the lock with scissors and enjoy the convenience. I mean one could clean up with a pair of tin snips, a bolt cutter would make easy cutting for one of these.
but nobody does.
Same deal, the hotel I've been in the past two nights is a capsule hotel, my door is a woven read drape I pull down, no lock no nothing, I feel pretty comfortable here (if anything I'm dissapointed at how polite Osaka people are) but I know people I know who may object to sleeping so insecurely to be stabbed or molested in the night. and it is insecure just a practical reality. One becomes more conscious when ones life moves from ones apartment to something more takable such as a backpack of security.
I choose to trust people with it, and I trust them more if I pay money. However, both these trust based microeconomies, namely bike ownership and capsule (open door) hotels are almost utopic in there functionality, I'm refreshed that someone still treats security as optional not integral and provides another perspective of looking at society.
It all works here because there's a basic trust that nobody is a thief, it is simply below the japanese peoples dignity in the day to day sense, I'm sure all these crimes exists but in the alienating closeness of a city like Osaka, people in numbers choose to trust.
My bike got stolen locked to a hoop next to a basketball court in broad daylight where people where playing. What's the tradeoff to get a society from there to Osaka, what did it cost Japan to get so trustworthy?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

that's not my problem motherfucker

the above is a quote from "shatterday" by Harlen elson. It refers to a guy who discovers his been cloned and then preceeds to immediately try and fuck himself over.
and that's a little how I feel leaving my life behind. I'm not coming from the background of bussing tables saving up having no friends and going overseas to drink and party. for me I have just let go of my job, my apartment, my friends (so to speak damn facebook they'll find me anywhere), my family, my dog and a fair portion of my clothes.
so the question that's been annoying me most is the "are you excited?" one because up until leaving I wasn't everything I had to do was all cost, all losses. not pleasent. so I couldn't honestly say I was.
I think I told Rod aswell that I view this whole trip as preparation. I'm honestly if anything more excited about the prospect of getting back having done this travel than what I'm doing over there. I mean I picked my destinations somewhat as I picked my uni subjects with the same haphazard method of picking stuff that seems convenient and fits my overall educational objectives whilst none of them perfectly combining all the things I want to learn.
For me work play and everything is the same browny green mix of playdough. It's probably a good thing I left my work as despite all my efforts to not work overtime it had started to become the largest part of my life, it could also be a symptom of the handover training though. I don't think I ever took anything else at work that seriously.
Christina better not be copping out yet. Its prudent I think of her now as I was lecturing her in my last honda days about the importance of attitude. On the plane I was amazed at how quickly my fear of not being in control overcame me again. just paranoia like, what if my friends in Japan don't like me anymore, what if the hotels booked out I should have made a boooking. I was admittedly dissapointed with my reaction and did my first zazen session in Hong Kong airport (they have promotional posters for "clean coal" there with beuatiful montain vistas and ceo's in sports jackets but you couldn't see 2 k in the airport for the smog there. a dangerous precedent for beijing) to calm myself down. I thought I'd gotten better at accepting and improvising than that and to be honest I probably have since I recognise it now. knowledge of how you work is empowering but it doesn't necessarily bring about control.
Saying bye to Zamin was the hardest and the sweetest. I think he puts it all in perspective really. I mean the time I have to look forward to not seeing anyone I know if multiplied by 12 is how long he's been seperated from his family. and If I feel out of control (an illusion) then when he was in Jordan and Nauru and Melbourne for the first time I can't really conceive of how tough its been.
But now with startling clarity I am now looking at the lesson I have "planned" for myself and I see avenues for getting stronger and better. I mean its 8 months of more or less solitude. Its not even culture shock as such because I probably will never have time to adapt to my surroundings and build a new life before moving on. As a traditionally sedentry person this should be good (stressful) for me to build on. It also means I've got to initiate relationships with people if I want to be anything more than a mute observer. Japan shouldn't pose to much of a threat but theseother countries where I don't speak the language may prove problematic.
and of course sticking to a budget and so forth. I hope its not all just a reaction to my surroundings type learning though and I get to do some structured personal development.
anyway for autumn here I sure am stewing in ball soup. I'll describe osaka and hopefully have some pictures posted on facebook soon.
fuck you all you people with homes and beds to go to. you wish you were here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Daily Disciplines

