Closing up at No.9 Park by Peter Hall. (CC BY SA-2.0). Via Flickr

Closing Time (or “So long, Elliot Jaques”)

Forrest Christian Admin 5 Comments

It’s closing time. After spending almost all of the last thirty years of my worklife as a consultant, I finally walked away. As of last week, I have returned to the risk career I left a long time ago. I joined a large financial company’s technology risk management oversight group where I’m an internal consultant. As a part of this …

Employees at Mid-Continent Refinery [ca. 1943 Tulsa, OK (LOC). By John Vachon]

How Unemployment Endangers Everything You Love

Forrest Christian Careers 1 Comment

Happy people are generally happy, no matter what. Unhappy people are generally unhappy no matter what. Whether genetics or childhood environment, it seems to be pretty set by the time you hit your mid-20s. It’s like we have a thermostat that gets set to a particular number. You might have something that changes the temperature suddenly, but the system will …

TITLE: Clarify roles or kill performance

Clarify Roles or Kill Performance—Your Choice

Forrest Christian Change Leave a Comment

Dr. Eduardo Salas is the Trustee Chair and Pegasus Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Florida, and the author or coauthor of a slew of articles and books on teamwork performance. His findings seem entirely counterintuitive to what many people in software believe. Eschewing roles, they advocate keeping everything completely informal, with everyone cross-training to be able to …

How Bad Is Oil? A Brief Historical Analysis

Forrest Christian Uncategorized 1 Comment

We keep hearing about oil prices and how they have plummeted. But what do you really know about them? If you’re like me — living in a non-oil producing region, getting most of your exposure from price of gas and roofing — it’s high time to take a look. This is strictly from an American point of view, mostly because …

Man thinking at typewriter. (c) everett225.

Let Them Eat Their Desks: IT’s New Contractors

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“Hell, this is brilliant!” he said. “I wish I was still an executive so I could push this Task idea onto people.” I was surprised. My companion, an ex-executive for a large US corporation, normally took a dim view of Modern Human Resources. And the Internet economy. I had just mentioned ______’s ideas about going from role-based staffing to tasks-based. …

Uncertainty Love bringing Garlands of Success

Forrest Christian Decision-making Leave a Comment

All work involves managing uncertainty, and all decisions are made in the face of it. As Michael Raynor pointed out in The Strategy Paradox: Why committing to success leads to failure (and what to do about it), uncertainty gets larger the higher that you go in the business. At lower levels, I’m still worried about uncertainty but I’m trying to …

Black man working large electric phosphate smelting furnace make elemental phosphorus, TVA chemical plant Muscle Shoals, AL). 1942 by Alfred T. Palmer (via LOC)

Managerials Decisions Requiring ESP?

Forrest Christian Decision-making Leave a Comment

You may have gotten the impression that Gary Klein’s Recognition-Primed Decision Model (PDF) was based on intuition. You would be in good company. Lots of people who write about RPD infer that it’s all about intuition, about gut feelings, about making fast decisions. That’s not really true. It may have been the many firefighter stories. The chief at the kitchen …

Football men exercising, Harvard. (LOC). Bain News Service, ca. 1910

Less Really Is More For Making Good Decisions

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On the Commutecast this week, I talked about how Gerg Gigerenzer and colleagues have shown that a simple algorithm can out-perform a complex one in predicting future events (PDF). It’s not just that getting the information is expensive — whether you are hunting it down or finding it, collecting data costs you effort and often resources. It’s that even where …

Imploding CRT photographed with high speed air-gap flash. c 2012 Niels Noordhoek (CC BY-SA 3.0) Via Wikimedia Commons

Why Flat Organization Implodes

Forrest Christian Organizations Leave a Comment

As Mark Nichols describes in “Flat Will Kill You, Eventually: Why Every Company Needs Structure“, flat seems like such a great idea when we start out. It works so well and things go so smoothly. Then everything slides downhill on a runaway shopping cart into hell of recrimination, anger and mistrust. What in the world just happened? Why did the …