Why Companies Make Wrong Decisions

I recently read an article that stated something like 80% of all hiring decisions are misguided.  The same stat holds true for hiring contractors.  In fact, this fact has been consistent for many years in study after study.  Such studies are usually conducted by psychology types and they make some very good points.  Most companies have to adjust the position’s responsibilities to fit the new hire’s skills and even then the retention factor of new hires is alarmingly low.

So why does it happen with such scary frequency?  I suppose it is human nature, given how frequently I see or hear of ill-advised decisions by most human beings.   Is it a human quirk to make poor decisions?  Is there a common factor that ties all these poor decisions together?  Perhaps.  Humans have a knack for viewing everything through their own prejudiced filters, whether they admit them or not.  Very few can avoid making a gut decision upon first laying eyes on a person (that’s when 50% of your  judgement is made). A good book I recently read (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell) states that we should rely on our first gut instinct and where people go wrong is they insist on looking deeper, investigating further and that is where they go wrong. Unfortunately, most hiring is done on gut feel rather then a true evaluation of skills, character and accomplishments.  I’m not saying that is wrong, but then we try to justify that impression.  Granted, it is very hard to judge how a person will fit into your team, but I wonder if you really should rely more on that first few minutes of meeting the prospect to make your decision.

For example, as a consultant, I am judged by big past accomplishments, by my resume and how much experience I have rather then the reputation for my smaller, often  highly praised successes.  The fact that I’ve been developing SharePoint sites for 5 years , albeit shallow and no code, is far more relevant then my highly touted successes as a Project Manager, Architect and trainer because I’ve only done a half dozen of those adding up to mere months in some cases.  The fact that past clients absolutely rave about “McGyver like” solutions, amazing “Reagan like” people management skills, and other soft skills, they’d rather look at how big the past sites were, how long did they last (is a long, slow project “better” then a fast, well managed job?).

Also the fact that I’ve been sidelined by a few surgeries in past years makes me appear unreliable.  Yet my greatest successes came while recuperating, in pain/discomfort and pressing hard to get it done even though I was obviously not feeling well.   I  suppose, in some eyes, that can be seen as working well under great pressure.  I know I do well in emergencies.  I don’t like them, but I do well.  I am also gruffer, more direct, less tactful, more pragmatic.  Basically I get things done when under pressure.  It is when things are going along at a well-planned pace that I cannot seem to think clearly or operate at the top of my game.   Hmmm, perhaps I should be an ambulance attendant or a similar role in IT.  Not sure I want that because it is hard on my ulcers.

It sure gives me something to think about though.  I know that I have far better days being productive when I am busy dealing with challenges then when I have little or, worse yet, nothing to do. I have trained several people in SharePoint and all of them out earn me now.   Yet they come to me when the wheels come off and I, being the nice guy that I am, help them fix it, usually as an unpaid, behind the scenes adviser.  They look good and get the promotion/raise.  I get a nice pat on the back.

I really do have to stand up more for myself. Unlike most companies my hires usually go on to success.  I guess, unlike most companies, I judge correctly somehow.  I know I promote, encourage and foster good work.  Too bad it’s almost always under the radar.  Maybe one of my hires will reach CIO/CEO before I hit retirement age and I will see a payoff.  I hope so.  I need to fund that retirement somehow.

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Using Lync can be a challenge

I don’t know about you, but I and my team seem to have problems remembering how Lync works.

Lync is a powerful online meeting tool for sharing desktops, having audio/visual meetings, giving presentations, or just sending a quick immediate note via the chat tool.  But getting into meetings seems to be problematic for just about everyone I’ve talked to.

For example, if we use the 32 bit version of IE and try to enter a meeting, we can”t get in as a presenter, only as a guest.  By copying the URL from the meeting in the calendar to the URL bar in IE64, we get right in as presenters.  Sending people invitations, can cause a similar problem.  But if we default to IE64, we have logout issues (with a workaround here thanks to Matthew McBride at SharePoint Solutions).

First time implementers of non-server Lync often find a problem connecting to the Lync.  Sometimes it is because they have not been granted a licensed membership in the SharePoint site.  Other times they do not have a LiveMeeting account.  Yet other times….well, you get the idea.  Microsoft has more than a few ways  to get things done.  It’s discovering them that can be maddening.

So, solutions.  First, if you are a member of the site and have gone through the login-password change process AND launched   Install Lync  from the left hand menu, you should be able to launch right into your Lync session and keep it up in the background for those times people want to send you a chat or request a spontaneous meeting (something Lync does very well).