While away I'm going to be endeavoring on a number of structured activities designed to help rebuild my mind, strip down the clutter and make it more efficient. Infact to correct myself also my physiology. And technically I shouldn't be drawing a destinction between my mind and body. That kind of thinking can lead to spirituality

Discipline #1: Zazen - the practice of zazen is zen. The attainment is the practice. The practice is attainment. Thoughts are like weeds for which we should be glad. And a weed is like a cloud over the moon obscuring our vision but giving us appreciation for the clear night. confused? me too. The physical side be sitting still. I'm going to start with 20 minutes a day and build up to 2 hours or so hopefully by the end of my journey.

Discipline #2: Muscle Balancing exercising - My hip rotators, hamstrings and lats are imbalanced causing my bad posture and threatening injuries. I need to increase their flexibility and range so I need to do the static stretches every day to correct my posture.

Discipline #C: Jogging - Right now my calves resemble somebodies neck from peddling up and down the hume highway all day. And I'm nigh on 14kg heavier than my year 12 days with no significant increase in height. So I need to rebuild and reshape myself running minimum 3k getting up to a regular 20k. Major obstacle to this is that my food budget is going to be drawn and quartered whilst my calorie intake skyrockets. If I hit 71 kg I'll start worrying.

Discipline #4: Active Listening - Foreigners should make this activity easier as I will have to concentrate on what they are saying. This is all based on the human ability to speak at 55 words per minute while thinking at 250 words per minute. In that lag is usually where the listener gets distracted and for myself especially this is usually the space in which I make up my humorous and/or scathing response rather than really focusing on what a person is saying. So I'm consciously going to try and do this while I'm away.

And now I've communicated my goals I'm more likely to succeed. I'm also mindful that internal changes are often noticed on a subconscious level, so conscious of the changes I'm making perhaps you will be better equipped to notice them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I'm tired of morley putting the onus on me for my blog to be something more than a self indulgent emo set of posts. I thought since my first post ever is so long ago dead and buried to maybe reiterate what this blog is for and some rules I have for me.

The blog is an expansion on Johari's window to increase my Visable window through the facilitation of me disclosing things about myself and feedback from various levels of anonymous readership (yes both of you) would indeed reduce the aspect of what is known about me by others but not myself.
So as such cetain rules follow:

censorship: none, nothing it would defeat the point if I self censored my posts to avoid embarassing myself or others though sometimes I reveal a little about my sensitive side by not disclosing the name of someone I'm talking about.

spelling and punctuation: no consistency gaurunteed.

proofreading: I don't do it, if I proofread as well I'd never post anything and I try to be as true to my first take or thought on something as possible.

emotionality: no consistency gaurunteed.

truthiness: blog posts are not honours thesis' I never will guaruntee that I will have checked my facts, used reason, have supporting evidence nor rely on any basis of my perspective actually existing.

But don't let any of that hold you (the reader) back. In the spirit of Johari, any feedback is appreciated, if you point out some flaw in my thinking that makes me a hypocrite for example this is good because I then go and reflect on why I'm a hypocrite and may or may not disclose my reasons for it.
Your feedback may result in no actual change in my mindset, if say you object to my point of view on Zionism or something. But I do like to hear it.

And thats why I maintain a blog.

Monday, October 15, 2007


You may have noticed, I almost haven't touched this blog. its fallen a little by the wayside recently as I prepare to travel round the world. Life has been as interesting and stimulating as ever, however the kind of organisation involved in travelling is not friendly to a fundamentally disorganised guy like me, someone who likes to wing it. I mean they practically force you not to wing it.
Is this the true cost of terrorism?
Whatever the decline in touching this blog has lead to an upturn in the more convenient more readily at hand touching myself. But today I am sunburnt. Sunburnt just days before setting off so far north as to avoid summer all together.
Anyway, I'm going to attempt to redesign this blog in preparation for the brief alteration of lifestyle from reletively sedentary rock pool creature to wandering teen angst nomad. so from here on you will see a few changes on the page that hopefully will make your eyes weep blood as you attempt to read a layout that would make even myspace purveyors wince.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Role Models

Charles makes a very good point. This I think is the crux of any arguement that may attempt to justify any sort of today tonight expose on any athlete ever.