A Fable For Management: The Ill-Informed Walrus

“How’s it going down there?” barked the big walrus from his perch on the big rock near the shore. He waited for the good word. Down below, the smaller walruses conferred among themselves. Things weren’t going well at all, but no one wanted to break the news to the Old Man. He was the biggest and wisest walrus in the herd, and he knew his business and they didn’t want to disappoint him or put him in a foul mood.

“What will we tell him?” whispered Basil, the walrus XO. He well remembered how the Old Man had raved at him the last time the herd caught less than its quota of herring, and he had no desire for that experience again. Nevertheless, for several weeks the water level in the nearby bay had been falling constantly, and it had become necessary to travel farther to catch the dwindling supply of herring. Someone should tell the Old Man. But who? And how?

Finally Basil spoke up: “Things are going pretty well, Boss,” he said. The thought of the receding water line made his heart grow heavy, but he went on: “As a matter of fact, the beach seems to be getting larger.”

The Old Man grunted. “Fine, fine,” he said. “That will give us a bit more elbow room.” He closed his eyes and continued basking in the sun.

The next day brought more trouble. A new herd of walruses moved in down the beach, and with the shortage of herring, the invasion could be dangerous. No one wanted to tell the Boss, though only he could take the steps necessary to meet the new competition. Basil approached the Old Man. After some small talk, he said, “Oh, by the way Boss, a new herd seems to have moved into our territory.” The Old Man’s eyes snapped open, and he filled his great lungs in preparation for a mighty bellow. But Basil added quickly, “Of course, we don’t expect any trouble. They don’t look like herring-eaters to me. More likely interested in minnows. And as you know, we don’t bother with minnows ourselves.”

The Old Man let out the air with a long sigh. “Good, good,” he said. “No point in our getting excited over nothing then, is there?”

Things didn’t get any better in the weeks that followed. One day, peering down from his rock, the Old Man noticed that part of the herd seemed to be missing. Summoning the XO, he grunted peevishly, “What’s going on, Basil? Where is everyone?” Poor Basil didn’t have the courage to tell the Old Man that many of the younger walruses were leaving to join the new herd. Clearing his throat nervously he said, “Well, Boss, we’ve been tightening up things a bit. You know, getting rid of some of the dead wood. After all, a herd is only as good as the walruses in it.”

“Run a tight ship, I always say,” the Old Man grunted. “Glad to hear that all is going so well.”

Before long, everyone but Basil had left to join the new herd, and Basil realized that the time had come to tell the Old Man the facts. Terrified but determined, he flopped up to the large rock. “Chief,” he said, “I have bad news. The rest of the herd has left you.” The Old Walrus was so astonished that he couldn’t even work up a good bellow. “Left me?” he cried. “All of them? But why? How could this happen?”

Basil didn’t have the heart to tell him, so he merely shrugged helplessly.

“I can’t understand it,” the old Walrus said. “And just when everything was going so well.”

MORAL: What the Boss likes to hear isn’t always what he needs to know.

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HOW TO: Win the War for the Most Talented Employees

Hi Everyone!

To start this new year I would like to share an article I recently read and enjoyed on HR management and recruitment and some best practices and recommendations on hiring and retaining great talent!

http://mashable.com/2011/01/03/find-talented-employees/

It’s very nice to know that we are on the right track here @ Informatech CR.  😉

Have a good one!

Cheers from Costa Rica

Communication Etiquette 101

“How are you today Philip?”

(silence)

“Philip, did you hear me? I said how are you today.”

(silence)

I doubt any of us would ever blatantly ignore someone that walked up to you and said hello. It’s just rude. However, it happens all the time with email, chat, voice messaging, and texts. Why? Do people actually think they are invisible behind a keyboard?

Of course, we cannot control how others deal with communication etiquette. It’s up to them. We can control how we treat our electronic communications with our clients, our co-workers, and our suppliers. One simple principal should remembered: “Treat others the same way you would like to be treated.”
For Informatech employees, that should mean that timely response is the norm. What if you don’t know the answer to the question being posed? Well, how would you respond if it were face to face? You would say, “I’m not sure how to answer you right now. Let me get back to you tomorrow (or the end of the week, or by a specific date). Never is ignoring the request acceptable.

