Tag Archives: process

The one where four is quite enough

So I attended a conference about learning…yes, the one I wrote about yesterday. The company hosting the event develops simulations for learning (they’re called Ososim) and their Technical Wizard in Chief (this may not be his actual job title) stood up in the afternoon to talk about complexity with specific reference to software development.

I don’t mind admitting that when I heard what was coming I started to tune out and thought this may be an excellent opportunity to catch up with my work e-mail…until I started to actually pay attention.

He opened with an anecdote about aeroplanes which went something along the lines of, in the case of emergency what was the thing a Captain would want to hear from his 1st Officer – “Captain, we have a problem with engine 43”. The notion being that in an aircraft with 44 engines, a problem with one of them would be so insignificant as to not challenge the safety of the aircraft.

He then went on to debunk his own anecdote as he pointed out that in terms of risk and complexity an aircraft engine is pretty much as high as it gets and that going from the 2 or 4 that are standard to 44 would be adding exponential risk to the aircraft and the passengers thus defeating the point.

Can you guess on a scale of 1-10 how interested I am in the complexity of software development? The answer is an integer below 0. But…it did start the grey matter whirring about the notion that in protecting ourselves from risk often we add complexity that in fact increases the risk.

Stop for a moment and think about the last time you had any form of significant crisis involving HR in your organisation… What was the response?

I’ll bet you a pound that it involved a new process, a new policy, something that needed signing, a briefing, some form of sheep dip training… Am I close?

So you’ve introduced another control mechanism and responded to problem by reducing the empowerment your employees feel another notch and also created something that you can miss out on in the future thus creating more work (which may or may not  add value) for HR to obsess over.

I suppose my point here is if control is anything more than an illusion are we really trying to maintain it by introducing more complexity and more process which actually serve to hinder the organisation and it’s employees? Go into your organisation today (or tomorrow) and look at the policies and procedures you have and to each one ask, “is this the 43rd engine?” – you may find yourself building a different type of aircraft.


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The one with Billy Connolly and Recruitment

Billy Connolly observes in one of his older stand up shows the amazing effect that the British Parliament (and it’s probably true of parliaments everywhere) has on political rhetoric. If memory serves it’s to do with the then headline grabbing issue of pit bull terriers. He describes the passage from the public question of whether we should shot them or castrate them and how this becomes, following a trip through the machinations of Westminster, that people have to register them at the post office…

All the power, energy and possibly value of the original intention is completely lost and what remains is a tiny shadow of its former self.

Now imagine being an applicant for a role in a large business…

Should they hire you to be the architect of their next success, the person to run all of their operations or just make it easy and appoint you as their next CEO?

Well, it seems, following a trip through the machinations of some of the corporate beasts your barnstorming application will be a shadow of its former self. By the time it ducks, weaves and turns through system to the person who is actually hiring, your energy, enthusiasm and passion are likely diminished and maybe, just maybe you’ve got another job.


I am NOT, I repeat NOT, having a pop at internal recruitment teams. I repeat NOT!

So why have I just written that?

Firstly, I have sat in an internal recruitment team and seen first hands the juggling act of managing multiple vacancies, across multiple line managers who all have conflicting priorities.

Secondly, I have been a recruitment consultant (shhhh don’t tell anyone) and tried to represent (yes I use that word) great people into great employers

Thirdly, because I see people time and time again go from the height of enthusiasm to the depths of apathy about a role due to falling victim to the shock absorber.

Finally, and most importantly, businesses need great people. The better the people, the better the business (or I best give up now and go and work behind a bar in the Caribbean)

It strikes me that recruitment in all its guises has become far too much about cost and far less about value. After all that’s easy to measure and you know the old adage ‘if you can measure it, you can improve it’ but what about quality?

The guy I used to work for in recruitment had an aspiration of presenting one CV, to get one interview, to get one hire – it wasn’t a numbers game, it was a carefully considered process to ensure the best person was presented with the least camouflage to distract the person hiring. Let’s face it “the hiring manager” doesn’t give a stuff how cool your ATS is, how many people ‘like’ your Facebook group or how efficiently the tiers on your PSL works – they just want the right person at the right time. Imagine going into an Aston Martin dealership and them telling you how great the truck that delivered the car was – you wouldn’t care (if you were me, you’d be too busy trying to wrestle the keys out of their hands)


If you work in recruitment either internally or externally, I honestly wasn’t having a pop at you, but would ask that you take a moment and reflect on quality and if you have great quality measures then share with your peers – tout suite!

If you are a manager elsewhere in a business, for the sake of the customer (yes the customer) who is the author of that CV you have in front of you, whatever you do, do it quickly

If you are in a more senior position within an organisation, think about the balance of all the effort you put into brand or business marketing, the quality measures in your product or service and the costs of training and development in your business  and then think about how ruthlessly efficient your recruitment service is….is it too ruthless?

A little credit where it’s due:

This post started as an idea after reading a post by @mervyndinnen

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