If you are not a member, you will note the email/calendar entry has an option for First Time using Lync.  Launch this install drivers and pointers that help Lync well, link up!  This often takes you in as a guest, but don’t worry, the presenter should have some power to make you presenter if the need arises.

The other option (that I find extremely unreliable) is to use the Lync webpage for setting a meeting.  It almost always sets everyone up as presenter and then you’re stuck.

I have looked around quite a bit and found no one has written anything on the Lync process.  Maybe all the experts and Microsoft think Lync is so easy that it is unworthy of a “How-to” article.  I wonder what they think of the users who are baffled as they remain unable to use Lync.    If you are listening, MSFT, (or other experts), how about it for us who are slow or just too busy to play with Lync to master it?

Rob Moses

Caladan Consulting, Inc.

Technology changes by 2020

I read a great post by Sean Williams at Fool.com and it got me to thinking of the changes I foresee.  Most of these are his but a few are my own. Here are some technologies I see greatly changed by 2020:

Robotic cars will take over most driving – Google’s robot cars have proven incredibly reliable and safe.  In fact, the insurance industry has note the safety record of robot cars so vastly exceeds humans that I predict they will charge huge fees for human driven cars and give big discounts for robotically driven cars.  Who knows, maybe even a discount for proving you do NOT have a driver’s license!!  The government will have no coice but to go along given the huge difference in safety between robotic & human driven cars. This might be more of a 2025 change, but make no mistake, it is going to happen.

Digital Phones will dissappear – As Sean said,c’mon, you saw this coming, right?  Look at your smartphone.  It probably has better resolution then your old digital camera.  Plus it can do movies!!   This is one reason Eastman Kodak bit the dust (one of a dozen may I add) and is another reason why it’s crucial to pay attention to camera display sensor companies like OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI  ) that are driving camera innovation in devices from both Apple and Samsung. With new smartphones sporting 8MP cameras, and resolutions increasing yearly, why wouldn’t digital cameras go extinct?  Also note the incredible amount of research being done with smartphones.  Everything from 3d holograms that will float above your phone (using Microsoft’s Metro motion sensitive technology by the way), to reading brain waves to control your smartphone (or perhaps we should start calling it a “smart assistant”?).

USPS will go the way of the dinosaur – The postal service failed to make a required $5.5 billion payment to the postal union earlier this month as they posted a loss of $5.2 Billion.  Sooner of later the government is going to have to bite the bullet and shut the USPS down.  As Sean so adroitly noted, FedEx and UPS have a few years to figure out how to pick up the slack and take over mail delivery.  But the USPS will join it’s own Pony Express as ancient history by 2020.

Energy Drinks will be banned or tightly controlled – Sean hit this one on the head.  I know this is heresy to many teens and 20 somethings.  But sooner or later the FDA will put a lid on this “drug” that so many rely on.  Currently the FDA is concentrating on burying the tobacco inductry, but sooner or later they will take on energy drinks.

Credit Cards will be replaced – I have to add to Sean’s prediction here.  Credit card companies are seeing a decline in their customer base as people slowly move to Near Field Communication technology, or NFC.  First customers tried to move to debit cards, but the credit card industry was able to get the government to add fees that made them somewhat expensive.  Perhaps they see the writing on the wall as consumers will continue to move toward a more convenient form of paying for their Latte.  With NFC proving to be more safe, quick and convenient, you can bet this technology will grow inte future.  VISA, Master Card, American Express, et al, had better have plans to make the switch. So far, only companies like  Dolby Laboratories (NYSE: DLB  ) and NXP Semiconductors (Nasdaq: NXPI  ) are positioned to take advantage of the switch as they are pushing ahead on research and manufacturing on this technology.  NOTE:  This is ALSO based on smartphone technology!  Hint – this is where you should be investing – companies like Apple, Nokia, HTC, Samsung, etc.

The United States gets dethroned as the pre-eminent superpower: Another Sean prediction.  Though some disagree, the United States’ days as the world’s most important nation are numbered. That doesn’t mean the U.S. won’t hold its lead in innovation and manufacturing, but China is well on its way to dethroning the U.S. in countless other categories. China already lays claim to the world’s leading manufacturing output, energy consumption, and steel usage, and should, based on its current trajectory, easily surpass the U.S. in total GDP, retails sales, and imports by 2025. Simply put, people will be looking toward China to dictate global growth in the future first, not the United States.

Yes, the world is changing.  Are you paying attention?  Are you ready???