Thursday, December 11, 2008

Muffins for Harvard

You know of all the great stuff at 'Hortsman's Wager' has to be one of the simplest and best.

My company plods along, like a sluggish Armada building up momentum that will cause awe-inspiring devestation to the way business is done or be a humiliating defeat much like the Spanish Armada of fame.

Anyway Jim Collins, Drucker and Manager-tools all agree that hiring is the single most important decision most companies make. My experience seconds this motion and I'm sure the future will carry it. But Horstman's wager is the standard 2 x 2 matrix that gives you true positives, true negatives, false positives and false negatives.

In testing terms you really want to worry about the "false" part they are the errors. a false positive in hiring means you accidently hired someone you didn't mean to. Usually because your job descriptions, interview questions, resume review skills and knowledge of the job requirements or performance standards all suck. That's not true, usually it's because the hiring manager doesn't realise they should care so much about hiring.

A false negative is pretty sad, it means you said no to someone you really do want. Somebody great who either botched their interview or you botched it for them.

But in hiring the manager-tools boys are pretty clear cut - the result of a false positive is so devestating you should assume the risk of generating false negatives in order to avoid them at all costs. It is better to hire nobody than to hire somebody bad.

If in doubt, no matter how spurious, say no.

Now as a thought exercise of late (and even later than that) I think about everyone I come into contact with as to whether I would hire them or not.

My list isn't a matrix though. It has three categories - definitely, maybe and definitely not.

It's been really interesting, as in surprising to me who I put where. As in how everyone I know that I think is a genius or nigh-on-genius can fall evenhandedly between 'definitely' and 'definitely not'.

The real tragedy though is when I think about it, 'maybe' as a category must inevitably become under Drucker, Collins and manager-tools will concur - the equivelent decision wise of 'definitely not'.

These are people who with a little help and guidance, an investment of time in other words would become truly valuable assets to any organisation (providing say if they are qualified carpenters any organisation refers to ones that employ carpenters and not say a high tech firm). But inevitably it's hard to justify spending the time and effort with 'maybes' when 'definitely's' exist.

You may think I'm harsh and arrogant, and let me tell you a definitely I would 'swoon' over. I would get down on hands and knees and beg them to help me out. I would change their grandmother's... well no I wouldn't because I can quickly see myself losing all my own time to acts of depravity intended to woo great people to my cause. But I'd come close is the point. People on the definitely list humble me.

Maybe is the only sad category. Definitely not you can take either way - definitely not because that person is a fucken moron that I wish I'd never even spoken to, AND definitely not that person is a genius that would be much better off working for themselves I can't do anything of value for them.

Anyway Harvard, if you're reading this If I had a company that had sufficient liquidity to actually pay you a wage I would 'definately' be over there swooning right now.

The rest of my list shall remain anonymous. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that shit.

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