There. I got that off my chest. Oh — in case you can’t get hold of me, here’s my contact info:

Phil Palmer
Phone: 801-386-0683
email: phil.palmer@informatech.cr
skype: phil.palmer
twitter: pjpalm801

Anthropological meaning of work

I’ve been wondering myself with this concept for a while so I decided to write a little something about it, especially now that I think I work in a place where the mere experience of being here justifies my words.

Let me start with a tricky question to get the ball rolling. What are you able to do with money? What is it that drive us so hard to get more and more of it at some point in our lives? Is it a cultural thing, something that you learn to do or something that is innate to our nature? By starting with this simple question I asked myself many years ago I discovered that, well, I needed to ask even more profound questions to even start to figure out the overall idea.

And I’m not talking about existential or metaphysical questions. Just common sense which most of the times is the least common of senses.

So I ask myself, why do I need to work in the first place? Why do you? Is it a survival thing and if such does that make us mere survival beings trying to earn our day to day right to be here?

Too many questions, I know. Pardon me.

I guess what I really want to say, or better yet to share, is that over my almost 40 years of life I think I’ve learned that it is not what you do what defines you, but rather it is you who defines who you are by doing what you like to do. And most importantly, it is a choice you can make, not that it is always a simple one, but a choice nevertheless. And that’s the point.

Unfortunately most of the time our modern world teach us that we are as good as what we can provide as part of the company’s monetary assets. That’s pure capitalism transforming the very meaning of work. So if you follow this trend, as I have done, you are embraced by the system to believe that the more you can provide to the company to increase the sales/stock values, the more valuable you are as well. And in turn, when you can’t provide reasonable assets to the company, then you are not as valuable as others that can.

This has gone to such an extent that people are now “disposable” and even worse, are deemed as mere “assets” or “human currency” by some of the biggest global companies nowadays. You are tradable, and if someone 4000 miles away is cheaper than you, you may be replaced simply because of this number difference on paper.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing against the elemental facts which sustain the business model. If you are not good for a job, well, you are not good for a job and that simple fact means you may not be suitable to work in that line of business. But when you are suitable, when you are a valuable contributor, and when you are providing more that just earnings to a company, if even when that is the case you are still replaceable and set apart mainly because of what you cost, then something is really wrong with that company’s concept of the value of work.

I think, and it is me of course, that a world driven by these capitalized-human principles may lead people to believe that capital is more important than themselves, and in such a scenario, people are prevented form discovering the real foundation of what work is really all about: people.

When I started to realize that people, in any scenario an spite what any CEO may say, people, are what really matter in the end, I started to think differently about the real meaning of having a job. I started to understand what I should try to focus on when I chose where to work and, more importantly, not to work. I think the real meaning of work from a human perspective (hence the anthropological word in the title) is to embrace an activity that will provide you with your human basic needs, but also something that will dignify you as an individual and that can bring joy and meaning to your existence.

It doesn’t come for free, I have to say. We still sometimes need to work on things we don’t like just to make a living, but again as I said before, we always have the choice to change what we are doing and search for a place to work where we can have enough money, dignity, joy and satisfaction as human individuals who transcend the mere material things we can buy.

Just ask yourself, if you see a guy on the street playing the harmonica for some coins, would you think right away that he is a loser, even if the guy is visibly happy? I’m not saying we all have to be poor or working pro-bono to be happy. I’m just asking, what will you think right away of someone else who is poor by choice or works pro-bono?

At this point in my life, I rather chose a place where I’m eager to go to work everyday because of the great working environment; somewhere where I will feel appreciated even if I’m not a money making machine, a place where I can be myself and at the same time do what I love, even to the point of be willing to go the extra mile. Just because.

And if I ever need to chose a fashion place just for the extra bucks, which may happen out of multiple reasons life sometimes throws at us, then I will. But the important thing is that I already know what my choice is the next time it is entirely mine to make. I think now I know what the real anthropological meaning of work is, and if just that, then I probably learned my biggest and most important lesson for this life.

Touched a nerve?